In 1934 in Poinsett County, a group of black and white tenant farmers and sharecroppers formed the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU). One of the nations first interracial unions, it soon grew to 25,000 members. When agricultural workers were excluded from protection by the federal government, membership declined until, by 1939, the union only operated in two Arkansas counties. Shown here are farmers listening to speeches delivered at a union rally during the early days of formation.
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The Pope County Courthouse, with its Art Deco detailing, was constructed in Russellville in 1931. Designed by H. Ray Burks, the four-story buff brick and cut stone building was constructed for a cost of $118,000. Interior remodeling was completed in 1989, and the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
In less than two weeks in 1913, Joe T. Robinson of Lonoke County held three different political offices. As a member of Congress, Robinson resigned his seat to seek the office of governor, which he won. Just twelve days after being inaugurated, he was chosen to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the sudden death of Senator Jeff Davis. Robinson was the last senator chosen by a state legislature before the advent of direct election of senators under the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
David Yancey Thomas was one of the most influential academic historians in the field of Arkansas history. He was a driving force in the re-establishment of the Arkansas Historical Association in 1941, was the first editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, and was the chair of the Department of History at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). On June 21, 1905, he married Sarah Janney of Conway (Faulkner County), with whom he had two children, Mary Elizabeth, born in 1907, and Albert Janney, born in 1909.
Cover of Gösta von Fersens underbara resa genom de södra amerikanska delstaterna och bortom Mississippi floden, med berättelser om manga konstiga och gåtfulla händelser, an 1837 travelogue written by minor Swedish nobleman Gösta von Fersen, the English title of which would translate to Gösta von Fersen’s Amazing Journey through the Southern States of America and beyond the Mississippi River, with Narratives of Many Strange and Enigmatic Occurrences. The book sold poorly when it was first released, being regarded as an odd combination of rather dull diary entries and dated fantastic tales, and it has not yet been published in a complete English translation. The interest in the manuscript by Arkansas historians in the twenty-first century relates to one particular section, which is seen as offering possible evidence for the existence of a heretofore undocumented settlement in the central part of the state (the area through which von Fersen traveled in 1813). However, given the mystical aspects of this part of his travelogue, debate continues to rage as to whether von Fersen’s narrative might actually be an allegory of some kind or simply the record of a fever dream brought on by malaria.
Arkansas governor James Henderson Berry joined the Confederate Sixteenth Arkansas Infantry in 1861 and was quickly chosen as its lieutenant colonel. His initiation to combat came at the Battle of Pea Ridge. After his regiment was moved east of the Mississippi River, he fought in the 1862 battles of Iuka and Corinth, Mississippi. At Corinth, a severe wound resulted in the amputation of his right leg above the knee. Captured and eventually paroled, he returned home. After the war, he was an active member of the United Confederate Veterans and was a frequent reunion speaker.
Hubert Ausbie, known to the world as Geese, became famous as a twenty-four-year member of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. A native of Oklahoma, Hubert attended Philander Smith College in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and was the third leading collegiate scorer his senior year. Joining the Globetrotters in 1961, he became known as the Clown Prince of Basketball for his antics on the court. Ausbie is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. He is shown here in 1984.
In 1936, Oklahoma native George Benson left his position as a missionary in China to become the second president of Harding College (now Harding University) in Searcy (White County). While serving as president, Benson became a national figure due to his crusade against the spread of communism and his founding of the National Education Program, an organization dedicated to promoting the free enterprise system and what it considered to be American values. He retired as Hardings president after twenty-nine years. He died in 1991.
The tarantula, which appeared in Arkansas about 8,000 years ago, is the largest spider known to inhabit the state. The spiders are found in most areas of the state, with the exception of the Delta. Females are known to live as long as twenty years. Most of what is known about the tarantula in Arkansas is due to the research of Dr. William J. Baerg.
The Citizens Military Training Camps, a month-long program created by the National Defense Act of 1910, were held each summer between 1921 and 1940. The voluntary camps conducted at approximately fifty military camps throughout the nation provided basic military training for men for no future military obligation. Approximately 400,000 men, such as these seen training at the states former World War I facility, Camp Pike, completed at least one summer session.
Weekend Civil War reenactments at which history enthusiasts attempt to live the life of a typical Civil War soldier are becoming increasingly popular. Such events are common in Arkansas, with one of the best known being held at the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in Washington County. The event, which started in the 1980s, is held in early December during even years. Shown here are reenactors in 1980.
While some consider the Jefferson County Courthouse located in Pine Bluff to be the oldest active county courthouse west of the Mississippi, others believe the Crawford County Courthouse, shown here in downtown Van Buren, to be the oldest. Built in 1842, the structure survived the Civil War but was severely damaged by a fire in 1877. The clock tower and front portico were added during its restoration.
In April 1923, the not-yet-famous pilot Charles Lindbergh was delivering mail on a flight from Mississippi to Texas when his plane developed engine trouble. He quickly landed the craft on a golf course near the town of Lake Village (Chicot County). After making minor repairs, he repaid a Mr. Henry, who had provided assistance, with a flight over the area. A rapidly setting sun resulted in the flight being Lindberghs first night flight. This monument placed in 1934 on North Lake Shore Drive commemorates that historic flight.
Nolan Richardson is one of the most famous coaches to have served the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) Razorbacks basketball program. Richardsons UA teams won nearly 400 games. Richardson coached a team to a national title in all three of his collegiate coaching positions. His first was a Junior College title at Western Texas Junior College in 1980, a National Invitational Tournament title at the University of Tulsa in 1981, and the NCAA title at the University of Arkansas in 1994.
What became known as the Reader Railroad began in 1889 as a narrow-gauge sawmill line running through parts of Ouachita and Nevada counties. Sold several times over the years, by 1925 it was renamed in honor of the town of Reader, which lies on the border between the two counties. As business declined, the railroad was converted into a tourist excursion train in 1980. During its approximately eleven years of operation, over 100,000 tourists rode the train. Unfortunately, this was not enough to keep it solvent, forcing the excursion venture to close in 1991.
Soon after purchasing a large collection of Native American artifacts in 1965, the City of Springdale (Benton County) began to look for a location to display the impressive collection. The collection was moved to the 1927 public library and was developed into the Shiloh Museum. Over the years, the museum, now called the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, moved to a new modern facility and developed into one of the state’s finest museums of regional history.
As senior weatherman at KTHV in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1958 to 1965, Steve Stephens was the first forecaster in the state to use radar. Stephens also hosted Your Party, a weekly dance party show, beginning in March 1957. The show proved so popular that, in May 1957, it was expanded to six days a week and renamed Steve’s Show.
Ozark (Franklin County) is located on the northernmost bend of the Arkansas River. Though settled in 1836, Ozark was not incorporated until 1850. Its name is derived from “aux arc,” French for “at the bend.” Local legend states that early French settlers shot an arrow into the air and determined to found the town where the arrow landed. The arrow is said to have landed just northeast of the present county courthouse shown in this photograph.
Long before the American landscape became crowded with fast-food chain restaurants, meals were taken at popular local establishments such as the Coffee Cup in West Memphis (Crittenden County) in the 1950s.
The single-turret USS Arkansas (BM7) was one of the last monitors built by the U.S. Navy. The third U.S. ship to be named after the state, it was built in Newport News, Virginia, and launched on November 10, 1900. Seen here christening the ship at the launch is Mary L. Macon. The monitor’s career was spent in patrolling the waters of the Western Hemisphere. In 1909, it was renamed the USS Ozark.
In 1920, Mississippi native Floyd Brown, shown here (back row far left) with his siblings circa 1910s, opened the Fargo Agricultural School near Brinkley (Monroe County). The school, modeled on Brown’s alma mater: Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, was one of the few educational institutions for African Americans in Arkansas. Brown sold the property to the state in 1949, and it became the Fargo Negro Girls Training School. Brown remained as principal until his retirement in 1954. Today, the school is commemorated by the Fargo Agricultural School Museum in Brinkley.
In the early 1900s, William H. Fuller convinced Lonoke County farmers to give him $1,000 if he could successfully produce thirty-five bushels of rice per acre on a seventy-acre farm. His success in 1904 is considered by many to be the advent of commercial rice production in Arkansas. Fuller’s success and further development of the crop are also evidenced some forty years later by the long line of trucks shown here loaded with rice in Carlisle (Lonoke County) not far from where that first crop was grown.
In 1916, the Linebarger Brothers Realty Company purchased the Benton County resort known as Bella Vista. The youngest of three brothers, Clarence, took the leadership role in the development of the area. From 1917 to 1952, he served as general manager and part owner of the successful resort. He designed most of the resorts amenities and, in 1930, developed a night club in a cave called Wonderland Cave. Linebarger retired in the early 1950s and died in 1978.
James Mitchell was president and editor-in-chief of the Arkansas Democrat from the time he purchased the paper with W. D. Blocher in 1878 until shortly before his death in 1902. As editor, Mitchell made the paper a powerful statewide force backing Democratic policies and candidates. At the same time, he agitated, both in the paper and through frequent public speeches, for economic diversification in the state, educational improvement, equal pay and improved opportunities for women, and other progressive measures.
In 1835, newly appointed territorial circuit judge Archibald Yell moved to Fayetteville (Washington County). After purchasing an eighty-acre tract, the future governor, congressman, and Mexican War hero built a four-room Greek Revival home, which he named Waxhaws. A member of the Masons, he incorporated several Masonic symbols into the chimneys. The house, shown here in a 1940 photograph, was demolished sometime in the 1970s.
Long before the streams of Arkansas were spanned by bridges, the ferry was the most common way to cross deep bodies of water. Many early ferries were privately owned and generally were only large enough to carry one or two vehicles. Shown here in the summer of 1974 is the Pointe Ferry on the Black River. Though most Arkansas ferries have been replaced by bridges, some isolated locations still employ ferry service.
Ida Joe Brooks, one of the state’s earliest woman doctors, attempted to enlist in military service during World War I but was denied enrollment due to her gender. However, she was commissioned with a rank of surgeon in the U.S. Public Health Service and served as a consultant in psychiatry at Camp Pike, a military training camp near North Little Rock (Pulaski County). She is shown here in uniform at Camp Pike during the war.
Throughout the history of Arkansas, backwoods settlers have made use of homemade stills for the distillation of alcohol commonly known as moonshine. By the twentieth century and the days of Prohibition, federal revenue agents searched the state’s countryside looking for illegal moonshine operations. In this photograph, officials proudly pose by a homemade still confiscated circa 1930 near Quitman (Cleburne County).
Van Buren County, founded in 1833, was the twenty-ninth county in Arkansas Territory and preceded statehood by three years. Soon after the county’s founding, a one-room log courthouse was raised at the first county seat, Mudtown, later Bloomington. When the government was moved to Clinton in 1842, a new log courthouse was constructed. It burned near the end of the Civil War and was replaced by a frame structure in 1869. The present courthouse, shown here, was constructed with the assistance of the Works Progress Administration in 1934.
The two-story Stone County courthouse in Mountain View was built of local hand-cut stone in 1922. The wall surrounding the seat of government is constructed of stones from each of the four corners of the county. The courthouse, which is still in use today, is the gathering place for local folk musicians who play on a sometimes daily basis for the many visitors who come to the town to enjoy the music.
Bill Moran sold his first knife around 1939 at age fourteen. By the time of his death in 2006, his knives had become some of the world’s most valuable modern handmade custom knives, appraising for tens of thousands of dollars. Two of the most common features of his knives are a long slender bowie blade shape and a silver wire inlay in the handle. Moran made knives for all types of people, such as outdoorsmen, collectors, soldiers, actors, statesmen, and even royalty.
Helena (Phillips County) native William Warfield was a world-class bass-baritone known for his roles on stage, screen, and television. He began a successful singing career in 1946 but is perhaps best known for his role in the Hollywood production of Show Boat, in which he sang the song “Ol’ Man River.” Warfield once described himself as “an Arkansas boy from tip to toe.”
Arkansas native Wilton Robert (Witt) Stephens was born in Grant County in 1907. Stephens was a major player in Arkansas politics and economic development in the last half of the twentieth century, and he was the leading force in the development of the state’s natural gas industry after World War II. At one time, his company, Stephens, Inc., was the largest brokerage firm off Wall Street.
The Flood of 1927 was one of the worst disasters to affect Arkansas and the United States. The floodwaters only began to recede in late June, and Red Cross refugee camps continued to feed thousands of refugees through the fall of 1927. As shown in this photo, areas as far north as Cotter (Baxter County) were inundated by the flood waters.
The tarantula, which appeared in Arkansas about 8,000 years ago, is the largest spider known to inhabit the state. The spiders are found in most areas of the state, with the exception of the Delta. Females, such as the one shown here with her egg sac, are known to live as long as twenty years. Most of what is known about the tarantula in Arkansas is due to the research of Dr. William J. Baerg.
Founded in 1879 as the School of Medicine of the University of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), shown here in 1936, is Arkansas’s premier research hospital. The institution has a long history of serving the public by providing the indigent with healthcare. It was transformed from a charity hospital to a teaching institution in 1965 when it began to accept paying patients. Today, the hospital has approximately 9,000 employees, making it one of the state’s largest employers.
In 1923, Dentler Rowland of Jonesboro (Craighead County) sold part of a collection of approximately eighty stone objects, the largest of which was a statue dubbed King Crowley, which he claimed to have discovered on Crowley’s Ridge. Though he presented them as Native American in origin, and though many prominent Arkansans (including Bernie Babcock) accepted them as legitimate, representatives of the Smithsonian Institution doubted their authenticity. Today, the “fakes” are identified by most modern researchers as folk art. King Crowley is in a private collection, but the Arkansas State University Museum in Jonesboro owns the collection shown here.
Shown in the distance (right) is the building known as the Old Fort Commissary, located on the grounds of the Fort Smith National Historic Site in Sebastian County. Built in 1839, it is the oldest building still standing in the city. Initially used as a commissary, it has also seen use as a barracks, a hospital, and a residence for court officials. For much of the twentieth century, it housed a museum of local history.
Born Effie Mae Martin in 1936, the Arkansas native became well known for her patchwork quilts. Her career as a practical nurse left her seeking peace of mind, which she found in her talents as a quilt maker. When some of her work was about to be exhibited in the 1970s, she assumed the name Rosie Lee Tompkins to maintain her privacy. Large numbers of quilters have been influenced by her work. The quilt shown here is titled Blue Medallion.
Patriotic parades were a common occurrence in many Arkansas towns during World War II. Parades such as this one in 1940s Texarkana (Miller County) were held for a variety of reasons, including national holidays, bond drives, and to celebrate U.S. military victories. The largest of such victory parades were held to celebrate Victory in Europe (VE) or Victory in Japan (VJ) days, signaling the end of the conflict.
Shown here is the burial site of Oklahoma native Albert Brumley, one of the most successful gospel composers of the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1920s and 1930s, he worked for the Sebastian Countybased Hartford Music Company, a company he purchased in 1948. The company still operates as part of Albert E. Brumley & Sons, Inc., in Powell, Missouri. Ill Fly Away and Turn the Radio On are two of his most recognized compositions. Brumley, who composed between 600 and 800 songs, died in 1977.
After a thirty-year political career, John Sebastian Littlehis middle name having been derived from the fact that he was the first male child born in the new Sebastian Countybecame Arkansass twenty-first governor. Unfortunately, shortly after his inauguration in 1907, he suffered a mental and physical collapse. When the governor did not recover, new president pro tempore of the Senate X. O. Pindall served as acting governor for almost all of Littles term. In 1916, Little died while a patient at the Arkansas State Hospital for Nervous Diseases.
On August 1, 1952, Mississippi County native Charles Kemmons Wilson opened the first of four new-style hotels in Memphis, Tennessee. Named Holiday Inn after a 1942 Bing Crosby movie, the hotels were designed to provide inexpensive quality boarding for traveling families. The first unit, shown here at 4941 Summer Avenue in Memphis, provided such amenities as air-conditioning and a free swimming pool.
Rock formations known as carpet rock are the result of fractures in sandstone having been filled with quartz. Quartzs hardness makes it more resistant to weathering than sandstone, thus leaving interesting patterns in the stone as the sandstone erodes. These formations can be viewed on the Cedar Falls trail at Petit Jean State Park in Conway County.
The USS Arkansas (M-7) was one of four monitor-class naval vessels built near the turn of the twentieth century. It was built by Virginias Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. It was launched on November 10, 1900, with a crew of 220 sailors. When a new ship named Arkansas was commissioned in 1909, the M-7 was renamed the USS Ozark. It is shown here shortly after the renaming. The ship was scrapped in 1922.
When the Civil War erupted in 1861, railroad agent Samuel Fordyce enlisted in the First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. During his military service, he participated in many actions. Some years after the war, he visited Hot Springs (Garland County), seeking the benefits of the waters for his many wartime injuries. Recognizing the potential financial benefits of the springs, he became a leading force in the development of the area into a major health resort. Today, the bathhouse that serves as the visitor center of Hot Springs National Park bears his name.
Known as The Natural State for its many wonders, Arkansas is home to a number of environmental oddities. For example, Eureka Springs (Carroll County) has its oddly shaped Pivot Rock, which once appeared in Ripleys Believe It or Not. But the most common environmental oddity is the natural bridge. The largest known natural bridge is located near Clinton (Van Buren County), but many others, such as this small bridge located near Dolph (Izard County), are located throughout the countryside.
Lake Fort Smith State Park, located in Crawford County, was closed in 2006 due to the construction of a new dam. In the spring of 2008, the park was reopened in a nearby location with modern facilities. Among the new facilities is a multi-boat marina available for use by the parks many yearly visitors.
West Point graduate Samuel Ryan Curtis first entered Arkansas history as a Union general during the Civil War. He commanded the Union army at the 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge, and later that year, his forces occupied Helena (Phillips County). In 1864, about the time this photo was taken, he stopped the Confederate movements in Missouri known as Price’s Raid. Curtis returned to civilian life after the war and died shortly thereafter in 1866.
Constructed in 1914, the Phillips County Courthouse located at 622 Cherry Street in Helena-West Helena is of the Classical Revival architectural style. Designed by architect Frank W. Gibb of Little Rock (Pulaski County), the structure is unique in that it has a three-dimensional façade with a triple entrance. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.