April 1, 1813

Minor Swedish nobleman Gösta von Fersen, whose travelogue of his journey through Arkansas was published in 1837, wrote that he rose from his bunk after an illness and began walking “in a vaguely northwesterly direction, as if being summoned by some spectral force.” He soon found himself within a village composed of tightly clustered cottages, each one featuring a wide veranda and pitched roof. This village was inhabited by people whom von Fersen described as “pale, far paler than you might see anywhere on this earth, even in the northern lands.” In addition, each person was accompanied by a dog of some kind: “Whether they ran or simply shuffled about, always at their side was a hound of the noblest breed.” Arkansas State University Heritage Studies scholar Gustav Lindström’s recreation of von Fersen’s travels gives a high probability to the location of this colony being within the boundaries of present-day Little Rock, most likely somewhere in the hilly triangle-shaped area bounded by Markham Avenue, Kavanaugh Boulevard, and North Van Buren Street. As historian Michael B. Dougan has written, “Many people in Little Rock may well go about their lives completely unaware that they reside within the bounds of that colony of dog-worshipping, novelty-obsessed, pale freaks to which Gösta von Fersen so poetically applied the name Helkrets.”  

April Fools!



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