Entries - Entry Type: Event - Starting with C

Cleburne County Draft War

The Cleburne County Draft War was one of three violent encounters in World War I–era Arkansas that occurred in the spring and summer of 1918 between local officials determined to enforce the Selective Service Act of 1917 and citizens who resisted conscription. In this episode, those resisting the draft were Jehovah’s Witnesses, then known as Russellites, who were widely viewed with suspicion and hatred because of their refusal to take part in civic and military affairs. The Cleburne County Draft War began before sunrise on Sunday, July 7, 1918, when Sheriff Jasper Duke led four men into an area of the county between Rosebud (White County) and Pearson (Cleburne County) in search of delinquents who had not registered for the …

Closson, William (Lynching of)

In May 1869, a white man named William Closson was lynched in DeWitt (Arkansas County) after his first murder trial apparently ended in a hung jury. Sources on the event are limited. According to a reprinting in the Arkansas Gazette of an article published in DeWitt’s Sentinel on May 22, 1869, Closson had been indicted at the November 1868 term of the Arkansas County Circuit Court for having murdered William Word, who resided near Crockett’s Bluff (Arkansas County). Indeed, the Weekly Arkansas Gazette reprinted on May 12, 1868, an article from DeWitt’s Elector that gives more detail as to the affair. According to this, on Saturday, April 11, 1868, Word was leaving DeWitt and “starting in the direction of Crockett’s …

Coal Hill Convict Lease Investigation (1888)

In the spring of 1888, the coal mining operations in Johnson County, worked by convict leased labor, were the focus of an investigation by the state of Arkansas for reported cases of brutality. The investigation led to a reevaluation of the convict lease system and its eventual abolishment several years later. During the years immediately following the Civil War, Arkansas developed a growing prison population and acquired the financial problems associated with such growth. Governor Isaac Murphy proposed instituting the practice of leasing convicts to assist in solving this problem. In 1867, the state established the convict lease system. The company of Hodges, Peay and Ayliff contracted with the state at the rate of thirty-five cents a day to provide …

Colbert Raid

On April 17, 1783, British-sympathizing Native Americans and British nationals carried out an attack upon the Spanish garrison based at Arkansas Post on the Arkansas River. This attack was considered the only battle of the American Revolution to be fought in what is now Arkansas. In 1762, Spain took control of French Louisiana west of the Mississippi after King Louis XV ceded the area in anticipation of losing the ongoing French and Indian War. It was 1766 before Spanish troops arrived to take over Arkansas Post from the French garrison. The Spanish struggled to maintain order at the post, which was still mainly populated by French trappers, and to protect it from the English who were just across the Mississippi …

Cole, George (Lynching of)

On May 7, 1872, a man named George Cole was shot down by a group of men in Randolph County for having allegedly mistreated his wife, among other infractions. The murder has been included in many lists of lynchings in the state of Arkansas. The Arkansas Gazette, on May 25, 1872, reprinted correspondence from Pocahontas (Randolph County) describing the victim and details of his murder. According to this correspondent, Cole “was a turbulent man, being nearly always in a neighborhood feud, and usually kept a lot of lewd women about him. He was half Indian blood, had a dark skin, and was a bold, fearless man.” Cole reportedly lived six miles from the state line and was believed to have …

Confederate Flag Day

Confederate Flag Day is an annual Arkansas state holiday celebrated the Saturday before Easter, officially established in 1957. Efforts in the twenty-first century to remove the day as an official state holiday have proven to be unsuccessful. The holiday became official in the state with the passage of Act 124 of 1957. Signed into law on February 28, 1957, by Governor Orval Faubus, the enabling legislation simply denotes the Saturday before Easter as Confederate Flag Day. The brief text of the act does not include any information on how the holiday should be celebrated. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) had promoted the holiday at their meetings, and representatives of the UDC were present when Faubus signed Act 124 …

Congress and Saladin, Collision of

The steam packet Saladin collided with the steamboat Congress on the evening of February 14, 1846, near Islands 86 and 87 in the Mississippi River at Kentucky Bend off Chicot County, sinking the Congress and killing as many as thirty passengers and crew. The Saladin, a sidewheel packet built in Louisville, Kentucky, by Thomas C. Coleman and John Coleman in 1846, was steaming toward New Orleans, Louisiana, as the steamboat Congress was heading upriver with a load of dry goods and both cabin and deck passengers. The Saladin, having stopped at the landing of the William H. Pope plantation, reentered the river channel at about 7:00 p.m. on the “cloudy and very dark” night. Spying the Saladin when it was …

Constitutional Conventions

A constitutional convention is a meeting of delegates to establish a document that serves as the framework for government. Arkansas has had eight conventions. Five conventions resulted in documents being adopted, and three conventions produced documents that were rejected by voters. Arkansas has had at least three failed convention calls. In October 1835, Arkansas’s Territorial Assembly met in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to take steps toward statehood. Legislation calling for a convention was introduced, and the issue of delegate apportionment was raised. An amendment was adopted that provided that convention representation be based on that of the legislature, whose makeup was based upon the number of white men. The legislation called for a convention consisting of fifty-two delegates to be …

Conway-Crittenden Duel

aka: Crittenden-Conway Duel
In 1827, Henry Wharton Conway and Robert Crittenden, both important figures in territorial Arkansas, fought a duel that had profound implications for the course of Arkansas history. Conway, a former naval officer and governmental employee originally from Tennessee, had relocated to Arkansas for a governmental post and eventually sought political office in Arkansas. Crittenden, originally from Kentucky, also served in the armed forces and later held political positions in Arkansas; he was originally a political supporter of Conway. Both were young, professional, and successful in their own right, but a conflict ensued between the two during an Arkansas election campaign, leading Crittenden to challenge Conway to a duel. Conway and Crittenden were friends and had worked together in an official …

Cooper v. Henslee

Cooper v. Henslee was a 1975 Arkansas Supreme Court free speech case that struck down the 1941 state law that made advocating communism illegal and that barred the employment of communists by any government agency or institution. The court said such laws violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protections of free speech, assembly, and association. The plaintiff was Dr. Grant Cooper—a young history professor in Little Rock (Pulaski County) whose father was a prominent physician, philanthropist, and former member of the Little Rock School Board. In the early 1970s, Cooper started telling his students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock that a communist revolution would someday turn America from a plutocracy into a just society. A student newspaper …

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic

Editor’s note: This entry will be subject to regular updating and revision as the pandemic continues. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) began sweeping the world beginning in late 2019. The virus created a large-scale public health crisis and caused some countries to quarantine entire regions—or, in the case of Italy, the entire nation. The pandemic also cratered the economies of many nations throughout the world. The virus was first detected in Arkansas in March 2020. COVID-19 is an infectious disease closely related to the original SARS virus (SARS-CoV), which produced a worldwide epidemic in 2002–2003; the virus that causes COVID-19 is, in fact, designated SARS-CoV-2. The name stems from the virus’s appearance in electron micrographs, exhibiting a crown (corona) shape. …

Corvett, George (Lynching of)

A white laborer named George Corvett was lynched on February 12, 1890, two miles west of Crawfordsville (Crittenden County) for having allegedly raped and murdered a young woman named Ada Goss. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Ada Goss was the daughter of H. C. Goss, “a highly respected citizen,” and the Goss and Corvett families were related by marriage, with George Corvett working for H. C. Goss. The 1880 federal census records an Ada Goss, then about five years old, living with her parents, H. C. and Laura Goss, and two siblings. Her father worked as a farmer. The census does not record anyone named George Corvett (or similarly named) living in the vicinity. On the night of February 11, …

Cotter Expulsion of 1906

In 1906, white residents of Cotter (Baxter County) expelled all of the town’s African-American population, save for a single family of three people. (The population had not been great.) Although the precipitating event was a fight between two black men, local newspapers had been predicting, and even advocating for, such an expulsion long before that fracas occurred. Afterward, Cotter remained a “sundown town.” The area that is now Baxter County had black residents before the Civil War. For example, Orrin L. Dodd, located in what is now Mountain Home (Baxter County), owned thirty slaves by the 1860 census. Too, there was a small free black population nearby in Marion County. In 1880, the first census conducted after Baxter County’s creation showed …

Cotton Pickers Strike of 1891

The Cotton Pickers Strike of 1891 was an ill-conceived attempt by a group of African-American sharecroppers in Lee County, perhaps loosely affiliated with the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Union (commonly called the Colored Famers’ Alliance), to increase the wages they received from local planters for picking cotton. By the time a white mob put down the strike, more than a dozen African Americans and one white man had been killed. The Colored Farmers’ Alliance was founded in Texas in 1886 as the black counterpart to the Farmers’ Alliance, an all-white organization that was part of the late nineteenth-century populist, agrarian reform movement. The Colored Farmers’ Alliance spread quickly throughout the South, claiming a membership of more than one million …

Cotton Plant, Affairs at

The Affairs at Cotton Plant are two separate events that took place on successive days near the town of Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) and the Cache River. DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) served as a major Union outpost in eastern Arkansas. Supplies were brought up the White River and transported from the town by rail to the northern shore of the Arkansas River across from Little Rock (Pulaski County). Protecting the area immediately surrounding DeValls Bluff remained an important Federal objective for much of the war. Numerous Union units operated in and around DeValls Bluff, including at the towns of Augusta (Woodruff County) and Clarendon (Monroe County). Control of these towns in eastern Arkansas allowed Federal troops to protect the vital …

Cotton, John (Lynching of)

On July 15, 1893, a seventeen-year-old African American named John Cotton was hanged near Cornerville (Lincoln County) for an alleged attack on the wife of John Tucker, a prominent area farmer. According to the Forrest City Times, on Thursday, July 13, Cotton tried to assault Tucker while he thought her husband was away. John Tucker, however, was in a field nearby, where he heard her screams, and ran to the house. Cotton escaped, and as news spread of the attempted attack, a mob gathered. Cotton managed to elude them, “running like a hunted beast through the fields and woods.” He could find no food and no hiding place, and by Saturday afternoon he was exhausted and collapsed. His pursuers caught …

Covington, Riley (Reported Lynching of)

In the summer of 1877, a number of newspapers reported that an African American man named Riley Covington had been lynched for murder in Osceola (Mississippi County). This information has been included on various inventories of lynching events, and his reported murder is even memorialized at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. However, Covington was not actually lynched but, instead, was tried, convicted of murder, and incarcerated. The June 26, 1877, edition of Illinois’s Cairo Bulletin gives the most detailed information on Covington’s alleged crimes and arrest. Covington first came under suspicion when, in November 1876, he befriended a Black cotton picker identified only as Shackleford near Osceola. The two disappeared, and several weeks later, Covington …

Coy, Edward (Lynching of)

On February 20, 1892, Edward Coy, a thirty-two-year-old African-American man, was burned at the stake in Texarkana (Miller County) before a crowd of approximately 1,000 people. Ida B. Wells, a journalist and prominent anti-lynching crusader, described Coy’s murder as one of the most shocking and repulsive in the history of lynching. Coy, described in press accounts as “mulatto,” was charged with a crime “from which the laws provide adequate punishment. Ed Coy was charged with assaulting Mrs. Henry [Julia] Jewell, a white woman. A mob pronounced him guilty, strapped him to a tree, chipped the flesh from his body, poured coal oil over him, and the woman in the case set fire to him.” According to the New York Times, …

Craighead and Lawrence Counties, Scout in

The Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) established its base at Jacksonport (Jackson County) on April 18, 1864, and began almost continuous scouting expeditions into the surrounding region in search of enemy troops and guerrillas. One such scout was conducted into Craighead and Lawrence counties in early May. Captain George W. Weber of Squadron M, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, led a detachment of a lieutenant and fifty-two men out of Camp Sherman at Jacksonport on the morning of May 5, 1864, with orders to explore the area between Village Creek and the Cache River. Particular attention was to be paid to the area called the “Promised Land”—modern-day Egypt (Craighead County)—as the Federals sought to “gather all the information possible as to the …

Crenshaw, George (Lynching of)

On September 2 or 3, 1885, an African American man named George Crenshaw was taken from jail and hanged by a mob near Lewisville (Lafayette County) for allegedly murdering a young salesman named Harry W. Paup. According to the September 1 edition of the Arkansas Gazette, at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, August 28 (another report says August 29), a young salesman and “highly respected young gentleman” named Harry W. Paup was walking through a cotton field near the home of an elderly black man named George Crenshaw. Crenshaw’s dogs began to bark and alerted Crenshaw, described as a “blood-thirsty old demon.” Crenshaw grabbed his gun, and though another man, Mike Ross, tried to stop him, ran to the field, spotted …

Crittenden County Expulsion of 1888

In July 1888, a group of influential white citizens in Crittenden County expelled a number of prominent African-American citizens and county officials. Apparently weary of the fusion governments that had prevailed there for years, as well as fearful of the outcome of the upcoming September and November elections, they hoped their actions would intimidate black voters and ensure a victory for white Democrats. Following the Civil War, land agents began to recruit black laborers from around the South to work in the cotton fields. By 1870, the black population in Crittenden County had reached sixty-seven percent, the majority for the first time. The emergence of a black middle class tied to the Republican Party threatened the hegemony of the white …

Crittenden County Lynching of 1840

In early December of 1840, two unidentified escaped slaves were hanged in Crittenden County for allegedly murdering their owner, Major Thomas E. Clark. At the time of the 1840 census, Clark was living in Jasper Township and owned three slaves. When Clark discovered that the two men were gone, he and Colonel James Martin pursued them. Clark and Martin were separated during the chase, and Clark was alone when he encountered the fugitives. Martin, who was nearby, heard Clark crying out, but by the time he arrived at the scene, Clark was dead. When area citizens learned of the crime, they caught the two escapees and hanged them from a nearby tree “as examples for other refractory slaves.” The Arkansas …

Crooked Creek, Skirmish at

Part of Union efforts in northwestern Arkansas to disrupt Confederate operations, this skirmish was one of several encounters over a four-week period in early 1864. In January 1864, the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) was stationed in Cassville, Missouri. Colonel John E. Phelps received orders from Brigadier General John Sanborn to move into Arkansas in an effort to disrupt a planned raid by Confederate forces into Missouri. Phelps led his unit into the state to link up with other Federal units. At the same time, troops from the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) under the command of Captain Charles Galloway were scouting in the area. Leaving Fayetteville (Washington County) on January 10, Galloway moved eastward, receiving reinforcements. Galloway’s troops joined the Second …

Cross Hollow, Skirmish at

  Federal forces in northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri used cavalry patrols to prevent Confederate regulars and guerrillas from organizing in the area. This skirmish was part of an effort by Union forces in Missouri to disrupt small bands of the enemy gathering near Cross Hollow. On June 20, 1864, Captain James Powell of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) received orders to embark on a scouting mission with an unspecified number of men. Moving southward from Cassville, Missouri, Powell and his men first encountered enemy forces near Sugar Creek but did not attack. The Federals continued to Cross Hollow where they turned southward to Fayetteville (Washington County) before moving to Bentonville (Benton County). On the third day of the scouting mission, …

Cross-Roads, Skirmish at

During the 1864 Federal occupation of Batesville (Independence County), many detachments were sent out through the surrounding counties for information, forage, and seizure of bushwhackers. In an accidental encounter, one such detachment caught some brigands for the second time. Captain Albert B. Kauffman of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Volunteers left Batesville on March 24, 1864, with a detachment of 200 men and six officers to scout to the southwest and west. They traveled up the White River to the mouths of Wolf Bayou and Briar Creek, then turned southwest until they reached Coon Creek. They camped at McCarles’s farm, where they found a mule harness that had been taken by Captain George Rutherford during a previous skirmish at Waugh’s Farm. …

Crossett Lynching of 1904

An unknown African-American man was lynched near Crossett (Ashley County) on September 4, 1904, for having allegedly “attempted to assault two white girls.” The names of none of the parties are mentioned in newspaper reports. The reported assault occurred on the night of Saturday, September 3, at a place called the Bonham plantation, some thirty-five miles from Crossett. The following day, according to the Arkansas Gazette, “a posse of farmers” captured the suspect, apparently within Crossett, and took him to “a place about three miles from Crossett and strung him to a tree, after which the mob vented its rage by riddling the body with bullets.” Fifteen minutes after the murder, the mob dispersed. In reference to the mob, the …

Crossett Strike of 1940

The Crossett Strike of 1940 was a fifty-eight-day work stoppage in the lumber and manufacturing town of Crossett (Ashley County). The strike followed a contract dispute between the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (Local No. 2590) and the Crossett Lumber Company. (The Crossett Lumber Company owned all the land, mills, and residential real estate comprising the town of Crossett in the early 1900s.) Picketing and protests were initially peaceful before altercations became more tense and violent as community support for the union waned. The final settlement increased wages for workers but did not address the root causes of the strike—namely, management’s unwillingness to provide preferential treatment to union members or permit a union shop. On June 4, …

Crownover (Lynching of)

The July 27, 1897, issue of the Arkansas Gazette carried the news of the recent murder of a white man named Crownover by a “posse of citizens” for the alleged crime of horse theft. In mid-July 1897, farmers Will Jackson and Will Riley of Saline County lost “two fine horses,” and suspicion immediately fell upon Crownover and another man named only as Beach, whom the Gazette described thusly: “They were strangers and had been loitering about the neighborhood, out of employment, for ten days.” Three days following the theft and the subsequent disappearance of Crownover and Beach, a “posse of citizens” of unknown number “organized and started pursuit.” Near the Scott–Yell county line, they found the two men asleep, the …

Cuban Refugee Crisis

Arkansas played a part in the international drama of 1980, when 125,000 Cubans left their homeland for a new life in the United States. Roughly 25,000 of these Cuban refugees—called Marielitos because they had departed Cuba from the port of Mariel—were housed for a time at Fort Chaffee in Sebastian County. Their presence in Arkansas created social and political tension widely thought to have had an impact on the Arkansas governor’s race of 1980. Cuba and the Boatlift The crisis of 1980 began April 11 of that year, when Hector Sanyustiz, accompanied by five friends, drove a Havana city bus through a gate onto the grounds of the Peruvian Embassy to Cuba. The six intended to seek political asylum. By …

Cude v. State

Archie Cude, a farmer who was born and reared around Houston, Texas, moved his young family in 1948 to the remote community of Board Camp nine miles east of Mena in the mountains of Polk County. Years later, he refused to put his children in school due to his claims that God opposed the smallpox vaccinations children had to take before enrolling. Cude’s long-running legal fight over his unvaccinated children, which embroiled Governor Orval E. Faubus, finally produced an order from the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1964 that his religious beliefs did not exempt him from obeying laws requiring the education of his children and also helping to protect children and teachers from the dreaded smallpox virus. Cude v. State, …

Culbreath, Lee Edward (Murder of)

Lee Edward Culbreath, a fourteen-year-old Black youth, was shot to death on December 5, 1965, in Portland (Ashley County) by a white man who, during his trial, was accused of belonging to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Lee Edward Culbreath and another boy were riding a bicycle together when Culbreath got off at a café and his friend continued toward another store to look at a Christmas tree. As Culbreath stood outside the café, three shots were fired from a black truck, with one striking and fatally wounding him. An Arkansas state trooper stopped the truck shortly afterward and arrested Ed Vail of Hamburg (Ashley County), a forty-year-old mechanic, and his brother James, a barber. Both brothers were charged with …

Cummins Prison Break of 1940

The Cummins prison break on the morning of September 2, 1940, which was Labor Day, involved the escape of thirty-six white men from Cummins Unit (often referred to as Cummins prison farm), the largest of the three prison units in the state. The escape is the largest in Arkansas history. All the men were ultimately captured or killed by authorities. Four of the escapees were executed in Louisiana in 1941 for the murder of a deputy the day after they broke out of Cummins; these men claimed they escaped because of the horrible conditions at the prison farm. Despite an investigation into conditions at the prison, no serious attempt at reform was initiated. The 1940 escape was the first major …

Cummins Prison Strike of 1974

The Cummins prison strike of 1974 was a non-violent incident involving 200 inmates who stopped work for twenty minutes on Monday, October 14, to protest conditions at the Cummins prison farm. At 1,350 inmates at that time, Cummins—located five miles southeast of Grady (Lincoln County)—was the largest of the Arkansas prison farms. The strike was swiftly stopped by Cummins superintendent Art Lockhart, who used riot guards to ensure that prisoners returned quickly to work without any violence. By Tuesday, Cummins had returned to normal. The strike revealed that inmates could peacefully protest at that time without fear of severe physical punishment. It also showed that unrest still existed, and the prisons had more work to do before they achieved compliance …

Cypress Creek, Skirmish at (December 1, 1864)

The December 1, 1864, Skirmish at Cypress Creek was one of many military events of the Civil War to occur within the Arkansas River Valley, exemplifying both the contentious nature of the Union’s occupation of the area around the Arkansas River and the ongoing role of guerrilla fighting. The only known surviving document is a report by Colonel Abraham H. Ryan of the Third Arkansas Cavalry. According to this report, Captain Marvin C. Gates of Company C, Third Arkansas Cavalry, along with two men in the advance, came upon five of the enemy near Cypress Creek in Perry County, nine miles from Lewisburg (Conway County), where the report was composed. Capt. Gates charged and was killed. None of the enemy …

Cypress Creek, Skirmish at (May 13, 1864)

  This action was the first engagement between Federal and Confederate forces during Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s movement into northern and eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Near the Arkansas River, Federal forces worked to determine the strength of Confederate forces and keep them from crossing the river if possible. After the conclusion of the Camden Expedition in early May 1864, Federal forces remained in several fortified cities across the state, while Confederate forces held southern Arkansas. Seeing an opportunity to operate more freely in central and northern Arkansas, Confederate commanders ordered units of cavalry to move across the state and determine Union strength, among other tasks. Shelby led his brigade of Missouri cavalry from southern Arkansas in …