Entry Type: Event - Starting with C

Cabotfest

CabotFest, an annual celebration hosted by the city of Cabot (Lonoke County), was first held in 1978 to commemorate the city’s recovery from a devastating tornado that struck in the spring of 1976. Since its founding, the festival has become Lonoke County’s largest, attracting thousands of visitors each year. On March 29, 1976, five citizens of Cabot died in an early afternoon tornado that also destroyed a large portion of the business sector. As the town neared complete recovery, local officials decided to organize a celebration for the fall of 1978. Committees, under the direction of local banker James M. Park, organized the event and chose the phrase “Cabot, We’re Back” as the festival theme. It was decided that the …

Cache Bayou, Skirmish at

On July 6, 1862, dismounted members of Company “I” of the Third Iowa Cavalry turned back a Confederate attempt to halt the Federal Army of the Southwest’s movement into eastern Arkansas. A significant skirmish occurred that day at Cache Bayou approximately fifteen miles north of Clarendon (Monroe County). After encountering a barricade along the Clarendon Road, the Iowa cavalrymen pushed through the obstacle and effectively forced the Confederates to retreat across the Cache River. The Federal victory at Cache Bayou allowed the barricade to be removed successfully, thus permitting the army’s continued trudge south into Arkansas. The Federal movement during the summer of 1862 occurred as part of the orders of Major General Henry Halleck—Federal supreme commander in the West—to …

Cache River Bridge, Skirmish at

On May 28, 1862, a reconnaissance under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hiram F. Sickles of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry prevented Captain Richard Hooker’s Confederates from completely destroying the Cache River bridge near Augusta (Woodruff County). Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn’s departure from Arkansas to the Western Theater with the bulk of Arkansas’s defensive capabilities left the city of Jacksonport (Jackson County)—and the rest of the state—unprotected. Hastily attempting to build a substantial Confederate defense of Arkansas, Major General Thomas Hindman—the newly appointed commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department—commissioned a number of local officers, such as Capt. Hooker in Jackson County, to raise units across the state. These units were encouraged to harass the Federals wherever they were found while …

Caddo Mill, Skirmish at

On December 14, 1863, a detachment that consisted of two companies from the Second Kansas Cavalry headquartered at Waldron (Scott County) surprised and overwhelmed a fifteen-man camp of Confederate forces near Caddo Mill (Montgomery County). On December 13, 1863, Lieutenant Colonel Owen A. Bassett sent a detachment of forty men, led by Lieutenants P. Cosgrove and B. B. Mitchell from the Second Kansas Cavalry headquarters located at Waldron, toward Caddo Gap (Montgomery County). In an attempt to maneuver away from a detachment of General Joseph Shelby’s Confederate cavalry, the two lieutenants continued to Farrar’s Mill. At Farrar’s Mill, they received a report that fifteen Confederate soldiers were encamped a short distance ahead near Caddo Mill. The Union detachment completed the …

Caldwell, Will, and John Thomas (Lynching of)

aka: John Thomas and Will Caldwell (Lynching of)
On September 10, 1895, an African-American man named Will Caldwell and an “old negro man” identified by some newspapers as John Thomas were lynched near Blytheville (Mississippi County) for allegedly murdering and robbing a woman named Mattie Rhea. An extensive search of records for Arkansas and neighboring states revealed no information about either Mattie Rhea or Will Caldwell. There was, however, a John Thomas living in Mississippi County in 1880. He was twenty-six years old and living in Pecan Point Township, in the very southeastern part of the county. He would have been forty-one at the time of the lynching, which may not qualify him for the sobriquet “old negro.” Living in the same township and working on a farm …

California Gold Rush, Effect of the

The California gold rush did not have the positive impact on Arkansas envisioned by its promoters, who hoped for Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to become the hub of westward migration. It did force Arkansas out of its frontier status as people went farther west to California. It also shifted population. John L. Ferguson wrote that, following 1850, Arkansans searching out new opportunity were continuing to move westward; by 1860, some 2,000 Arkansans lived in California, while another 11,000 had emigrated to Texas. The Arkansas Gazette of May 14, 1852, noted that “it is calculated that out of every 100 persons who have gone to California, fifty have been ruined, forty no better than they would have been had they stayed …

Camden Daffodil Festival

The Camden Daffodil Festival originated from a move to raise money for the restoration of a historic building in Camden (Ouachita County) and has become a means of promoting tourism in the area. The profits from the festival are donated to the community to promote tourism and help sustain the McCollum-Chidester House, which was built in 1847. It is today a museum maintained by the Ouachita County Historical Society. The Camden Daffodil Festival was started in 1994 by Dennis and Roxane Daniel as a result of a group of women motivated to help raise enough money to restore the old, dilapidated Missouri Pacific Train Depot and turn it into a historical site that would house the Camden Area Chamber of …

Camden Expedition

Part of the Red River Campaign, the Camden Expedition resulted from Union brigadier general Frederick Steele’s orders to strike south from Little Rock (Pulaski County) and converge with Major General Nathaniel P. Banks’s column in northwest Louisiana before marching to Texas. Because of poor logistical planning, horrible roads, and strong Confederate resistance, Steele abandoned this plan to occupy Camden (Ouachita County). Losing battles at Poison Spring (Ouachita County) and Marks’ Mills (Cleveland County), Steele became unable to supply his army and retreated toward Little Rock. The Confederates caught Steele while he was crossing the Saline River engaging in the last battle of the campaign at Jenkins’ Ferry (Grant County). In 1864, the Trans-Mississippi Theater presented several problems for Union general-in-chief …

Camden, Skirmish at (April 15, 1864)

  The Skirmish at Camden on April 15, 1864, occurred after Union brigadier general Frederick Steele had forced Major General Sterling Price’s troops and cavalry out of Camden (Ouachita County) on April 12. Realizing his opportunity, Steele marched his army approximately forty miles to the east toward Camden. This would prove to be an important turning point within the Red River Campaign for the Union troops. In the early hours of April 15, the Thirty-third Infantry of Iowa began its march toward Camden, still eighteen miles away. Its first movement on the Confederate lines forced a battery on the main road to cease firing, allowing the troops to continue advancing toward the city. By 10:30 a.m., the Thirty-Third Infantry had …

Cane Hill Murders of 1839

On June 15, 1839, William Carter Wright of Cane Hill (Washington County) and four of his children were murdered in their home. Their slaying led to the impromptu trial and lynching of four men, conducted by the Cane Hill Independent Regulating Company, a “citizens’ vigilante group.” The brutality of the Cane Hill Murders and the nature of the hearings reflect the potential for lawlessness in the border region in the early history of the state. On the night of June 15, 1839, Nancy Wright (referred to as Frances in some sources) awoke when she heard horses and men outside the Wrights’ cabin. The sounds alarmed her, and she woke her husband, telling him that she thought Indians were approaching. Three …

Cane Hill, Engagement at

aka: Engagement at Canehill
aka: Engagement at Boston Mountains
The Engagement at Cane Hill on November 28, 1862, was the prelude to the Battle of Prairie Grove fought on December 7, 1862. Union brigadier general James G. Blunt, with 5,000 men and thirty cannon in the Kansas Division of the Army of the Frontier, surprised 2,000 Confederate cavalry and six cannon under Confederate brigadier general John S. Marmaduke while they were gathering winter supplies. The struggle lasted nine hours and covered about twelve miles over the wooded and rocky terrain between Cane Hill (Washington County) and the Cove Creek valley. While it was a Union victory, casualties were light on both sides. Blunt’s decision to remain at Cane Hill set in motion the entire Confederate force at Fort Smith …

Cane Hill, Skirmish at (November 25, 1862)

The November 25, 1862, Skirmish near Cane Hill, Arkansas, occurred as Union general James Gilpatrick Blunt reconnoitered Confederate positions in northwest Arkansas. His troops had already fought minor skirmishes with Confederate cavalry earlier in the month. From his camp on Lindsey’s Prairie in Benton County, Gen. Blunt sent Major George A. Purington with a portion of the Second Ohio Cavalry and detachment of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry south toward the Cane Hill (Washington County), Cincinnati (Washington County), and Evansville (Washington County) area. Accompanied by a local guide on a white horse, Maj. Purington’s troopers proceeded to within four or five miles of Cincinnati, discovering signs that several hundred horses had recently passed by. Half a mile farther down the road, …

Cane Hill, Skirmish at (November 6, 1864)

The November 6, 1864, skirmish near Cane Hill (Washington County) occurred as Union general Samuel Ryan Curtis pushed Confederate general Sterling Price’s troops out of Missouri. Price defeated several Union forces as he marched north, and then west, through Missouri, but meeting Curtis’s superior numbers at Westport, Missouri, Price realized he was in danger of a serious defeat and turned south. The two armies fought several engagements moving toward Arkansas, including: Marais des Cygnes, Mine Creek, Marmiton River, and Second Newtonia. Entering Arkansas well ahead of Curtis, Price marched to Cane Hill, secured several small droves of local cattle, and gave his hungry, worn-out troops a day’s respite, barely slipping away before Curtis’s troops appeared. Leaving Prairie Grove (Washington County) …

Canfield Race War of 1896

On Saturday, December 12, 1896, African-American workers at the Canfield Lumber Company in the small lumber town of Canfield (Lafayette County) were fired on by a mob of whites and forced to leave the area. This was part of a widespread pattern of intimidation of black laborers in southern Arkansas in the 1890s, a practice that seems to have reached a peak in 1896. There were incidents involving railroad workers in Polk County in August and on the Cotton Belt Railway line in Ouachita County in early December. Later in December, there was a similar incident at a sawmill in McNeil (Columbia County). These incidents were part of a larger pattern evident in southern Arkansas throughout the 1890s in which …

Capus, Henry (Lynching of)

Henry Capus, an African-American man, was lynched in late June 1894 in Columbia County. The reports regarding his killing are brief and lacking details, but his murder follows the pattern of many other lynchings of the era. The exact identity of Henry Capus is unknown, as there are no exact census matches for that name (especially given that the enumeration sheets for the 1890 census were lost to fire), and national reports offered variations on his last name, rendering it Cabus or Cahns. There is a Henry Cabos or Cabus listed on the 1880 census residing in Shreveport, Louisiana, but he would have been sixty-four at the time of the lynching. That same census finds a Henry Capus in Alabama; …

Carroll County Lynching of 1878

In October 1878, a posse pursued a pair of southwestern Missouri horse thieves into western Carroll County and hanged them. Franzisca Haneke Massman, the thrice-widowed owner of a major sawmill operation in western Carroll County, observed two horsemen riding through her property on October 26, 1878. They were soon followed by six other riders who appeared to be pursuing them. Massman, incorrectly identified as “Mrs. Masmer” in newspaper accounts, left on horseback about half an hour later to check on some of her lumbermen on the far side of a mountain near her mills. As she topped the mountain, she “espied in the shadow of a giant pine eight men whom she recognized as the two former and the six …

Carroll, Marion, and Searcy Counties, Scout to

aka: Skirmish at Richland Creek (December 25, 1863)
aka: Skirmish at Stroud's Store
aka: Skirmish at Buffalo River
  On December 16, 1863, Captain John I. Worthington of Company H, First Arkansas Cavalry (US), left Fayetteville (Washington County) to scout Carroll, Marion, and Searcy counties looking for bands of Confederate guerrillas. Company H was recruited from Arkansas refugees in Missouri, and one third of them were from Searcy County. Capt. Worthington’s scouting party had 112 men from his own company and one gun from the howitzer battery under Lieutenant Robert M. Thompson, attached to the First Arkansas. Worthington’s scouting party reached Carrollton (Carroll County) on December 19 and skirmished with Confederate bushwhackers. On December 22, they marched to William P. Stroud’s Store near Marshall’s Prairie in southeastern Carroll County (now in southeastern Boone County) after dispersing and breaking up …

Carrollton, Skirmish at (August 15, 1864)

Part of an effort to disrupt enemy operations across northwestern Arkansas, this skirmish was one of several fought in August 1864 against numerous guerrilla bands. While extremely brief, this skirmish caused significant havoc for one group of Confederate guerrillas. Brigadier General John Sanborn was tasked with stopping enemy actions in southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. From his command post at Springfield, Missouri, he led efforts to find and destroy groups of guerrillas. Using both regular Federal units and militia, Sanborn tried to keep the enemy from gaining any strength in his area. On August 15, 1864, one of Sanborn’s units, a detachment from a company of Arkansas militia under the command of Captain G. W. Edy, approached Carrollton (Carroll County). …

Carter, Allen (Lynching of)

Sometime during the first week of August 1892, an African-American man named Allen Carter was lynched at Wynne (Cross County) for allegedly assaulting his fourteen-year-old daughter. While the method of the murder is not specified, brief reports from across the United States indicate that the mob that lynched him was composed entirely of African Americans. There exists insufficient documentary evidence to determine the identity of Carter, and reports differ as to when exactly Carter was lynched. According to the August 6 issue of the Daily Public Ledger, Carter was arrested on Tuesday, August 2. The mob later removed him from jail and lynched him. Other similar published accounts vary on the date of the lynching, placing it anywhere from August …

Carter, John (Lynching of)

In early May 1927, Little Rock (Pulaski County) experienced a wave of mob violence surrounding the lynching of an African American named John Carter. This lynching and the rioting that followed is one of the most notorious incidents of racial violence in the state’s history. This event reveals much about the history of race relations in Little Rock, as well as the state’s struggle with its national image. The episode began on April 30, 1927, when the dead body of a twelve-year-old white girl named Floella McDonald was discovered by a janitor in the belfry of the First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock. The next afternoon, police arrested the janitor and his seventeen-year-old mulatto son, Lonnie Dixon, for the murder. …

Catcher Race Riot of 1923

The December 28, 1923, assault and murder of a white woman in the Catcher community in Crawford County quickly ignited a firestorm of racial hatred that, within the span of a few days, exploded into the murder of an innocent black man, charges of night riding being leveled against eleven African Americans, and the exodus of all black families from Catcher, numbering at least forty. Two African-American men were sentenced to death and executed in relation to the murder, while a third was given life in prison, following trials that included dubious evidence offered by the prosecution. From the days of slavery, the township in which Catcher is situated, four miles southeast of Van Buren (Crawford County) in cotton-producing river …

Cates, Sam (Lynching of)

On September 12, 1917, a twenty-five-year-old African-American man named Sam Cates was lynched near England (Lonoke County) for allegedly harassing white girls and young women, including allegedly sending an improper note to the sister of Claude Clay. The exact identity of Sam Cates remains uncertain. According to marriage records, there were two men by the same or similar names living in Lonoke County around this time, although neither have ages exactly matching twenty-five in 1917. On July 3, 1910, twenty-one-year-old Sammie Kates married Mary Mathews (born around 1891) in England (which lies in the center of Lonoke County’s Gum Woods Township). According to 1910 census records, there was an African-American woman named Mary Matthews (born around 1893) living with her …

Cattle Drives

Arkansas was the source for many cattle drives westward following the California gold rush, and some later cattle drives cut through Arkansas for points northward. Though a more minor player in the overland transportation of cattle than neighboring Texas, Arkansas was nonetheless significantly affected by these cattle drives. When some Cherokee migrated into Arkansas in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they drove cattle with them. However, the first major cattle drives organized in Arkansas took place following the discovery of gold in California in 1848, when many Arkansans drove their cattle west in order to meet the increasing need for supplies of the numerous people settling there. As historian J. H. Atkinson notes, “A cow that sold for …

Centennial Celebration

Arkansas’s centennial preparations launched early, expanded rapidly to a galaxy committee, descended into financial uncertainties, burst into various celebrations crisscrossing the state, and finally rested on the laurels of an improved, culturally positive image. Officially held on June 15, 1936, the celebration commemorated the date President Andrew Jackson signed legislation making Arkansas the twenty-fifth state in the Union. Observances before and after the formal day included the composition of an official song and poem, the designation of a centennial flower, the issuance of a stamp, the crowning of a centennial queen, and the minting of two coins. There were also plays, parades, pageants, floats, contests, and exhibits, as well as a football championship, a visit by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, …

Central High School, Desegregation of

aka: Crisis at Central High
aka: Little Rock Desegregation Crisis
In its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public education was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. As school districts across the South sought various ways to respond to the court’s ruling, Little Rock (Pulaski County) Central High School became a national and international symbol of resistance to desegregation. On May 22, 1954, the Little Rock School Board issued a statement saying that it would comply with the Court’s decision, once the court outlined the method and time frame for implementation. Meanwhile, the board directed Superintendent Virgil Blossom to formulate a plan for desegregation. In May 1955, the school board adopted the Phase Program …

Chalk Bluff, Skirmish at (May 1–2, 1863)

Chalk Bluff in Clay County, where Crowley’s Ridge is cut by the St. Francis River, was an important transit point during the Civil War between northeast Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel. It was the site of the last engagement of Major General John Sappington Marmaduke’s fighting withdrawal from his second Missouri raid, April 17–May 2, 1863, as the Confederate forces held off an initially determined but ultimately faltering Union pursuit to escape back into Arkansas across the St. Francis River on a makeshift floating bridge. Marmaduke entered Missouri with 5,000 men, of whom 1,200 were unarmed and 900 dismounted, planning to trap Union Brigadier General John McNeil at Bloomfield, Missouri. McNeil’s troops evacuated Bloomington ahead of Marmaduke and withdrew into …

Chalk Bluff, Skirmish at (May 15, 1862)

On May 15, 1862, Colonel Edward Daniels, commanding elements of the First Wisconsin Cavalry, forced Lieutenant Colonel William L. Jeffers’s independent command from the Chalk Bluff in Clay County, Arkansas, and temporarily restored a Union presence in the area. Upon hearing rumors of Confederate units in the Missouri Bootheel that could threaten his command at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Colonel Edward Daniels marched with six squadrons of his First Wisconsin Cavalry to eliminate this threat on May 9, 1862. The next day, he routed the small command of Colonel William J. Phelan ten miles from Bloomfield, Missouri, before turning his column toward a sizable force, rumored at Chalk Bluff, who were alleged to be pressing citizens into service and seizing supplies. …

Charity Games of Football (1931)

By 1931, the Great Depression had produced hardship and suffering in all areas of Arkansas. Unemployment, grinding poverty, and the devastating Drought of 1930–1931 had produced myriad challenges for the state and its residents. Still, Arkansans loved their sports, in particular football. Harvey C. Couch, founder of Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L) and member of the Arkansas Advisory Committee of the President’s Organization on Unemployment Relief, saw an opportunity to raise funds with charity football games. On November 9, 1931, Couch met with representatives from six Arkansas colleges at the Marion Hotel in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The meeting produced a plan that called for a series of college football games to be played during the first week of December …

Charleston Schools, Desegregation of

Much has been written about the Little Rock School District desegregation in 1957. However, the Charleston Public School District quietly and successfully integrated first through twelfth grades, without any publicity until about three weeks after school had opened for the fall term in 1954. Charleston was the first school district in the former Confederate states to integrate all twelve grades, and because of this, Charleston School District has been named a National Commemorative Site by the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service. Following the May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that deemed state laws mandating public school segregation unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, …