Entries - Entry Type: Thing - Starting with B

Baby of Arts Degree

After World War II ended, large numbers of veterans were headed to college on the GI Bill, officially known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. The GI Bill provided economic assistance to veterans so they could receive a college education or vocational training. Enrollment at colleges and universities had dropped dramatically during the war, as high school graduates put college education on hold for four or five years so they could serve in World War II. Arkansas State Teachers College (ASTC), now the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), had an enrollment of 764 students for the 1940–41 school year. But by the 1943–44 school year, enrollment had dropped to 289 students. After the war was over, the student enrollment …

Bachman’s Warbler

aka: Vermivora bachmanii
Bachman’s warbler (Vermivora bachmanii) was a small, yellow-and-black bird of the American wood-warbler family (Parulidae) that formerly nested in the southeastern United States, including Arkansas. In winter, Bachman’s warblers migrated south to spend the winter on the island of Cuba. Preferring swampy bottomland habitat, the species suffered severe population decline in the early twentieth century when that habitat began disappearing and is now believed by most ornithologists to be extinct. Bachman’s warbler was discovered in 1832 near Charleston, South Carolina, by the Reverend John Bachman, a skilled amateur naturalist. Bachman (pronounced BACKman) was a close friend to John James Audubon, the famed naturalist and artist. Audubon painted a pair of the birds based on skins (prepared specimens) and named the …

Back Yonder, An Ozark Chronicle

Back Yonder, An Ozark Chronicle, published in 1932, is the autobiography of Charles Wayman Hogue (1870–1965), who grew up in Arkansas’s Ozark Mountains. Arkansas folklorist Vance Randolph wrote that Back Yonder was, “One of the finest nonfiction books ever written about the Ozark country. Hogue is a native of Van Buren County, Arkansas. He knows the truth about this region, and sets it down without any sentimental twaddle.” Hogue was the father of well-known Arkansas author Charlie May Simon. Her second husband, Howard Simon, illustrated Hogue’s book with exquisite woodcuts. As a young man in his early twenties, Hogue left the Ozarks to attend Little Rock University (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock). It was there that he …

Baitfish Industry

Arkansas leads the nation in the farming of bait and feeder fish, providing sixty-one percent of the value of all cultured baitfish in the country. Baitfish are small minnows used as fishing bait to catch predatory game fish such as crappie, catfish, walleye, and largemouth bass. Feeder fish are small fish sold as live food for fish and animals in aquariums and zoos. Six billion bait minnows—predominantly golden shiners, fathead minnows, and goldfish—are raised in Arkansas each year and shipped throughout the country. In 1998, the Census of Aquaculture recorded sixty-two baitfish farms in Arkansas. The annual farm-gate value of Arkansas baitfish production was $23 million; with an economic impact of six to seven times this amount, baitfish production contributes …

Baker House

Located at 109 5th Street in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Queen Anne–style Baker House was constructed in 1897 by A. E. Colburn. The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the last surviving Victorian houses in North Little Rock. This Victorian home was constructed in 1897 (completed by 1898), according to Arkansas Gazette articles in late 1896 and early 1897, by A. E. Colburn and Henry Glenn. The home is approximately 4,156 square feet in the twenty-first century, having undergone renovations and had a cottage added. Henry Glenn was a native of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and a contractor. Colburn was a native of Little Rock as well. Some sources incorrectly claim …

Banded Pygmy Sunfish

The banded pygmy sunfish (Elassoma zonatum) belongs to its own family (Elassomatidae) and the Order Perciformes. It is a diminutive sunfish that is about 25 to 40 mm (1.0 to 1.5 in.) in total length. This fish is endemic to the United States, where it ranges in the Mississippi River drainage from Indiana and Illinois south to Texas and east along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina south to Florida. There are six additional species of Elassoma, including spring pygmy sunfish (E. alabamae), Carolina pygmy sunfish (E. boehlkei), Everglades pygmy sunfish (E. evergladei), Gulf Coast pygmy sunfish (E. gilberti), bluebarred pygmy sunfish (E. okatie), and Okefenokee pygmy sunfish (E. okefenokee). Interestingly, E. zonatum was described by the “Father of American …

Bank of Malvern Building

The Bank of Malvern building is a historic structure located at 212 South Main Street in Malvern (Hot Spring County). Constructed in 1889, the building was renovated in 1896 after a fire. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1987. The Bank of Malvern was founded on June 4, 1889, and received a charter from the state on June 24. The bank prospered in the growing town and survived multiple so-called panics and economic downturns, leaving it the oldest chartered bank in the state by the mid-twentieth century. Founded by O. M. Nilsen and F. M. Smith, the bank was housed in a two-story building on the site of the present structure. The second …

Bank of Osceola

The Bank of Osceola is a two-story brick structure located in Osceola (Mississippi County) at 207–209 East Hale Avenue at its intersection with Pecan Street. Built in 1909 at the height of Osceola’s building boom, the property remains a unique focal point along the Hale Avenue Historic District. Originally constructed to house the bank and a grocery store on the first floor, the building has hosted numerous businesses throughout its history, including law offices, a cotton brokerage, and a doctor’s office. The structure, measuring 56′ by 100′, is on a continuous brick foundation. The façade (south elevation) has a centered entrance featuring double doors topped by double transoms and flanked by altered storefront openings. The second-story façade is distinguished by …

Bank OZK

Bank OZK grew from a small-town bank in Ozark (Franklin County) to have offices in ten states by 2019, also becoming a major lender for commercial construction projects in metropolitan centers throughout the country. The bank was recognized thirteen times from 2011 to 2019 as the top-performing bank in the nation by various trade publications. It has maintained significant profitability through all economic cycles and has rewarded its stockholders through stock price appreciation and increasing dividends. In 1979, George Gleason, a twenty-five-year-old attorney with the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock (Pulaski County), purchased the small Bank of Ozark. He left law practice and moved to Ozark and took over bank management as chairman and CEO. The bank, which had …

Banking

When Arkansas was admitted to statehood in June 1836, the first and second acts of the legislature that year authorized the chartering of two banks: the State Bank of Arkansas and the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas. Capital for the banks was obtained by substituting the credit of the state in the form of Arkansas bonds, to be sold presumably in the East or in the London market. Bond interest and principal were to be paid out of bank profits. The State Bank was government owned; shares of the Real Estate Bank were open to public subscription. Both banks suspended the redemption of their bank notes (currency) in gold and silver coin in 1839 but continued to issue new currency …

Baptist Health

Baptist Health, Arkansas’s largest healthcare system, has hospital campuses in Little Rock (Pulaski County), North Little Rock (Pulaski County), Arkadelphia (Clark County), Stuttgart (Arkansas County), and Heber Springs (Cleburne County). In addition to its medical centers, it also operates therapy centers, physician clinics, a retirement village, and a school of nursing and allied health. Baptist Health began in 1919 when the Arkansas Baptist State Convention voted to create a modern scientific hospital in Little Rock. The Baptist State Hospital opened with seventy-five beds in November 1920. In its first year of operation, the hospital treated 1,026 patients. Dr. J. S. Rogers was appointed superintendent of the hospital. The Baptist Health School of Nursing also began in 1920 and graduated its first …

Baptist Health College Little Rock

Baptist Health College Little Rock (BHCLR), a part of Baptist Health Medical Center–Little Rock, focuses on healthcare education as guided by the workforce needs in the central Arkansas region. BHCLR offers a Christian campus environment and a long history of medical training that goes back to the earliest days of the Baptist Health system. Established in 1920 in Little Rock (Pulaski County), what was then the Arkansas Baptist Hospital School of Nursing was based in the Baptist State Hospital, which itself was founded that year when the Arkansas Baptist State Convention purchased the old Battle Creek Sanatorium for $58,350. In 1921, the Arkansas Baptist Hospital School of Nursing graduated five students. There were no graduates in 1922, but in 1923 …

Baring Cross Bridge

The Baring Cross Bridge is located in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) over the Arkansas River at river mile 166.2. It is the western-most bridge of the six bridges spanning the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. The first Baring Cross Bridge, the first bridge built across the Arkansas River, opened in 1873. In the 1850s and 1860s, the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company (C&F) developed two divisions north and south of the Arkansas River. Before the bridge was constructed, the railroad company used ferries to transport equipment, people, animals and commercial freight across the river. Ferries, however, were slow and had a limited amount of cargo space, which caused frequent backups in service. Also, cargo was lost in ferry …

Barlow Hotel

The Barlow Hotel at 102 South Elm Street in Hope (Hempstead County) was, for more than seventy-five years, the city’s most popular lodging and dining venue, as well as its most sought-after meeting and banquet facility. The Barlow was built as the Lamar Hotel by local merchant J. C. McKee and opened in 1886, ten years after the town’s founding. It initially sought to attract a clientele dominated by railroad passengers, as Hope was built around what would become two major railroad junctions: the north-south Louisiana and Arkansas line (now Kansas City Southern) and the east-west Cairo and Fulton (now Union Pacific). In 1886, M. H. Barlow, a hardware merchant who hailed from Cory, Pennsylvania, was persuaded that the hotel, …

Bartell, Fred Wallace

Frederick Wallace Bartell was a Siloam Springs (Benton County) merchant, church leader, and Circuit Chautauqua manager. He organized Associated Chautauquas, which was among the first “tent” or “traveling” Chautauqua circuits. Fred W. Bartell was born in Milford, Kansas, on October 12, 1872, to immigrant parents. His father, Edward Charles Bartell, was from Germany; his mother, Louesa (or Louise), Edward’s second wife, was from France. He was the fourth of their five children. There also were six children from Edward’s first marriage to Catharine Branscom, who died in 1860. Louesa died in 1878. Edward Bartell and other family members migrated to Siloam Springs sometime before May 1892, when Fred Bartell arrived. Bartell said of his arrival, “I came with the flood,” …

Basketball

Basketball, a uniquely American invention in the history of sports, is one of the most popular sports in Arkansas, both for participants and for spectators. Because basketball can be played either indoors or outdoors, and because it requires less equipment than most team sports, basketball rapidly acquired the attention and affection of many Arkansans. Most high schools and colleges in the state field competitive basketball teams, and the state has produced several high-caliber professional basketball players. Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, who was seeking a form of recreation that would keep competitors active while indoors during the winter months. He introduced the sport in a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) facility in Springfield, Massachusetts, in December of …

Basketry

Basket making is the process of interlacing short flexible fibers to form a container using a process of coiling, knotting, plaiting, or weaving. Early inhabitants of Arkansas such as the Caddo and Quapaw made and used baskets. Basket making has continued in modern times in Arkansas but for different reasons. At first, baskets were made for agricultural purposes; they later became objects of beauty—a fine craft acknowledged throughout the country and created for contemplation and decoration for museums and homes. Prehistoric baskets have been found in dry bluff shelters in the Ozark Mountains. Because traditional baskets are made of natural materials such as vines, grass, reeds, bark, or split wood, they are fragile and perishable and have not held up …

Bates School House

The Bates School House is located in the unincorporated community of Bates (Scott County). The schoolhouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 21, 2006. On May 1, 1915, James and Rosa Haywood donated 5.3 acres to the Bates and Gipson Special School District to build the schoolhouse. The building is estimated to have been constructed between 1916 and 1917 by the Bates community. The school initially provided educational instruction for students from first grade through high school. First- through sixth-grade classes were located on the first floor, while seventh- through twelfth-grade classes were located on the second. In the 1950s, Scott County began consolidating school districts, which in turn led to the closure of the …

Batesville Confederate Monument

The Batesville Confederate Monument is a commemorative sculpture erected in 1907 by the Sidney Johnson Camp No. 863 of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) and Sidney Johnson Chapter No. 135 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to commemorate local men who had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War, as well as the women who supported them. Independence County fielded ten companies of cavalry and thirteen of infantry for the Confederate army during the Civil War. In 1906, the Sidney Johnson Camp No. 863 of the UCV and Sidney Johnson Chapter No. 135 of the UDC, based in Batesville (Independence County), decided to do what several other Arkansas organizations had done and erect a monument in their …

Batesville Daily Guard

The Batesville Daily Guard has been published continuously since 1877, the only Batesville (Independence County) newspaper that has survived from about two dozen that were started in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Originally a weekly publication, it later became an award-winning daily newspaper. The founder of the Guard, Confederate Civil War veteran Franklin Desha Denton, was born in Batesville in 1841. In 1868, Frank Denton married Martha Adelia “Mattie” Lewis. According to the Goodspeed history of the area, Denton was attending Center College at Danville, Kentucky, when the Civil War broke out, and he came home to enlist in the Confederate army. He was twice wounded, captured by the Union army, and exchanged to fight again. After …

Batesville Regional Airport

The Batesville Regional Airport is located on Highway 167 (Batesville Boulevard) in the town of Southside (Independence County), about four miles south of Batesville, the county seat of Independence County. The City of Batesville owns the airport, which is a public-use general aviation airport averaging ninety-five aircraft operations per day (approximately six percent of which are military). The airport and hangars accommodate light general aviation aircraft of all sizes, including small jets. In 2015, the airport had more than fifty based aircraft and employed seventy-two people. The economic impact of the airport on Batesville and Independence County—including on motels, restaurants, transportation businesses, and the poultry industry—has been estimated by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics to be approximately $5,486,400 annually. The …

Bats

Bats belong to the class Mammalia and the order Chiroptera. There are two suborders: the Yinpterochiroptera (formerly Megachiroptera), which includes the horseshoe and Old World fruit bats (megabats), and the Yangochiroptera (formerly Microchiroptera), the remainder of bats. Worldwide, there are eighteen families, 202 genera, and more than 1,100 species of bats with only about four percent (at least forty-five species) occurring in the United States. This mammalian order is second only in number of species behind the rodents (order Rodentia). Sixteen bat species occur in Arkansas. Much of the past research on bats in Arkansas was conducted by Michael J. (Mick) Harvey (1934–2015) of Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville. His research on several endangered bats in Arkansas was instrumental in …

Bauxite Historical Association and Museum

The Bauxite Historical Association and Museum (BHAM) works to preserve the history and culture of the company-owned town of Bauxite (Saline County). The organization started its life as the Alcoa Employees Descendants Association (AEDA), which was created on October 15, 1986, as a non-profit organization charged with the maintenance, protection, and everyday business of the Bauxite Community Hall and all other property deeded to it by the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). The community hall building houses the Bauxite Historical Museum. The building’s main hall is run by the association and functions as a venue for local events. The community hall was finished in 1926. Built by the Republic Mining & Manufacturing Company, the building itself was dedicated as the …

Bauxite Mining

Bauxite is the principal ore of aluminum and is a mixture of aluminum oxides and hydroxides that formed from intense chemical weathering of a soil in tropical environments. Soils formed under these conditions are termed laterites. In Arkansas, the aluminum-enriched soils are the result of the decomposition and lateritic weathering of nepheline syenite, an intrusive igneous rock. During the weathering process, leaching by rain, groundwater, and salt spray decomposed the original syenite minerals (feldspar and nepheline). Weathering removed much of the silica and concentrated the newly formed aluminum oxides and hydroxides as the rock termed bauxite. Geologically, the soils formed from syenite and weathered to laterites in the Paleocene Epoch (65–55 million years ago) along the west edge of a …

Baxter Bulletin

The Baxter Bulletin newspaper was established in 1901 in Mountain Home (Baxter County) by J. G. “Uncle Jess” Copeland, who had previously worked for both the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Over the years, it became a popular weekly turned six-day-a-week publication with a circulation of around 11,000. Copeland sold the Bulletin in October 1903 to Joe Doehring and Will M. McNair. He then moved to Cotter (Baxter County) and established the Cotter Courier. Doehring was serving as both editor and publisher when the newspaper was sold to Tom Shiras in 1905. The next year, Enness Shiras joined his brother as co-owner of the paper. They owned and operated the paper for approximately forty years. In …

Baxter County Courthouse

The Baxter County Courthouse was opened the week of August 13, 1943. Designed by Fayetteville (Washington County) architect T. Ewing Shelton, who used a Plain Traditional style with minimal Art Deco influences, the building is minimalistic in nature, reflecting the “functional emphasis common to Depression-era projects.” The Baxter County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 1995. Located at 1 East 7th Street in Mountain Home (Baxter County), the Baxter County Courthouse was constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) between 1941 and 1943. The exterior is cut stone with buff brick veneer, with the only decoration being marble panels in a variety of patterns resting between the basement and first floor, between the first …

Bazooka [Musical Instrument]

Although today it is more commonly applied to the anti-tank weapon widely used during World War II, or to a product of Topps Chewing Gum, the name “bazooka” was originally given to a novelty wind instrument created by native Arkansan radio and film personality Bob Burns. Spanning the musical gap between a trombone and a slide whistle, the bazooka produces a narrow range of notes with a tone that is more comical than dulcet. Burns developed the bazooka one evening, as early as 1905, during band practice at Hayman’s Plumbing Shop in Van Buren (Crawford County). Burns blew into a gas pipe that made a noise described as sounding like a “wounded moose.” Inspired by this, he developed a new …

Bearden Waterworks

The Bearden Waterworks, located on the northwest corner of North Second and North Cedar streets in Bearden (Ouachita County), was constructed in 1936 and installed with assistance from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a New Deal public relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 5, 2006. As the United States struggled with the effects of the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs. Though …

Beef Industry

aka: Cattle Industry
The raising of beef cattle has been carried out in Arkansas since before the area became an American territory. Though not as prominent as the state’s poultry industry, the beef industry has an estimated $1.4 billion annual economic impact upon Arkansas. Undomesticated bison were present in Arkansas before the arrival of European explorers and settlers. Both the expedition of Hernando de Soto and the Marquette-Joliet expedition reported the presence of these animals. Frenchmen in the area of Arkansas Post judged the land fit for raising cattle, and a general census of Arkansas Post in 1749 lists sixty cows among the livestock kept there. Early Anglo-American settlers brought cattle with them, as did the Cherokee, who began moving to Arkansas in …

Beekeeping

As of 2010, more than 1,500 Arkansas beekeepers have registered with the Arkansas State Plant Board, the vast majority of whom are hobbyists. Hobbyist beekeepers maintain fewer than five hives and do not rely upon beekeeping as their primary source of income. An estimated twenty-five to thirty commercial beekeepers operate in the state. The two types of beekeepers collectively manage more than 50,000 colonies, making Arkansas a significant national producer of honey. Commercial apiaries in Arkansas vary in size. Some commercial apiaries include Coy’s Honey Farm in Brookland (Craighead County), which is one of the largest; Clyde Gray in Jonesboro (Craighead County), who has hives from Jonesboro to Wynne (Cross County); Culp’s Honey Farm in Jonesboro (Craighead County); Richard’s Apiaries …

Beely-Johnson Post 139 American Legion Hut

Located in downtown Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), the Beely-Johnson Post 139 American Legion Hut was built in 1934 by American Legion members and local citizens. A kitchen was added to the building’s interior in 1937 by the Legion Auxiliary. The one-story building is constructed of rough-cut native stone quarried from a mountain east of Springdale. There have been no major changes to the building over the years. The Beely-Johnson Post 139 American Legion Hut was organized as the Clarence E. Beely Post in 1921, named in honor of Springdale’s first World War I casualty. An American Legion Auxiliary was established in 1922. In 1962, the post’s name was changed to include the name of Elmer Johnson Jr., the city’s …

Bella Vista Historical Museum

The Bella Vista Historical Museum, located on Highway 71 in Bella Vista (Benton County), preserves more than 100 years of the history of the local community, which originated as a summer resort, became a retirement and recreation village, and eventually became an incorporated municipality. The Bella Vista Historical Society, organized in 1976 as an outgrowth of the American bicentennial celebration that year, opened the original museum in 1985, with one addition completed in 1996 and a second addition completed in 2015. The museum receives some funding from the City of Bella Vista and also operates from donations. The starting point for the museum collection was the materials from the Linebarger brothers’ estate, donated by their remaining heirs. The Linebarger brothers …

Bella Vista Water Tank

The Bella Vista Water Tank sits on a small, triangular piece of land at the corner of Cunningham Drive and Cedar Crest Drive in Bella Vista (Benton County). It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1992. The three Linebarger brothers, who developed the original summer resort of Bella Vista, had the 55,000-gallon tank built of native fieldstone in 1927 at a cost of $5,500. The tank was built to provide water to part of their Lake Bella Vista Summer Resort, which they had opened in 1917. The stone mason was Willard Glenn Braithwaite of Bentonville (Benton County). Below the Big Spring just east of Bella Vista Lake, the Linebargers installed hydraulic rams to pump …

Bellingrath House

The Bellingrath House, located in White Hall (Jefferson County), was listed on the National Register of Historic Properties in 1994 as an excellent and singular example of the English-Revival architectural style within White Hall. The house was commissioned by Ferdinand McMillan Bellingrath and his wife, Catherine Oudin Bellingrath, and it remains in the hands of the Bellingrath/Oudin family in the twenty-first century. Ferdinand Bellingrath was the son of Leonard Ferdinand Bellingrath and Mary Jane Castleberry Bellingrath, who originally resided in Georgia before relocating to the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) area in 1916 to expand their Coca-Cola bottling operation. Ferdinand Bellingrath eventually began helping his father operate the Pine Bluff bottling plant, started by his uncles in 1911, before finally taking over …

Benton Utilities

Benton Utilities, also known as Benton Municipal Light and Waterworks, is one of the oldest continually operating institutions in Saline County. In the twenty-first century, the company serves most of Benton and its surrounding areas in Saline County. In its early days, Benton got its drinking water from the Saline River. It was not until 1914 that plans for a modern city-owned water and sewage system were laid out. In April 1914, R. C. Bailey was elected mayor of Benton on a platform of creating a municipal waterworks. In May 1914, Bailey and the city council “laid out plans for a system of engaging a firm of engineers to submit plans” for a municipal waterworks. On June 8, 1914, the …

Bentonville Confederate Monument

The Bentonville Confederate Monument is a commemorative sculpture erected in 1908 in the Bentonville (Benton County) town square by the James H. Berry Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to honor local men who had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Eleven companies of infantry and cavalry were raised for Confederate service from Benton County during the Civil War, and in the early twentieth century, the James H. Berry Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy decided to sponsor a monument in their honor in the Bentonville town square. A. J. Bates, a Bentonville banker, donated $1,000 of the $2,500 monument cost, and James H. Berry—a former Confederate soldier, Arkansas governor, and U.S. senator, …

Berryville Post Office

The Berryville Post Office at 101 East Madison Avenue in Berryville (Carroll County) is a one-story, brick-masonry structure designed in the Colonial Revival style of architecture and featuring a sculpture by Daniel Olney financed by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture (later renamed the Section of Fine Arts), a Depression-era stimulus project that promoted public art. The post office was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1998. In late 1937, Congress authorized $70 million for public works projects over a three-year period. The majority of those were post offices, and among four in Arkansas was a new post office for Berryville. The building was designed in 1938 and erected by 1939 by …

Big Arkie

Big Arkie was a thirteen-foot-long alligator caught in 1952 near Hope (Hempstead County). He was the Little Rock Zoo’s main attraction for eighteen years. Weighing 500 pounds, Big Arkie was considered to be the largest alligator in captivity in the western hemisphere. Big Arkie was spied by a young boy in a flooded pasture by Yellow Creek, which is west of Hope. Ed Jackson, caretaker of a local hunting club, was alerted and, with some companions, wrapped Big Arkie in a fifty-foot-long cable attached to a tractor. The alligator spent one night in Hope’s public children’s pool, encased in chicken wire. On the following day, he was delivered to the Little Rock Zoo, doubled up in a crate. When the …

Big Bear of Arkansas, The

“The Big Bear of Arkansas” by Thomas Bangs Thorpe is a prime example of Southwestern humor. The story and its relations (notably Charles Noland’s “Pete Whetstone’s Bear Hunt” of 1837), along with the presence of bears in the region, helped earn Arkansas the sobriquet of the “Bear State,” as well as adding to the young state’s image as an untamed wilderness. Thorpe was born on March 1, 1815, in Westfield, Massachusetts, and raised in New York. He earned a living painting portraits, particularly during his years in Louisiana (1838–1854 and in the 1860s). Thorpe also dabbled in politics and investment, both in New York and in Louisiana. His greatest claim to lasting fame was as a writer, publishing six books …

Big Doc’s Girl

Published in 1942, Big Doc’s Girl is a novel written by Arkansas native Mary Medearis. The book is said to have stayed in print longer than any other work of fiction by an Arkansan. Mary Myrtle Medearis was born in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) on May 31, 1915. With financial help from an aunt after her father’s death during the Great Depression, Medearis studied music at the Juilliard School in New York City. She enrolled in a speech class at New York’s Columbia University in 1938, but because the class was full, Medearis enrolled in a creative writing class. When the class was assigned to compose an autobiographical short story, Medearis wrote “Death of a Country Doctor” about the …

Big River Crossing

aka: Harahan Bridge
The Harahan Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River to connect Memphis, Tennessee, with West Memphis (Crittenden County), was built in 1916 as a two-track railroad bridge and converted in 2016 to add a bicycle and pedestrian pathway, replacing one of the old abandoned auto roadways; the structure was renamed Big River Crossing. The Union Pacific Railroad owns the bridge and agreed to add the pathway, which was financed with a federal grant. The new pathway connects Main Street in Memphis to the Delta Regional River Park on the Arkansas side and to the Big River Trail. After completion, the Big River Trail, for use by pedestrians and bikers, will extend from the head waters of the river to the Gulf …

Biking

aka: Cycling
Arkansas is home to numerous dirt roads and trails for mountain biking, as well as paved paths and scenic highways for road biking, with nearly year-round use. The state hosts a number of noteworthy tours and competitions for all kinds of bicycling and for all levels of ability. Arkansas has a very popular series of mountain bike races for both experts and beginners through the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship (AMBC) Series. Some of the better known are the Attila the Hun and the Womble (Trail) Mountain Bike Classic. Another popular mountain bike trail is the Syllamo trail system north of Mountain View (Stone County), with fifty miles of mostly single-track (wide enough for one bicycle) biking. A trail system at …

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (formerly Little Rock National Airport/Adams Field), located two miles east of downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the south side of the Arkansas River, is a mixed-use airport with both commercial and private airplanes, as well as a military presence. It has the largest amount of scheduled commercial service in the state of Arkansas and serves more than two million passengers annually. Little Rock’s first airport, operated by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, opened in 1917 as the Little Rock Intermediate Air Depot. This small airfield expanded in 1926 due to the growing needs of the 154th Observation Squadron of the Arkansas National Guard. In 1928, the first aircraft manufacturing business arrived on …

Bill Clinton Boyhood Home

aka: Birnbaum-Shubetz House
The boyhood home of President Bill Clinton is today a private residence located at 1011 Park Avenue in the northern part of Hot Springs (Garland County). On May 18, 1995, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also known as the Birnbaum-Shubetz House, it was constructed between 1896 and 1900, originally built in the Queen Anne style and redesigned in the Tudor Revival style in 1938. Although a two-story wood frame structure, it appears to be one and a half stories due to a steeply pitched gabled roof. Its exterior is stucco, stone, and wood half-timbers. The front porch has been described as Swiss Chalet style. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program has termed it the area’s finest …

Billings-Cole House

The Billings-Cole House is located on East Page Avenue/U.S. Highway 67 in a mixed-use commercial and residential area in Malvern (Hot Spring County). The house was constructed in 1948 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 27, 2015. With details of both the Art Moderne and International styles, the Billings-Cole House is an example of an uncommon architectural style for small-town Arkansas. The home was designed by Irven McDaniel of Hot Springs (Garland County). The house was constructed for Dr. Ammon Alexander Billings, a local optometrist and jeweler. Billings resided in the home until 1950, when he sold it to Dr. John Walton Cole, a general practitioner. Cole lived in the home and used the basement …

Biloxi Blues

Biloxi Blues is a 1988 movie made entirely in Arkansas. Shooting locations included Van Buren (Crawford County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Barling (Sebastian County), and Fort Chaffee. The film, written by humorist Neil Simon, is semi-autobiographical with elements of both comedy and drama. It was directed by Academy Award winner Mike Nichols, and it starred Matthew Broderick along with Academy Award winner Christopher Walken. In 1985, Simon had written a semi-autobiographical play of the same title. Biloxi Blues was the second in what is known as the “Eugene trilogy,” with the first being Brighton Beach Memoirs and the third being Broadway Bound. He adapted Biloxi Blues for the screen, maintaining the characters and plot elements of the play. Broderick, who …

Bioregionalism

aka: Ozark Area Community Congress
Bioregionalism is both a deep ecological philosophy and an apolitical, decentralized, volunteer egalitarian movement. Whereas environmentalists conserve to preserve the human environment—an anthropocentric view—bioregionalists re-inhabit, living simply and sustainably, to preserve all species—a biocentric view. Bioregionalists hold that if humanity is to avoid ecological and social collapse, people must recognize, nurture, sustain, and celebrate relations to land, air, plants, and animals; springs, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and oceans; and families, friends, neighbors, and community. They also engage in local systems of production and trade whenever possible. A bioregion is a geographically defined landform, bounded by watersheds with distinct plants and animals. The Ozark Plateau is one of fifty discrete ecoregions on the North American continent. The Ozark Highlands cover north-central and northwestern …

Birds

The birdlife of Arkansas (its avifauna) comprises just over 400 species, although that number includes more than forty species that have been extirpated (that is, they no longer occur) in the state, are completely extinct, or are rarities that have strayed into Arkansas fewer than a half dozen times. Around 350 species, then, can be found in Arkansas with some regularity. About 145 species nest within the state. Others nest north of Arkansas and spend the winter here or pass through the state in spring and fall as they migrate to and from nesting grounds to the north and wintering areas to the south. Arkansas’s location in the south-central United States means that its avifauna is generally typical of North …

Birth Control Movement

aka: Family Planning Movement
In Arkansas, early marriage and the need for farm labor had long encouraged large families. In addition, federal and state laws had restricted access to contraceptives since the late nineteenth century. These challenges did not, however, prevent women from using herbs, withdrawal-based, or “black market” birth control to exercise some measure of reproductive control. In the 1940s, attempting to address poverty and inspired by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s (PPFA) policy agenda, Hilda K. Cornish of the Planned Parenthood Association of Arkansas and her allies campaigned for the inclusion of birth control services in Arkansas’s public health system. In 1940, Cornish, the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS), and state board of health members discussed plans for public health birth control …

Bishop Brookes House

The Bishop Brookes House is a Colonial Revival–style home located in De Queen (Sevier County). Constructed between 1922 and 1928, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 1999. The town of De Queen was laid out on April 26, 1897. Established along the route of the Kansas City Southern Railroad, the settlement grew quickly. Despite an early setback due to fire in 1899, the town quickly became an economic hub in southwestern Arkansas. By 1936, the town had more than 3,400 residents. Attracted by the economic opportunities in the area, Bishop Brookes moved to De Queen in 1909. A native of Wheatley (St. Francis County), Brookes attended pharmacy school at the University of …