Entries - 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. …

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 …

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 …

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, 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 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 the vast estate …

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 …

Jones, James (Lynching of)

James Jones (some sources refer to him as W. A. Jones) was an African-American choir director lynched near the historic Hinemon University campus on August 22, 1895, in Monticello (Drew County) after being forcibly removed from the Drew County jail by a mob. Jones was accused of murdering Harry Beltshoover of Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) in 1894 but avoided capture by law enforcement for roughly a year while traveling through Arkansas and surrounding states. He was later allegedly involved with the injury of J. R. Bennett of Dermott (Chicot County) during an escape attempt from the Drew County jail on August 17, 1895. Jones was arrested in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on June 20, 1895, by Sheriff M. A. …

Jones, James Kimbrough

James Kimbrough Jones served as a U.S. senator from Arkansas for three full terms after first serving two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his twenty-two years in Washington DC, he became a prominent leader in the Democratic Party and a national advocate for lower tariffs and for the use of silver to back American currency. James Kimbrough Jones was born on September 29, 1839, in Marshall County, Mississippi, to Nat Jones and Caroline Jane Jones (whose maiden name was also Jones, although she was not related to Nat Jones). Jones had a younger brother who died in childhood, and his mother died when he was six. His father remarried after moving to Dallas County, Arkansas. Two daughters …

Jones, Wiley

aka: Walter Jones
Walter “Wiley” Jones was one of the first wealthy African Americans in the South. Jones, a leading businessman, was an ex-slave who became a barber and a saloon owner. Wiley Jones was born on July 14, 1848, in Madison County, Georgia. He was one of six children of George Jones, a white planter, and Ann, a slave. His mother named him Walter after her doctor, but he got the nickname “Wiley” for being untamed and playful. In 1853, five-year-old Jones moved with his family to Arkansas. They settled on the former acting governor Richard Byrd’s plantation in Jefferson County, twelve miles north of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the Arkansas River. Shortly before George Jones’s death in 1858, he claimed …

Jonesboro Lynching of 1881

aka: Greensboro Lynching of 1881
In March 1881, Martha (Mattie) Ishmael, the teenage daughter of planter Benjamin Russell Ishmael, was brutally murdered in the family’s home near Jonesboro (Craighead County). Four African Americans were accused of the murder and were bound over to the grand jury, but before they could be tried, they were lynched by a mob of masked men. Benjamin Ishmael was born in Tennessee, but by the middle of the 1830s, he and his parents had settled in Arkansas in Greensboro (Craighead County), eleven miles east of Jonesboro. Greensboro, then located in Greene County, was settled around 1835, and was mostly occupied by small farmers. It was not until the late nineteenth century that the lush forests of the area would give rise …

Jordan, Bob (Lynching of)

In August 1892, an African-American man named Bob Jordan was shot by members of a mob near Camden (Ouachita County) for allegedly insulting a white woman. According to the Arkansas Gazette, a Constable Wright had arrested Jordan and was en route to Camden with his prisoner on the night of August 8. Along the way, six miles from town, a group of masked men intercepted them. The men told the constable to leave and then shot Jordan. The incident was reported in a number of newspapers across the country, with the Postville, Iowa, Graphic reporting that Jordan had attempted to assault a woman. Historian Kenneth C. Barnes, in his book Journey of Hope, noted that the incident was indicative of …

Judson University

Judson University was a short-lived institution of higher education in Prospect Bluff—present-day Judsonia (White County). The institution stimulated the migration of Northern families to the area, thereby significantly increasing the population and refining the social atmosphere of this typical, mid-nineteenth-century river town. Judson University began as the dream of Professor Martin R. Forey of Chicago, Illinois. Forey was a professor at Chicago University and had established Chowan Female Institute in Murfreesboro, North Carolina. He believed it was his calling to establish Christian schools and, in 1869, traveled to Arkansas to found a Baptist college in the South. His first stop in Prairie County was met with hostility, but he received a lukewarm welcome in White County. Forey returned to Chicago …

Junction Bridge

The Junction Bridge is a lift-span bridge crossing the Arkansas River between downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). One of six bridges linking the two downtowns, the Junction Bridge was originally constructed as a railroad bridge in 1884; it was converted to serve as a pedestrian bridge in 2008. Its southern end rests upon the geological feature that gave the city of Little Rock its name. The Little Rock, Mississippi River and Texas Railroad and the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad created a partnership in the early 1880s, envisioning a route that would stretch from the Gulf Coast to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). A new bridge across the Arkansas River was a key …

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a celebration held during the month of June in Arkansas and throughout the nation to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The celebration originated in Texas in 1865 to mark the date when the news of the emancipation of the slaves reached the state. Since 2005, the third Saturday in June has been officially considered “Juneteenth Independence Day” in Arkansas. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the actual emancipation of the slaves came on different dates in different regions. In Galveston, Texas, for instance, it was on June 19, 1865, that a regiment of Union soldiers informed the residents that all former slaves were free. June 19 became a day of celebration …