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

Magnolia Manor

Magnolia Manor is a historic home located in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Constructed by John B. McDaniel between 1854 and 1857, the house contains both Greek Revival and Italianate design elements. When the house was constructed, it was several miles from Arkadelphia, but the city grew to encompass the home. The name of the home comes from the massive magnolia tree in the yard that was planted by McDaniel shortly after the home was constructed. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 27, 1972. John B. McDaniel was born on May 5, 1811, in Marlboro County, South Carolina. He married Mary Ann Thomas on June 14, 1836, and the couple eventually had five children. McDaniel …

Makemie College

Makemie College, a Presbyterian institution chartered by the Arkansas General Assembly on January 7, 1853, was named for the Reverend Francis Makemie, considered by many to be the father of American Presbyterianism. The “Act to Incorporate Makemic [sic] College” is remarkably vague. It notes that the institution will be under the control of the Synod of Arkansas and allows trustees Samuel J. Baird, Thomas W. Newton, Joshua F. Green, Edwin R. McGuire, D. C. Montgomery, and William L. McGuire to locate the college “at such point within this State as they may select,” and to “establish in it departments for instruction in the arts and sciences, and any of the learned professions.” The trustees, who had yet to hold their …

McVicar House

The McVicar House is a one-story wooden structure in the heart of downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). Originally on Lot 8 of Block 32 between the Brownlee House and the Hinderliter Grog Shop, the house was moved for aesthetic purposes to its current location on the grounds of what is now Historic Arkansas Museum during the 1939–1941 restoration by Louise Loughborough and Max Mayer. On February 16, 1842, Thomas Thorn sold Lots 7, 8, and 9 on Block 32 to James McVicar for the sum of $4,000, even though Thorn had acquired the same lots at a public auction from Chester Ashley four years earlier for $128. Thorn was able to turn a substantial profit, thirty-one times his original investment, …

Mechanics’ Institute of Little Rock

In September 1858, a group of white workingmen in Little Rock (Pulaski County) formed one of the state’s first labor organizations, the Mechanics’ Institute, which sought to protect white workingmen from un-free or “degraded” competitors—free Negroes, slaves, and inmates at the state penitentiary—who were forcing down wages. The Mechanics’ Institute sought a political solution to the workingmen’s competitive troubles, calling on the Arkansas General Assembly to “stop permitting free negroes to reside among us,” limit the work of slaves to agricultural and domestic pursuits, and convert “the employment of convicts in our State prison more exclusively to the manufacture of such goods and articles as are not manufactured here.” In demanding these reforms, the Mechanics’ Institute enunciated a version of …

Meek, John Alexander

A doctor, minister, and landowner, John Alexander Meek was one of the leaders in establishing Baptist churches. He is credited by The Baptist Encyclopedia as being the founder of nearly all of the early Baptist churches in south Arkansas and north Louisiana. John Meek was likely born on April 16, 1791 (though some records show the years 1790 and 1792), in Laurens County, South Carolina, the sixth of seven children, three of whom became ministers and medical doctors. Details of his early education and medical training are not known. Meek married Sarah “Sally” Spraggins on December 12, 1809, in Abbeville District, South Carolina. Sally Meek died on December 13, 1825, in Laurens County; two of their five children also died …

Memphis to Little Rock Road

aka: Military Road (Memphis to Little Rock)
The Memphis to Little Rock Road was one of the first major public works projects in the Arkansas Territory. Spanning the swamplands of eastern Arkansas, the heights of Crowley’s Ridge, and the expanse of the Grand Prairie, it opened the state to emigrants from the east. The road was also a major route for Native Americans during the forced relocations of the 1830s. The Memphis to Little Rock Road, also known as the Military Road (as were most of the early Arkansas roads constructed under the auspices of the U.S. Army), was authorized on January 31, 1824, when the U.S. Congress passed an act for construction of a road opposite Memphis, Tennessee, through the swamps of eastern Arkansas to the …

Menifee, Nimrod P.

Nimrod P. Menifee (spelled “Menefee” in some records) helped to found and settle Conway County, donating the land that was used for the seat of government in Lewisburg in 1831. He also was involved in some of the bitter disputes and duels that were the outgrowth of the early political tensions in the Arkansas Territory. He developed significant land holdings and was instrumental in the formation of several early settlements in central Arkansas including Lewisburg (later Morrilton), Point Remove, Oppelo, and the town that bears his name, Menifee—all in Conway County. Nimrod Menifee was born in 1800. The Menifee family first came to this area from Kentucky, beginning in 1818, when the oldest son, Jonas, bought a one-quarter interest in …

Mexican War

aka: U.S.-Mexican War
aka: Mexican-American War
The Mexican War was triggered by American expansionism and President James K. Polk’s desire to annex the Republic of Texas as a state. As a frontier state, Arkansas was called upon early to supply troops after war against Mexico had been declared on May 13, 1846. By war’s end, about 1,500 Arkansans had served, and Senator Ambrose Sevier of Arkansas had helped settle the peace. With Texas’s victory over Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s troops in 1836, the former Mexican territory became an independent republic. For a decade, U.S. leaders had seen Texas’s independence as a first step to it joining the United States, part of a broader American view of “Manifest Destiny.” Mexico, however, never recognized Texas’s …

Military Land Grants

aka: Military Bounty Warrants
The system of granting free land in the public domain to men who served the United States during military conflicts—or, in the case of their death, to their heirs—was implemented in 1788. Following the Revolutionary War, this system of issuing military bounty warrants served as a way for the cash-poor United States to use large tracts of land to meet its obligations to soldiers. Warrants for Revolutionary War service were issued under acts of 1788, 1803, and 1806. The first series of warrants for the War of 1812 were issued under acts of 1811, 1812, and 1814. Some of the land set aside for these warrants was located in what would become Arkansas. Before any warrants could be issued, the …

Miller, James

James Miller, who served as a brigadier general during the War of 1812, was the first governor of the Arkansas Territory and served as superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Arkansas Territory. James Miller was born in Peterborough, New Hampshire, on April 25, 1776, to James Miller and Catharine Gregg Miller. Evidence suggests that Miller’s father was a farmer. Miller attended an academy at Amherst, Massachusetts, and Williams College. He married Martha Ferguson, with whom he had one son, James Ferguson Miller, a noted naval officer. After Martha’s death, he married Ruth Flint. Prior to entering the military, Miller practiced law in Greenfield, New Hampshire, from 1803 to 1808. Due to his experience with the state militia, he received a …

Miller, James Brown (Jim)

James Brown (Jim) Miller was an Arkansas native but spent much of his life in Texas and Oklahoma, where he earned the reputation of a professional assassin, manipulating the court system to avoid prison. From his early years in Van Buren (Crawford County) to his death in Ada, Oklahoma, Miller proved to be a man to be feared. Jim Miller, the eighth of nine children of Jacob and Cynthia Miller, was born near Van Buren on October 25, 1861. His father was a miller and, at times, a stone mason by trade. Miller received the typical education of the times, and nothing stands out in his life until the family relocated to Coryell County, Texas. The exact year of this …

Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad

The Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad Company (MO&RR) was the first railroad to begin construction in Arkansas. Chartered in 1852 by John Dockery of Columbia County, the railroad began at Eunice (Chicot County), south of Arkansas City (Desha County), in 1854. At the onset of the Civil War, the railroad was incomplete, extending approximately seven miles south and west from the Mississippi River. Completion of construction and actual operation of the railroad did not occur until well after the Civil War. The road never made a profit and was merged with the Little Rock, Pine Bluff and New Orleans Railroad in 1873. The first articles of incorporation for the MO&RR were filed with the State of Arkansas by John …

Morris House (White County)

aka: Conley-Siler Residence
The pre–Civil War Morris House is one of the oldest surviving rural houses in White County. Constructed along the Military Road in 1860, the house served as a stopover station for many visitors traveling through the state during the early nineteenth century. In the late 1840s, Henry Patrick Morris, one of four brothers who left Virginia for Arkansas, settled on a farm just north of Searcy (White County) with his wife, Sarah Howerton Morris. In 1860, Henry and Sarah Morris made a contract with the builder John Ransom for a house to be built on the farm at the cost of $200. They built the house about halfway between the developing towns of Searcy and Batesville (Independence County) on a …

Morrison Plantation Smokehouse

The Morrison Plantation Smokehouse, the last remnant of the Morrison Plantation, is a stone structure that was constructed around 1854 near the communities of Saginaw and Midway in Hot Spring County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 28, 1977. Daniel Morrison moved to Hot Spring County around 1838 and began purchasing land along the Ouachita River near the future settlement of Midway. Born around 1810 in Georgia, he owned thousands of acres by 1850, including an island in the Ouachita River called Watermelon (or Water Mellon) Island. In addition to several hundred acres located on both sides of the Ouachita in Hot Spring County, Morrison also owned more than a thousand acres in nearby …

Mountain Meadows Massacre

In April 1857, near Harrison (Boone County), 120 to 150 settlers, mostly Arkansans, started a journey toward the promise of a better life in California. Before they could reach their destination, a party of Mormons and Indians attacked them while they camped on a plateau known as Mountain Meadows in southern Utah. All of the travelers died except for seventeen children, who were taken into Mormon homes. Beyond this information, little can be agreed upon, from the number of victims to who was responsible. About forty families, composed mainly of Arkansans from Marion, Crawford, Carroll, and Johnson counties, met at Beller’s Stand just south of Harrison. This migration was known by several names, including the Baker train and the Perkins train, …

Murrell, John Andrews

Among legendary characters associated with nineteenth-century Arkansas, John Andrews Murrell occupies a prominent place. Counterfeiting and thieving along the Mississippi River, Murrell was only a petty outlaw in a time and place with little law enforcement. However, he became a greater figure in legend following his death. John A. Murrell was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, in 1806. His father, Jeffrey Gilliam Murrell, was a respected farmer who, with his wife, Zilpha Murrell, raised eight children. Shortly after John was born, the Murrells and other relations moved to Williamson County, Tennessee. However, Murrell’s father fell on hard times, and his sons, who were wild and errant, began to have trouble with the law. At the age of sixteen, Murrell, along …