Entries - Entry Type: Event - Starting with B

Big Lake Expedition

This Civil War expedition took place only two months after the fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and constitutes a portion of an ongoing Union effort to assess loyalty in the Mississippi River counties of Arkansas and eliminate Confederate guerrilla activity. On September 7, 1863, Colonel John B. Rogers of the Second Missouri State Militia Cavalry ordered Major Frederick R. Poole to lead 200 troopers and one artillery piece from Camp Lowry in the Missouri bootheel to Big Lake in Mississippi County, Arkansas, and return to camp via Pemiscot County, Missouri. When he reached New Madrid, Missouri, Poole received reinforcements that doubled the size of his command, with the addition of fifty men from the Second Missouri State Militia Cavalry, 100 from …

Big Lake Wars

Competition and contention over an abundant (and unregulated) storehouse of northeastern Arkansas wildlife from the mid-1870s until 1915 led to violence and controversy known as the Big Lake Wars. Big Lake refers to a section of western Mississippi County created by the massive New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812. “War” may be a misleading description of the events because there were no formalities, declarations, truces, or settlements. However, the conflict had a lasting impact on the state and even on the nation. The Big Lake Wars pitted local residents, who were mostly poor, against affluent northerners, chiefly from St. Louis, Missouri. Early Arkansas maps labeled the sparsely populated area between Crowley’s Ridge and the Mississippi River as “the Great Swamp.” After …

Biscoe Family (Lynching of)

In early February 1892, Hamp Biscoe (or Bisco), his pregnant wife, and his thirteen-year-old son were killed in Keo (Lonoke County); their infant escaped with only a minor wound. This murder was apparently the culmination of years of suffering and bitterness on the part of the Biscoe family. It was also one of the numerous incidents occurring in Arkansas at the time that prompted the Reverend Malcolm E. Argyle to write in the March 1892 Christian Recorder (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): “There is much uneasiness and unrest all over this State among our people, owing to the fact that the people (our race variety) all over the State are being lynched upon the slightest provocation….In the last 30 days there have been …

Black Hawk War of 1872

The Black Hawk War was a Reconstruction-era political and racial conflict in Mississippi County that occurred in 1872—not to be confused with two earlier incidents both called the Black Hawk War, which were clashes between Native Americans and white settlers in other states. Little is known about the event, including the origins of its name. During Reconstruction, the radical wing of the Republican Party controlled most elected offices. Many judges, prosecutors, and registrars were intensely disliked by local residents, who had little say in their own affairs and who resented the granting of civil rights to African Americans, of which Mississippi County had a sizeable population. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was very active in the area, resulting in Mississippi …

Blakely, Joe (Lynching of)

On May 29, 1909, African-American man Sam Blakely—with his brother Joe Blakely as an accessory—allegedly murdered deputy sheriff Walter Cain in Portland (Ashley County). Sam briefly escaped, and Joe was eventually lynched for his role in the murder. The incident was covered by numerous newspapers across the country, including the Los Angeles Times and the New York Tribune. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the difficulty started when a white farmer named Bud Harper killed Sam Blakely’s dog. The two Blakely brothers then went to Harper’s home, assaulting him “in his own yard, abusing him while he held Mr. Harper under gun cover, backed up by Joe.” Warrants were sworn out against the African-American brothers for disturbing the peace, and Cain …

Blazes, Albert (Lynching of)

aka: Albert Blades (Lynching of)
In May 1926, an African-American man named Albert Blazes (sometimes referred to as Blades) was taken from authorities in Wilson (Mississippi County) and lynched for allegedly attacking a white girl. The story was covered both nationally and internationally, appearing in Time magazine and meriting a front-page illustration in Le Petit Journal, published in Paris, France. There is no information on the identity of either the girl or the alleged perpetrator. According to the May 27, 1926, Arkansas Gazette, a group of Wilson school children were on an outing when three girls became separated from their classmates. Albert Blazes (whose age is reported in various sources from nineteen to twenty-two) pursued them; two of them ran away, but one girl tripped, …

Blytheville Boycotts of 1970–1971

In the opening months of 1970, a group of African Americans in their mid-twenties sought to bring the social and cultural changes they had seen evolving in other parts of the world to Blytheville (Mississippi County). A graduate of Harrison High School (Blytheville’s black school), Bob Broadwater helped this group establish a chapter of the Black United Youth (BUY). The first public effort of this fledgling civil rights organization occurred soon after a local white grocer, Ernest Ray, beat a nine-year-old black boy with a crowbar for allegedly shoplifting. Ray’s grocery store was a fixture in the Elm Street commercial district. His store had a reputation for selling out-of-date meats and vegetables well past their prime. During a meeting in …

Blytheville Comic Book Ban of 1954–1955

A national backlash against alleged violent and gory comic books led to an outright ban of such publications in Blytheville (Mississippi County) in 1955. Many Americans were concerned about a rising rate of juvenile delinquency in the early 1950s, and some blamed magazines, comic books, and other periodicals for contributing to the problem, particularly such publications as William Gaines’s Tales from the Crypt and CrimeSuspenstories. U.S. Representative E. C. “Took” Gathings held hearings of his Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials in 1952 that looked into “gory” comic books and concluded that such magazines “do not teach children how to think straight” and recommended that publishers police themselves regarding objectionable materials. The concern over comic books increased with the 1954 …

Bogan, West (Trial of)

Bound in slavery on a cotton farm near Helena (Phillips County), West Bogan fought and killed his subjugator, Monroe Bogan, with an ax the morning of December 15, 1863. After many months in jail and a court sentence to hang, Bogan’s case was presented by Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt to President Abraham Lincoln on the fresh legal grounds of the Emancipation Proclamation. Bogan was ultimately seen as having acted in self defense and freed, but the rest of his life remains a mystery. Two weeks after the murder, West Bogan was discovered by plantation neighbors hiding among the thousands of former slaves in the contraband camps around Helena. They handed him over to Union troops. Bogan was held at a Helena …

Boggs’ Mills, Skirmish at

  A short engagement in rural Yell County, this skirmish is notable for pitting Arkansas Confederate troops against a combined Federal force consisting of both white and African-American troops from Arkansas. By January 1865, major Confederate offensive operations had ceased in the state. But while most Confederate units remained in southern Arkansas, small units of cavalry continued to operate in Union-held territory alongside guerrilla bands. Without access to regular supplies, these units were forced to forage and otherwise acquire supplies to the best of their abilities. Boggs’ Mills, located about twelve miles from Dardanelle (Yell County), served as both a location for the grinding of corn and a place for Confederate units to gather and organize. Federal forces were well aware of …

Bogle, Gus (Execution of)

Gus Bogle was a young African American man hanged in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) on July 6, 1888, for the murder of a white man in the Choctaw Nation, a crime for which Bogle died protesting his innocence. On June 28, 1887, residents of Blue Tank, Choctaw Nation, found William D. Morgan’s dead body, strangled and beaten. Morgan was a coal miner suffering from tuberculosis who had left home the day before to travel to a climate healthier for his condition. He apparently got drunk that night and was removed from a train at Blue Tank along with four young African American men, three of whom were bootblacks in Denison, Texas. Gus Bogle, sometimes called Bogles, was arrested on June …

Bonanza Race War of 1904

The Bonanza Race War of 1904 was a race riot/labor war that occurred in the coal-mining city of Bonanza (Sebastian County) and resulted in the expulsion of African Americans from the city following several days of violence. The event is indicative of a general antipathy toward black labor in the coal mines of western Arkansas, and, by the end of the decade, African Americans could reportedly be found in only two mining communities, having been driven from the rest. Bonanza was a coal-mining city even before its incorporation in 1898. Central Coal and Coke Company operated the only three mines there, and the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (Frisco) provided easy transportation, both for coal and other goods and for travelers. …

Boodle Prosecutions

aka: Boodle Scandal of 1905–1908
The Boodle Scandal of 1905–1908 dealt with pervasive bribery (“boodle” is a slang term for bribe money) in the 1905 Arkansas General Assembly uncovered by Lewis Rhoton, prosecuting attorney for the Sixth Judicial District (Pulaski and Perry counties). Rhoton’s unmasking of legislators’ corruption in Arkansas in these years advanced the rise of Progressivism as a political force. When President Theodore Roosevelt visited Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 25, 1905, he praised Rhoton’s effort to hold public officials to account. The president also decried difficulties in prosecuting the wealthy or influential, including difficulties created by the legal system itself. Problems with Arkansas’s law and judicial procedures were partly at fault for Rhoton’s lack of widespread success in proceeding against boodlers. …

Bowles (Lynching of)

Sometime around August 22, 1892, an African-American man identified only by his surname, which was Bowles, was hanged near Gurdon (Clark County) for allegedly raping sixteen-year-old Nellie Wilkes. Public records reveal no additional information about either Bowles or Wilkes. Although the incident was apparently not covered in Arkansas, several publications across the country reported on it, including a German-language newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland. According to the Hamilton, Ohio, Daily Republican, Bowles, a “burly negro,” “outraged” Wilkes and then fled the scene. This aroused the neighborhood, and a mob was soon in pursuit. He was discovered at a farmhouse, where he had compelled the occupants to give him food. He was brought back to the scene of the crime, where he …

Boyd, Leonard (Lynching of)

On August 2, 1887, a white man named Leonard Boyd was lynched outside of Jacksonport (Jackson County) for having allegedly murdered his wife. The brief account of the lynching of Leonard Boyd in Jacksonport appears only as a paragraph in the “Arkansas State News” column of several state newspapers, such as the Southern Standard of Arkadelphia (Clark County) and the Osceola Times of Osceola (Mississippi County). According to this account, a coroner’s jury was conducting an inquest regarding the death of Boyd’s wife, who had allegedly committed suicide. However, the jury concluded that “she had come to her death by being hanged by the neck by a rope in the hands of her husband.” Specifically, the inquest concluded that “she …

Bracero Program

To ensure that U.S. farmers had sufficient labor, the U.S. State Department and the Mexican Foreign Affairs Department signed a bilateral agreement to create the Bracero Program in August 1942. Preceded by the similar Emergency Farm Labor Program, it aimed to supply landowners with laborers so they could meet increased wartime demand for their crops. Under the terms of the agreement, workers were contracted for a period of no more than ninety days, and they could reenlist in the program each year. The program was administered by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and hiring agents in cities such as Tijuana, Guadalajara, Chihuahua, Monterrey, and Mexico City. The majority of braceros worked in the West—primarily California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, and …

Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival

The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival celebrates the pink tomato industry in southeastern Arkansas. Originally a one-day event, it has become a weeklong celebration that attracts approximately 30,000 people each year. In June 1956, the first Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival was held in Warren (Bradley County). Loran Johnson, who was director of the Chamber of Commerce at the time, was one of the founders of the festival. The one-day event included musicians, a carnival, and exhibits. Each year, a chairperson of the festival was chosen. A parade and beauty pageant were added the second year. Another festival event began after Jean Frisby, who was the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES) home economist for Bradley County, and Loran Johnson, who …

Branch, Charley (Lynching of)

On December 26, 1882, Charley Branch (sometimes referred to as Charles, Charlie, or Charles B. Branch) was lynched by a mob of African Americans near Varner (Lincoln County) for allegedly raping and murdering Cora Wallace, the daughter of Dock Wallace. Both Branch and his alleged victim were African American. At the time of the incident, Charley Branch was reported by the Arkansas Gazette to be thirty-five years old. There is no likely listing for a Charley or Charles Branch in either the 1860 or 1870 Arkansas census. One possible Charles Branch listed in Arkansas in 1880 was living in Monroe Township in Mississippi County. However, there was also listed in the 1880 census one “Chas. Branch.” Born around 1857, he …

Branchville, Skirmish at

  By late 1863, the area surrounding Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) was routinely occupied by violent guerrilla bands. When local citizens asked for assistance, Major General Frederick Steele dispatched Colonel Powell Clayton and his Fifth Kansas Cavalry (US) to secure the area. After repelling a major attack on the city on October 25, 1863, Clayton mainly patrolled the surrounding area to maintain control locally. His units occasionally clashed with enemy forces; one such clash was the 1864 Skirmish at Branchville. Around midnight on January 18, 1864, a detachment of some 600 troopers from the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, First Indiana Cavalry, Seventh Missouri Cavalry, and four pieces of light artillery, under the command of Col. Clayton, rode out of Pine Bluff …

Branton v. State

When the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1944 that Southern states could no longer bar African Americans from voting in party primaries because it violated the U.S. Constitution, Arkansas legislators and Democratic Party officials set about to thwart the expected flood of new voters in the primaries. These steps, including loyalty oaths, produced so much confusion at the polls in 1946 that they were abandoned, and Black voters surged to the polls for the first time in the Democratic primaries of 1948. The white Democratic-led response resulted in the criminal investigation, prosecution, and conviction of a young civil rights advocate who later became one of the South’s most renowned civil rights lawyers. The Arkansas Supreme Court case upholding the conviction …

Briggs, Clinton (Lynching of)

Clinton Briggs, a twenty-six-year-old soldier who had just returned to Star City (Lincoln County) after serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, was lynched on September 1, 1919, after allegedly insulting a young white woman. According to the 1910 census, eighteen-year-old Briggs was living on a rented farm in Bartholomew Township, Lincoln County, with his parents, Sandy and Catherine Briggs. His father was a farmer, and Clinton was listed as a laborer. Clinton could both read and write, although he had not attended school. On June 5, 1917, he registered for the draft. On his draft registration, he stated that he was working for a farmer named Alex Dutton. Briggs served in the army from June 19, 1918, …

Brock, Ed (Lynching of)

On August 10, 1923, a young African-American teamster named Ed Brock was lynched at Murphyville in Union County for allegedly insulting a white woman. In 1922, oil was discovered in what is known as the Smackover field in Union and Ouachita counties, and by 1923, J. T. Murphy was operating a number of wells there. Murphyville, which the Arkansas Gazette described as being located six miles northeast of Norphlet (Union County), was probably an oil camp. According to the Gazette, Brock had allegedly insulted Mrs. W. C. Ranoff, the wife of an oil field worker. She reported the incident to her husband, who got a gun and captured Brock on the afternoon of August 10. According to reports, Ranoff intended …

Brodie (Lynching of)

On May 16, 1900, an African American named James (Jim) or John Brodie—accounts differ—was killed near Raggio (Lee County) for allegedly attacking a local planter and merchant named John Blunt. The murder is considered a lynching by many institutions that keep track of lynchings across the nation. According to the June 15 edition of the Forrest City Times, the lynching happened as a result of a disagreement between Blunt and Brodie in the middle of May. Brodie allegedly tried to shoot Blunt, and they exchanged several shots before another African American shot Brodie in the face. Brodie appeared before a magistrate and was placed in the custody of two Black constables. Blunt sent to Marianna (Lee County) for a deputy …

Brooks (Lynching of)

In some cases, conflicting newspaper accounts make it difficult to identify the actual victim of a lynching, as well as other individuals mentioned in the story. Such is the case with an African American man named Brooks, who was shot in St. Francis County on May 20, 1894, for reportedly asking to marry his white employer’s daughter. An early Kentucky article on the lynching identifies the victim as William Brooks, and this name was listed in The Red Record by Ida B. Wells and by the Equal Justice Initiative. A contemporaneous article in the Forrest City Times, however, identifies the victim as Harry Brooks. Similarly, Brooks’s employer is alternately described as W. A. Saylor and W. A. Taylor, and Saylor/Taylor’s …

Brooks-Baxter War

The Brooks-Baxter War, which occurred during April and May 1874, was an armed conflict between the supporters of two rivals for the governorship—Joseph Brooks and Elisha Baxter. The violence spilled out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) into much of the state and was resolved only when the federal government intervened. The result of the war, recognition of Elisha Baxter as the governor, brought a practical end to Republican rule in the state and thus ended the era of Reconstruction. Questions concerning the results of the state’s 1872 gubernatorial election brought about the Brooks-Baxter War. In that election, Joseph Brooks—a carpetbagger with a radical reputation and the leader of the party faction known as the “Brindletails”—ran as a Reform Republican, supporting …

Brown, Frank (Lynching of)

On September 22, 1905, an African-American man named Frank Brown was hanged at Conway (Faulkner County) for an alleged assault on Arlena Lawrence and her two young sons, resulting in the death of the older son, Elzey. Contrary to some sources, this was not the only lynching in Faulkner County. Two people had been lynched previously in the county: Thomas Wilson, an African American, in 1884 and Albert England, a white man, in 1895. According to Robert Meriwether’s account of the lynching, Lawrence’s age was “about 35,” and it was reported that she had been raised near Greenbrier (Faulkner County) with the maiden name of Butcher. There is no one named Arlena Lawrence in either the 1900 or 1910 censuses …

Brown, William Montgomery

The colorful William Montgomery Brown was consecrated as the assistant bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas on June 24, 1898, and soon became bishop after the death of Henry Niles Pierce. In 1925, after openly embracing materialism and communism, Brown became the only bishop in the Episcopal Church ever removed from office because of heresy. These heretical views were presented in his book Communism and Christianism: Banish Gods from Skies and Capitalists from Earth. William Montgomery Brown was born on September 4, 1855, on a farm west of Orrville, Ohio, the son of a maid, Lucina Elzina Cary, and a day laborer, Joseph Morrison Brown. He had a sister and a brother. He became an orphan during the Civil War …

Brownsville to Arkansas Post, Expedition from

The December 7–13, 1864, Union scouting expedition from Brownsville (Lonoke County) to Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) was undertaken to hunt down guerrillas who had been firing on Union shipping on the Arkansas River and to seize beef cattle for the Federal army. On December 6, 1864, Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr ordered a detachment of 200 men from the garrison at Brownsville to ride toward Arkansas Post “for the purpose of driving out the bushwhackers in that region and bringing in beef cattle.” Carr noted that one party of twenty-five guerrillas had fired on boats near the post “and there is said to be some squads of bushwhackers between the Bayou Metoe [sic] and the Arkansas.” Major Gilbert J. Hudson …

Brownsville to Cotton Plant, Expedition from

The scouting expedition from Brownsville (Lonoke County) to Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) began as an effort to gauge the level of Union support around Madison (St. Francis County). On October 25, 1864, Brigadier General Joseph R. West ordered Major George T. Snelling of the Tenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment to take 200 men from his regiment and go from Brownsville to the White River, where a boat would transport them across and they would ride on to Madison. “The scout was not deemed a military scout, but rather a political scout,” Snelling reported, adding that “there would be an election held in Madison to see if there were any Union men in that locality or not.” West ordered Snelling to return …

Brownsville, Scout from (January 17–19, 1864)

A party of Union soldiers from Brownsville (Lonoke County) headed north on January 17, 1864, to connect with the Third Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) in Searcy (White County), apparently to deliver orders for the Missourians to report to Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Third Missouri Cavalry had been stationed at Jacksonport (Jackson County) but moved its station to Searcy on January 10, 1864. Four days later, it sent a contingent of soldiers from Company M under Lieutenant Francis Hyatt to the Little Red River to meet a steamboat that was supposed to deliver supplies. After determining that the boat had turned back, the troopers headed back toward the rest of the regiment. They encountered a band of twenty bushwhackers led …

Brownsville, Skirmish at (August 25, 1863)

A brief and inconsequential engagement during the Federal campaign to take Little Rock (Pulaski County), this skirmish took place near the present-day city of Lonoke (Lonoke County). Confederate forces engaged Union troops to delay the advance of Major General Frederick Steele’s forces as they moved westward. The movement of the Federal army on Little Rock was hampered more by sickness than by Confederate forces. Nevertheless, the enemy engaged Union forces with increasing frequency as they approached Little Rock. With the bulk of Steele’s infantry slowly making their way across the Grand Prairie, Union cavalry forces scouted ahead of the main body of troops. On the morning of August 25, 1863, a brigade of Union cavalry under the command of Colonel …

Brownsville, Skirmish at (July 13–14, 1864)

  On July 13, 1864, a detachment of Confederate forces from Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s command moved toward a camp near Brownsville (Lonoke County). Colonel Oliver Wood of the Twenty-second Ohio Infantry (US) reported that Confederates numbering around 150 attacked his picket line but were driven away. Due to the small number of men under Wood, he decided not to move beyond the defenses until the next day, as an immediate response would have left the camp vulnerable to attack. By afternoon of July 14, Wood had followed the Confederates fifteen miles southeast of Brownsville to Snake Island. At that point, the Confederates divided into smaller forces and separated, whereupon Wood decided to halt. Union forces captured five guns, and …

Bryson (Lynching of)

A man known only as Bryson—apparently a white man—was lynched in early June 1888, presumably in Yell County. The details surrounding the incident are decidedly few, drawn primarily from an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and reprinted in both the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Gazette. The original report, datelined June 11, 1888, from Dardanelle (Yell County), reads as follows: “Yesterday the body of one Bryson, riddled with bullets, was found a few miles below here in the Arkansas river. A few days ago Bryson attempted to criminally assault the wife of Dock Shinn, and was pursued by a posse. It is supposed he was overtaken, shot and his body flung into the river.” There is also a similar account …

Buck Horn, Skirmish at

On May 5, 1864, Brigadier General Joseph Shelby was ordered from his position south of the Arkansas River to “occupy the valley of White River and to prevent its navigation in every possible manner and fashion.” Colonel Robert R. Livingston (US), who maintained a small detachment in Batesville (Independence County), had left Colonel John Stephens in command of the city, but in a letter dated May 11, 1864, Livingston advised Stephens of probable evacuation: “I may deem it best for you to evacuate Batesville, and should you find it necessary to do so, fall back upon this point,” being Jacksonport (Jackson County). Shelby and his Confederate troops moved from Clarksville (Johnson County) and crossed the Arkansas River at Dardanelle (Yell …

Buckskull, Skirmish at (November 20, 1864)

After attempting to clear communication lines in Missouri, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Thilenius of the Fifty-sixth Regiment of Enrolled Missouri Militia led a raid into Arkansas to catch Confederate colonel Timothy Reeves at Cherokee Bay (Randolph County). Near Buckskull, on the Arkansas-Missouri border, Thilenius’s command killed two guerrillas believed to be members of Reeves’s command before charging the undefended town of Buckskull to find no opposing force. Located where the Southwest Trail (also called the Military Road, Congress Road, or the Natchitoches Trace) passes into northeastern Arkansas, Buckskull sits on the Arkansas-Missouri line near the Current River and across from the town of Pitman (Randolph County). As Pitman’s Ferry was critical for movement of men and materials between northeastern Arkansas …

Buckskull, Skirmishes at (October 1 and 10, 1863)

On September 28, 1863, Captain William T. Leeper with elements of the Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry moved into Randolph County, Arkansas, to engage guerrillas in the area. On October 1 and October 10, skirmishes occurred on the Arkansas-Missouri border near Buckskull due to its location near Pitman’s Ferry on the Current River. Traffic crossing the Current River just south of the Arkansas state line on the Southwest Trail (also called the Military Road, Congress Road, or the Natchitoches Trace) made Pitman’s Ferry a major entrance point in the region. Over time, the towns of Pitman (Randolph County) in Arkansas and Buckskull on the Arkansas-Missouri border developed around the location. Periodically, Confederate forces were stationed in this region to attempt …

Buffalo Mountains, Skirmish at

  In the autumn of 1863, Colonel Joseph O. Shelby launched a raid from Arkansas into his home state of Missouri. After meeting organized Federal resistance at the Action at Marshall, Missouri, Shelby returned to the relative safety of Arkansas. This skirmish was one of the final engagements between Shelby and Federal forces during the raid. Shelby and 600 men from his brigade departed from Arkadelphia (Clark County) on September 22, 1863, and moved northward to the Arkansas River. Engaging Federal forces as they appeared, Shelby crossed the Arkansas River on September 27 and moved into Missouri on October 2. Moving through the countryside capturing supplies and dispersing small Union garrisons, Shelby and his men were finally stopped by a …

Buffalo River Expedition

  By 1863, much of northwestern Arkansas was loosely controlled by Union forces but still home to many Confederate partisan forces. In many instances, isolated areas in the mountains were used as sites by these and others for the manufacture of saltpeter, an ingredient necessary for the production of gunpowder. On January 9, 1863, following orders issued by Brigadier General Francis J. Herron, Major Joseph W. Caldwell led a detachment of 300 Union troopers of the First Iowa Cavalry into the mountains in the direction of Kingston (Madison County) in search of Confederate activity. They rode out of Huntsville (Madison County) at 8:00 a.m., arriving in Kingston at 2:00 p.m. Here, Caldwell forwarded recently acquired information to Herron concerning area …

Bull Bayou, Skirmish at

During an expedition to attempt to catch Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby in the Little Red River valley, Union forces under Colonel James Stuart engaged in a small skirmish at the bridge on Bull Bayou on August 7, 1864. Defeated, the unidentified Confederate force fled. Frustrated by the inability of Union troops to catch Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby, Union major general Frederick Steele dispatched a third expedition to destroy the Confederate leader on August 6, 1864. Placing Brigadier General Joseph R. West in command of 3,094 men, Steele envisioned a movement toward the Little Red River and possibly beyond until the enemy was defeated. West divided his force into two provisional brigades commanded by Colonel Washington F. Geiger of …

Burrow v. Pocahontas School District

Arkansas has struggled for much of its history to fund the education of its children—particularly during the Great Depression, when the state found itself unable to pay its debts, match federal aid for such things as food commodities, or pay teachers in order to keep schools open for a full term. At that time and others, the Arkansas General Assembly and the governor, in search of remedies to get through a crisis, enacted laws that seemed at odds with the state and federal constitutions. Disputes over these acts went to state courts and sometimes to the Arkansas Supreme Court. One such case was Burrow v. Pocahontas School District No. 19, in which the Supreme Court upheld a legislative remedy allowing …

Burrowsville, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Tomahawk
  The Skirmish at Burrowsville during the Civil War was part of a larger attempt to drive Confederate and guerrilla forces from northern Arkansas. The overall effort was deemed to be a success by Federal commanders, but their success was somewhat embellished in their official reports. In early January 1864, Brigadier General John B. Sanborn, commander of the District of Southwest Missouri, received reports of a major Confederate force massing in Newton, Searcy, Izard, and Carroll counties. Sanborn ordered units of the First and Second Arkansas Cavalries (US), along with part of the Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, to move into the area and flush the enemy out in an effort to push the Confederates south to the Arkansas River. As part …

Burton-Aikin Feud

The Burton-Aikin (also spelled “Aiken”) feud between Dr. Phillip Patrick (known as P. P.) Burton and Dr. Trent C. Aikin—who both practiced medicine in Batesville (Independence County )—began on October 21, 1841, with the death of Nicholas E. Burton (son of P. P. Burton) and ended on September 15, 1849, when an Independence County jury found P. P. Burton’s son Phil Burton “not guilty” in the murder of Dr. Aikin. The feud grew out of a medical disagreement between the two doctors. Dr. Aikin was called to treat a “Negro woman” (presumably a slave) belonging to a Mr. Byers of Batesville. Aikin diagnosed the woman with liver disease and began treatment of it. When the woman failed to improve, Byers asked Dr. …

Butlerville Lynching of 1882

On June 1, 1882, three African Americans named Joseph Earl, Taylor Washington, and Thomas Humphreys were hanged in Butlerville (Lonoke County) for allegedly attacking a young girl named Annie Bridges. Public records reveal very little about the girl or her alleged attackers. There was a thirteen-year-old girl named Sally Bridges in Butler Township of Lonoke County in 1880. She was living in the household of George and Mary Phillips, and her relationship to them was listed merely as “Home.” If the victim’s first name was Sally and not Annie, there is information indicating that her mother had died in Hot Springs (Garland County) in 1878. There was a fourteen-year-old boy named Taylor Washington living in neighboring Prairie County with his …