Entries - Entry Type: Event - Starting with S

Springer, Andrew (Lynching of)

Andrew Springer, a white man, was lynched in Powhatan (Lawrence County) on May 21, 1887. His is the only lynching recorded as happening in Lawrence County and occurred during a decade when whites and African Americans were lynched in relatively equal numbers. That would change the following decade as lynching violence became more exclusively anti-black. The lynching of Springer became the subject of the October “Ghost Walk” held at the Powhatan Historic State Park each year and is a significant component of local folklore. The event was mentioned by newspapers as far away as Perth, Australia. The exact identity of Springer remains a mystery. Some newspapers reported that he was originally from Cook County, Illinois, but the four possible matches …

Springfield, Missouri, into Northern Arkansas, Scout from

aka: Skirmish at Bennett’s Bayou
aka: Skirmish near Buffalo City
The scouting expedition from Springfield, Missouri, into northern Arkansas, lasting from February 23 to March 9, 1864, was typical of Union operations in the Ozark Mountains in 1864 during which Federal troops sought to locate and destroy guerrilla bands in the region. Captain Eli Hughes of the Sixth Missouri State Militia Cavalry (US) left Springfield, with 111 men of the regiment, on February 23, 1864, “with orders to proceed south into Arkansas.” They crossed the White River on February 25, and while riding south of Sugar Loaf Prairie in modern-day Boone County, they encountered a group of guerrillas, part of a band led by Major Louis M. Gunning. They killed two of this band and reached Yellville (Marion County) a …

Springfield, Missouri, toward Fayetteville, Scout from

As the guerrilla war intensified in the Ozarks region in the spring of 1864, it became an increasing challenge to maintain telegraphic communications between the Union stronghold at Springfield, Missouri, and Fayetteville (Washington County). On April 28, 1864, Major John Cosgrove of the Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry led eighty men and two officers out of Springfield to restore the telegraph line between the two posts. On arriving at Cross Hollow in Benton County, however, the Missourians encountered a detachment of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) already guarding a repairman as he fixed the downed telegraph line, so Cosgrove and his men moved toward Bentonville (Benton County), near where Colonel William Penn Adair was reported to be with around 200 …

St. Charles Lynching of 1904

Over the course of four days in the first week of spring 1904, a succession of white mobs terrorized the black population of St. Charles (Arkansas County). They murdered thirteen black males in this town of about 500. Given the death toll, it was one of the deadliest lynchings in American history. The murderers were never identified in either public reports or eyewitness accounts, and the scant surviving evidence in newspapers and manuscripts lists only the victims, not the killers or their possible motives. On Monday, March 21, on the dock at the White River crossing in St. Charles, Jim Searcy, a white man, argued over a game of chance with a black man named Griffin, with whom he was …

St. Charles, Capture of

A bloodless engagement, the January 13, 1863, capture of St. Charles (Arkansas County) was part of a larger Federal movement up the White River after the capture of Fort Hindman earlier that month. St. Charles served as an important Confederate stronghold before its abandonment and subsequent capture. Located on high ground on the west bank of the White River, St. Charles is the first defensible location north of the junction of the White and the Arkansas rivers. Fortified by Confederate forces in June 1862, St. Charles was attacked by Federal forces the same month. While Union troops did take St. Charles, it was only after a substantial engagement that saw massive casualties among the Federal sailors in the expedition. With …

St. Charles, Engagement at

After the fall of Memphis, Tennessee, the Confederate navy was on the defense. Three Confederate war ships made their way up Arkansas’s White River to save themselves and also to defend the White River from invasion by the Union troops. Union major general Samuel R. Curtis and his Army of the Southwest advanced from Pea Ridge (Benton County) through the Ozark Mountains to Batesville (Independence County). Curtis later set up headquarters at Jacksonport (Jackson County), where the White and Black rivers converged. Confederate major general Thomas C. Hindman, the “Lion of the South,” was in charge of the defense of Arkansas. Hindman’s main objective was to slow the Union side’s movement so that the Confederates could prepare to defend Arkansas. …

St. Francis Road, Skirmish at

This brief engagement in Phillips County occurred in relation to some of the earliest Federal operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi. Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman, commander of the District of Eastern Arkansas headquartered at Helena (Phillips County), reported that an unspecified unit of Texas cavalry had attacked a Federal outpost of pickets on the St. Francis Road near Helena on December 23, 1862. Casualties at the outpost included two Federal soldiers killed and sixteen wounded, with no report of Confederate losses. Federal cavalry vigorously pursued the Texans and forced them to scatter in order to make their final escape through a patch of woods. Although unidentified in the official reports, the attack may have been conducted by Captain Alfred Johnson’s Company …

State of Arkansas v. Tee Davis

State of Arkansas v. Tee Davis was a criminal lawsuit in the Crittenden County Circuit Court in September 1943 that resulted in the conviction of African-American sharecropper and Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) member Tee Davis for assault with intent to kill. Davis was at home in Edmondson (Crittenden County) on March 22 with his wife, Elizabeth, when an intruder began pounding on the door demanding that Davis come outside. Fearing for his safety, Davis armed himself with a shotgun and fired two blasts through the door. The intruder was later revealed to be Edmondson business owner and town marshal Harold E. Weaver. Two Crittenden County deputy sheriffs had enlisted Weaver to help them perform warrantless searches of sharecropper cabins …

State v. Buzzard

State v. Buzzard (1842) was a case in the first half of the nineteenth century involving the right of an individual to carry a concealed weapon. The case came two decades after an 1822 Kentucky case that struck down a state law that restricted concealed weapons—although the weapon at issue there was a sword concealed in a cane. Ultimately, given the facts in Buzzard, coupled with the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the case has come to be recognized as one of the earliest examinations of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The case was heard by the original three members of the Arkansas Supreme Court—Chief Justice Daniel Ringo and Associate Justices Townsend Dickinson and …

Steamboat Disasters

Steamboats were the primary vehicles for moving goods and passengers long distances in the nineteenth century, prior to the widespread availability of railroads. They continued to be used well into the twentieth century, but they were often involved in accidents that resulted in multiple casualties.  Paul F. Paskoff, in Troubled Waters: Steamboat Disasters, River Improvements, and American Public Policy, 1821–1860, analyzed data on steamboat wrecks between 1821 and 1860, with the exception of the Civil War years, and determined that 3,165 steamboats were lost in American waterways during that period, with snags being the cause of 593 wrecks, burning causing 582, collisions causing 199, and boiler explosions responsible for 113. Steamboats fell victim to all of those dangers in Arkansas …

Steamer Alamo, Attack on

As the Civil War in Arkansas progressed and Federal forces advanced farther into the interior of the state, the rivers became important byways for the transportation of soldiers and supplies. The steamboat Alamo was one of the many steamers put into service on the Arkansas River by Federal authorities. In November 1864, on a routine supply trip to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), the steamer was attacked by Confederate forces. Such attacks along the rivers were common. On November 29, 1864, a detachment of thirty soldiers of the Fortieth Iowa Volunteers under the command of Second Lieutenant John T. S. Fry boarded the steamer Alamo at Dardanelle (Yell County). The detachment was to guard the steamer on a supply run to …

Steamer Miller, Capture of

The capture and destruction of the Union stern-wheel steamer J. H. Miller illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, almost a year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. In February 1864, the J. H. Miller, displacing 130 tons of water, joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron serving under charter on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Captain Stephen R. Harrington of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, reporting from camp thirty miles from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the north bank of the Arkansas River, unidentified Confederate guerrillas attacked and captured Miller on August 17, 1864, from the south side of the Arkansas River and burned the …

Steamer Perry, Attack on

The 1864 attack on the Union side-wheel steamer John D. Perry illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, one year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. In the spring of 1863 the Union Army’s Quartermaster Department chartered the John D. Perry for service on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, who commanded the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), approximately 100 unidentified Confederate partisans attacked the Perry on September 9, 1864, just below Clarendon (Monroe County) from the east side of the White River while the vessel transported a portion of Major General Joseph …

Steamer Resolute, Attack on

The 1864 attack on the Union steam tug Resolute illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, more than a year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. Chartered on January 1, 1862, by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department for use as an auxiliary vessel, the steam tug Resolute displaced thirty tons of water and served with two barges transporting troops and supplies on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, commanding the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), an indeterminate number of unidentified Confederate partisans fired at the Resolute at 8:00 p.m. on October 11, 1864, …

Stewart, Charles (Lynching of)

Charles Stewart, a white man, was lynched in Perryville (Perry County) on May 17, 1892, after killing Deputy Sheriff Tom Holmes in a failed attempt to escape jail. This was the only recorded lynching in Perry County. Given the absence of enumeration sheets for the 1890 census, determining the identity of Charles Stewart is difficult. However, there was a Charley Straut living in neighboring Yell County in 1880; his age was given as six years old (making him about eighteen in 1892, when the crime and lyching took place). Reports on the lynching present little biographical information. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Stewart had been jailed in Perryville “for attempted outrage on the 11-year-old daughter of J. W. Guin, and …

Stewart’s Plantation, Skirmish at

Following his victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, General Samuel Curtis, with intentions of capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County), moved his Union Army of the Southwest into northeast Arkansas, occupying Batesville (Independence County). Here, he split his force into three divisions, with one division under the command of General Frederick Steele dispatched to occupy the river port town of Jacksonport (Jackson County). While on a foraging expedition, made necessary by major supply problems that would lead to a cross-country march to Helena (Phillips County) to establish a supply line on the Mississippi River, Steele’s forces engaged Confederate forces in the Skirmish at Stewart’s Plantation on June 27, 1862. As supplies began to run low, Steele received …

Stone County Lynching of 1898

A possible lynching occurred in rural Stone County in March 1898. While state and national reports differ as to the likely fate of the victim, both confirm that the unnamed “negro boy” in question was repeatedly tortured by a mob. On March 18, 1898, the Kansas City Journal reported, under the headline “Arkansas Negro Boy Lynched,” the following: “A negro boy whose name cannot be learned was lynched at Marcella, in Stone County, Tuesday night March 15. He was accused of stealing $20 from the cash drawer of a store. The mob strung him up three times in an effort to make him confess and finally left him on the ground in a dying condition.” The Arkansas Gazette contains a …

Stuttgart Lynching of 1916

An unidentified African-American man was taken from the jail in DeWitt (Arkansas County) and lynched in Stuttgart (Arkansas County) on August 9, 1916, for having allegedly attacked a sixteen-year-old white girl. This was the first of two lynchings to occur in Arkansas County that year—on October 8, 1916, Frank Dodd was also taken from the jail at DeWitt, though he was lynched in town. According to the Arkansas Gazette, on Monday, August 7, the unidentified man—described only as “about 25 years old and unknown here”—attacked the sixteen-year-old daughter of farmer Ernest Wittman in a field south of Stuttgart. The narrative is vague, indicating that the unknown man was arrested after having been attacked and wounded by a posse; he was subsequently …

Sugar Creek, Action at

aka: Battle of Dunagin's Farm
aka: Action at Little Sugar Creek
The Action at Sugar Creek, commonly known as the Battle of Dunagin’s Farm, was the first battle of the Civil War wholly fought in Arkansas and was part of the tug of war between the North and the South for control of Missouri. In late 1861, after the victory at Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861, the Missouri State Guard under Major General Sterling Price occupied Springfield, Missouri, and settled into winter quarters, not expecting pressure from Federal troops until spring. But on January 1, 1862, Major General Samuel R. Curtis and the Union’s Army of the Southwest prepared to march on Springfield and rid Missouri of enemy troops. Price, aware of the Federals’ advance, knew that he could not …

Sugar Loaf Prairie, Affair at

The 1865 Affair at Sugar Loaf Prairie was a unique encounter between Union troops and guerrillas in extreme northern Arkansas in which a cave was used as a hiding place. On January 8, 1865, a scouting mission of twenty-five men of the Seventy-third Infantry Enrolled Missouri Militia under the command of Lieutenant Willis Kissel moved from Forsyth, Missouri, in an effort to look for two bands of guerrillas who were operating in the southern part of the state. Moving into Arkansas, the Federals learned from a local family that the guerrilla band under the command of Alfred Cook was hiding in a cave near Sugar Loaf Prairie about two miles away. Kissel captured Cook’s son, and the youth led the …

Sullivan, Walter (Lynching of)

On October 1, 1902, a young African American named Walter Sullivan was murdered in Portland (Ashley County) for allegedly shooting a prominent merchant. In the 1900 census, there was a fifteen-year-old youth named Walter Sullivan living in Bonita, Louisiana, on the Wilmot Highway just south of the Arkansas line. He was living with his parents, Daniel and Malindy Sullivan, and two brothers, Vigil (age eighteen) and Cud (eight). Although newspaper accounts refer to Mr. Roddy as either D. D. Roddy or D. J. Roddy, he was probably William D. Roddy, a fifty-three-year-old widower who was a merchant in Portland in 1900. Roddy may have formerly been a farmer in Drew County, as a farmer of the same name and age …

Sundown to Sunup Gospel Sing

aka: Albert E. Brumley Memorial Gospel Sing
The Sundown to Sunup Gospel Sing, an outdoor gospel music event, was held on the first weekend in August in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) starting in 1969. During that time, the event was billed as the “largest outdoor gospel sing.” It was later named for its founder, gospel songwriter Albert Edward Brumley of Powell, Missouri, who penned such well-known songs as “I’ll Fly Away” and “Turn Your Radio On.” The idea for the Sundown to Sunup Gospel Sing was conceived after a gospel singing event in Bentonville (Benton County) in 1968. Brumley and his sons, Bill and Bob, worked with Springdale Chamber of Commerce president Lee Zachary to bring the event to Springdale’s Parsons Stadium in 1969. That first year, …

Swindler, John Edward (Trial and Execution of)

John Edward Swindler was a habitual and violent criminal who was executed on June 18, 1990, for the 1976 murder of on-duty Fort Smith (Sebastian County) patrolman Randy Basnett. He was the first Arkansas death row inmate executed following reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977 (the last execution before Swindler had been in 1964). Unique circumstances caused him to be the last Arkansas inmate to be executed in the electric chair. Having served in multiple penal institutions since the age of fifteen, Swindler was released from the United States Prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, on September 17, 1976. He returned to his home state of South Carolina, where a former cellmate provided him a gun. He began a crime spree …

Sylamore, Skirmishes at (January 23 and 26, 1864)

After Arkansas seceded from the Union in May 1861, the Confederate Congress urged state leaders to make provisions for the manufacture of arms and munitions, including saltpeter, a major component of gunpowder. On August 21, the steamboat New Moon arrived at Sylamore (Stone County) with a cargo of thirty huge kettles, a steam engine, and a hammer mill to produce gunpowder for the Confederacy. They were brought up the North Fork of Sylamore Creek to what became known as Gunner Pool (now located in the Ozark National Forest). Governor Henry Rector placed Colonel Thomas R. Freeman in charge of the militia units to protect the munitions efforts. As steamships loaded and unloaded cargo and supplies for all of northern Arkansas …