Entries - Time Period: Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood (1803 - 1860)

Act 151 of 1859

aka: Act to Remove the Free Negroes and Mulattos from the State
aka: Arkansas's Free Negro Expulsion Act of 1859
The Arkansas General Assembly passed a bill in February 1859 that banned the residency of free African-American or mixed-race (“mulatto”) people anywhere within the bounds of the state of Arkansas. In 1846, the Statutes of Arkansas had legally defined mulatto as anyone who had one grandparent who was Negro. Free Negroes were categorized as “black” in the 1850 U.S. Census, so historians have adopted the term “free black” to refer to Negroes or mulattoes who were not enslaved. On February 12, 1859, Governor Elias N. Conway, who had supported removal, signed the bill into law, which required such free black people to leave the state by January 1, 1860, or face sale into slavery for a period of one year. …

Anthony House

From 1830 until 1875, a premier hotel stood on the southwest corner of Markham and Scott streets in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was known by different names throughout its existence, but it is best remembered as the Anthony House. The location in the heart of downtown Little Rock with frontage on Markham Street put the hotel in an excellent location for travelers, and for many years it also served as stagecoach offices. Major Nicholas Peay arrived in Little Rock in 1825. He rented a house and opened a tavern. In 1829, he purchased lots on the southwest corner of Markham and Scott streets. In 1830, he built a one-story frame building on Markham Street that he opened as a …

Anthony, Joseph J.

Joseph J. Anthony, a soldier, politician, and Arkansas pioneer, fell victim to one of the most extraordinary and bizarre events in Arkansas political history. He became the only sitting member of the state legislature to be killed during a debate in the Arkansas House of Representatives. J. J. Anthony, born possibly as early as 1780, was a native of Virginia and the son of the Reverend Joseph Anthony, a Baptist minister, and his wife, Jane Ferris. The family moved to middle Tennessee shortly after 1800, and, by 1808, Anthony was living in Smith County. On the eve of the War of 1812, he was appointed a second lieutenant in the Twenty-fourth United States Infantry. After the outbreak of hostilities, he …

Antiquarian and Natural History Society of Arkansas

One of Arkansas’s first attempts to preserve its history was organized by a group of “gentlemen naturalists” and state leaders who came together in Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the autumn of 1837. They called themselves the Antiquarian and Natural History Society of Arkansas. Approximately thirty early Arkansans were known members of the society. At least nine were lawyers, five were doctors, and three were surveyors; other members included a merchant, a newspaper editor, a hotel owner, and several planters whose occupations are unknown. The group was active for several years, but its collection was eventually scattered and lost. A notice was posted in early May 1837, calling upon “Friends of Science” to meet at what is now the Old …

Appeal of the Arkansas Exiles to Christians throughout the World

The “Appeal of the Arkansas Exiles to Christians throughout the World” was a plea for assistance written by twelve free African Americans expelled from Arkansas after the passage of Act 151 of 1859 (also known as the Act to Remove the Free Negroes and Mulattos from the State or Arkansas’s Free Negro Expulsion Act of 1859). The authors of the appeal left Arkansas on or about January 1, 1860, and arrived, with several others, in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 3, 1860. The exodus from Arkansas displaced an estimated 800 free blacks from an approximate population of 1,000 who resided in the state prior to 1860. Of the 800 free blacks who were expelled, as many as 200 were believed to …

Arkansas College

Arkansas College was founded in Fayetteville (Washington County) in late 1850 by pastor Robert Graham of the Disciples of Christ. On December 14, 1852, the Arkansas General Assembly approved an act allowing the college “to confer the degree of Doctor…and other academical degrees,” making it the first degree-conferring institution chartered by the state to open. Graham was born in Liverpool, England, on August 14, 1822, but later moved to the United States. He apprenticed as a carpenter in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and after indenture went to Bethany, Virginia (now in West Virginia), to help construct buildings at Bethany College, a Disciples of Christ school that Graham then attended. Upon graduation, he accepted a mission from the college to travel among Disciples …

Arkansas Married Woman’s Property Law

Under the common law that prevailed in all American jurisdictions except Louisiana, once a woman married, all her property passed to her husband. During the nineteenth century, some of the American states began to chip away at what Judge Jno. R. Eakin styled “the old and barbarous common law doctrine.” Arkansas played a leading role in this development; in 1835, Arkansas Territory passed the first law in the nation bestowing on married women the right to keep property in their own names. Two factors influenced the law’s adoption. First, in western areas, men outnumbered women, thus giving the women who were there more power. Second, planters were interested in protecting the bequests made to their daughters from being squandered by …

Arkansas Military Institute

The Arkansas Military Institute was one of the earliest schools of its kind in the state. Established in Tulip (Dallas County) during the town’s heyday as the “Athens of Arkansas,” the school instructed male students in the subjects of the day as well as in military history, tactics, and procedures—skills some would eventually employ as Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, an event that would also signal the demise of the institution, as well as the community that supported it. By the mid-1850s, the school had shifted its focus away from military pursuits. In August 1849, George Douglass Alexander established the Alexander Institute in Tulip for the education of both girls and boys. Less than a year later, Alexander persuaded …

Arkansas Mounted Rifles [Mexican War]

The Arkansas Mounted Rifles was a regiment of volunteers from the state who participated in the Mexican War as part of the U.S. Army. Many of its officers and men came from the upper reaches of Arkansas society, and members of the unit would be involved in the state for years to come. With the outbreak of war in the spring of 1846, Arkansas was asked by the federal government to provide two units for service with the U.S. Army. An infantry battalion of Arkansas volunteers would be used to man forts in the Indian Territory and at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), releasing the regular troops from those posts, and a second unit of Arkansans would serve as cavalry in …

Arkansas Post

Arkansas Post was the first and most significant European establishment in Arkansas. In the colonial and early national periods, from 1686 to 1821, it served as the local governmental, military, and trade headquarters for the French, the Spanish, and finally the United States. In return for serving in René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s 1682 expedition, Henri de Tonti, a French officer born of Italian parents, received land and a trading concession at the juncture of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. In the summer of 1686, he arranged with the local Quapaw for Jean Couture, Jacques Cardinal, and four other Frenchmen to establish a trading post, where they would exchange French goods for beaver furs. They founded this first Arkansas Post …

Arkansas Real Estate Bank

In 1836, the establishment of the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas became the initial act to pass the first state legislature. Momentum for a state-sponsored bank began during the territorial phase when planters and other lowland agricultural interests sought ways to enhance the availability of capital. The bank’s charter required the state to issue $2 million in five-percent bonds, the proceeds from which would serve as the bank’s capital. But the state held no authority for immediate supervision of the bank’s operations other than the appointment of a minority of the bank’s directors. From 1836 to 1855, when the state took over control, the Real Estate Bank proved to be a source of political corruption, financial mismanagement, and intense sectional …

Arkansas State Bank

The Arkansas State Bank (1836–1843) was one of two banks created by the newly formed Arkansas state legislature. It provided some funding for commercial projects, though most of its funds facilitated land sales. Its greatest legacy, however, was saddling the new state government with a burdensome debt and instigating several accounts of political corruption. In the end, the bank’s failure jeopardized both public and private banking in Arkansas due to the public outcry against its operation. Banking was one of the most prominent political issues of the early nineteenth century. Waves of banking mania spread across the country as advocates sang the praises of increasing available currency and spurring on economic development. On the western frontier, demands for banks ran …

Arkansas Synodical College

The Arkansas Synodical College, chartered shortly before the Civil War, was one of several abortive attempts by Arkansas Presbyterians to establish an institution of higher learning. At a meeting of the Synod of Arkansas in October 1859, those attending decided to locate the proposed Arkansas Synodical College in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Trustees had already been appointed, and some funds had been raised to support the effort. A committee was named to procure a charter from the state. This charter was granted by the state legislature on December 31, 1860. The college was to be under the care of the Old School Presbyterian Church of the United States and was to be under the direct supervision of the Synod of Arkansas. …

Arkansas Times and Advocate

aka: Arkansas Advocate
The Arkansas Advocate was the second successful newspaper in Arkansas. It was created in direct opposition to the state’s oldest and longest-running paper, the Arkansas Gazette, in 1830 by Charles Pierre Bertrand of Little Rock (Pulaski County). While Bertrand originally intended his paper to avoid party loyalties, the Advocate (later the Arkansas Times and Advocate) favored the politics of whoever its editor was at the time. The newspaper ceased operations in 1844. A year after Robert Crittenden mortally wounded Henry Wharton Conway on October 29, 1827, Crittenden and eight unnamed financial backers attempted to start a newspaper opposed to William E. Woodruff’s Arkansas Gazette. In the summer of 1828, Crittenden, acting for himself and as legal counsel for the seven …

Ashley County Lynching of 1857

Prior to the Civil War, most lynchings in Arkansas and across the nation (particularly on the frontier) took the form of vigilante justice, usually to punish white criminals or Southern abolitionists. Although there are newspaper reports of the lynching of four slaves in Saline County, Missouri, in 1859 and reports of a group of slaves accused of fomenting rebellion in North Texas in 1860, slaves were the legal property of their owners. The murder of a slave by someone other than his or her master resulted in a loss of property, which the master presumably wanted to avoid. However, there were instances in which the white community insisted on executing miscreant slaves rather than preserving the owner’s property. There was at least …

Ashley, Chester

Chester Ashley was prominent in territorial and antebellum Arkansas. He was involved in the dispute over ownership of the site of Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Bowie land claims, and the ill-fated State and Real Estate Banks, as well as being the pre-eminent appellate attorney of the period. He was a member of the powerful Conway-Sevier-Johnson political faction, which controlled state politics until the Civil War. In addition, he was the third Arkansan elected to the U.S. Senate and was probably the wealthiest Arkansan for much of his life because of his land holdings. Chester Ashley was born on June 1, 1791, in Amherst, Massachusetts, to William Ashley and Nancy Pomeroy. Some sources list his birth year as 1790, but …

Audubon, John James

John James Audubon, a frontier naturalist and artist, is famous for illustrating and writing The Birds of America. He visited Arkansas Territory in 1820 and 1822 and documented Arkansas’s birds, including the Traill’s flycatcher, also known as the willow flycatcher, which is the only bird originally discovered in Arkansas. John Audubon was born Jean Rabin on April 26, 1785, in Saint-Domingue (Haiti). He was the illegitimate child of Jean Audubon, a ship’s captain, and Jeanne Rabin, a French chambermaid. His mother died in 1785 or 1786, and Jean Audubon and his children returned to France after a slave revolt. Along with his sister, he was adopted by his father and stepmother in 1794. Audubon stayed with his father and stepmother …

Austin v. The State

Slaves in the United States had no legal rights and only limited access to legal protection, so few legal cases in antebellum Arkansas involved African Americans. Even fewer of those cases were ever reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court. However, a case in 1854 established a new principle for Arkansas courts that allowed slave owners to testify in criminal cases involving their own slaves. The murder trial of Austin, a slave in Independence County, was appealed to the state’s high court on several procedural issues, one of which was the denial of his owner’s testimony. The court found that such testimony must be permitted, thus throwing out the circuit court’s decision and ordering a new trial. The event that led …

Austin, Stephen Fuller

Stephen Fuller Austin, most widely known as the “Father of Texas,” spent a short period of his life in Arkansas after leaving Missouri and before heading south to establish the Lone Star Republic now known as Texas. Austin spent only a brief time in Arkansas, but there are various partnerships cited and references to his presence in historical notes regarding the settling of southwest Arkansas. Stephen Austin was born on November 3, 1793, near a lead mining area in Austinville in Wythe County, southwest Virginia, to Moses Austin and Mary Brown Austin. He was the second of five children. His father, Moses, was the pioneer who originally obtained the land grant from Mexico for an American colony in Texas. Moses …

Barkman, Jacob

Jacob Barkman is known as the father of Clark County. An early settler along the Caddo River, Barkman eventually became a prominent landowner and planter. Jacob Barkman was born on December 20, 1784, in Kentucky. Little is known of his early life, but, by 1811, Barkman had married Rebecca Davis. Eventually, the couple had two sons and a daughter. Wishing to move west, the family joined Barkman’s brother John, John’s wife, and their several slaves at Bayou Sara in Louisiana in 1811. Joining another group organized by John Hemphill, the party moved up the Ouachita River. The Barkmans settled along the Caddo River, just a few miles from its merger with the Ouachita. This location was a few miles to …

Barraque, Antoine

Antoine Barraque established the settlement called New Gascony, one of the earliest settlements in what is now Jefferson County. He also served as a government agent with the Quapaw, whom he guided to Louisiana in 1826 after the treaty of 1824, although his efforts to ease their transition to a new land were frustrated by other government officials. Antoine Barraque was born on April 15, 1773, in southwestern France. He was educated in Paris and served in the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte, fighting at the battles of Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Lodi, and Moscow. Following the end of Napoleon’s empire, Barraque relocated to Arkansas, arriving in 1816 at the age of forty-three. Living first at Arkansas Post, Barraque formed friendships …

Bates, James Woodson

James Woodson Bates was an early Arkansas settler who was elected as the first Arkansas territorial representative to the U.S. Congress. After leaving that office, he went on to help develop Arkansas’s legal system as a judge and lawyer. Batesville (Independence County) was named after him in 1824. James Bates was born on August 25, 1788, in Belmont, Virginia, to Thomas F. Bates and Caroline Woodson Bates. Little is known of his early life, but he attended Yale College (now Yale University). He eventually graduated from Princeton College (now Princeton University) in 1807 and began practicing law in Virginia. In 1816, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where his brother Frederick Bates had been appointed territorial secretary. In 1819, he, …

Bean’s Rangers

Captain Jesse Bean’s Ranger Company was one of six companies of mounted militia authorized by Congress in 1832. Led by a member of a prominent Arkansas family, the company formed a part of the first mounted battalion in the U.S. Army for seventeen years. Its actions are representative of the militarization of Arkansas’s western border and the area beyond during the territorial period. Influenced in 1815 by a need for economy and a deep-rooted fear of standing armies, Congress had eliminated cavalry, considered by some to be a uniformed elite, from the army. However, the Black Hawk War in Illinois and Wisconsin reminded legislators of the utility of cavalry, and, on June 15, 1832, Congress authorized President Andrew Jackson to raise …

Beebe, Roswell

Roswell Beebe was the first benefactor of the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County); the town of Beebe (White County) was named after him. In the late 1840s and the 1850s, he was one of the most important businessmen and politicians in Little Rock. He donated several pieces of land to the city. Roswell Beebe was born on December 22, 1795, in Hinsdale, New York, to a wealthy English family. When he was seventeen, he talked his father into letting him go to New Orleans, Louisiana. He was behind the cotton bales with Andrew Jackson when the United States turned back the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Roswell was successful in several businesses. The 1832 New …

Bertig, Adolph

Adolph Bertig, a Jewish immigrant, was one of the leading merchants and financiers in northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was later known as the “Merchant Prince of Paragould.” Ad Bertig was born on June 21, 1853, in Kraków, Galicia, part of what was then the Austrian Empire. He was the eldest son of Wolff Jozef Bertig and Maryem Cortel Bertig. Bertig was nineteen when he immigrated alone to the United States in 1872, arriving first in New York, then migrating west to Little Rock (Pulaski County). While in Little Rock, he gained employment from one of the town’s most prominent businessmen, Colonel John G. Fletcher, who sent Bertig peddling goods to …

Bethel Cemetery

aka: Old Bethel Cemetery
Bethel Cemetery, named after the nearby extinct Bethel Church, is located in the west-central area of Lawrence County, in the vicinity of the former rural town of Denton (Lawrence County). The cemetery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A with local significance for its association with the early exploration and settlement of that community. Denton, a now-defunct town located six miles west of Powhatan (Lawrence County) on State Highway 117, is one of several communities that experienced a slow decline after railroad companies built tracks through eastern Lawrence County. Situated in the Flat Creek valley, Denton sprang up at the crossroads of the Military Road and the Powhatan-Smithville Road. Settlers began arriving about 1850. Some would …

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 …

Black, James

James Black, popularly known as the maker of the bowie knife, was one of the early pioneers of Arkansas and settled in the town of Washington (Hempstead County) in southwest Arkansas. James Black was born on May 1, 1800, in New Jersey; the names of his parents are unknown. His mother died when he was young, and his father remarried. Black did not get along well with his stepmother and ran away from home at the age of eight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While in Philadelphia, he was taken in as an apprentice to a silverplater named Stephen Henderson. During that time, Black apparently became strongly skilled in the art of silverplating. In 1818, when he was eighteen years old, his …

Blackburn, Sylvanus

Sylvanus Walker Blackburn is noted for building the first gristmill in Benton County, locating his mill on War Eagle River. After selecting a site, Blackburn built a home, followed by a gristmill, blacksmith shop, carpentry shop, sawmill, and school. Today, Blackburn’s two-story home still stands, while a 1973 reproduction of the mill sits on its original spot. War Eagle Mill is Arkansas’s only remaining working mill and is believed to be the only undershot waterwheel now in operation in the United States. This is also the site of the well-known annual Ozark Arts and Crafts Fair, generally known as the War Eagle Fair, established in 1954 and held in October. Born on February 15, 1809, Sylvanus Blackburn was the son …

Blackfish Lake Ferry Site

The Blackfish Lake Ferry Site marks the location where a ferry was established in 1826 to allow travelers on the Memphis to Little Rock Road to cross Blackfish Lake in eastern St. Francis County. Surveyors hired to lay out a route for the proposed Memphis to Little Rock Road noted that Blackfish Lake was among the obstacles to be overcome in rugged eastern Arkansas. When they reported to Secretary of War John C. Calhoun on February 12, 1825, that they had selected the best possible route through eastern Arkansas, they included a description of Blackfish Lake east of Crowley’s Ridge and a recommendation that a ferry be established to cross it: “Blackfish—this stream has been considered the great obstacle in the …

Block, Abraham

aka: Abraham Bloch
Abraham Block was the patriarch of the first documented Jewish family to immigrate to the state of Arkansas. After a period as a businessman in Virginia, Block moved his family to southwest Arkansas in search of new economic opportunities. Along with his sons, he created a regional merchant empire with businesses in Washington (Hempstead County), Fulton (Hempstead County), and Paraclifta (Sevier County) in Arkansas, as well as in New Orleans, Louisiana, and at several stops along the railroad in Texas from Houston to Dallas. The family home in Washington has been restored and is currently a house museum in Historic Washington State Park. Abraham Block (or Bloch) was born on January 30, 1780, or 1781, in Schwihau, Bohemia. The names …

Block, Frances Isaiah Isaacs (Fanny)

Frances (Fanny) Block was the matriarch of the first documented Jewish family to immigrate to what became the state of Arkansas. After courtship and the start of a family in Virginia and New York, Block and her family moved to southwestern Arkansas in search of new economic opportunities. Her willingness to forgo the stability of a religious community on the East Coast and move her family west allowed the family to establish a regional mercantile empire that included businesses in places such as Washington (Hempstead County), Fulton (Hempstead County), and Paraclifta (Sevier County) in Arkansas, as well as in New Orleans, Louisiana, and at several stops along the railroad in Texas from Houston to Dallas. Fanny Block and her family …

Borland, Solon

Solon Borland was a physician, editor, United States senator, diplomat, and military officer. He was the first Arkansas politician to be given a major diplomatic assignment, which eventually resulted in the destruction of a town in Central America, one of the earliest examples of U.S. gunboat diplomacy.  According to an article in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Solon Borland was born in Suffolk, Nansemond County, Virginia, the youngest of three sons born to Thomas Wood Borland, a physician, and Harriet Godwin. Additional sources have his date of birth as August 8, 1811. His family moved to North Carolina by 1823. In 1831, he married Hildah (or Huldah) Wright of Virginia; they had two sons, Harold and Thomas. He …

Bowie Knife

The bowie knife, made popular in the 1830s, has evolved into a specific form in current use. The bowie knife was worn for defensive purposes; its primary function was for personal combat. It was designed to be part of a gentleman’s attire, and the key difference between the bowie knife and a hunting knife, a dagger, or a dirk was, initially, the quality of finish of the bowie. Bowie knives came in a variety of forms—with or without guards, with differently shaped blades—and often were adorned with silver and other decoration, sometimes including etching and/or engraving on their metal surfaces. The knife got its name from a pioneer family who settled in early Arkansas and Louisiana. Jim Bowie, the best …

Bowie, Jim

aka: James Bowie
Jim Bowie, the man who popularized the bowie knife and who served as the co-commander of the Texan forces at the Alamo, was also an adventurer and land speculator who achieved notoriety for a number of fraudulent land claims he made in Arkansas. Little is known about Bowie’s birth. His father was Rezin Bowie and his mother Alvina Jones (Elve) Bowie. Their son Jim was most likely born in Logan County, Kentucky, although some accounts place his birth in Tennessee or Georgia. Bowie had numerous brothers and sisters, and two of his brothers, Rezin P. and John, each owned property in Arkansas in Chicot County and Helena (Phillips County) during their lives. It is believed that John Bowie is buried …

Bozeman House

The Bozeman House is a wood-frame Greek Revival house in Clark County constructed around 1847. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The original owner of the house, Michael Bozeman, was a native of Georgia. Born in 1808, he moved to the new state of Alabama in 1819. He married Lucy Ann Browning in 1827, and the couple moved to the Arkansas Territory in 1835. The couple eventually had nine children. The family lived on a tract of land about six miles west of Arkadelphia (Clark County). Bozeman farmed a number of crops but focused on cotton. The family lived in a log cabin when they first arrived in Arkansas. Construction on a new …

Bradford, William

William Bradford was a major in the U.S. Army, a veteran of the War of 1812, an explorer, a Kentucky legislator, and one of the first brigadier generals in the Arkansas militia. He was the builder and the first commander of Camp Smith, later named Fort Smith, located at Belle Point at the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau rivers located in present-day Sebastian County. The old fort’s foundation can be visited today and is a part of the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Not much is known about Bradford’s early life. He was born in Virginia in 1771 and later moved to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where he held many county offices, including deputy sheriff. He was commissioned a captain …

Brown, Jacob

Jacob Brown was an important but often overlooked figure in Arkansas’s territorial and early statehood period. He served as the chief disbursement agent for the Office of Removal and Subsistence and was the first president of the Arkansas State Bank. After Brown fought and was killed in the Siege of Fort Texas during the Mexican War, Fort Texas was renamed Fort Brown in his honor; the city of Brownsville, Texas, also bears his name, as does Brownsville (Lonoke County). Jacob Brown was born in Charlton, Massachusetts, on July 19, 1789. Brown’s father, also called Jacob, had served during the Revolutionary War against Great Britain, and his mother was Mary Wells Brown, also from Charlton. Brown served with distinction in the …

Brownlee, Robert

Robert Brownlee was a Scottish stonemason who lived in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1837 to 1849. He helped build the first statehouse in Arkansas and several other historic landmarks in Pulaski County. Robert Brownlee was born on April 24, 1813, in Bonkle, Cambusnethan Parish, a tiny community in the Scottish lowlands. He was ninth in a family of seven sons and four daughters born to Margaret and Alexander Brownlee. After a basic education at Murdestoun Estate School near Bonkle, he apprenticed to his older brother, William, a stonecutter. Brownlee was twenty-three when he read about the December 1835 fire that almost destroyed New York City and the need for mechanics to help rebuild the city. That same day, he …

Burton-Aikin Feud

The Burton-Aikin (also spelled “Aiken”) feud between Dr. Phillip Patrick (known as P. P.) Burton and Dr. Trent C. Aikin—who both practiced medicine in Batesville (Independence County )—began on October 21, 1841, with the death of Nicholas E. Burton (son of P. P. Burton) and ended on September 15, 1849, when an Independence County jury found P. P. Burton’s son Phil Burton “not guilty” in the murder of Dr. Aikin. The feud grew out of a medical disagreement between the two doctors. Dr. Aikin was called to treat a “Negro woman” (presumably a slave) belonging to a Mr. Byers of Batesville. Aikin diagnosed the woman with liver disease and began treatment of it. When the woman failed to improve, Byers asked Dr. …

Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company

aka: Overland Mail Company
Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company carried the first successful overland transcontinental mail by stagecoach through Arkansas as it went from the Mississippi River to California. Though only running from 1858 through 1861, it was the longest stagecoach line in world history at approximately 2,812 miles and was a major factor in the settlement and development of Arkansas and the American West before the Civil War. Its two main routes ran through Arkansas, westward from Memphis and south from Missouri, connecting in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Many sites in Arkansas, such as Butterfield Trails Village in Fayetteville (Washington County), still reflect the era of Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company. Before modern technology, the mail was America’s lifeblood. “Post roads” were created in the …

Byrne, Andrew

Andrew Byrne was the first Roman Catholic bishop of Little Rock (Pulaski County), a diocese which then and now encompasses the boundaries of the state of Arkansas. A prelate on the southern frontier, he had few Catholics in his ecclesiastical domain; nevertheless, he planted the Church so deeply that even his death, the Civil War, and the five-year absence of any bishop could not eradicate the faith. Andrew Byrne was born in Navan, a town about forty miles northwest of Dublin, Ireland, the son of Robert and Margery Moore Byrne. There is no exact date of his birth on parish records, though they record that he was baptized on December 3, 1802; with his name being Andrew, he may have …

Cadron Settlement

aka: Cadron (Faulkner County)
The first permanent white settlement in central Arkansas was near the confluence of Cadron Creek and the Arkansas River, about five miles west of Conway in Faulkner County. In the early 1800s, the term “Cadron Settlement” was used loosely in reference to thirty to forty white families that were scattered along the Arkansas River in the vicinity of Cadron Creek. In 1818, an early settler and trader, John McElmurry, who had arrived before 1818, and three other investors laid out a town, Cadron, on about sixty-four acres at the mouth of the Cadron Creek. Although the original plat map of the town has not been found, historical evidence suggests that as many as fourteen blocks, each with six half-acre lots, surrounded …

California Gold Rush, Effect of the

The California gold rush did not have the positive impact on Arkansas envisioned by its promoters, who hoped for Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to become the hub of westward migration. It did force Arkansas out of its frontier status as people went farther west to California. It also shifted population. John L. Ferguson wrote that, following 1850, Arkansans searching out new opportunity were continuing to move westward; by 1860, some 2,000 Arkansans lived in California, while another 11,000 had emigrated to Texas. The Arkansas Gazette of May 14, 1852, noted that “it is calculated that out of every 100 persons who have gone to California, fifty have been ruined, forty no better than they would have been had they stayed …

Camden to Washington Road, Rosston Segment

The Camden to Washington Road formerly connected the towns of Camden (Ouachita County) and Washington (Hempstead County). Some sections of the road still exist in the twenty-first century, including a segment near Rosston (Nevada County) that is part of Nevada County Road 10. This portion of the road was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 29, 2009. The first effort to create the road began in 1821 when residents of Hempstead County petitioned the Court of Common Pleas to construct a road linking their county with a point on the Ouachita River. This would allow farmers to transport their crops to the nearest navigable river. A map drawn that same year shows a road leaving Ecore …

Campbell Cemetery

The Campbell Cemetery is located in Randolph County on the north side of the Spring River near Imboden (Lawrence County). It is the only surviving historic resource that is associated with Lawrence County’s first county judge, James Campbell. While it is not known exactly when the cemetery was established, it is believed to have existed by around 1835. Lawrence County, the second of five counties created out of land that would become the Arkansas Territory in 1819, was established in 1815. At the time, the area was part of the Missouri Territory. While the offices of clerk, sheriff, and coroner were created in 1819, the office of county judge was not created until 1829. By that time, the county government …

Cane Hill College

Cane Hill College was chartered in 1850 as Cane Hill Collegiate Institute (CHCI) and was one of the earliest institutions of higher education in the state. Though burned by Union forces during the Civil War, the college was rebuilt and, in 1875, became a coeducational institution with the merger of a nearby Methodist female seminary. Though it closed its doors in 1891, the college had a large impact upon the area, and the surviving college building in Cane Hill (Washington County) was used as a public school until the 1950s and has served various community functions since that time. The Cane Hill Congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded in 1828. Church members opened Cane Hill School in 1835. …

Cane Hill Murders of 1839

On June 15, 1839, William Carter Wright of Cane Hill (Washington County) and four of his children were murdered in their home. Their slaying led to the impromptu trial and lynching of four men, conducted by the Cane Hill Independent Regulating Company, a “citizens’ vigilante group.” The brutality of the Cane Hill Murders and the nature of the hearings reflect the potential for lawlessness in the border region in the early history of the state. On the night of June 15, 1839, Nancy Wright (referred to as Frances in some sources) awoke when she heard horses and men outside the Wrights’ cabin. The sounds alarmed her, and she woke her husband, telling him that she thought Indians were approaching. Three …

Captain Isaac N. Deadrick House

The Captain Isaac N. Deadrick House was a two-story, Greek Revival–style residence constructed in 1850 in the Levesque community of Cross County. Before it collapsed around 2013, the Deadrick House was considered one of the oldest extant buildings in Cross County and the last physical building of the antebellum period in that area. The house and family cemetery were located several miles north of Wittsburg (Cross County), which was the closest population center at the time the house was built. Historians suspect that the house was constructed by slaves owned by John D. Maget (or Maggett) as a wedding present for Isaac N. Deadrick (sometimes spelled Deaderick) and Maget’s daughter, Virginia. Isaac Deadrick, his wife, and his father-in-law are buried …

Carrollton Road

The Carrollton Road was part of an east-west road that crossed northern Arkansas in the 1830s and is noteworthy as one of the few documented roads used by the John Benge Detachment of Cherokee during the Indian Removal of the late 1830s. A segment of the road survives today. The Cherokee Removal detachment led by Captain John Benge initially consisted of 1,079 people and seventy wagons, though others would join the group as it headed west. The detachment departed from Fort Payne, Alabama, in late September and early October 1838. It crossed into Tennessee and later crossed the Mississippi River at Iron Banks in Kentucky. Traveling west and southwest through Missouri on the Military Road, the detachment crossed into Arkansas …