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

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 …

Car of Commerce [Steamboat]

The Car of Commerce was a steamboat that burst a boiler north of Osceola (Mississippi County) on May 14, 1828, killing at least twenty-one passengers and crew members. While heading from New Orleans, Louisiana, to St. Louis, Missouri, an engineer on the Car of Commerce shut down the vessel’s engines briefly around 10:00 a.m. on May 14, 1828, at an area on the Mississippi River known as the Canadian Reach, to examine the force pump. Moments after the engines were restarted, one of the boilers burst, “moving from their place in a forward direction every boiler, the greater part of the water being thrown to the upper deck, several of the deck passengers, and the greater part of the crew …

Carnall, John

John Carnall was a Virginia native who moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in 1840. An educator, legislator, and newspaperman, he was one of the town’s most influential citizens over a period of more than four decades. John Carnall was born in Virginia on January 9, 1818, but little else is known about his early life. It is known that he came to Fort Smith in 1840 carrying a letter of introduction that identified him as a teacher and scholar. Upon his arrival, he quickly established one of the first schools in the area. His creation, Fort Smith Academy, was incorporated in 1845. He later started a second school on his farm on Massard Prairie. These efforts were memorialized in …

Caroline [Steamboat]

The Caroline was a steamboat that caught fire while traveling up the White River on March 5, 1854, and sank, with forty-five passengers and crew members losing their lives in the disaster. The Caroline was a 150-ton sternwheel paddleboat built in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1853. The vessel was 134 feet long and twenty-four feet wide with a draft of 3.5 feet. The Caroline left Memphis, Tennessee, on March 4, 1854, with a full load of cargo and passengers, many of whom were immigrant families. The steamboat was in the White River about twenty miles from its mouth on the afternoon of March 5 when a wood pile near the boilers caught fire, soon enveloping the entire boat in flames. The …

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 …

Casey House

The Casey House, the oldest existing house in Mountain Home (Baxter County), is a pioneer home built in the “dog-trot” style. The house is unusual, principally for the materials used in its construction. It was the home of Colonel Randolph D. Casey, who is considered one of the first citizens of Mountain Home. The Casey House was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Built in the pioneer dog-trot style, which is named for the breezeway that offers dogs protection from the elements, the Casey House has two large rooms on either side separated by an open breezeway through the middle. Architecturally, the Casey House is unusual in that clapboard siding sheathes the exterior and wide flush-boards …

Cattle Drives

Arkansas was the source for many cattle drives westward following the California gold rush, and some later cattle drives cut through Arkansas for points northward. Though a more minor player in the overland transportation of cattle than neighboring Texas, Arkansas was nonetheless significantly affected by these cattle drives. When some Cherokee migrated into Arkansas in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they drove cattle with them. However, the first major cattle drives organized in Arkansas took place following the discovery of gold in California in 1848, when many Arkansans drove their cattle west in order to meet the increasing need for supplies of the numerous people settling there. As historian J. H. Atkinson notes, “A cow that sold for …

Caulder, Peter

Peter Caulder was born in Marion County, South Carolina, and was of African descent. The U.S. Army listed him as “a colored man.” In three U.S. censuses, he was categorized in race as “mulatto.” His life in Arkansas represents the success free blacks could achieve prior to their banishment by the state government. At the beginning of the War of 1812, seventeen-year-old Peter joined a state militia unit for three months. He was discharged without seeing any action in the war. When the British burned Washington DC in August 1814, Peter Caulder and his father, Moses Caulder, joined the Third U.S. Rifles and marched with the regiment to defend the capital. Four other Marion County mulattoes, friends and relatives of …

Cherokee [Steamboat]

The Cherokee was a steamboat that sustained a devastating and deadly boiler explosion at Lewisburg (Conway County) on December 11, 1840. The Cherokee, under the command of twenty-seven-year-old New York native Charles Harris, was advertised as a “well-known, very light draft, fast running steamboat.” The vessel made regular runs carrying passengers and cargo from New Orleans to Little Rock (Pulaski County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The steamboat arrived at the river town of Lewisburg around sunrise on December 11, 1840. After stopping for about fifteen minutes, the Cherokee pulled out into the Arkansas River, and almost immediately the flue of one boiler collapsed and another exploded, casting forth scalding steam and …

Cherokee Boundary Line

aka: Old Cherokee Boundary Line
The Old Cherokee Boundary Line served as the eastern border of the first land set aside for Native Americans in Arkansas. The Treaty of the Cherokee Agency of 1817 created the definition for the line as beginning at the confluence of Point Remove Creek and the Arkansas River near present-day Morrilton (Conway County). The line was then to be marked in a northeasterly direction to Shields Ferry on the White River. General William Rector, along with commissioners appointed by the Cherokee, conducted the original survey and filed a report with the Government Land Office in 1819. Rector reported a distance of seventy-one miles and fifty-five chains. Rector’s survey and report were intended to satisfy both some Cherokee residents and some …

Chicot County Lynching of 1836

aka: Bunch (Lynching of)
According to the Arkansas Gazette, an African American identified only as Bunch was hanged in Chicot County in August 1836. The incident was also reported in a number of newspapers across the United States. According to the Gazette, Bunch, perhaps a member of the free black population in Chicot County, attempted to vote, but the judges turned him back because he was black. Bunch “took umbrage” at this and “resorted to violent measures.” In the midst of the fracas that followed, one Dr. Webb, “a highly respectable citizen,” was stabbed multiple times and was expected to die. Local citizens were so incensed that they promptly hanged Bunch. The Indiana American, quoting the Louisville Journal, reported that Bunch had a copy …

Choctaw Boundary Line

Determining the Choctaw Boundary Line and thus the western boundary of Arkansas below the Arkansas River was a process that involved political maneuvering, treaties with the Choctaw tribe, and other negotiations. The line was not even determined for one small strip of land until 1905. The Louisiana Purchase opened up a vast territory for the United States, and a few pioneers began to move into the lands west of the Mississippi River. In 1818, the first treaty was negotiated with the Quapaw tribe for the land west of a line that ran south from the “little rock” on the Arkansas River. The formation of Arkansas Territory in March 1819 brought more settlers. The settlers considered the lands to be in …

Choctaw Scrip

Land ownership was the desire of many individuals moving west across the United States in the nineteenth century. A person who obtained the initial title for a parcel of land in the public domain states, such as Arkansas, was issued a patent—that is, a deed transferring land ownership from the U.S. government to a buyer. Patents were obtained by various methods. Perhaps the least understood method was the use of Choctaw Scrip certificates to obtain a patent. Descendants of original Arkansas land owners finding Choctaw names on their patents often believed their ancestors either bought the land directly from the Choctaw or were, in fact, Choctaw themselves. The origins of Choctaw Scrip go back to the U.S. government’s plan to …

Cholera

Cholera, a deadly, infectious gastrointestinal disease that usually spreads through contaminated water, is an acute infection of the small intestine caused by the toxin released by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, leading to severe diarrhea and dehydration. Left untreated, cholera can be fatal in a matter of hours. The first cholera pandemic of 1817–1823 spread from India to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Russia, and Europe, especially England. Cholera was prevalent in the 1800s in America beginning in New York City. Due to increased traveling, the use of steamboats, and more navigable waterways, cholera made its way to the Mississippi Delta region. In October 1832, cholera reached Arkansas. An infected passenger boarded the steamboat Volant, captained by Charles Kelley. …

Circuit Riders

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some ministers served multiple churches spread out over an area known as a circuit. In the nineteenth century, the practice of “circuit riding” was introduced to Arkansas. There were Baptist and Methodist circuit riders, but it was the Methodists in particular who used the term “circuit” to describe the area of service and whose denominational structures did the most to keep track of the work their riders did. The first Methodist circuit rider to enter Arkansas was William Stevenson, who probably entered northeastern Arkansas for the first time around 1809, during his work in the Illinois District of the Tennessee Conference. Stevenson, together with his brother James, began to travel through the settlements of Arkansas in …

Clendenin, John J.

John J. Clendenin was an influential lawyer and judge in Arkansas before and after the Civil War. He also served a short term as a member of the Reconstruction-era Supreme Court of Arkansas. John Joseph Clendenin was born on September 2, 1813, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Not much is known about his youth beyond the fact that to support his widowed mother, as well as his siblings, he worked as a clerk in a Harrisburg-area post office while also gaining some business experience. He also read the law for several years with prominent attorney (and future vice president) George Mifflin Dallas. He then clerked for future senator and secretary of war Simon Cameron. In 1836, Clendenin made his way to Arkansas, …

Clermont No. 2 [Steamboat]

The steamboat Clermont No. 2 sank after hitting a snag on the White River near Augusta (Woodruff County) on December 4, 1851, killing twenty-two passengers. The Clermont No. 2 was a 121-ton sidewheel paddleboat built in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1845. Owned by a Captain Collins, the Clermont apparently usually ran on the St. Francis River but was traveling on the White River in late 1851. The steamboat hit a snag and sank in late September but was quickly raised and put back into service. The vessel had a far more serious accident in December. The Clermont No. 2 steamed away from Augusta on December 3, 1851, bound for Jacksonport (Jackson County) with nine cabin passengers and twenty-six deck passengers. At …

Collins, Richard D’Cantillon

Captain Richard D’Cantillon Collins is an often overlooked but nevertheless important figure in early Arkansas history. He was cashier of the central branch of the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1837 until he was replaced by former commissioner of Indian Affairs, Carey Allen Harris, in 1838. At the same time he was cashier, Collins also served as chief disbursement agent as well as Arkansas’s last superintendent of Indian Removal and Subsistence west of the Mississippi River, heading the Little Rock Office of Removal and Subsistence from 1837 to 1839. By then, Collins had become president of the Real Estate Bank in Little Rock, with Harris as his cashier. Collins had originally come to Arkansas under orders to survey, take bids …

Columbia (Chicot County)

Columbia, founded during the late territorial period, was a busy settlement located on the western bank of the Mississippi River in extreme southeastern Arkansas. The one-time Chicot County seat was an important shipping point for local cotton plantations and the site of a branch of the Arkansas Real Estate Bank. Over time, the banks of the river slowly eroded the town site until it was eventually washed away. When Chicot County was established on October 25, 1823, a board of commissioners selected the settlement of Villemont as the county seat. In 1833, as the county boundaries changed, the seat of government was removed to a more central location a few miles upriver at Columbia. The added importance of being the …

Comet [Steamboat]

The Comet was the first steamboat to go up the Arkansas River, arriving at Arkansas Post on March 31, 1820. The Comet was built 1817, the second steamboat constructed at Cincinnati, Ohio. The 154-ton vessel featured a high-pressure, stern-wheel vibrating cylinder engine that had been patented by inventor Daniel French in 1809. The Comet, under the command of a Captain Byrne, left New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 23, 1820, and headed toward Arkansas’s territorial capital at Arkansas Post. The journey of 149 running hours took eight days, and the vessel entered the mouth of the Arkansas River at noon on March 31. As night descended, the Comet ran aground on the bank of the river, which delayed its progress for …

Compere, Lee

Baptist missionary Lee Compere did missionary work with the Creek Nation in Georgia and Alabama. He later joined his sons in Arkansas and assisted them with their own religious work. Lee Compere was born on November 3, 1790, in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England, to John Compere and Grace Fox Compere. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised by a Baptist family and adopted their faith. On September 23, 1815, he married Susannah Voysey in London. Susannah was a relative of theologian and founder of Methodism John Wesley. She decided to become a missionary and to use her inheritance to fund her missionary work. On October 18, 1815, the Baptist Mission Society of England appointed the couple as missionaries to …

Congress and Saladin, Collision of

The steam packet Saladin collided with the steamboat Congress on the evening of February 14, 1846, near Islands 86 and 87 in the Mississippi River at Kentucky Bend off Chicot County, sinking the Congress and killing as many as thirty passengers and crew. The Saladin, a sidewheel packet built in Louisville, Kentucky, by Thomas C. Coleman and John Coleman in 1846, was steaming toward New Orleans, Louisiana, as the steamboat Congress was heading upriver with a load of dry goods and both cabin and deck passengers. The Saladin, having stopped at the landing of the William H. Pope plantation, reentered the river channel at about 7:00 p.m. on the “cloudy and very dark” night. Spying the Saladin when it was …

Conway-Crittenden Duel

aka: Crittenden-Conway Duel
In 1827, Henry Wharton Conway and Robert Crittenden, both important figures in territorial Arkansas, fought a duel that had profound implications for the course of Arkansas history. Conway, a former naval officer and governmental employee originally from Tennessee, had relocated to Arkansas for a governmental post and eventually sought political office in Arkansas. Crittenden, originally from Kentucky, also served in the armed forces and later held political positions in Arkansas; he was originally a political supporter of Conway. Both were young, professional, and successful in their own right, but a conflict ensued between the two during an Arkansas election campaign, leading Crittenden to challenge Conway to a duel. Conway and Crittenden were friends and had worked together in an official …

Conway, Elias Nelson

Elias Nelson Conway—born into an extended kinship group known as “The Family,” which came to dominate the politics of early Arkansas—was elected the fifth governor of the state of Arkansas. He served in that position longer than anyone until Orval Faubus, a century later. His eight years in office were a time of relative prosperity for the growing state as the government dealt with issues such as internal improvements and debt left from failed banks. The mounting tensions that led to the Civil War began to play out during Conway’s second term, and the voters ended the Family’s political domination in the election of 1860 when they rejected Conway’s choice for a successor. Elias Conway was born on May 17, …

Conway, Henry Wharton

Henry Wharton Conway was the delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Territory of Arkansas. He served in the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Congresses from 1823 until his death in 1827. Henry Wharton Conway was born on March 18, 1793, near Greeneville, Tennessee. One of ten children born to Thomas Conway and Ann Rector Conway, he received his early education by private tutors before enlisting in the U.S. Army. Serving in the War of 1812, he was commissioned as an ensign (at the time an army rank, but one that was ended after the war) and was promoted to lieutenant in 1813, serving through the end of the war and into peacetime. Conway was a member of the …

Conway, James Sevier

James Sevier Conway was the first governor for the state of Arkansas, elected in 1836 through strong family ties to both prominent Arkansans and President Andrew Jackson’s administration. His tenure as governor was best known for economic issues, surplus funds in the state treasury, legislation creating the state’s first banks, and a national depression, which consumed the surplus and contributed to a collapse in the banking system. James Conway was born on December 4, 1796, in Greene County, Tennessee, the son of Thomas Conway and Anne Rector. Wealthy by frontier standards, the Conway family grew corn and cotton and raised livestock on their Tennessee plantation. Conway’s father employed private tutors to teach his seven sons and three daughters. In 1818, …

Conway, Polly

aka: Mary Jane Bradley Conway
Mary Jane “Polly” Bradley Conway, the wife of Arkansas’s first governor, was a stable mother, supportive spouse, and respected prominent citizen. She was also a pioneer in what was then a primitive corner of the state. Polly Bradley was born on August 31, 1809, at or near Lebanon in Wilson County, Tennessee, to John Bradley and Jane Barton. Bradley’s father died the year she was born. After the War of 1812, her uncles Captain Hugh Bradley and Fleetwood Herndon moved to Arkansas. Bradley, her mother, her sisters, and her stepfather also migrated to Arkansas Territory, settling on the “Long Prairie” of the future Lafayette County. On December 21, 1826, Bradley married James Sevier Conway, presumably on Long Prairie, where he …

Crittenden County Lynching of 1840

In early December of 1840, two unidentified escaped slaves were hanged in Crittenden County for allegedly murdering their owner, Major Thomas E. Clark. At the time of the 1840 census, Clark was living in Jasper Township and owned three slaves. When Clark discovered that the two men were gone, he and Colonel James Martin pursued them. Clark and Martin were separated during the chase, and Clark was alone when he encountered the fugitives. Martin, who was nearby, heard Clark crying out, but by the time he arrived at the scene, Clark was dead. When area citizens learned of the crime, they caught the two escapees and hanged them from a nearby tree “as examples for other refractory slaves.” The Arkansas …

Crittenden, Robert

Robert Crittenden was the first secretary and acting governor of the Arkansas Territory; subsequently, he was the first person to serve in the role now known as the lieutenant governor of Arkansas. He was a prominent member of the Arkansas bar, candidate for territorial delegate to Congress in 1833, and political powerbroker in territorial Arkansas. Robert Crittenden was born on January 1, 1797, in Woodford County, Kentucky, near Versailles. He was the son of John Crittenden, a major in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, and Judith Harris. His brother, John Jordan Crittenden, served as a United States senator from Kentucky and was attorney general under presidents William Henry Harrison …

Crockett, Davy

aka: David Crockett
The legendary frontiersman and congressman David (Davy) Crockett passed through Arkansas on his way from Tennessee to Texas in 1835. While at a Little Rock (Pulaski County) banquet given in his honor, he reportedly stated, “If I could rest anywhere it would be in Arkansas, where the men are of the real half-horse, half-alligator breed such as grow nowhere else on the face of the universal earth but just around the backbone of North America.” Davy Crockett was born in Greene County, Tennessee, on August 17, 1786. His parents were John and Rebecca Hawkins Crockett. He ran away from home at about age thirteen and did not return home for some thirty months. In 1806, Crockett married Mary “Polly” Finley, …

Crowley, Benjamin

Benjamin Crowley and his family were among the early settlers of northeast Arkansas. In 1821, they settled near the present community of Walcott (Greene County) on a ridge that would bear his name. Crowley, one of eleven children of Benjamin and Sarah Strong Crowley, was born in 1758 in Halifax County, Virginia. He married Catherine Annie Wiley of Augusta County, Virginia, on December 15, 1795. They had eight children. Crowley was a surveyor by trade and also raised cattle and dabbled in horse breeding. By 1785, the Crowleys had relocated to Oglethorpe County, Georgia. They moved to Christian County, Kentucky, by 1810 and moved again to Henderson County, Kentucky, by 1821. Crowley had served in the military during the War …

Curran Hall

aka: Little Rock Visitor Information Center
aka: Walters-Curran-Bell House
Curran Hall, sometimes known as the Walters-Curran-Bell House, stands at 615 East Capitol Avenue in the MacArthur Park Historic District and is one of the few remaining antebellum landmark properties in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Dating back to 1842, the house was constructed during the city’s first building boom, which reached its peak around 1842 and faded out with the depression of 1843. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 1, 1976. According to widely accepted tradition, Curran Hall was constructed in the Greek Revival style by noted Greek Revival architect Gideon Shryock, who designed the Kentucky State Capitol as well as the Old State House, making this house of particular significance. The original one-story …

Danley, Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus Danley was a soldier, political activist, and newspaperman in the early days of Arkansas statehood. His adroit use of his newspaper, as well as his own political efforts, made him an often formidable opponent of the political dynasty known as “The Family,” a powerful group of Democrats who dominated Arkansas politics in the years between statehood and the Civil War. He also served as state auditor from 1849 to 1855. C. C. Danley was born on June 5, 1818, in the Missouri Territory. His father, James Danley, was an early pioneer in the Missouri and Arkansas territories. While Danley had at least two brothers and a sister, there appears to be no documentation concerning his mother. Danley set …

Dehahuit

Dehahuit, hereditary chief of the Kadohadacho Caddo community of Native Americans at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, is remembered as an effective, respected leader of the Caddo during turbulent times. The Kadohadacho (kado-ha-dach’-o) were the most prominent of several Caddo groups that lived in villages along the Great Bend of the Red River in southwest Arkansas. These Caddo are believed to have lived on the Great Bend for more than 500 years before the Europeans arrived. They remained in this homeland until just before 1800, when disease and Osage raids forced them downstream into northwest Louisiana. Other Caddo viewed the Kadohadacho as descendants of the tribe’s most ancient and prominent ancestral community. Dehahuit was recognized as the …

Der Squire: Ein Bild aus den Hinterwalden Nordamerikas

Der Squire: Ein Bild aus den Hinterwalden Nordamerikas (The Squire: A Picture from the Backwoods of North America) by Albert von Halfern was published in 1857 by Hoffman and Campe of Hamburg, Germany. The novel presents the story of Squire Russel, a squatter (or pioneer) in western Arkansas near the Indian Territory. Von Halfern’s novel was never translated into English and therefore did not achieve the popularity in the United States that fellow German author Friedrich Gerstäcker’s novels did. Nevertheless, his description of western Arkansas in the early 1840s, like Gerstäcker’s work, offers insight into the daily experiences and the social life of Arkansas’s early settlers. Von Halfern, born about 1816, came to America in 1838, landing in New York …

Dickinson, Townsend

Townsend Dickinson was elected to the territorial legislature and served as prosecuting attorney for his territorial district. He was appointed U.S. Land Office Registrar of Batesville (Independence County) in 1833. He served as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1836. Following the convention, he was elected to the first Arkansas General Assembly, which soon made him one of three original members of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Little is known about Dickinson’s childhood, but it appears he was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1795. He was said to be a very polished and well-spoken scholar. In 1821, he moved from New York to Lawrence County, Arkansas. He then moved to Batesville, practicing law and dabbling in real estate. …

Doke, “Preacher”

aka: Nathaniel Mattox Doke
Nathaniel Mattox “Preacher” Doke was a Benton County pioneer, evangelist, entrepreneur, and benefactor. The Methodist exhorter “talked from his heels” in a sincere, convincing manner and was also a master carpenter, blacksmith, farmer, hunter, and fiddler. By the turn of the century, he had married for the third time and fathered a total of twenty-three children. Doke taught his children the same self-sufficient skills he had learned and encouraged them to improve their minds by reading as he had done. “Preacher” Doke was born on December 9, 1833, near Terre Haute in Washington County, Indiana, to Samuel Doke and Mary Mattox. To support the family, Nathaniel and his older brother William worked in a Terre Haute packing house and a …

Dover to Clarksville Road

The Dover to Clarksville Road is an early nineteenth-century road through what is now Pope and Johnson counties. A surviving segment of the road is significant for its connections with routes taken during the Indian Removals of the 1830s. That segment—located on Hickeytown Road east of U.S. Highway 64 near present-day Lamar (Johnson County)—was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 2005. In March 1834, Lieutenant Joseph Whipple Harris left the eastern United States with a party of 125 Cherokee and set out for the Indian Territory, picking up hundreds of other emigrant Cherokee before crossing the Mississippi River and entering Arkansas. His detachment numbered more than 500, many of them ill with measles and other …

Drennen-Scott Historic Site

The Drennen-Scott Historic Site is the former home of pioneer John Drennen (1801–1855) and his descendants, who continuously occupied the Van Buren (Crawford County) house until its purchase by the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) in 2004. The site is significant in both state and national history. Drennen was co-founder of Van Buren, served as the Indian agent responsible for settlement payments to relocated Cherokee in Indian Territory (Drennen Roll), was a delegate from Crawford County during development of the 1836 constitution for Arkansas, and was a staunch supporter of the Whig Party. The site has undergone extensive reconstruction and development to serve the community as a museum and also as a classroom and lab for the Historical …

Drennen, John

John Drennen was a prominent businessman who is called the father of Van Buren (Crawford County). The home he built in Van Buren, now known as the Drennen-Scott House, serves as a museum interpreting local history and Drennen’s legacy. John Drennen was born to Thomas Drennen and Isabelle Moore Drennen on February 5, 1801, in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. At a young age, he and his family moved to Potosi, Missouri. On March 21, 1826, in Potosi, he married Emily Rosanna Deaderick Stuart, widow of James Stuart; John and Emily Drennen had three daughters, one of whom died in childhood. Later in 1826, he moved to Tennessee and went into business with his brother-in-law David Thompson (the husband of Emily Drennen’s sister, …

Drew, Thomas Stevenson

Thomas Stevenson Drew was a peddler, schoolteacher, farmer, railroad speculator, and governor of Arkansas. He was the first person to be elected governor by a plurality instead of a majority and the only governor to resign his office because of personal financial difficulties. Thomas Drew was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, on August 25, 1802. He was the second of ten children born to Newton Drew and Sarah Maxwell Drew. He was raised on a farm and educated in a Tennessee common school. Drew moved to Arkansas in 1817, where he worked as an itinerant peddler and occasionally taught school. In October 1823, he was appointed clerk of the Clark County Court and, three months later, became justice of the peace of …

Duwali

aka: Bowl
aka: Bowles
Duwali, also known as The Bowl or Bowles due to the Quapaw meaning of his name, was leader of a group of Cherokee who lived briefly in Arkansas early in the territorial period, from about 1812 to 1818. His life story illustrates the fate of thousands of Native Americans from tribes and nations east of the Mississippi River who moved west to get away from economic and political turmoil long before the official Indian Removal events of the 1830s. These early groups had a significant impact on early territorial residents and on the Caddo, the Osage, and the Quapaw who lived, hunted, and claimed territorial rights in Arkansas when Euro-American settlers first arrived. Duwali was born about 1756 in the …

Dwight Mission

Dwight Mission near Russellville (Pope County) was the first formal Protestant effort directed at the education and conversion of Native Americans in Arkansas and was one of the first Protestant missions established west of the Mississippi. The mission was established in 1820 and operated in Arkansas until 1829. The mission had been requested by Western Cherokee Principal Chief Tahlonteskee in 1818, when he visited Brainerd Mission in Georgia, sponsored by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a Presbyterian organization. The Western Cherokee was a diverse group whose previous generation had migrated into Arkansas while fleeing troubles in the Cherokee homeland at the southern end of the Appalachians, and some of the members thought it useful for their …

Eagle [Steamboat]

The Eagle was a 118-ton steamboat that was the first steamer to navigate up the Arkansas River to Little Rock (Pulaski County), stopping at the capital on its way to deliver supplies to Dwight Mission near modern-day Russellville (Pope County). The Eagle, which was built in 1818 and commanded by a Captain Morris, reached Little Rock on March 16, 1822, having left New Orleans, Louisiana, seventeen days earlier and taken fifty-one hours to reach the territorial capital from the mouth of the Arkansas River—a journey that would have taken up to a month by keelboat. The Arkansas Gazette reported that Little Rock’s citizens were “very agreeably surprised” by the vessel’s arrival, which “reflects much credit on Capt. Morris for his …