Entries - Entry Type: Event - Starting with R

Rebel Stakes

The Rebel Stakes, a thoroughbred horse race restricted to three-year-old colts and geldings, has been run each year since 1961 at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County). Over the years, it has developed into an important preparatory race not only for the $1 million Arkansas Derby, but also for the subsequent Triple Crown races. (The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes make up the Triple Crown.) The Rebel Stakes is traditionally held in mid-March. Stakes races—so called because of the stake, or entry fee, owners must pay—are rated grade one (the highest), grade two, or grade three based on the size of the purse. (The purse is the prize money that is divided among the horses competing …

Rector, Rickey Ray (Execution of)

Rickey (or Ricky) Ray Rector was the third death row inmate to be executed in Arkansas after the reinstatement of capital punishment in the state in 1990. He was executed despite concerns over his ability to understand the difference between life and death or the consequences of his actions. On March 22, 1981, Rector entered Tommy’s Old Fashioned Home-style Restaurant in Conway (Faulkner County), where he had previously been denied entrance to a private party. Rector fired several shots, killing Arthur Criswell and wounding two others. Two days later, Rector entered his mother’s home while the police were there questioning his mother and sister. Rector shot and killed Robert Martin, a Conway police officer, before running outside and shooting himself …

Red River Campaign

The Red River Campaign involved a multipronged Union attack in southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana. The objectives—the capture of Texas to prevent Mexican Emperor Maximilian from threatening the region, the crippling of Confederate resistance west of the Mississippi, and the seizure of cotton land—failed as outnumbered Confederates maximized positions to repel the invasion. Afterwards, Confederate morale improved, bolstering further resistance in the Trans-Mississippi and prolonging the war. Under Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck’s plan, Major General Nathaniel P. Banks would march from west of New Orleans, link with Rear Admiral David Porter’s Mississippi Squadron on the Red River and infantry troops from east of the Mississippi River, and coordinate their movement into northwest Louisiana while Brigadier General Frederick Steele pushed south …

Reed’s Mountain, Skirmish at

The series of maneuvers and skirmishes that took place on Reed’s Mountain on December 4–7, 1862, with the primary skirmish on December 6, relate directly to the aftermath of the Engagement at Cane Hill and serve as a prelude to the Battle of Prairie Grove. After his tactical victory at Cane Hill (Washington County) on November 28, Major General Thomas C. Hindman hoped to rely on Reed’s Mountain to slow a persistent Federal pursuit and conceal his planned attack against the separated portions of the Army of the Frontier. Therefore, on December 3, Hindman ordered Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke to prepare a defensive stand, anchored at the approaches to the Cove Creek and Wire roads. Information gathered through reconnaissance …

Remount Camp, Skirmish at

Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby assumed command of all Confederate forces north of the Arkansas River beginning in late May 1864. Union control of the Arkansas River and the capital at Little Rock (Pulaski County) effectively isolated Shelby from the secessionist state government and most Confederate fighting forces in the southwest corner of the state. Three years of warfare had taken its toll; poverty and devastation were rampant in Arkansas’s northern counties, and the area was full of deserters from both armies. Civilians who did not or could not flee their homes teetered on the verge of starvation, as passing Union and Confederate forces pressed the common citizens for supply and forage, while roving guerrilla bands freely plundered whatever was …

Reynolds, Dan (Lynching of)

In late December 1888, Dan Reynolds, an African American, was beaten and left for dead near Coffee Creek (Phillips County) by nine other African-American men who apparently disapproved of his relationship with a local black woman. The Arkansas Gazette referred to this incident as “one of the most atrocious crimes ever committed in this or any other country.” Coffee Creek is located in Big Creek Township, and Dan Reynolds had been living there for almost twenty years. He is listed in the 1870 census as a farm laborer, living with his wife, Vester (or Vesta) who was thirty-nine. By 1880, they had a ten-year-old daughter named Eliza. According to a report published in the Arkansas Gazette on January 15, 1889, …

Rhodes, Richard (Hanging of)

Few people survive a hanging, but Dr. Richard Rhodes—a plantation owner in Dallas County, living just south of present-day Sheridan (Grant County)—may have survived two. Richard Clinton Rhodes was born in North Carolina in 1801 to a prominent family. He received medical training in Europe and then opened a practice in Robeson County, North Carolina. There, he invested in land and quickly became a rich plantation owner with nearly 200 slaves. Rhodes married Susan Davis Russell when she was sixteen and he was forty-six. The Rhodes family’s oral history says that while practicing medicine in North Carolina, Rhodes delivered Susan as a newborn. The Russell family could not afford to pay Rhodes’s medical fee, so the baby girl was offered …

Rice Bowl

Established in 1936, the World’s Champion Duck Calling Contest has annually attracted the finest duck callers and duck hunting enthusiasts in North America to the city of Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The contest is held on the weekend following Thanksgiving Day, just as the college football season is beginning to wind down and the season’s bowl games are on the horizon. In 1957, contest organizers sought to capitalize on the popularity of college football in Arkansas by adding a college football game, known as the Rice Bowl, to the calendar of events. The Rice Bowl’s goal was to showcase the finest small college football teams in the state of Arkansas. In 1957, Rice Bowl committee chairman Shannon Flowers signed an agreement …

Richland Creek, Skirmish at (August 16, 1864)

A running battle in northwestern Arkansas, this skirmish was typical of Federal efforts to keep guerrillas from establishing a foothold in the area. On August 15, 1864, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) ordered Lieutenant Colonel Albert Bishop to lead an expedition against a band of bushwhackers operating near Fayetteville (Washington County) under the command of Tuck Smith. Departing at 1:00 a.m. the next morning, the Federals moved eastward and found signs of enemy activity about thirteen miles outside Fayetteville. Around 7:00 a.m., the unit approached a home on Richland Creek. Between ten and fifteen horses were tied up there. The guerrilla riders were inside eating breakfast, and the Union troops surprised the entire group, causing …

Richland Creek, Skirmishes at (April 13–14, 1864)

These separate Civil War skirmishes over two days in northern Arkansas were part of a Federal effort to keep Confederate forces from organizing in the area. By attacking guerrilla bands, Union troops were able to disrupt enemy efforts severely. Captain Samuel Turner of the Sixth Missouri State Militia (US) led a patrol along Richland Creek in April 1864. Finding evidence of enemy activity in the area, he located a guerrilla camp under the command of a Captain Watkins. Attacking the camp, which numbered about sixty-three people, the Federals completely surprised the enemy, killing five, including Watkins. Several others were wounded, and one Confederate was captured. The next day, several guerrilla bands numbering more than 100 joined forces. These groups were …

Richland Creek, Skirmishes at (May 3 and 5, 1864)

 In March 1864, six companies and the headquarters of the Federal Second Arkansas Cavalry commanded by Colonel John E. Phelps were transferred from Cassville, Missouri, to Yellville (Marion County) to suppress Confederate guerrillas who were raiding southern Missouri. Other companies of the regiment were left at Berryville (Carroll County) in Arkansas, and Cassville and Springfield in Missouri. In addition to protecting Missouri, the Federals hoped that troops stationed in the northern tier of Arkansas counties would encourage Arkansas Unionists in the area to organize home-guard companies for protection. Immediately after being assigned to Yellville, however, headquarters were moved to Rolling Prairie (Boone County) in order to provide better forage for the horses. The camp was moved from time to time to …

Richland, Skirmish at

Providing enough food to the men assigned to them was difficult for the numerous Federal outposts spread across the Arkansas countryside late in the war. Gathering supplies could be dangerous work, as Union troops were vulnerable to enemy action while outside their heavily fortified outposts. This skirmish took place when Federal troops moved from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) as an escort to a beef contractor. On December 24, 1864, Lieutenant Thomas Stevenson received orders to escort a beef contractor to the post commissary. Departing at 5:00 a.m., the escort consisted of nineteen men of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry and twenty men from the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry. Leaving Pine Bluff, the Union troops moved toward Richland. Finding a bayou too deep …

Ricks, G. W. and Moses (Lynching of)

In June 1898, prosperous African-American farmer G. W. Ricks and his son, Rev. Moses Ricks, were lynched in southern Monroe County for the alleged assault of a white farmer’s wife. According to historian Terence Finegan, whose A Deed so Accursed is a study of lynching in South Carolina and Mississippi, prosperous African Americans were occasionally lynched because their success threatened the notion of white superiority. Census information both illuminates and confuses the story. In 1870, there was a black farmer named Jim Ricks living in Monroe County’s Duncan Township. He was twenty-seven years old, and living with him were his wife, Miriam, and several other family members, all of them too old to be the Rickses’ children. Ricks was a …

Riverfest Arts and Music Festival

Riverfest Arts and Music Festival was Arkansas’s premier summer event, offering three days of music on the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Operated by Riverfest Inc., a nonprofit organization overseen by a board of directors, Riverfest attracted more than 250,000 people in 2013, creating an economic impact of more than $30 million in the local community. Founded by the Junior League of Little Rock as the Summer Arts Festival in July 1978, the first Riverfest presented the American Wind Symphony and other activities at Murray Park. Following the event’s initial success, the date of the Summer Arts Festival was moved the next year to its well-known Memorial Day weekend …

Robertson, Frank (Lynching of)

There is much confusion about the lynching of alleged arsonist Frank Robertson, which occurred in late March 1903. Newspapers from the time give a variety of dates for the event, ranging from March 26 to March 28. Many of the reports were datelined Lewisville (Lafayette County), although other newspapers called it New Louisville or New Lewisville; this would be the present-day Lafayette County seat of Lewisville, which was referred to as “New Lewisville” after the town moved closer to the railroad line in the late nineteenth century. Adding to the confusion, when the U.S. Congress issued an apology in 2005 for its historical inaction on lynching, its report said that Robertson’s lynching occurred on March 27 just across the Louisiana–Arkansas …

Robinson, Willis (Lynching of)

On December 18, 1918, an African-American man named Willis Robinson was hanged by a mob in Newport (Jackson County) for allegedly murdering police officer Charles Williams and wounding Chief of Police Gus C. Martin. Reports indicate that Robinson was a resident of Little Rock (Pulaski County), and the 1910 census listed nineteen-year-old Willis W. Robinson as living in Owen Township with his parents, Charley and Martha Robinson. According to newspaper reports, by December 1918, Robinson, who was described by the Arkansas Democrat as “a very large black negro, weighing about 240 pounds,” was living with his wife at 1003 Jones Street in Little Rock. Robinson was reportedly well known to local authorities. In defiance of a 1917 Arkansas statute forbidding …

Rodeo of the Ozarks

The Rodeo of the Ozarks in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) was, in 2008, ranked in the top five of large outdoor rodeos in the United States. It is estimated to have a $6 to $7 million impact on northwest Arkansas. The Rodeo of the Ozarks was founded in 1945. That year, a pair of construction workers from Oklahoma who also worked as rodeo promoters, Paul Bond and Bill Kelley, were working in Springdale and raised the idea of starting an event that summer. Eventually, this idea was passed along to Thurman “Shorty” Parsons and Dempsey Letsch, co-owners of a feed store. Under their leadership, the Rodeo of the Ozarks became a reality in 1945, with the dates July 1, 3, …

Rodger’s Crossing, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at White River (September 14, 1864)
aka: Skirmish at Huntsville
On September 12, 1864, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US), stationed in Fayetteville (Washington County), heard rumors that a Confederate group under Captain James Cooper intended to attack Union general John B. Sanborn’s train. Harrison ordered that Captain John I. Worthington escort the train to Little Sugar Creek and then move up the White River in the direction of Richland Creek and Huntsville (Madison County). Capt. Worthington attacked Capt. Cooper’s approximately eighty Confederate troops close to Jennings’ Ferry on the White River. The skirmishes that ensued toward Richland Creek and Huntsville saw nine Confederate deaths, with five suffered at the Skirmish at Rodger’s Crossing. On the same day as Worthington’s attack, a Confederate lieutenant called Rogers …

Rolling Prairie, Skirmish at

In early 1864, the northern tier of Arkansas counties of Carroll, Searcy, Newton, and Izard had been decimated by the war. This area had become a haven for jayhawkers and bushwhackers from both armies. Union general John B. Sanborn wrote to General W. S. Rosecrans in early February 1864 that 1,200 to 2,000 Confederate soldiers and bushwhackers had gathered in the aforementioned counties and were contemplating a raid into Missouri, with a view of capturing Federal trains and supplies. Sanborn then ordered 200 men of the First Arkansas Cavalry, 200 men of the Second Arkansas Cavalry, and 200 men of the Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry into Newton County, then to march so that they would arrive at Rolling Prairie …

Rolling Stones, Arrest of the

The July 5, 1975, lunch stop and subsequent arrest of Rolling Stones guitarists Ron Wood and Keith Richards in Fordyce (Dallas County) is fabled in the town, and the incident became a footnote in the police record of the English rock and roll band. The quintet had cultivated an outlaw image since its early 1960s inception. According to Arkansas native Bill Carter, the Rolling Stones’ attorney from 1973 to 1990, everywhere the Stones went in 1975, it was a challenge for authorities. Riot squads and narcotics units were common during the group’s twenty-eight-city, $13 million-grossing tour. On July 4, the Stones played Memphis, Tennessee. Richards and new member Wood decided to sightsee and drive with two others to their July …

Roseville, Skirmishes at

In late March 1864, Companies D and E of the Second Kansas Cavalry, led by Captain John Gardner of Company E, were dispatched from their post at Jenny Lind (Sebastian County) to protect Union supplies and a cache of cotton at Roseville (Logan County). Roseville, which was at that time in Franklin County, was an important port on the Arkansas River, forty-five miles southeast of Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The companies either joined or were joined by Company D of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, making a force of about 200 men. At about the same time, Confederate brigadier general Samuel Bell Maxey ordered Colonel Nicholas Battle to take a detachment of 400 to 500 men of his Thirtieth Texas Cavalry …

Ross’ Landing, Skirmish at

  Early in 1864, Chicot County witnessed an event that characterized the increasingly brutal nature of warfare in the Trans-Mississippi Department during the last full year of the Civil War. On February 14, 1864, twenty-two self-described “half bushwhackers” from Captain W. N. “Tuck” Thorp’s Company E of the Ninth Missouri Cavalry (Elliott’s Scouts, serving as the advance of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s brigade and sometimes called the First Missouri Cavalry Battalion) surprised and attacked a detachment of the First Mississippi Infantry (African Descent) under First Lieutenant Thaddeus K. Cock on the Johnson family’s Tecumseh plantation near Grand Lake. While patrolling near Lake Village (Chicot County), Capt. Thorp’s men learned from an unidentified citizen that a detachment of black Union soldiers from …

Rural Electrification

The first major effort to provide electricity to rural Arkansas began with the passage of the federal Rural Electrification Act in 1936, creating the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). The agency was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to improve the economic condition of farmers hit hard by depression, flood, and drought. It provided twenty-five-year loans at three percent interest for constructing power lines in rural areas. With REA loans, farmers could afford to electrify their homes and farms. Electrified farms, officials believed, would improve farm incomes and raise farm standards of living. Providing electricity to Arkansas farms and communities of fewer than 2,500 people was costly. Rural areas averaged fewer than five customers per mile of electric …

Russ, Carnell (Killing of)

The killing of African American Carnell Russ by white Star City (Lincoln County) police officer Charles Lee Ratliff on May 31, 1971, highlights many matters surrounding race, civil rights, and law enforcement in Arkansas at the time. The case involved hostile and aggressive white policing, skewed all-white or mostly white juries, the lack of black police officers and black jurors in areas heavily populated by black residents, judges with questionable impartiality, unconcerned federal agencies, and the procedural intricacies and bureaucracy of the criminal justice system. Importantly, it led to a change in federal policy over how civil rights cases would be handled in the future. Carnell Russ was pulled over by state trooper Jerry Green at around 5:45 p.m. on …