Entries - Entry Category: Law - Starting with V

Van Buren County Lynching of 1894

In early February 1894, three white men—Robert Plunkett, Charles Plunkett, and Henry Bruce—were lynched in Van Buren County for allegedly attacking and robbing an unidentified elderly couple. While no specific date is given in any of the reports, the lynching had to have happened before February 10, when the first accounts were published. Citing “meager details,” accounts indicate only that the lynching happened in what was known as “the Gulch,” and that the men’s alleged crime had “aroused great indignation” in the neighborhood. For additional information: “A Lynching.” Arkansas Gazette, February 10, 1894, p. 2. “Three Men Lynched. Indianapolis Journal, February 10, 1894, p. 3. “A Triple Lynching.” Forrest City Times, February 16, 1894, p. 8. Nancy Snell Griffith Davidson, …

Vapors

The Vapors was a nightclub in Hot Springs (Garland County) during the last era of illegal gambling in the city. Upscale entertainment in the style of Las Vegas, Nevada—featuring well-known acts like Edgar Bergen, the Smothers Brothers, and Tony Bennett—distinguished it from many of the rival clubs in the area. Dane Harris, who had been a World War II pilot, accumulated money from a stake he had in the Belvedere Country Club and casino during the 1950s and used that money to build the Vapors nightclub. Harris partnered with Owen Vincent “Owney” Madden, owner of the Cotton Club in New York and a noted gangster, to build the nightclub at a site at 315 Park Avenue formerly occupied by the …

Varner Unit

The Varner Unit is a detention facility run by the Arkansas Department of Correction. It is located in the Choctaw Township of Lincoln County, along U.S. Highway 65, about thirty miles south of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The Varner Unit was constructed in response to the state’s fast-growing inmate population; other state facilities had been expanded prior to Varner’s construction. When it opened in 1987, it could accommodate 300 prisoners; its capacity was increased to 700 and then later to around 1,700. The Varner Unit is made up of two separate units: the Supermax Unit and the Varner Unit. The Supermax Unit was opened in 2000 and in 2003 became home to all the state’s male death row inmates. In …

Voting and Voting Rights

Voting rights in Arkansas have evolved from an initial narrow limitation to today’s near-comprehensive voting rights. 1836 Original State Constitution In 1836, when Arkansas became a state, it had neither a property requirement nor a taxpaying requirement for voting eligibility—unlike seven of the twenty-five states of the Union at the time. This was in keeping with Jacksonian democratic principles and was somewhat advanced for the South, where many states had these types of restrictive requirements. To vote, a person had to be male, of the white race, a U.S. citizen, and a citizen of the state for at least six months. Some twenty of the twenty-five states then had some type of race exclusion, including all of the South. Most …