Entries - Entry Type: Thing - Starting with W

W. H. Allen House

Located in Spotville (Columbia County), less than twenty miles from Magnolia (Columbia County) on the old Magnolia–El Dorado road, the W. H. Allen House is representative of the early settlement of the area. It is also an example of the transitional architecture many dogtrot structures have undergone. It was built by William Henry “Dick” Allen in 1873 as a four-room dogtrot, a common style for pioneer families in the southeastern United States in the nineteenth century. In 1907, his son, Walter Howard Allen, enlarged the house, added a front porch, and enclosed the breezeway, using handmade shingles for the roof and timber cut from trees grown on the Allen property. In January 1853, Dick Allen married Eliza Jane Gillespie. They …

W. H. Young House

The Craftsman Bungalow–style W. H. Young House was constructed in 1921 in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Located at 316 Meador Lane, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 2006. The land on which the house is located was originally purchased by John S. T. Callaway in 1836 and subsequently lost at a sheriff’s auction in 1842. It had been auctioned to pay a legal judgment to Benjamin Duncan, a party to the lawsuit that forced the sale of the land. The land was later platted and added to the city in 1858, named for Duncan. Duncan’s Addition is located north of downtown Arkadelphia and to the southeast of the Ouachita Baptist University campus. Born …

Waldo Water Tower

The Waldo Water Tower, located in Waldo (Columbia County) on East Main Street west of its junction with North Skimmer Street, was constructed in 1935 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 May 29, 2007. As the United States struggled with 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. The leaders …

Wallace Bridge

aka: Nimrod Bridge
Constructed in 1908, the Wallace Bridge was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as the best example of a Camelback through truss bridge in the Nimrod (Perry County) vicinity. The bridge was also nominated for its associations with the development of vehicular transportation in Perry County. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 1, 2008, it is the last remaining example of this type of bridge in Perry County and one of only three remaining in Arkansas. It is unknown if there was a prior bridge at the current location of the Wallace Bridge. A loss of county records prevents a detailed understanding of the historical locations and types of bridges in Perry County, but at least one …

Walmart Inc.

aka: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Founded in 1962 by Sam Walton, Walmart Inc., the world’s most profitable retail outlet, is also the largest employer in the United States, with more than one million employees (called “associates”) and thousands of stores worldwide. For most of its history, it has been closely identified with its founder, whose homespun image often belied the aggressive, innovative business model he developed. Born near Kingfisher, Oklahoma, on March 29, 1918, Walton grew up during the Depression, working on his family’s farm and at a number of other jobs. After graduating from the University of Missouri at Columbia, he took a job in Des Moines, Iowa, as a management trainee for clothing retailer J. C. Penney, earning seventy-five dollars a month. After …

War of the Rebellion [Book Series]

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies is a 128-volume collection of records pertaining to military activities during the American Civil War. It is augmented by The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies and the more recent Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. The process of compiling the Official Records began in 1863 when General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck proposed gathering and publishing documents and reports. Congress passed a resolution calling for printing Union military records on May 19, 1864, and President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law the next day. A new law calling for …

War Room, The

The War Room is a 1993 documentary in which filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker produced an inside look at Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign for president of the United States. The filmmakers were granted access to the Clinton campaign center, dubbed by Hillary Clinton as the “war room.” It was filmed mostly in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and featured a number of well-known Little Rock locations. Pennebaker, a respected filmmaker, was especially known for 1967’s Don’t Look Back about Bob Dylan and 1968’s Monterey Pop about the legendary music festival. The War Room made stars of campaign strategists James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, won a number of prizes …

Washington Confederate Monument

The Washington Confederate Monument is a commemorative obelisk financed and erected through the efforts of the citizens of Washington (Hempstead County) to honor the memory of the Confederate soldiers who died there during the Civil War. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1996. Washington, strategically placed on the Southwest Trail, lay in the path of troop movements to and from Texas and, following the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Union troops in September 1863, was the seat of Confederate government in the state as well. At least seventy-four Confederate soldiers are believed to be buried in Washington’s Presbyterian Cemetery (now Washington Cemetery); this number includes soldiers in the Nineteenth Texas Infantry …

Washington County Courthouse

The Historic Washington County Courthouse at the corner of College Avenue and Center Street in Fayetteville (Washington County) is a four-story building in the Richardson Romanesque style. Built in 1904, it is located in the commercial district of the city. It has noteworthy features, such as the steeple that rises above the city, a mural honoring Washington County casualties in World War I, and a bell original to the building. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage certificate was issued at the courthouse in 1975. In the 1990s, most county business moved to a new facility, but the historic courthouse continued to serve the county in some capacities. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1972. …

Waterfalls

Waterfalls often form as a stream flows over different bands of rock, with the soft rock eroding more quickly to undercut the hard rock. Unsupported, the overhanging rock eventually collapses. This fallen rock crashes down into a pool of water where the water’s swirling action results in more erosion. Over time, this process is repeated, resulting in a series of stair-step waterfalls retreating up a hillside. Nature creates an array of different types of vertical water runoffs. Experts have different ideas about what constitutes a waterfall. Although there are no definitive criteria, two methods have been developed to categorize waterfalls. Geometrical Classification categorizes waterfalls based on shapes and physical features. This method is helpful to identify falls for their visual …

Weather in the Civil War

Drought, flooding, bone-chilling winters, and intense summer heat all had an impact on the civilian and military populations of Arkansas during the Civil War, affecting military campaigns, access to food and supplies, and health conditions throughout the state. The Civil War was fought just after the end of a meteorological period that climate historians often call the Little Ice Age. This era, lasting roughly from 1300 to 1850, featured frequent climatic shifts, with bitterly cold winters switching to periods of heavy spring flooding, often followed by mild winters and subsequent droughts. While the trend toward cooling that characterized the Little Ice Age had moved toward warming by the 1860s, Civil War Arkansas would be plagued by temperature fluctuations that could …

Weldon Gin Company Historic District

The Weldon Gin Company Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with the farming economy of the town of Weldon (Jackson County), as well as for being the only example of cotton gin architecture and technology in Weldon. By the late antebellum period, Alvin McDonald was farming more than 900 acres just south of the current town of Weldon. Survey maps and federal land records of the period show that McDonald paid $1.25 an acre for just over 930 acres. As was the case with many of his peers in Jackson County, McDonald’s farm income was supplemented rather than supported by cotton. Smaller farmers who could not afford to build their own gin depended …

West End Park

West End Park was a privately established park in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that opened on May 30, 1885. Created by the Little Rock Street Railway Company, it encompassed a six-block area between 14th and 16th Streets and Park and Jones (formerly Kramer Street). By the late 1920s, much of the land had become the site of what is now Central High School. The park was the last stop for the Ninth Street Line, which took streetcar passengers to 14th Street, where they walked the remainder of the way and entered the park near the spot occupied in the twenty-first century by the Central High School athletic building. The park boasted the largest grandstand in the state, an artificial lake …

Wheat and Small Grain Industry

Wheat and other small grain crops have been important to Arkansas since the first European settlers arrived. At first, these crops were mainly used on the farms where they were grown for both human and livestock consumption. Today, these grains are a multi-million-dollar industry in the state and are sold worldwide. Cereal grain crops are grass species that are grown primarily for their edible seeds or grain. This group includes the world’s six most widely grown crops: wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, millet, and barley. Cereal grain crops with a small plant structure are generally categorized as small grain cereals. Wheat, barley, oats, and rye are considered small grains. Although rice fits the definition, it is often considered separately because of …

White Bluff Generating Plant

The White Bluff Generating Plant is a coal-fired electrical energy generating plant located near Redfield (Jefferson County) and operated by Entergy Arkansas. It was the first coal-fired plant constructed in Arkansas and one of four in operation. Until the early 1970s, electricity, gasoline, and natural gas had been cheap and apparently in plentiful supply in the United States, but the first Arab oil embargo quickly drove energy prices up sharply, causing immediate gas and oil shortages. Energy suppliers, including electric utilities, had already begun to plan for the use of alternative fuel sources. For example, Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L—now Entergy Arkansas) had begun construction of two large nuclear fuel generators near Russellville (Pope County). At this point, however, there …

White County Courthouse

The White County Courthouse in the northeastern Arkansas city of Searcy (White County) is located in a historic district. The courthouse has hosted many local events over the years ranging from farmers’ markets to the annual Get Down Downtown festival. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the White County Courthouse as historically significant, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 3, 1977. White County built its first courthouse when the county was still in the Arkansas Territory. In 1835, one year before Arkansas’s statehood, the Territorial Legislature created White County and established a five-man commission to determine its county seat. David Crise, one of the commissioners, hosted the local government in his home, which …

White Lightning

Released in 1973, White Lightning is a film written by William Norton and directed by Joseph Sargent starring Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty. It is set in fictional Bogan County, Arkansas, though it was shot in several locations throughout the central part of the state and includes many recognizable landmarks, particularly in Benton (Saline County). Taking its name from a colloquial term for moonshine whiskey, the film primarily deals with central character Gator McKlusky (Reynolds) and his attempt to infiltrate an illegal bootlegging operation. Upon hearing of his brother’s murder, McKlusky, who at the outset of the film is in prison for bootlegging, agrees to work as a “stool pigeon”—or cooperative informant—for the federal government in an attempt to bring …

White River

The 722-mile-long White River flowing through northern Arkansas and southern Missouri is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The river begins in northwestern Arkansas in the Boston Mountains and flows east toward the Fayetteville (Washington County) area, where it then turns north. Near Eureka Springs (Carroll County), the river enters Missouri. It then flows southeast back into Arkansas past Bull Shoals (Marion County), Mountain Home (Baxter County), and Calico Rock (Izard County). At Batesville (Independence County) begins the second section of the river, known as the lower White. From Batesville, the White River flows south for 295 miles through Arkansas’s Delta region, past Augusta (Woodruff County), Des Arc (Prairie County), Clarendon (Monroe County), and St. Charles (Arkansas County), before …

White River Kid, The

Although The White River Kid is optimistically described by its distributors as “an outrageous comedy with a heart” and “a zany adventure with a plethora of oddball characters on the road in the Bible Belt,” actual reviews of this more or less universally panned film are less kind. Indeed, one reviewer described it as “a messy comedy infested with bad gags.” The White River Kid (video title White River) relies on negative stereotypes of Arkansans, portraying them as moronic rednecks or merely simple folk for much of its material. Based on the John Fergus Ryan novel The Little Brothers of St. Mortimer (1991), it was filmed on location in and around Hot Springs (Garland County) and other Arkansas locations during …

White River Monster

The White River monster is one of Arkansas’s premier mysteries. Since 1915, along the White River near Newport (Jackson County), the monster has appeared several times and has become a local legend. Sightings of “Whitey” began in 1915 but were sporadic until 1937. On July 1 of that year, Bramlett Bateman, owner of a plantation near the river, saw the monster. He reported it as having gray skin and being “as wide as a car and three cars long.” As news spread, construction of a huge rope net to capture the monster began. The monster had been seen in an eddy, so a diver was brought in to search for it. However, Whitey was not captured, and construction of the …

White-Baucum House

The White-Baucum House at 201 South Izard Street in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a two-story, wood-frame structure that is one of the oldest examples of Italianate architecture in Arkansas (the house also has characteristics of Steamboat Gothic). The building’s distinctive features include balustraded balconies; a low pyramidal roof; paneled, square columns; side porches; and a half-hexagon front bay. For most of its history, the house was owned by individuals and families, but the building has housed various businesses since the 1960s. The original house was completed around 1871 by Robert J. T. White, Arkansas’s secretary of state. In 1876, Colonel George F. Baucum (pronounced “Bockum”), a Confederate veteran of the Civil War, bought the house for $5,000. Baucum …

Whittling

The term whittling refers to “the making of useful things.” It is a folkway with roots deep in the heritage of the people of the Ozarks country of Arkansas and parts of southern Missouri. In the heyday of whittling, pocket knives were given to boys at a young age as a rite of passage. A son given a pocket knife by his father learned “facts of life,” such as how to sharpen a knife properly. Only as recently as the 1960s has whittling been considered a vintage activity. The required tools for whittling are a pocket knife, a piece of wood, an idea, and the knowledge of how to sharpen a knife. The choice of wood varies; cedar, linden, catalpa, …

Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, Inc.

Wiederkehr Wine Cellars is the oldest operational winery in the state, having been continually in business from 1880 to present. During Prohibition, when wine was outlawed, Wiederkehr was allowed by the state to produce sacramental wine for use in religious services. This winery was founded in the late nineteenth century by Johann Adreas Wiederkehr, an immigrant from Switzerland who settled in Altus (Franklin County), which he found similar to his own homeland and ideal for growing grapes; it is now one of the largest wineries in the region and is well regarded throughout the nation for the quality of its wines. One of the first things that Johann Wiederkehr did after he arrived in Altus was to start construction on …

Wildflowers

The varied ecosystems in Arkansas enable a large variety of wildflowers to grow within the state. From the river deltas to the mountaintops, Arkansas boasts an abundant array of over 600 native wildflowers. The majority of wildflowers in Arkansas are along rural roads and secluded areas. Due to the growing population and changes in the environment, the areas in which wildflowers grow are in constant fluctuation. Although highways and the development of land have eliminated a majority of the state’s native wildflowers, programs are under way to preserve these flowers and bring them back to the roadways. Common WildflowersThe most common wildflowers on Arkansas highways today are as follows: An in-depth list with descriptions of Arkansas wildflowers was written by …

Wildlife Management Areas

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) oversees the state’s wildlife management areas (WMAs), which are places for public hunting at little or no cost to the participants, though they also have year-round potential for bird watching, seeing wild animals, picnicking, camping, and just enjoying the outdoors. There are more than 100 WMAs, large and small, around the state. The WMA system encompasses 3,195,875 acres of the state, including tracts owned outright by the AGFC, cooperative areas, and leased lands. The largest portion of the WMA total acreage is in the Ouachita National Forest. Other cooperative WMA land is administered under agreements among the AGFC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, …

Wilhite Cemetery

aka: Sims Cemetery
The Sims family graveyard is the oldest known cemetery near what later became the community of Pine Ridge, then Waters (Montgomery County). It is in the woods on unmarked private property off of Arkansas Highway 88, approximately two miles east of the Montgomery–Polk County line. The cemetery has about sixty-five graves. In the twenty-first century, access is limited. The Sims and Wilhite families were among the settlers who traveled by wagon train during the mid-1800s to what is now the Ouachita National Forest. Most were southern farmers looking for wooded hills with game and fish to feed their families. Many of the Sims women married Wilhite men, and the Sims Cemetery became known as the Wilhite Cemetery, although it remained …

Wilkerson v. State

The 1947 landmark case of Wilkerson v. the State of Arkansas, in which two African-American men were prosecuted after a deadly highway shooting incident, ended the exclusion of African Americans from Jefferson County juries, marking the first time black jurors had served in the state since Reconstruction. The case also received extensive media coverage because the defense attorneys—William Harold Flowers, who was a leading figure in the civil rights movement in Arkansas in the 1940s, and Zephaniah Alexander Looby, a civil rights leader and attorney from Tennessee—directly attacked unfair and discriminatory Jim Crow laws and practices in open court. On February 9, 1947, off-duty Jefferson County special deputy sheriff George Cletus Bryant, his brother Archie Bryant, and C. W. Winston …

William L. Terry House

The William L. Terry House (also known as the Terry-Jung House) is an example of the Queen Anne architectural style, notable for its jigsaw decorative trim. It is eclectic in its details, such as the porch posts, which are Dravidian, a style imported from India. Built at 1422 Scott Street, now within the Capitol Zoning District and the MacArthur Park Historic District in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the home received a National Register of Historic Places designation on January 1, 1976. Exterior alterations have been modest. Interior alterations have been less restrained, but many features have been preserved. The house was constructed in the mid-1880s by William Leake Terry as a family home. Terry was born in North Carolina, but …

William Woodruff House

The Woodruff House, located at 1017 East 8th Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was built between 1852 and 1853 by William Woodruff, the founder and first publisher of the Arkansas Gazette; the Gazette was the first newspaper in Arkansas and the first newspaper west of the Mississippi River. The house is significant because of its association with Woodruff and because it is one of only a few extant antebellum homes in Little Rock. The Woodruff House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 21, 1989. The Woodruff House is a two-and-a-half-story home built in the Greek Revival style, using mostly local materials, including cypress and bricks made on site. The original house had ten rooms, …

Williford Methodist Church

The Williford Methodist Church, located near the northwestern intersection of Ferguson and Hail streets in Williford (Sharp County), was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 22, 1992. Located behind the wood-frame structure is a large cemetery, which is not included in the historic property. When Jeremiah Baird settled near the Spring River in 1841, others soon followed. Within a short time, Williford was established. The community experienced slow growth until the construction of the railroad in the post–Civil War years. The town was incorporated in 1914. The town’s congregations of various religious denominations shared the local schoolhouse for regular services. In 1910, the Methodist congregation initiated the raising of the town’s first church building. The church was constructed by …

Willow Flycatchers

aka: Empidonax traillii
The willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) is the only bird species that has been discovered in the geographic area that is now the state of Arkansas. The noted naturalist and painter John James Audubon found the bird in 1822 while he was traveling near the community of Arkansas Post (Arkansas County), in what was then Arkansas Territory. When Audubon described the species in print for science in 1828, he named it Traill’s flycatcher for his friend Dr. Thomas Traill of Edinburgh, Scotland. Ornithologists have since determined that “Traill’s flycatcher” is really two different species, willow and alder flycatchers, which have almost identical appearances but distinctive vocalizations. The form Audubon discovered is of the species that was renamed willow flycatcher in 1973. …

Winchester School for Mountain Boys

The Winchester School for Mountain Boys opened near Havana (Yell County) in 1921. Named after Bishop James R. Winchester, the Episcopal bishop of Arkansas from 1911 to 1932, the school was operated by the Episcopal Church and associated with St. Barnaba’s Mission in Havana. The Winchester School was a “mountain mission school,” a type of educational institution established during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to serve children in the mountainous regions of the South, particularly Appalachia and the Ozark Plateau. The Winchester School for Mountain Boys was funded by a group of women from Little Rock (Pulaski County) and first run by the Reverend Gustave Orth, locally revered as “the Apostle of the Mountains,” and later the Reverend E. …

Wineries

Winemaking in Arkansas began when European Catholics, primarily German-Swiss but also Italian, immigrated to the state, attracted by the range of opportunities the then-frontier had in store. Chances are that wine was made at the Hinderliter Grog Shop in Little Rock (Pulaski County), built around 1827 by Jesse Hinderliter, a man of German descent, and currently the oldest standing building in the city. In addition, there are accounts of a winery run by one J. Ressor about six miles south of Batesville (Independence County) in the 1830s and records of German immigrants in the small town of Hermannsburg (Washington County) making wine as early as 1845. However, the wine industry of Arkansas really took root in the 1870s. At that …

Winrock International

Winrock International, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County), traces its roots to a research endeavor that Governor Winthrop Rockefeller established at his home and ranch on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton (Conway County). Winrock International works in the United States and around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources, and protect the environment. It has active projects in an average of sixty-five countries each year with a focus on agriculture and enterprise develoment, clean energy, ecosystem services, forestry and natural resource management, leadership development, volunteer technical assistance, and agricultural and environmental policy. It is one of the few international development organizations that has an active domestic program. Winrock International Livestock Research and Training Center …

Winslow Tunnel

In September 1880, the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway Company (Frisco) created a railroad subsidiary, the Missouri, Arkansas and Southern Railway of Arkansas. The new subsidiary was authorized “to build in a southerly direction”—likely from Fayetteville (Washington County)—“to some point on the Little Rock & Fort Smith Railway, not east of Clarksville, with total mileage of about 55 miles.” The Little Rock and Fort Smith (LR&FS) in 1876 began rail service between Argenta—now North Little Rock (Pulaski County)—and Van Buren (Crawford County). The broad language of the authorization clearly reflected the uncertainty in constructing a railroad line through the Boston Mountains range of the Ozark Mountains, the highest range between the Alleghenies and the Rockies. The range, the highest elevation of …

Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

  Winthrop Rockefeller, who died in 1973, left most of his estate to the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF)—a private, nonprofit foundation—was created from this trust in 1974, with a focus on education, balanced economic growth and development, and social justice in Arkansas. In the twenty-first century, the foundation remains active in these areas, as well as working to improve conditions for children and at-risk families. From 1974 to 2009, the foundation gave more than $135 million to nonprofits in Arkansas. Thomas C. (Tom) McRae IV became the first president of the foundation in 1975, serving until 1989. McRae focused special attention on addressing problems that caused Arkansas to appear at or near the bottom of …

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute of the University of Arkansas System (commonly called the Rockefeller Institute) is an educational institute and conference center. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization seeks to continue the legacy of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller by serving the people of Arkansas with ongoing learning opportunities and by providing a place for group meetings and conferences. The Rockefeller Institute is located on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton (Conway County), on 188 acres of the original grounds of Governor Rockefeller’s model cattle farm. Winthrop Rockefeller died in 1973, and, that same year, the nonprofit Winrock International was established. In 2004, Winrock vacated the facilities on Petit Jean and relocated to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Washington DC. The property reverted to …

Winthrop School Museum

The Winthrop School Museum, the location of the former Winthrop School, is located in a two-story brick schoolhouse building at 530 Spring Street in Winthrop (Little River County). The Winthrop School Museum is a monument to the educational and community history of Winthrop, and the building is a historical representation of a rural school building in the early twentieth century. As Winthrop’s population grew in the early twentieth century, the Winthrop School was built to replace a three-room rough-plank building, located on the same site, that had previously served as the school. Construction started on the Winthrop School in 1912, and it was completed the following year. According to the Little River County deed record books, on September 19, 1908, …

Wishbone Cutter

aka: The Shadow of Chikara
aka: The Curse of Demon Mountain
A low-budget western/horror movie made in Yellville (Marion County) and in the Buffalo River country of Marion County, Wishbone Cutter (1977) was written, produced, and directed by Earl E. Smith, previously screenwriter on two Arkansas horror films directed by Charles B. Pierce: The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) and The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976). Wishbone Cutter, the only film Smith ever directed, was also known as The Curse of Demon Mountain and The Shadow of Chikara. The Internet Movie Database lists five additional English titles for the film’s theatrical, television, and video releases. The Arkansas setting is made clear by an opening title informing audiences that Arkansas is the only state to produce diamonds. Captain Wishbone Cutter (Joe Don …

Witness, The

A 2012 novel by romance writer Nora Roberts published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, The Witness is set in the imaginary Ozarks town of Bickford, Arkansas, a community that somewhat resembles the tourist town of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Bickford is hardly ever mentioned by name, however, and its identity with Eureka Springs is tenuous. The novel’s characters are what you might expect to find in a tourist town in the mountains: generous, family-centered Ozarkers gifted at story-telling and meandering conversation. They are also more welcoming to “Yankees” than small-town folk in other Roberts novels. Brooks Gleason, chief of police of Bickford, has come home after ten years on the Little Rock (Pulaski County) police force. His father teaches mathematics …

Wittsburg Fortification

The Wittsburg Fortification is an earthen redoubt built in July 1863 at the junction of the Wittsburg to Batesville, Mount Vernon, and Madison roads to protect Union cavalrymen as they received supplies on the St. Francis River at Wittsburg (Cross County) during the Little Rock Campaign of 1863. Union horsemen led by Brigadier General John Wynn Davidson crossed the St. Francis River at Chalk Bluff on July 19, 1863, to confront a reported Confederate force under Major General Sterling Price that was said to be heading north up Crowley’s Ridge to invade Missouri. Davidson’s column of 6,000 men, failing to find Price’s phantom army, continued down the ridge, reaching Jonesboro (Craighead County) on the evening of July 24. The cavalrymen spread …

WOK

WOK was the first radio station in Arkansas, started in 1922 by Harvey C. Couch Sr., founder of Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L). Meant to service the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) area, it was one of the early leaders in the field of mass media. In 1921, Couch visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the radio station KDKA, which is generally considered the creator of the modern form of broadcasting (and is also famous for announcing the results of the 1920 presidential election). On this trip, he met Lee de Forest, who invented the “radio-telephone”; Couch bought equipment and decided to set up a radio station in his home state, “to advertise Arkansas and, incidentally, [AP&L].” He believed this new means of …

Woman They Almost Lynched

An interesting film lurking behind an exploitative title, Republic Pictures’ 1953 western Woman They Almost Lynched is set in early 1865 in “Border City,” a fictitious Ozarks town bisected by the Arkansas-Missouri border. The town has been militantly neutral throughout the Civil War, under a “petticoat government” led by tyrannical mayor Delilah Courtney (Nina Varela). Made in California, the movie is a typical B-western (though better than most) with no real Arkansas atmosphere except one old man with a mandolin. The town and the rural scenery look like routine Hollywood western locales. None of the hillbilly stereotypes found in other Hollywood films set in Arkansas are present, and no one attempts a local accent. Border City is said to attract …

Woman’s Chronicle

On March 3, 1888, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) three women—Catherine Campbell Cuningham, Mary Burt Brooks, and Haryot Holt Cahoon—published the first issue of the Woman’s Chronicle, a weekly newspaper dedicated to women’s interests, particularly suffrage. Cuningham was listed as the editor, Brooks and Cahoon as associate editors. The previous year, the short-lived Little Rock publication the Southern Ladies’ Journal had ended its run, leaving a void that it appears these women sought to fill. The founding meeting of the Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association had been held the month before, likely generating some of the motivation as well. The Woman’s Chronicle focused on women’s primary day-to-day interests at the time—cooking, fashion, and literature—in addition to social gatherings, events, and the …

Women’s Community Club Band Shell

Built in 1933, the Women’s Community Club Band Shell is located at the northeast corner of Spring Park in Heber Springs (Cleburne County). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 16, 1994. The band shell is important as a study of the cultural and social development of a central Arkansas resort community and provides a good example of a New Deal public works project. The Women’s Community Club was organized in 1921, and, by the early 1930s, it had decided that a band shell was needed to replace the entertainment pavilion located in Spring Park. Members of the club visited other cities to see their band shells and then contracted with Leo King for construction …

Women’s Suffrage Movement

After the Civil War, Arkansas leaders began advocating women’s right to vote. Women’s suffrage clubs started to organize, and an Arkansas women’s suffrage movement emerged. These suffragette leaders lectured at meetings, campaigned on street corners, and lobbied the Arkansas legislature for a women’s suffrage law. This campaign ended in 1920 with the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote. An Arkansas law proposing women’s suffrage was initially introduced by Miles Ledford Langley of Arkadelphia (Clark County), a representative to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention of 1868. On February 11, 1868, the Arkansas Gazette reported that he made a motion that “all citizens 21 years of age, who can read and write the English language, shall be …

Wood v. Strickland

Wood v. Strickland is the title of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that grew out of a local dispute over a teenage prank perpetrated by three high school students of the Mena Special School District. This case has attained an importance far beyond its origins, helping to define the constitutional rights of public school students and the parameters under which public officials may be sued for monetary damages in federal court. On February 18, 1972, three students—Virginia Crain, Peggy Strickland, and Jo Wall—at Mena (Polk County) confessed to spiking the punch at an extracurricular function with twenty-four ounces of a flavored malt liquor beverage. Principal Duddy Waller suspended the three students for a week. The same day, meeting in a …

Woodruff County Courthouse

The Woodruff County Courthouse is located in Augusta (Woodruff County), on the northern end of 3rd Street not far from the White River. The Woodruff County Services Center stands behind the courthouse, and the historic Augusta Memorial Park is less than a mile away, but it is the residential homes from different eras that define the local identity. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the Woodruff County Courthouse as historically and architecturally significant, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1982. In November 1862, the Arkansas General Assembly officially established Woodruff County with Augusta as its county seat, although the ongoing Civil War complicated plans. Many residents joined the Confederate army, the state …

Works Progress Administration (WPA)

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), later called the Work Projects Administration, was the largest and best known of the federal work relief programs established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat unemployment and stimulate a national economy ravaged by the Great Depression. During the eight years of its existence, 8.5 million people nationwide received WPA paychecks totaling nearly $11 billion. In Arkansas, the WPA provided much-needed social services and infrastructure improvements, while its salaries supported thousands of families and the merchants who depended on their business. The WPA began operations in Arkansas in July 1935. It carried on many of the functions of the earlier Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) while emphasizing work programs to a greater degree than its …

World Services for the Blind

aka: Lions World Services for the Blind
World Services for the Blind (WSB), located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is the only organization in the United States, if not the world, that offers career-path professional training for adults who are blind or visually impaired. The mission of the organization is to educate adults who are blind or visually impaired for careers and independent lives. Founded by Roy Kumpe and the Lions Clubs of Arkansas in 1946, the organization was first known as the Prevocational Adjustment Center for the Adult Blind. The passage by the U.S. Congress of the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936 created the first significant employment opportunities for blind individuals in Arkansas and throughout the nation. The Prevocational Adjustment Center’s original mission was to train Arkansans …