Time Period: Post-Reconstruction through the Gilded Age (1875 - 1900)

Adair, Benjamin Frank

Benjamin Frank Adair, born a slave in Phillips County, established a legal practice in central Arkansas in the late 1800s and was elected to the Arkansas General Assembly. There, he supported the Separate Coach Law of 1891 (a Jim Crow law requiring separate coaches on railway trains for white and black passengers)—the only black legislator to do so. His reputation was later damaged when he engaged in embezzlement and fraud. Benjamin F. Adair was born a slave in 1852 in the Silver Creek Township of Phillips County. His mother, Charlotte, a Virginia-born slave, was owned by Benjamin F. Adair Sr., a white planter and the father of Adair. After the passage of Act 151 of 1859, a law demanding that …

Adler, Simon

Simon Adler, born in Bavaria in 1832 (according to his tombstone), was one of the first Jewish immigrants to settle in Batesville (Independence County). He established a successful business career, operating a general merchandise store, working as a real estate speculator and agent, and serving as a cotton broker, as well as founding his own bank. He was a popular and respected man, for census records show that he had at least a dozen namesakes during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Simon Adler, along with three of his brothers, moved to Batesville to join yet another brother, Israel Adler, who had formed a business partnership in a general store with French immigrants Aaron and Samuel Hirsch. Simon Adler’s …

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Arkansas Sections of)

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written by Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835–1910), best known by his pen name Mark Twain. It was published in 1884 in the United Kingdom and 1885 in the United States, and is set on and around the Mississippi River in the pre-industrial era before the Civil War. Twain was familiar with the river from his time as a riverboat pilot in the years immediately before the Civil War and his childhood near the river in Hannibal, Missouri. The book contains vivid and humorous descriptions of Arkansas and its people. According to Ernest Hemingway: “It’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” …

African American Legislators (Nineteenth Century)

In Arkansas, between 1868 and 1893, at least eighty-seven African American men were elected to and served in the Arkansas General Assembly. Reconstruction policies and amendments to the U.S. Constitution outlawed slavery, redefined citizenship to include freed slaves, and granted universal male suffrage regardless “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” In Arkansas, these changes led to the election of Black men to state and local offices. These legislators and other officeholders were primarily elected from areas with large Black populations––Arkansas’s plantation regions in the east and southwest as well as urban areas like Little Rock (Pulaski County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and Helena (Phillips County). Historians are still piecing together the lives of these men; nevertheless, research shows that …

Agricultural Wheel

The Agricultural Wheel was a state farmers’ union, founded in the Arkansas Delta, which expanded into ten other states, mostly in the South but reaching as far north as Wisconsin. Although the Agricultural Wheel was short-lived as an independent farmers’ union, it influenced the future formation of other such unions in Arkansas and led, in part, to the rise of the Populist movement in the state. After the Civil War, Arkansas (and Southern) farmers returned to growing primarily cotton, in part because bankers had insisted on farmers raising a cash crop as a condition for providing them with financing. Cotton acreage therefore increased, but prices fell due to overproduction, leading farmers to compensate by planting yet more cotton, which led …

Akles, David (Execution of)

On July 17, 1885, an African American man named David Akles (sometimes referred to as Ackles) was hanged in Helena (Phillips County) for allegedly murdering a Black farmer named Frank Burrell and his companion. Akles was originally from Mississippi, but public records there reveal no identifying information. Frank Burrell may have been the Frank Burrill, who was listed on the 1870 census as twelve years old and living in Helena with his parents Israel and Clara Burrill. According to the Arkansas Gazette, on the night of January 29, a Black couple named Frank Burrell and Scilla Flanagan, who were living as husband and wife, were bludgeoned to death with an axe and their house set on fire to conceal the …

Albert Pike Memorial Temple

The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is located at 700–724 Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). On November 13, 1986, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historical significance. The temple is named for Albert Pike, a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas, who played a major role in the establishment of Freemasonry in the state. The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is the headquarters of the local governing body of Freemasonry, the Arkansas Grand Lodge. It was built to replace the original Masonic Temple, located on 5thand Main streets, which was destroyed by fire in 1919. The building is owned by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and houses another local …

Alexander, John Hanks

John Hanks Alexander was the second African American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, following Henry O. Flipper. John Alexander was born on January 6, 1864, the son of James Milo Alexander and Fannie Miller Alexander, both of whom were born slaves. Supported and protected by prominent white families in Helena (Phillips County),  Alexander’s father prospered as a barber and dealer in toiletries, acquired property, and purchased his own freedom, as well as that of most of his family. Alexander’s parents were determined that their seven children would be educated. All seven graduated from high school, and three attended Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1879, Alexander graduated from high school in Helena at the head of …

Allen, Henry (Lynching of)

Henry Allen was lynched in Jacksonport (Jackson County) on September 10, 1881, three days after he stabbed a man in nearby Newport (Jackson County). The information on the lynching comes from a special telegram to the Arkansas Gazette published the day after the affair. Henry Allen had reportedly stabbed a man named Williams (his first initial is not legible on the main surviving copy of the Gazette, but his middle initial is E.) on September 7, leaving him in serious condition. Afterward, Allen was arrested and jailed at Jacksonport. According to the report, at approximately 2:00 on the morning of September 10, “a large number of masked men in arms” surrounded the jail at Jacksonport. The mob demanded that “Jailor …

Allsopp, Fred

Frederick William Allsopp was a newspaperman, book collector, and bookstore owner who was an important player in the history of the Arkansas Gazette. Though he never held the title of editor or publisher, he shaped the development of the Gazette—and of Arkansas newspapers at large—for the duration of his career. Fred W. Allsopp was born on June 25, 1867, in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. When he was twelve, his family moved to Prescott (Nevada County). Shortly thereafter, he entered the “newspaper business” by selling newspapers. In 1884, he worked for thirteen weeks setting type and working in the printing department of the Nevada County Picayune. He did not receive any pay, but he gained invaluable experience. With dreams of someday becoming …

Ames, Wyatt (Lynching of)

On October 15 or 16, 1883, an African-American man named Wyatt Ames was shot to death near Lexington (some reports say Livingston) in Phillips County for allegedly killing a young deputy constable named Sanders (sometimes referred to as Saunders or Sander) Blount. Presumably, these events took place near Lexington (later renamed Lexa), which is in Phillips County just south of the boundary with Lee County. Wyatt Ames does not appear in any Phillips County records, but in 1870 a ten-year-old named Sanders Blount was living with his father, Richard Blount, in Planters Township. Richard Blount had been in the county since at least 1860, when he was living in Planters Township and had real estate valued at $8,400 and a …

Anderson, Clint (Execution of)

Clint Anderson was an African American man hanged in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 30, 1878, for the rape of a white woman in Lonoke County, a crime he denied to the end. On June 15, 1877, Sarah McGinty (also reported as Mrs. McKinstry and Mrs. Maginty) claimed that Clint Anderson, a young man whom the Arkansas Gazette described as “a perfect giant, being six feet seven inches high,” had raped her twice in the woods near Richwood (Lonoke County). According to the Gazette account, Anderson dragged her into the forest “and repeatedly violated her person, his victim being seriously injured by his brutal assaults” before she escaped. When Anderson was arrested, the newspaper said that he had the …

Anderson, Frederick Tanqueray

Frederick Tanqueray Anderson was an early twentieth-century Arkansas watercolorist. Categorized as a romantic American Landscape artist, Anderson is known for his steamboat and landscape paintings. Anderson’s paintings were inspired by his boyhood memories of traveling down the Mississippi River with his grandfather on steamboats to New Orleans, Louisiana. According to a Memphis Commercial Appeal article dated May 20, 1945, many regarded Anderson as the leading river scenes painter in America. Frederick T. Anderson was born on July 1, 1846, on his grandfather’s Arkansas River plantation near New Gascony (Jefferson County). His parents were Richard Cuthbert Anderson, who was a physician, and Hortense Barraque Anderson. Anderson had one older sister, Julia. His grandfather, Antoine Barraque, was one of Arkansas’s more prominent …

Arcene, James

James Arcene, a Cherokee man, was sentenced to death for a crime he committed years before. While aspects of his short life are shrouded in legend, he was known to be sentenced to death after his conviction for a robbery and murder he had committed when he was approximately ten years old, making him, if this story is true, the youngest person on record to have committed a crime for which he later received the death penalty. Arcene’s fellow defendant was William Parchmeal. James Arcene is believed to have been born in 1862. Virtually nothing is known about his youth. The basic facts of the crime as established at the trial and afterward were comparatively straightforward, with it being determined …

Arkadelphia Executions of 1889

Three African American men—Dan Jones, Anderson Mitchell, and Willis Green—were hanged on March 15, 1889, in Arkadelphia (Clark County) for allegedly killing a Black preacher. Arthur (sometimes referred to as Otto) Horton owned a house near Curtis (Clark County), where he let an “old and feeble negro” named Wash Walker live as long as Walker’s wife cooked Horton’s meals. At some point, Dan Jones and Anderson Mitchell moved into the house and ate food without providing any, leading Horton to announce that he would only supply food for himself. Jones, Mitchell, and Green decided to take Horton and “thrash him until he returned to his former generous state.” Recruiting George Dandridge and Robert Bragg, two local Black men, to join …

Arkadelphia Lynching of 1879

aka: Lynching of Daniels Family
In late January 1879, Ben Daniels and two of his sons—who were accused of robbery, arson, and assault—were lynched in Arkadelphia (Clark County). There is some confusion as to the actual date of the lynching. A January 31 report in the Arkansas Gazette said only that it had happened several days previous. The Cincinnati Daily Star reported that it took place on Sunday night, which would have been January 26. The Cincinnati Enquirer, however, reported that the lynching occurred on Friday, January 24. At the time of the 1870 census (nine years before the incident), thirty-three-year-old Benjamin (Ben) Daniels was living in Manchester Township of Clark County with his wife, Betsy, and eight children. His older sons were Charles (thirteen …

Arkansas Christian College

Arkansas Christian College (ACC) was a short-lived junior college established in 1889 in Pinnacle Springs (Faulkner County). The college was founded with the intention of educating teachers to work in area schools. Despite its short existence, Arkansas Christian College was the first institution of higher education in Faulkner County. The leaders and citizens of Pinnacle Springs began planning for the establishment of a college during the height of the community’s growth. For many, one of the factors that made Pinnacle Springs a desirable place to operate a college was the prohibition of alcohol in the town. On September 2, 1889, William Moseley was named president of ACC. Moseley and his wife taught courses, while a J. M. C. Vaughter served …

Arkansas Confederate Home

The Arkansas Confederate Home was opened late in 1890 in a small remodeled residence on some sixty acres near Sweet Home (Pulaski County) through the efforts of the Ex-Confederate Association of Arkansas. This organization, composed of a group of philanthropic-minded Confederate veterans, founded the home to care for indigent Confederate veterans of the Civil War, along with their widows and orphans, in Arkansas. At its peak, it housed over 200. On May 21, 1890, the Sweet Home site, consisting of sixty acres and a frame building, was purchased by the association for $3,000. The legislature made its first appropriation of $10,000 for the upkeep of the home in 1891. At that time, the facility included the original frame structure and …