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

J. V. Bell House

The J. V. Bell House stands at 303 West Cherry Street in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Built in 1895, the Bell House stands as an example of the typical Victorian-era residence, with its high, multiple roof suggesting a Queen Anne influence, and its cut-out stars and moons and sunburst ornamentation incorporating a distinct Oriental flavor. The Bell House was entered on the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1976. John Vernon Bell moved to Jonesboro in the late 1800s and owned and operated one of the city’s first bookstores. Later, he became secretary of Jonesboro Savings and Loan. In 1919, Thomas Hardy purchased the house from Bell. Hardy added two rooms to the upstairs, thus boxing in the back …

Jackson County Courthouse

The Jackson County Courthouse, built in 1892, is located on 208 Main Street in downtown Newport (Jackson County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the three-story building as architecturally and historically significant as a fine example of a preserved Victorian-era building in the county and as one of the oldest courthouses in the state. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 1976. When construction of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad came through in 1873, the previously impoverished river town of Newport found itself in an economic boom, with a new flow of people and commerce arriving from across the country. The railroad also replaced the river as the way to move goods and people. …

Jackson, Henry (Lynching of)

On October 4, 1877, an African-American man named Henry Jackson was shot by a masked mob near Watson (Desha County) for allegedly murdering a justice of the peace referred to only as Mr. O’Neil. However, the circumstances of the event speak to the broader efforts in post-Reconstruction Arkansas to remove black elected officials from office. While it is impossible to identify O’Neil, there were two African Americans named Henry Jackson living in Desha County in 1870. The first was a twenty-nine-year-old farmer living in Red Fork Township who had personal property worth $500 and real estate valued at $250. The second was a twenty-seven-year-old farmer who was living in Jefferson Township and had personal property worth $125 and real estate …

James A. Dibrell House

The James A. Dibrell House at 1400 Spring Street at Daisy Bates Drive in Little Rock (Pulaski County) was constructed in 1892. It is part of the twenty-four-block Governor’s Mansion Historic District, a residential neighborhood built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries located in the Quapaw Quarter (an area loosely encompassing the boundaries of historic Little Rock). The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 13, 1978. The home was constructed by real estate agent H. A. Bowman as a speculation for Dr. James A. Dibrell, who became an early president and dean of the Medical Department of the University of Arkansas (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). Upon graduating from …

James, Henry (Lynching of)

On May 14, 1892, Henry James was lynched in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for an alleged assault on five-year-old Maggie Doxey. According to the Arkansas Gazette, it was the first time in twenty years that “Little Rock [had] witnessed a mob or an attempt at enforcing mob law in this city.” James, described in some newspapers as a twenty-two-year-old “mulatto,” was originally from Augusta, Maine, but had moved south three years earlier. He worked for a time as a waiter in Hot Springs (Garland County), but for the two weeks prior to his murder, he had been working for the family of Charles Johnson in Little Rock. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the family found him to be “a faithful …

Jefferies, Oscar (Lynching of)

In 1887, a black teacher named Oscar Jefferies from Brownstown (Sevier County) was shot to death by a group of men because he eloped with Ina W. Jones, the daughter of a wealthy white farmer. According to newspaper accounts, Oscar Jefferies, “a fine looking colored man,” arrived in Brownstown from Oswego, New York, in June 1887 to take over the “colored academy.” After his arrival, he paid considerable attention to Ina Jones, who was described as the daughter of “one of the largest plantation owners in the counties.” She welcomed his attentions, and despite her parents’ threats, in late September, she told her friends that she was going to marry Jefferies the following Sunday, October 2. When her parents heard …

Jefferson County Lynching of August 1897

Even when they appear in newspapers across the United States, some accounts of lynchings are so brief that it is difficult to uncover details or even confirm the events. Such is the case of an African American man whose body was supposedly found hanging from a trot line in the Arkansas River near Rob Roy (Jefferson County) in 1897. While the Arkansas Gazette, in an article datelined September 1, reported that the body was discovered on August 31, other sources give the date as September 1 or September 2. Due to the fact that there was a rope around the man’s neck and he had several gashes in his head, reports speculated that he had been lynched and then thrown …

Jefferson County Lynching of December 1897

In late December 1897, an unidentified African American man was found dead and reportedly lynched in a field between Altheimer (Jefferson County) and Sherrill (Jefferson County). Although some sources indicate that the supposed lynching happened in early January, the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic reported on December 30 that he had been killed on Wednesday, December 29. According to their account, the man had formerly been tried for hog stealing, “but each time, by some means, he was acquitted.” Speculation was that the man was found with another stolen hog and “parties…exasperated at the repeated defeats of justice…shot him.” On January 3, 1898, the Moline Dispatch, which erroneously noted that Sherrill was in Cleveland County, published more details on the killing. …

Jenkins, S. A. (Lynching of)

In the White County town of West Point in May 1900, whitecappers (also called nightriders) murdered a black schoolteacher named S. A. Jenkins. While this event was described in state newspaper accounts most often as an example of whitecapping, Jenkins’s murder is also typically included in tabulations of lynching victims in America. According to news reports, two different businesses had been robbed in West Point on the night of Saturday, May 19, 1900. Apparently, Jenkins was suspected, as was another man named only Durham in reports. The name S. A. Jenkins does not match any local census data for the year 1900, and so determining his exact identity is difficult. On the night of May 20, 1900, as the Arkansas …

Jennings, Roscoe Greene

Roscoe Greene Jennings was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Roscoe Jennings was born in Leeds, Maine, on June 11, 1833, the fourth son and fifth child of Perez Smith Jennings and Johanna (Lane) Jennings. His great grandfather, Samuel Jennings of Salem, Massachusetts, had held an important office under King George III of Great Britain but, after the Revolutionary War, had lost his property and moved to Maine to farm. Young Roscoe grew up working on a farm there in the summer and attended school during the winter. He later traveled and taught school to support himself and his continuing education. Jennings apprenticed in medicine …

Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow laws were statutes passed in most of the Southern states between the 1880s and 1960s that separated the races and created a segregated society. Exactly why these laws were implemented at this time is unclear, although scholars believe that they may have been a response to the breakdown of traditional barriers between black and white people in the post-Reconstruction era. This breakdown was made possible by expansion of the South’s railroads, development of urban areas and industrial workplaces, and the progress African Americans made economically during this period. Whatever the reason for the timing of their passage, these laws reflected prevalent anti-black racism and the views of contemporary whites, who asserted that African Americans represented an inferior and …

Jobe, John R.

John Russell Jobe worked as a newspaperman and then for state government, serving as Arkansas state auditor from 1909 to 1913. John Russell (John R. or J. R.) Jobe was born on August 24, 1855, in Ringgold, Georgia, to David Jobe and Sarah J. Harden (or Hardin) Jobe. He had seven sisters, as well as a brother, Benjamin F. (B. F.) Jobe, who also later worked in media and government. The family moved to Arkansas in early 1858 and settled near Searcy (White County), though Jobe had at least one cousin living in Marion County. The family seems to have had strong ties to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church: two of Jobe’s sisters married Cumberland Presbyterian ministers, and his brother married …

Johnson (Lynching of)

On August 19, 1876, a white man named Johnson was lynched in Clarendon (Monroe County) for allegedly having murdered two people. According to an account from the Arkansas Gazette, Johnson had been arrested “for the murder of Parks and Young a short time ago” and placed into the jail at Clarendon. On the night of Saturday, August 19, 1876, “a band of masked men” took Johnson from the jail at Clarendon. Apparently at the urging of this mob, Johnson “confessed to the killing, and exonerated from all participation his accomplice, Mobley.” He went on to confessing “to having killed in Georgia a negro family, consisting of man, wife and three children, and then to having set fire to the house …

Johnston, Lewis, Jr.

Lewis Johnston Jr. was the first African American ordained as a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the founder (with his wife) of the Richard Allen Institute in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), a school black students. He was also a teacher, writer, and newspaper publisher. He worked with Professor Joseph Carter Corbin and the Reverend Elias Camp Morris during a time of major transformation in the development of education for African Americans. Four of his sons were killed during the Elaine Massacre in 1919. Lewis Johnston Jr. was born free on December 12, 1847, in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, to Lewis Johnston (1805–1881) and Jane Bronson Johnston (1810–1897). His father had been born a slave in Derry, Pennsylvania, and later became …

Jones, Charles (Execution of)

In an event that was described by several newspapers as a lynching, an African-American man named Charles Jones was hanged in Spadra (Johnson County) on October 31, 1881, for allegedly attacking a Mrs. F. J. Jones. Mrs. Jones, a white woman, was not related to Charles Jones, and there is no information in public records for either F. J. Jones or Charles Jones. According to reports, Charles Jones attempted to attack Mrs. Jones on Tuesday, October 25. Her screams attracted the neighbors, who came running, but Charles Jones managed to escape. A search was organized, but Jones was not captured until Sunday, October 30, when the authorities found him in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and arrested him. They took him …

Jones, Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster Jones was the last Civil War veteran to serve as governor of Arkansas. He was a member of the old, aristocratic, land-owning class in the South. Most of the Arkansas governors of his genteel social rank had stood loyally by the interests of the wealthier landowners and businessmen, but Jones, as governor, tended to give more attention to the interests of the poorer farming class. Those who wanted still more radical reform in the interests of the lower classes had formed the Populist Party in the early 1890s. This new party threatened the dominance of the one-party system, and thus white supremacy. To stave off the movement of voters away from the Democratic Party, Jones cautiously moved toward …

Jones, Green Hill

Green Hill Jones was an African-American politician and Free Will Baptist minister in Chicot County. Born into slavery, Jones served in the Union army during the Civil War and received an education in the North following his discharge. Upon returning to Chicot County, he became county treasurer and county assessor and served two terms in the Arkansas General Assembly. Throughout his adult life, he was known as G. H. Jones, Greenhill Jones, Green Hill Jones, or Hill Jones. However, in an interview with the U.S. Pension Office, he stated that his true name when he attained his freedom was Green Hill Jones Haywood. Born a slave in Maury County, Tennessee, on December 18, 1842, Green Hill Jones was part of …

Jones, Henry (Lynching of)

On June 23, 1891, an African-American man named Henry Jones, accused of murdering his wife, was hanged by a mob near Hamburg (Ashley County). The victim may have been a thirty-seven-year-old African American named Henry Jones, who in 1880 was twenty-six and living in Ashley County’s De Bastrop Township with his wife, Eliza, age eighteen, and children Jane (age five) and William (age one). Although newspaper accounts indicate that Jones’s wife’s name was Lucy, this may be an error in reporting. On June 18, the Arkansas Democrat published a report on Jones’s alleged crime. According to the Democrat, Jones told authorities that after cooking breakfast on the morning of June 11, his wife went out to get one of their …