Entry Type: Thing

USS Tyler

The 180-foot-long A. O. Tyler, a Mississippi and Ohio river packet named for its original owner, was the largest of three side-wheeled steamboats purchased by the United States War Department for conversion into river gunboats at the beginning of the Civil War. Navy commander John Rodgers, the purchaser of the craft, felt it inappropriate to call the boat Tyler since former President James Tyler was a leading secessionist, preferring instead to refer to the boat as Taylor for unionist Zachary Taylor. However, the name Tyler remained official. During the first year and a half of the war, the gunboat was under U.S. Army control as part of the Western Gunboat Flotilla—yet was staffed by naval officers—to provide artillery support for General …

USS Van Buren (PF-42)

The USS Van Buren was a Tacoma-class patrol frigate launched in 1944 that served in the New Guinea campaign in the western Pacific during World War II. The USS Van Buren was the second U.S. naval vessel to bear that name. The first was an early nineteenth-century revenue cutter named for U.S. president Martin Van Buren. The World War II patrol frigate was named in honor of the city of Van Buren, the county seat of Crawford County. The Van Buren’s hull was laid down on June 24, 1943, by Consolidated Steel Corporation in Los Angeles, California. The vessel was launched on July 27. It was commissioned at Terminal Island on December 17 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Charles …

USS White River (LSMR-536)

The USS White River (LSMR-536) was an LSMR-501 Class landing craft medium (Rockets) that was built in 1945 and saw service in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. LSMR-536 was designated the USS White River on October 1, 1955, in honor of rivers in seven states, including Arkansas. The USS White River was one of a class of ships designed to provide fire support for combat operations ashore. The vessel weighed 520 tons, was 203.5 feet long and 34.5 feet wide, and could reach speeds of 13 knots. It was armed with one five-inch gun, four 4.2-inch mortars, and two 40mm antiaircraft guns. Ten rocket projectors were continuously fed, with each firing thirty pin-stabilized five-inch rockets per minute, allowing …

Usury

The concept of usury (defined as the lending of money with an interest charge—usually an exorbitant one) and its application to the lending function have generated significant head scratching and hand wringing over the years, especially in Arkansas. In fact, for much of recorded history, the lending of money at interest has simply not been considered a wholesome activity. In some early Jewish and Christian communities, it was considered immoral to take advantage of a needy neighbor by adding interest at any rate to his already burdensome debts. To this day, some majority-Muslim countries observing the law of Sharia, as set forth in the Koran and the Sunna, prohibit lending at interest at any rate, based on the same rationale. …

Vaden Records

Vaden Records, based in Trumann (Poinsett County), started as a mail-order company featuring gospel music. It soon grew into a regional studio that released music by such blues and early rock and roll artists as Bobby Brown, Teddy Riedel, Larry Donn, and many others who went on to regional and national fame. In the early 1950s, husband and wife Arlen and Jackie Vaden of Trumann were singing gospel music all over northeastern Arkansas in a group called the Southern Gospel Singers. They also started singing on local radio stations in Osceola (Mississippi County) and Blytheville (Mississippi County) and soon branched out to stations in other states, such as XREF in Del Rio, Texas, and XEG Radio in Fort Worth, Texas; XREF …

Van Buren Confederate Monument

The Van Buren Confederate Monument is a sculpture erected in 1898 in Fairview Cemetery by the Mary Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to commemorate local men who had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. It was moved to the grounds of the Crawford County Courthouse eight years later. As many as 1,000 Crawford County men fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and on March 19, 1896, the Mary Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy organized in Van Buren (Crawford County) with a goal of raising a monument to honor them and other Confederate soldiers who died in the area. The chapter was effective at fundraising, and in 1898 …

Van Buren County Courthouse

The Van Buren County Courthouse in Clinton (Van Buren County) is situated in the hilly terrain of northern Arkansas. It was built with local materials from a quarry outside of Dennard (Van Buren County), with walls made of reddish sandstone. The smallest courthouse in the state, it measures just 100 feet by 43 feet, with a basement. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) recognizes the building as historically significant as a New Deal–era public works project, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 13, 1991. After Van Buren County was established on November 11, 1833, the county elite housed the first two courthouses in one-room log structures near the now-defunct community of Mudtown, whose …

Van Buren Post Office

The Van Buren Post Office at 22 South 7th Street in Van Buren (Crawford County) is a one-story, brick-masonry structure built in 1936–37 and designed in a restrained, minimalist interpretation of the Art Deco style of architecture. It contains a mural financed through 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. On November 1, 1935, the Van Buren Press Argus announced that a plot of land on the corner of South 7th and Webster streets would be the site of a new city post office. Postal engineer R. …

Vanadium Mining

Major deposits of vanadium were discovered in central Arkansas by Union Carbide’s Western Exploration Group in the 1960s. Vanadium orebodies are found in two isolated igneous intrusive complexes in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas: the Potash Sulphur Springs (now Wilson Springs) complex located in Garland County and the Magnet Cove complex in Hot Spring County. The Wilson Springs vanadium deposits were the first to be mined solely for vanadium in the United States. The major use of vanadium is as an alloying metal in iron and steel (ferroalloy). Small amounts of vanadium added to iron and steel significantly increase its strength, improve toughness and ductility, and reduce weight, making it suitable for structural and pipeline steel. Vanadium also increases high-temperature …

Varner Unit

The Varner Unit is a detention facility run by the Arkansas Department of Correction. It is located in the Choctaw Township of Lincoln County, along U.S. Highway 65, about thirty miles south of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The Varner Unit was constructed in response to the state’s fast-growing inmate population; other state facilities had been expanded prior to Varner’s construction. When it opened in 1987, it could accommodate 300 prisoners; its capacity was increased to 700 and then later to around 1,700. The Varner Unit is made up of two separate units: the Supermax Unit and the Varner Unit. The Supermax Unit was opened in 2000 and in 2003 became home to all the state’s male death row inmates. In …

Venomous Snakes

Arkansas hosts about forty-five species and subspecies of snakes, and six (thirteen percent) are species that use venom to obtain food and to defend themselves. There are two families of venomous snakes in the state: Elapidae (a single elapid species, the Texas coral snake) and Viperidae (five species of pitvipers). All of Arkansas’s venomous snakes inject venom through fangs via muscular contraction of paired venom glands. Texas Coral Snake The Texas coral snake, Micrurus tener tener (formerly Micrurus fulvius tenere) is a tricolored, medium-sized (maximum length = 122 centimeters), secretive elapid snake that primarily occurs in the southern and southwestern part of the state. Verified records are available for only five counties of the state in the Gulf Coastal Plain, …

Vertac

The Vertac site in Jacksonville (Pulaski County) is one of the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites and Arkansas’s most publicized Superfund site. Cleanup of the area after its abandonment by its corporate owner took more than a decade, and the name “Vertac” soon became synonymous in Arkansas with the fear of industrial pollution, similar to how New Yorkers view Love Canal. The Vertac site was originally part of the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP), a World War II–era facility that manufactured various components of explosive devices, such as primers and detonators. In 1946, the federal government offered the AOP facilities for sale to private companies. The future Vertac site was purchased in 1948 by Reasor-Hill Company, which produced pesticides, as did …

Vestal Nursery

aka: J. W. Vestal & Son
The Vestal Nursery, based in the Baring Cross neighborhood of North Little Rock (Pulaski County), operated for more than 100 years, cultivating and shipping flowers across the United States. By the mid-twentieth century, it had one of the largest greenhouse spaces in the United States. Joseph Wysong Vestal, a Quaker horticulturist in Cambridge City, Indiana, grew and sold plants as early as 1855, following prior Vestal family advancements in horticultural technology. By 1860, J. W. Vestal was cultivating greenhouse flowers. As the Arkansas Democrat Magazine wrote, “From 300 square feet of glass, he made additions annually, thus being able to accumulate an astonishingly large variety of plants.” In 1861, Vestal began publishing an annual floral and vegetable catalogue first titled …

Vietnam War Markers and Memorials

A number of markers and memorials to Arkansans who served and lost their lives in the Vietnam War are located in communities throughout the state. Vietnam veterans are also memorialized on a number of other monuments that recognize service members from other wars. Most monuments are located at county courthouses or other public spaces. Funding for these monuments came from a variety of sources, with the placement of the monuments typically organized by local citizens and members of various veterans’ organizations. The Arkansas Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is located on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Dedicated on March 7, 1987, by retired U.S. Army general William Westmoreland, the memorial includes a circular wall listing …

Vines

In 2016, a total of 436 kinds of woody plants were known to occur in the wild in Arkansas, comprising 419 species plus another seventeen varieties and subspecies. Of these, 185 can be considered trees, 189 are best described as shrubs, and sixty-two are woody vines. In some cases, it is difficult to draw a hard line between these categories, and various reference works differ in their criteria for each. For the purposes of this entry, however, each category is defined as follows: Trees are defined as perennial, often single- or relatively few–stemmed woody plants typically greater than five meters (sixteen feet) in height at maturity. Shrubs are defined as perennial, often multi-stemmed woody or semi-woody plants usually less than …

Voting and Voting Rights

Voting rights in Arkansas have evolved from an initial narrow limitation to today’s near-comprehensive voting rights. 1836 Original State Constitution In 1836, when Arkansas became a state, it had neither a property requirement nor a taxpaying requirement for voting eligibility—unlike seven of the twenty-five states of the Union at the time. This was in keeping with Jacksonian democratic principles and was somewhat advanced for the South, where many states had these types of restrictive requirements. To vote, a person had to be male, of the white race, a U.S. citizen, and a citizen of the state for at least six months. Some twenty of the twenty-five states then had some type of race exclusion, including all of the South. Most …

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 …

Wabbaseka United Methodist Church

The Wabbaseka United Methodist Church is a Classical Revival–style religious building located in Wabbaseka (Jefferson County). Constructed in 1925, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 4, 2002. Willie Hocker, designer of the Arkansas state flag, was an active member of the church. The congregation dates to 1870, when the Flat Bayou Methodist Episcopal Church was founded. It was not located in the community of Wabbaseka due to the availability of alcohol for purchase in the town. After construction of a bridge over the Arkansas River in 1883, the Cotton Belt Railroad reached the town and spurred growth in the area, and the congregation at Flat Bayou moved to Wabbaseka. Captain Nathaniel Terry Roberts donated …

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 …