Entry Type: Event - Starting with P

Palarm, Battle of (Reconstruction)

The Battle of Palarm was a skirmish in the Reconstruction-era Brooks-Baxter War in which supporters of Joseph Brooks attacked the steamboat Hallie (a light-draught fast packet) on the Arkansas River near present-day Mayflower (Faulkner County), killing several militiamen loyal to Elisha Baxter. The election of 1872 was rife with irregularities but resulted in Elisha Baxter assuming the governorship of Arkansas. However, following a series of legislative and legal maneuvers, losing candidate Joseph Brooks won a legal ruling declaring him the winner. On April 15, 1874, Brooks and a group of armed followers confronted Baxter at the Old State House and threw him out, leading to several weeks of armed confrontations in what became known as the Brooks-Baxter War. The Hallie …

Panic of 1893

In 1893, a national financial crisis led to the closing of businesses and banks in Arkansas. The crisis in banking ended with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act late in 1893. The depression continued until 1897. During this period, agricultural prices declined steeply in the state. Even before the panic, financial markets were not sound, and the state’s economy was moribund. In 1891, the legislature voted to postpone funding of the state’s representation at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and never returned to the issue. Arkansas’s participation was instead privately funded by the Little Rock Board of Trade. On January 18, 1893, the Arkansas Gazette reported “a financial flurry” in response to a run on First National Bank …

Paragould Race Riots

Paragould (Greene County), which incorporated in 1883, experienced a series of incidents of racial violence and intimidation from 1888 to 1908. (In this context, a race riot is defined as any prolonged form of mob-related civil disorder in which race plays a key role.) The outmigration of African Americans that followed these various incidents helped to cement its reputation as a “sundown town.” On April 21, 1888, the Arkansas Gazette published a letter sent by a member of the black community and addressed to the country’s first elected African-American municipal judge, Mifflin Wistar Gibbs. The writer sought Gibbs’s help, telling him that “I am disgusted the way I am served, and also my friends. We are but a few colored …

Parker, Tom (Reported Lynching of)

On October 14, 1897, an African American man named Tom Parker was reportedly lynched in Cleveland County for participating in a riot at an August picnic near Kendall’s mill. While many newspapers refer to Parker as the third person to have been lynched after the incident, the only other reported lynching as a result of the incident was that of Bill Wiley (also referred to as Bill Wiley Douglass and Bill Wyatt), who was lynched in late August. Newspapers ultimately concluded that Parker had not been lynched. The earliest report of the Kendall incident appears in the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic on August 22. On Saturday, August 21, a group of African Americans had a picnic near the Kendall mill …

Parrent, Joe (Lynching of)

On June 3, 1890, a white man named Joe Parrent was lynched in Yell County for having returned to the county after previously being whipped and driven away. Parrent was one of eight men reported lynched in Yell County from 1881 to 1897, all of them white. According to the June 12, 1890, report in the Arkansas Gazette, Joe Parrent’s brother, Grant, had, with some other men, “shot from the brush a farmer and good citizen by the name of Gates, while he was plowing in his field,” six years prior. An Arkansas Democrat report from 1884 names this “good citizen” as J. A. Yeats of Gravelly Hill Township in Yell County and says that Parrent broke into the man’s …

Patrick, William (Lynching of)

On December 3, 1915, an African-American man named William Patrick was lynched in St. Francis County for allegedly killing a young white man named Bard Nichols in October of that year. There is very little information available about William Patrick. In 1900, there was an eighteen-year-old African American by that name boarding in Franks Township in St. Francis County and working on a farm. He could both read and write. In 1910, there was an African American named W. D. Patrick living in Franks Township; his age is listed as thirty-six at the time, making him a slightly more likely candidate. He was a farmer living with his wife and four small children. If Patrick was fifty-five years old as …

Patterson, Missouri, to Cherokee Bay, Scout from

Union troops in southeastern Missouri regularly ran scouting expeditions in that area and into northeastern Arkansas in search of Confederate troops and guerrillas; the scout from Patterson, Missouri, to Cherokee Bay (Randolph County) in Arkansas was typical of such operations. Captain Abijah Johns of Company A, Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry (US), led a small force of troopers from Patterson on January 23, 1864, toward Cherokee Bay, a term used loosely by Union commanders to describe the area between the Black and Current rivers in Randolph County. At some point, the Third Missouri cavalrymen—including some described as “swamp scouts”—ran into a party of twenty men led by Colonel Timothy Reeves of the Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry (CS), a Baptist preacher whose …

Paul Ruiz and Earl Van Denton (Crime Spree)

Paul Ruiz and Earl Van Denton escaped from an Oklahoma prison and embarked on a crime spree that took them across multiple states, including Arkansas. The men were convicted in Arkansas of killing town marshal Marvin Ritchie and park ranger Opal James in Logan County. They were executed along with a third man at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction on January 8, 1997. At the time of their escape, Ruiz was serving a life sentence for armed robbery, while Van Denton was serving a life sentence for murder. Working as part of a twenty-member crew tasked with tearing down a brick factory near the prison in McAlester, Oklahoma, the pair escaped on June 23, 1977. They …

Pea Ridge Campaign

The Pea Ridge campaign was arguably the most significant campaign of the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi region. The Union Army of the Southwest under Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis defeated the Confederate Army of the West led by Major General Earl Van Dorn in the Battle of Pea Ridge on March 7–8, 1862, and played a pivotal role in claiming Missouri for the Union and opening Arkansas to Union occupation. Missouri was high on the wish lists of both the Federal and Confederate governments in 1861. Federal Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon drove pro-secession elements out of St. Louis, Missouri, then chased Major General Sterling Price’s Missouri State Guard to the southwest corner of Missouri and fought the Battle of …

Pea Ridge Mule Jump and Show

The Pea Ridge Mule Jump is an annual event held each autumn in Pea Ridge (Benton County). Each year on the second Saturday in October, spectators come from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma to enjoy this unique competition. In 2008, the crowd numbered more than 1,000. Mule jumping events occur mostly in the South. Mule jumping originally began when raccoon hunters taught their mules to jump fences on hunts. The riders dismounted, climbed over the fence, placed a blanket on the fence so the mule could see it, and urged their mules to jump over. The Pea Ridge Mule Jump began when local resident Colonel Negel Hall, along with his friend Don Shockley from Powell, Missouri, set up the event …

Pea Ridge, Battle of

aka: Battle of Elkhorn Tavern
The Battle of Pea Ridge played a pivotal role in securing Missouri for the Union and opened Arkansas to Union occupation. It played a large role in preserving Missouri’s tenuous loyal-state status. After the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri, August 10, 1861, the command structure on both sides in Missouri underwent major overhauls. Union Major General Henry W. Halleck chose Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis to command the force that fought at Wilson’s Creek, the newly christened Army of the Southwest. The Confederates also had command issues. Major General Sterling Price and Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch feuded bitterly, and President Jefferson Davis chose Major General Earl Van Dorn to revive the Confederacy’s fortunes in the new Military District of …

Pearl Rush

The rivers of northeast Arkansas once teemed with freshwater mollusks capable of producing pearls, which led to a huge “pearl rush” in the region in the late 1800s. The mussels had not been harvested on a large scale since Native Americans dwelled along these rivers, giving the animals—and the pearls within—time to grow. In an era before cultured pearls, these gems only occurred naturally, growing inside a freshwater mollusk or saltwater oyster, and the rarity of this occurrence made them precious. Native Americans used pearls to indicate elite status through adornment and burial practices. Burial sites in Campbell, Missouri, and Spiro, Oklahoma, revealed large quantities of freshwater pearls heaped in baskets or large shell vessels. A grave near present-day Helena-West …

Pemiscot Bayou, Skirmish at

Throughout Mississippi County and the adjacent Missouri counties of Dunklin and Pemiscot, bands of guerillas harassed Union forces, raided farms and communities, and terrorized the citizenry with acts of violence during the Civil War. Composed primarily of Confederate deserters and civilian sympathizers, these combatants hid within the dense swamplands and canebrakes that dominated the landscape, making it difficult for Union forces to pinpoint their exact locations. Determined to disperse these groups and limit their activities, Major John W. Rabb spearheaded an expedition from New Madrid, Missouri, to Mississippi County on April 5, 1864. At 11:00 p.m., with a force of approximately 200 men, he embarked on a steamer and sailed down the Mississippi River to Barfield’s Point (Mississippi County), where …

Perry County War of 1881

The Perry County War is the common name given to a brief period of violence that erupted in Perryville (Perry County) in the summer of 1881. The general lawlessness, including the murder of the local newspaper editor, resulted in the governor sending the militia to calm the situation. In actuality, the 1881 events were a second eruption of an ongoing settling of political differences in Perry County dating back to the Civil War. Like many counties in Arkansas during the Civil War, Perry County was divided by conflicting loyalties. The mountainous western sections of the county aligned with the Union, while whites in the eastern half, where most of the enslaved people lived, held Confederate sympathies. These philosophical differences continued …

Perry County, Skirmish at

The December 3, 1864, Skirmish at Perry County was one of many military events of the Civil War to occur within the Arkansas River Valley, exemplifying the contentious nature of the Union’s occupation of the area around the Arkansas River. The only known surviving document is a report by Colonel Abraham H. Ryan of the Third Arkansas Cavalry, headquartered in Lewisburg (Conway County) at the time. According to this report, Lieutenant Robert W. Wishard conducted a scouting expedition into Perry County (the exact location is not given) and encountered Rebels affiliated with the companies of John A. Conly and a man named Franz. The resulting fight left five Confederates dead, including a lieutenant, and one Union private dead. Wishard pursued …

Petit Jean, Skirmish at

On July 10, 1864, Federal forces of the Third Arkansas Cavalry (Union) engaged Confederate forces of an unidentified unit on the Arkansas River near the mouth of the Petit Jean River. The Union commander reported Confederate casualties. Previously, by the end of 1863, the western half of the Arkansas River in the state was under Union control following the Confederacy’s loss of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Major General Frederick Steele established Federal garrisons at various points along the north side of the river. Steele also authorized raising local Union regiments, and one of these was the Third Arkansas Cavalry, which served for extended periods at the river port of Lewisburg (Conway County), near the present …

Phillips County Lynching of 1849

In early November 1849, two unidentified slaves were burned to death in Phillips County for allegedly murdering their owner, Henry Yerby. The exact date of the lynching is in doubt; some sources list the date of Yerby’s death as November 9, but the November 8 edition of the Arkansas State Democrat, quoting the Helena Shield, reported that Yerby was murdered “a few days since.” In the 1830s, Henry Yerby, a native of Virginia, received several land grants near Old Town Lake in Phillips County. On August 14, 1837, he married Emily Marion Dickson there, and he is listed in the 1840 census. He must have owned a number of slaves when he died; the slave schedule compiled in 1850 lists …

Phillips County Lynching of 1859

Historians of racial violence long contended that those held in slavery were not often lynched due to the value tied to their living bodies. However, greater inquiry into the matter has revealed a greater number of slave lynchings than previously thought. One such event occurred on August 17, 1859, near Helena (Phillips County). The event in question is so far known from a single article in the August 24, 1859, Des Arc Citizen newspaper published in Des Arc (Prairie County). According to this report, which draws upon information from the Southron newspaper of Helena, on August 11, “a negro man, belong to J. W. Carpenter, Esq., near Helena, struck Mr. Robert Bickers (Mr. Carpenter’s overseer) on the head, with an …

Phillips County Lynching of 1889–1890

On December 30–31, 1889, and January 1, 1890, three unidentified African Americans were killed in Phillips County for allegedly robbing and murdering John W. Tate. The lynching victims were not identified by name in any source. In 1880, John W. Tate, a twenty-eight-year-old white farmer, was living alone in Poplar Grove (Phillips County). According to a January 1, 1890, report in the Arkansas Gazette, sometime in the 1880s he was dealing in illegal whiskey, and there were seven indictments pending against him in Phillips County. Just prior to his death, he was running a “blind tiger” (speakeasy) at Palmerton in neighboring Monroe County. Although the Gazette reported that the crime took place on Sunday night, December 29, 1889, other reports, …

Phillips, et al. v. Weeks, et al.

Phillips, et al. v. Weeks, et al. was a sweeping lawsuit in federal district court at Little Rock (Pulaski County) alleging that the municipal police engaged in systematic discrimination against African Americans, including illegal detention, physical brutality, verbal abuse, and segregation in jail. The class-action suit was filed in January 1972, and the trial lasted two and a half months in 1974–1975. The case languished in the court for another eight years before all the issues were finally settled, with only a partial victory for the class of people for whom the suit was filed. U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele eventually ordered an end to jail segregation and to the illegal detention of blacks, an infamous system in which …

Phillips, Henry (Lynching of)

On November 13, 1897, Henry Phillips was lynched in Osceola (Mississippi County) for the alleged murder of storekeeper Tom McClanahan. Editor Leon Roussan’s coverage of the incident in the Osceola Times sparked a feud with Sheriff Charles Bowen. Bowen, a former captain in the Confederate army and a local Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader, was prominently involved in the Black Hawk War of 1872. According to the Osceola Times, on November 6, Tom McClanahan was brutally murdered in his store. McClanahan had come from Tennessee three years earlier to work in a local sawmill. When the mill was sold, he remained in Mississippi County to settle up outstanding claims. At the same time, he operated a small grocery store in …

Pike-Roane Duel

aka: Roane-Pike Duel
The Pike-Roane Duel was fought in 1847 between Albert Pike and John Selden Roane. Albert Pike was originally a Bostonian who left the Northeast to explore the West and eventually ended up in Arkansas on an expedition. He decided to stay, practicing law and becoming a prominent Arkansan. John Selden Roane, born in Tennessee, moved to Arkansas to study law and eventually was elected governor. Both Pike and Roane fought in the Mexican War in the 1840s. Pike was so disappointed with the Arkansas regiment’s performance in the Battle of Buena Vista (including events leading to the battlefield death of former Arkansas governor and congressman Archibald Yell) that he wrote a letter on March 8, 1847, to the editor of …

Pilot Knob, Missouri, to Gainesville, Scout from

aka: Expedition from Patterson to Bloomfield and Pilot Knob, Missouri
On May 10, 1864, Captain Herman J. Huiskamp led a force of forty-six men of Company D, Sixth Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US), from the Union base at Pilot Knob, Missouri, headed to Gainesville (Greene County) in Arkansas to disrupt the operations of Confederate soldiers and guerrillas in the area. Four days later, they linked with troops of the Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry (US) under Captain Abijah Johns, and then left Patterson, Missouri, to continue toward Arkansas. The combined force rode toward Chalk Bluff (Clay County) on the St. Francis River, but on May 16, “when within two miles of that place, [Huiskamp’s Sixth Missouri troopers] took a right-hand road leading through a swamp in the direction of Gainesville.” The …

Pine Bluff Expedition (February 26–28, 1865)

aka: Skirmish at McMilley's Farm
  Following the fall of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Union forces in October 1863, Union commanders at the Pine Bluff garrison began expeditions aimed at scouting and securing areas around the city to remove remaining Confederate forces. Ordered to command an expeditionary force to scout the area north of the Arkansas River between Pine Bluff and a farm near the Wabbaseka (Jefferson County) area, Captain George Suesberry moved a force of sixty men from Pine Bluff to that area. During the movement, there was a brief engagement with Confederate forces. Late in the evening of February 26, 1865, Capt. Suesberry moved his force of sixty men across the Arkansas River to the northern bank with the intent to continue …

Pine Bluff Expedition (January 15–18, 1865)

Ordered to lead an expedition to repair downed telegraph lines from the Union-held city of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Lieutenant Charles Temple of Company M, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry, moved his Union forces along the roads and farms around Pine Bluff from January 15 to January 18, 1865, returning to the Thirteenth Illinois Headquarters in Pine Bluff. During the expedition, there was no hostile contact with Confederate forces. On Sunday, January 15, 1865, Lt. Temple, along with an escort of thirty soldiers from the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry and a telegraph repair crew, began a movement along the Little Rock Road to repair telegraph lines that had been cut. The party advanced some twelve miles, at which point it discovered a break …

Pine Bluff Film Festival

The Pine Bluff Film Festival was inaugurated in 1994 by local residents who wanted to honor the legacy of the silent film era and help revitalize downtown Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Since that time, the annual event screened silent classics (often accompanied by a symphony orchestra), hosted world-famous guest stars, expanded to two theaters, implemented a silent film competition, and encouraged film and theater restoration. It was hosted each year by two world-renowned cultural experts from New York who were with the festival since its inception. The festival was recognized internationally as one of the oldest silent film festivals in the United States and the only one that regularly presented silent films with full orchestral accompaniment. The festival originated with …

Pine Bluff Lynchings of 1892

On February 14, 1892, John Kelley (sometimes spelled Kelly) was lynched in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) for the murder of W. T. McAdams. At the time, Pine Bluff was the second-largest city in Arkansas. The black population in Jefferson County was seventy-three percent, and there were a number of prominent African-American landowners and merchants. The city boasted a black newspaper, as well as the state’s only college for African Americans, Branch Normal School (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). According to the Arkansas Gazette, on the night of February 9, John Kelley and several accomplices allegedly murdered W. T. McAdams, an agent for the Obest Brewing Company and a highly respected Pine Bluff citizen. At 10:30 p.m., McAdams …