Entries - Entry Type: Event - Starting with O

Oats, Presley (Lynching of)

Although many lynchings in Arkansas occurred in connection with serious crimes, real or alleged, there were some people lynched for trivial reasons. On May 13, 1897, an African-American man named Presley Oats was dragged from his home in Pope County and lynched for supposedly stealing a ham. This incident preceded the Atkins Race War, which began approximately two weeks later. It was, however, indicative of the racial animus caused by the recent influx of African Americans into the county. Many of these new arrivals accepted lower wages for farm work and work in the lumber mills, causing resentment among area whites. Although one newspaper account of the incident referred to Presley Oats as an “old negro,” there is an eight-year-old …

Oil Town Festival

Smackover’s Oil Town Festival, which is held the third weekend in June, is one of the state’s oldest festivals and attracts more than 10,000 visitors each year. The first festival was held in 1971 and was sponsored by the Smackover Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club. The year 1971 was the fifty-year anniversary of the Busey No. 1 well, which was being celebrated in neighboring El Dorado, so the town of Smackover (Union County) organized a celebration of the Smackover oil field discovery well, the Richardson No. 1. Over the years, the festival has grown in size and events and has changed locations to accommodate the growth. Originally held in downtown Smackover, the festival has moved to Tennyson Park, which …

Oil Trough Bottom, Skirmish at

The second Union army occupation of Batesville (Independence County) began on December 25, 1863, with the quiet entry of Colonel Robert Livingston’s command consisting of the First Nebraska Cavalry, Second Arkansas Cavalry, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, and some smaller units. Livingston’s orders were to “keep the peace,” but he was surrounded by mobile Confederate units that knew the area well, led by General Dandridge McRae, Captain Thomas R. Freeman, and Captain George Rutherford, among others. The forces Livingston sent out from Batesville were mostly detachments to protect foraging wagons and larger “scouts” to patrol the area, gathering information and attacking the small Confederate units and bands of brigands when they could. On March 15, 1864, Major Lewis Pace was sent from …

Okolona, Skirmishes at

aka: Battle of the Bees
    The Skirmishes at Okolona were fought as Confederate cavalry under Joseph O. Shelby harassed the rear of Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army as it moved into southwest Arkansas during the Camden Expedition of 1864, marking the first serious resistance to Steele’s advance. Steele led his army from Little Rock (Pulaski County) on March 23, planning to link up with another Union army under Nathaniel Banks at Shreveport, Louisiana, and conquer the cotton-rich country of eastern Texas. The Federal army arrived at Arkadelphia (Clark County) on March 29 and waited for John Thayer’s Frontier Division out of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) before continuing south and camping at Spoonville (Pike County) on April 1. At around noon the next …

Old Folks’ Singing

What became known as Old Folks’ Singing started on May 17, 1885, with the dedication of a new Methodist church and cemetery in Tull (Grant County). The event was multi-denominational, with the entire community participating in the singing and midday dinner. The annual event, which celebrated its 125-year anniversary in 2010, is held in Tull at the Ebenezer United Methodist Church on the third Sunday in May. It is believed to be the oldest continuous singing day held west of the Mississippi River. While the shape-note system of learning music is no longer part of Old Folks’ Singing, the musical heritage of the event can be traced back to the shape-note singing popular in New England and moving to rural …

Old River Lake, Engagement at

aka: Engagement at Ditch Bayou
aka: Engagement at Lake Chicot
aka: Engagement at Lake Village
aka: Engagement at Furlough
aka: Engagement at Fish Bayou
aka: Engagement at Grand Lake
On June 6, 1864, Union and Confederate forces clashed along the southern shore of Lake Chicot near Lake Village (Chicot County). The engagement at Old River Lake (also known as Ditch Bayou) was the largest to occur in Chicot County and the last significant Civil War engagement in Arkansas. Union forces won the field but suffered higher casualties. By the end of 1863, Union forces controlled almost all traffic on the Mississippi River. Steamships were the primary sources of transportation. Gunboats protected fleets of troop transports moving up and down river. Their large cannons bombarded areas of Rebel activity along the river bank. Landing parties foraged for food and burned plantations. Local inhabitants lived in terror at the approach of …

Oliver, Dan (Lynching of)

On July 28, 1884, an African-American man named Dan Oliver was shot by a mob near Roseville (Logan County) for allegedly attempting to assault the daughter of a local white man identified only by his last name, Amos. Amos, whom the Arkansas Gazette called “one of the best citizens of Logan County,” was probably Elisha Amos. According to public records, Elisha Amos was born in Tennessee in 1841, and by 1860, he and his parents were living in Arkansas. He married Malinda Ann Pendergraft in Franklin County in 1862, and served in the Civil War. In 1870, he and Malinda and two children, Jesse (three years old) and Emily (six months), were living in Sebastian County. Elisha Amos was living …

Olyphant Train Robbery

During the nineteenth century, travelers on steam locomotives were at risk for train robberies. In Arkansas, one particularly high-profile train robbery happened in the small town of Olyphant (Jackson County) in 1893. What followed was a sensationalized manhunt and the execution of three bandits involved in the incident. On November 3, 1893, the seven-car Train No. 51 of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway pulled off to a side track so that the Cannonball Express, a much faster train, could pass. It was about 10:00 p.m. on a cold and rainy night; the train had left Poplar Bluff, Missouri, at noon that day and was headed to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Many of the 300 passengers were wealthy …

Operation Iraqi Freedom

The armed conflict called Operation Iraqi Freedom began with an invasion of Iraq, led primarily by the United States with the assistance of Great Britain and other allies; the conflict lasted from 2003 to 2011. The invasion was initiated based on intelligence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and that Saddam Hussein was harboring and supporting al-Qaeda terrorists. The lack of evidence of any WMDs later became a political flashpoint. One goal of the invasion was to overthrow the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein to establish a free and independent Iraqi government, democratically elected by its people. Significant opposition arose in 2002–2003 during the run up to the war, with sixty-three percent of Americans desiring a diplomatic solution …

Orient Ferry, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Paroquet Bluff
  The Skirmish at Orient Ferry took place when troops in the Fifteenth Texas Cavalry attacked elements of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry as they ferried their supply wagons across the Black River at Paroquet Bluff, located on the west side of the river above Jacksonport (Jackson County) during their drive to join Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s Army of the Southwest as it marched across eastern Arkansas toward Helena (Phillips County) on the Mississippi River. The bulk of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry left Rolla, Missouri, on June 17 to join the Army of the Southwest. The veteran Kansans traveled fast and light, leaving their wagons and stores to catch up. Captain William F. Creitz and Company A, soon joined by …

Orton, Mat (Lynching of)

On September 8, 1884 (some papers give the date as September 9), a white man named Mat Orton was lynched in Arkansas City (Desha County) for allegedly setting a fire that destroyed many of the town’s businesses. There is some information about Mat Orton in newspaper accounts and public records. In 1880, he was thirty-three years old and was living in Arkansas City and working as a carpenter. He married Margaret McCoy there on March 14, 1882. An article in the Arkansas Gazette on May 16, 1883, indicates that Orton was a deputy sheriff and was sent to retrieve R. H. Costello (sometimes called Castelio, although census records list him as Costelo), who was wanted in Desha County for the …

Osage Branch of the Kings River, Affair on the

This Civil War engagement demonstrates the continued presence of small bands of semi-autonomous Confederate commands along the Arkansas-Missouri border and exhibits late-war atrocities committed against captured black Union soldiers and laborers. On April 16, 1864, a detachment numbering between twenty-six and thirty-six troopers from Company A of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US), commanded by Sergeant Josiah Watts, foraged for supplies along the Osage Branch of the Kings River about twenty miles from their post at Berryville (Carroll County). Cooper’s Battalion of Brigadier General Stand Watie’s First Indian Brigade—commanded by Captain James Washington Cooper and variously estimated between eighty and 300 troopers—surprised and attacked the foraging party. Watts and his men initially repelled the rebel assault, charged twice, and briefly drove …

Osceola, Skirmish at

  After losing most of his company (the Osceola Hornets, Company G of the Twenty-fifth Mississippi Infantry, later known as the Second Confederate Regiment) at the April 6–7, 1862, Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, Captain Charles Bowen returned to Mississippi County in early 1863 with orders to seek new conscripts to supplement the dwindling Confederate ranks lost to sickness and death. Due to limited success with recruitment and Union control of the Mississippi River (making it difficult to cross), Bowen decided to remain in Mississippi County in order to protect lives and property from the rampant lawlessness that had compromised public safety and commercial activity in Osceola (Mississippi County) and the surrounding areas. Records indicate that he offered his resignation …

Owen, Hurley (Lynching of)

Hurley Owen, an African-American man, was lynched in Texarkana (Miller County) on May 19, 1922, in front of a mob numbering in the thousands for the alleged crime of murdering a local police officer. His body was subsequently burned. Hurley Owen (or Hullen Owens, as his name was sometimes reported) had been arrested on Thursday, May 18, 1922, on a charge of stealing automotive parts. The following afternoon, he reportedly told Patrolman Richard C. Choate and Police Chief L. J. Lummus that he was willing to show them where he had hidden away more stolen goods. They followed him into an alley, where he pulled a .45 caliber pistol from a trash bin. According to the Arkansas Democrat, Lummus then …

Oxford Bend, Action at

aka: Action at McGuire's
As part of Major General Thomas C. Hindman’s initial attempt to threaten Fayetteville (Washington County) and gain control of northwestern Arkansas in fall 1862, this skirmish preceded the Battle of Prairie Grove by more than a month. At daylight on October 28, 1862, a combined force of approximately 1,000 men from Colonel James O. Gower’s First Iowa Cavalry and Colonel John F. Phillips’s Seventh Missouri State Militia Cavalry (US) of Brigadier General Francis J. Herron’s Army of the Frontier attacked a Confederate camp at Oxford Bend in Washington County, four miles east of Fayetteville. There, they engaged approximately 3,000 cavalrymen commanded by Colonel Jesse L. Cravens of Major General Thomas C. Hindman’s Trans-Mississippi Corps. Cravens’s brigade consisted of Bass’s Texas …

Ozark Arts and Crafts Fair

aka: War Eagle Fair
The Ozark Arts and Crafts Fair (a.k.a. War Eagle Fair) is an arts and crafts festival held each October. The event takes place on historic War Eagle Mills Farm, seventeen miles east of Rogers (Benton County). The fair, begun in 1954, grew out of an exhibition hosted by a local handweavers guild and into an institution that some have described as the “granddaddy of craft fairs.” Each year, hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of visitors flock to this rural community in the northwest corner of the state. Throughout its history, the fair has served as a major economic stimulus within the state and contributed thousands of dollars to scholarship funds at major universities and colleges throughout Arkansas. The War Eagle …

Ozark Foothills FilmFest

The Ozark Foothills FilmFest takes place in Batesville (Independence County) and was established in 2001 by Bob and Judy Pest. The Pests had previously operated the City Movie Center in Kansas City, Missouri, for seven years. The festival soon became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to excellence and accessibility in the media arts. The festival supports and encourages Arkansas filmmakers and strives to serve the people of north-central Arkansas. The first festival in 2002 had Arkansas native and musical icon Levon Helm as the headliner; more than 300 people attended a concert he gave. At the historic Melba Theater, festival goers also watched several films in which he appeared. Helm spoke to the audience and encouraged them to help the festival succeed, which …

Ozark Golden Wedding Jubilee

The Ozark Golden Wedding Jubilee was a commemoration of couples who had been married fifty years, during which they reaffirmed their wedding vows. Taking place in 1949 and 1950 in Rogers (Benton County) and hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, the celebration was open to couples across the country and featured a recently married honor couple at both June events. The day of June 23, 1949, marked the first golden wedding event, at which seventy-eight couples celebrated their renewed vows. Married the preceding Wednesday during the Bride and Groom radio broadcast in Hollywood, California, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Tandy Gardner of Seattle, Washington, both pre-med students at the University of Washington, were the honor couple, awarded a week’s honeymoon in …

Ozark Mountain Folk Fair

The Ozark Mountain Folk Fair was a music festival and craft fair held north of Eureka Springs (Carroll County) in 1973 on Memorial Day weekend (May 26–28). The festival drew an audience from around the United States, with an estimated attendance of up to 30,000, and featured a diverse mix of rock, blues, bluegrass, gospel, country, and folk music performances. The rise of 1960s and early 1970s counterculture throughout America was especially relevant within the environmental back-to-the-land movement burgeoning in the Arkansas Ozarks, in which people sought a more mindful and sustainable way of life and rejected commercial aspects of society. In this culture, journalist Edd Jeffords, founder of the Ozark Mountain Folklore Association, organized the Ozark Mountain Folk Fair. …

Ozark Mountain UFO Conference

aka: Ozark UFO Conference
The Ozark Mountain UFO Conference takes place each year on the second weekend of April at the Inn of the Ozarks Conference Center in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). As many as 700 attendees hear national and international researchers discuss their findings regarding unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and related topics. A typical three-day conference begins at 1:00 p.m. on Friday and ends at noon on Sunday, featuring between nine and twelve speakers, a speakers’ panel discussion, and the showing of documentary films. Nationally known speakers in attendance have included Dr. John Altshuler, Peter Davenport, Dr. James Deardorff, Richard Dolan, Linda Moulton Howe, Antonio Hunneus, Dr. David Jacobs, Dr. John Mack, Kathleen Marden, David Marler, Jim Marrs, Ted Phillips, Wendelle Stevens, and …