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

LaCrosse Collegiate Institute

The LaCrosse Collegiate Institute was established in 1868 by Michael Shelby Kennard, under the name LaCrosse Male and Female Academy, in the community of LaCrosse (Izard County), which then boasted of five businesses, three churches, a Masonic hall, two physicians, and one druggist. A year later, Kennard changed the name of the school to the LaCrosse Collegiate Institute, which better described the curriculum offered to students. His son, writing in 1917, said that an average of 100 or more boarding students attended the institute yearly. According to an article in the Sharp County Record newspaper, the institute educated more than 3,000 young men and women, both local and boarding students, during its existence. A native of Sumter County, Alabama, and …

Langley, Isom P.

During the 1880s and early 1890s, Isom P. Langley was a leading figure in the farmer and labor movements in Arkansas. Active in organizations such as the Agricultural Wheel, which was founded in Des Arc (Prairie County) in 1882, and the Knights of Labor, he ran for the U.S. Congress twice. In 1891, he left Arkansas for Missouri, where he spent the second half of his life and served in the state legislature. Born in Clark County, Arkansas, on September 2, 1851, to Samuel S. Langley and Mary J. Browning Langley, Isom Langley grew up on a farm and was educated in county schools. In 1868, he earned a license to preach, and the following year he became an ordained …

Larkin, Hill (Lynching of)

On February 14, 1890, an African-American man named Hill Larkin (sometimes referred to as Hill Larker) was hanged in Camden (Ouachita County) for allegedly murdering a deputy sheriff named Ross and wounding or killing a deputy sheriff named Snead from Calhoun County. In 1880, forty-two-year-old Hill Larkin, a native of Mississippi, was living in Carroll Township, Ouachita County, with his wife, Parille. He was a farmer and could neither read nor write. Ross, sometimes identified as Tom Ross, was probably John Thomas Ross. In 1870, he was eleven years old and living with his parents, John J. and M. E. Ross, in Lafayette Township. John Thomas Ross died in Ouachita County on February 4, 1890, and is buried in Oakland …

Lawrence, William M.

William M. Lawrence was a prominent physician in Batesville (Independence County) from 1848 until his death. He was appointed the surgeon general of the state of Arkansas in 1881. William Lawrence was born on November 22, 1826, in Kentucky, the son of James McKinney Lawrence and his first wife, Lucy D. Martin Lawrence, who was from Missouri. He had two brothers (one of them a son to his father’s second wife, Margaret Ann Vaunter Lawrence) and three sisters. Lawrence moved with his family to Fulton, Missouri, when he was a young child. About 1843, he began “reading medicine” under Dr. Robert Blakely in Fulton. He attended medical school at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, studying under Dr. Joseph McDowell. Following …

Lebow (Lynching of)

A group of men lynched a white man named Lebow (also spelled as Lebo), described as a “villain, murderer and horse-thief,” in Polk County in August 1877, apparently ending a series of crimes by which he had terrorized the area. The Fort Smith Independent reported on August 8, 1877, that “an old man named Lebow was hung by a party of men last week in Polk County, for foully murdering two men who were travelling in the direction of Hot Springs. Lebow has been a terror to the citizens of Polk County for many years.” He apparently operated from his home on one of the major roads through the county to kill and steal. “Many travelers have lost their horses, …

Lewis, Henry Jackson

Henry Jackson Lewis, who was born into slavery, has been called the first black political cartoonist. His drawings appeared in publications across the nation. H. J. Lewis was born in Water Valley, Mississippi, in 1837 or 1838. As a child, he fell into a fire, maiming his left hand and blinding his left eye. Nothing further is known about his youth, but by 1872, he was living in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where he worked as a laborer in the mid- to late 1870s. By 1879, he was selling drawings of city and Arkansas River scenes to the national publication Harper’s Weekly, and he later sold similar drawings to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. On October 25, 1882, a Pine Bluff …

Lightfoot, G. P. F. (Lynching of)

In December 1892, African-American Baptist minister G. P. F. Lightfoot, referred to in most accounts as “Preacher Lightfoot,” was murdered by a group of African Americans in Jackson County in retaliation for taking their money and promising them nonexistent passage to Liberia. Interest in immigrating to Africa started early in the United States. The Back-to-Africa movement dates back to 1816, when the American Colonization Society (ACS) was established to help free blacks resettle in Africa. The Republic of Liberia was established in 1847 and was recognized by the U.S. government in 1864. Following the Civil War, many newly freed Arkansas slaves became interested in the movement, especially those in majority-black counties in the Arkansas Delta. The Liberian Exodus Arkansas Colony …

Little River County Race War of 1899

The Little River County Race War occurred in March 1899 in southwestern Arkansas and entailed the murder of at least seven African Americans throughout Little River County. The reported impetus for this race war was the murder of a white planter by a black man, but white fear of “insurrection” on the part of black residents quickly manifested itself into a campaign of violence and terror against African Americans. During the last half of the nineteenth century, lynchings were widespread in Arkansas, especially in the southern part of the state. A number of factors contributed to this racial animus. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the black population of Arkansas increased greatly, mostly due to recruiters who canvassed the …

Little Rock University

Little Rock University, founded in 1882, was the second college founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and the first of four colleges with “Little Rock” in the name. It was a four-year, liberal arts, coeducational school for white students. According to an Arkansas Gazette article, “The Little Rock University was built by the Freedman’s [sic] Aid Society, by the Arkansas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, north, and the citizens of Little Rock who contributed $10,000 towards it.” The school closed in 1894. The Freedmen’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, was formed in 1866. Its original purpose was “the relief and education of the Freedmen and people of color in general,” but the mission was …

Livingston, Abe (Lynching of)

Although apparently only one Arkansas newspaper covered it, in late August 1884 an African-American man named Abe Livingston was hanged in Desha County for allegedly robbing and threatening a white man named William Kite. A search of public records revealed no information on either Kite or Livingston. According to an August 26 article in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Daily Independent, which was reprinted a week later in the Batesville Guard, Livingston was a “dangerous negro” who, sometime earlier in 1884, had robbed Kite. He was arrested at the time and put in jail in Arkansas City (Desha County). At some point in July, he escaped from jail. While he was free, he allegedly made several attempts to kill Kite and also …

Long, Isaac Jasper

Isaac Jasper Long was a Presbyterian minister from South Carolina who helped found Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville (Independence County) and served as its first president. Isaac Long was on born February 23, 1834, in Anderson District, South Carolina, the son of Isaac and Lettie Hamilton Long. Orphaned at fourteen, he supported himself as a laborer and tutor. He obtained his education at Reverend James Leland Kennedy’s Thalian Academy in South Carolina. Under the sponsorship of Reverend David Humphreys, he was able to attend Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where he graduated in 1858. He remained at Danville to pursue his theological studies at Danville Seminary and also attended Columbia Seminary in South Carolina. On August 30, 1859, …

Lonoke County Race War of 1897–1898

The situation in Lonoke County was dire for African Americans during the latter half of 1897 and early 1898. In June 1897, a black normal (teacher-training) school was ransacked and one of the teachers severely whipped. In September, that same teacher was found dead. In December, Oscar Simonton, an African-American merchant, was attacked and his store ransacked. In February the following year, notices were placed on the doors of black residents warning them to leave the county on pain of death. This was closely followed by the burning of black homes and schoolhouses. Trouble had flared up several times in the county dating all the way back to Reconstruction. Many of the reports on the 1898 events refer to a …

Lost Louisiana Mine

The Lost Louisiana Mine is an American legend about buried Spanish treasure that has been sought since the Victorian era, primarily in Arkansas’s Ouachita and Ozark mountains regions. The legend’s core narrative is that a Spanish expedition concealed a rich gold mine in the wilderness of Spain’s Luisiana colony (hence the name), and in returning to New Orleans, all but one of the party was killed by Indians. In the early twentieth century, variants of the legend attributed the treasure to either Freemasons or Sephardic Jews exiled from Spain who brought a fortune in gold and jewels with them, or a Catholic or Aztec trove brought from Spanish Mexico. Such Spanish treasure legends were once part of a deeply anti-Spanish …

Lucas, John Gray

John Gray Lucas’s life was representative of the broad changes that occurred in the patterns of race relations in Arkansas and the South during the latter half of the nineteenth century. From the end of the Civil War until the early 1890s, African Americans could obtain an education and then enter politics as independent, forthright champions of their race’s interests. After that point, as historian J. Morgan Kousser observed, “most blacks would have to emigrate to the North, choose other professions, or settle for the role of white-appointed race leader, with all constraints that role imposed on their statements and actions.” Lucas served in the Arkansas General Assembly and advocated for the rights of African Americans during his tenure in …

Lucey, John Michael

John Michael Lucey was an Irish Catholic former Confederate soldier who became a priest after the Civil War and took an interest in civil rights for African Americans. Speaking out against lynching and separate-coach laws and establishing the Colored Industrial Institute in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Lucey was a progressive voice for African Americans in Arkansas. Lucey also promoted Arkansas as a home for Catholic immigrants, which made him a target of anti-Catholic sentiment. John Michael Lucey was born on September 29, 1843, in Troy, New York, to John and Brigid Lucey, both Irish immigrants. The Luceys also had two daughters and had lost another son in infancy. While living in Troy, the Luceys heard from a priest about an …