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

Mason, Charles Harrison

An outstanding preacher and the founder of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the largest African-American Pentecostal denomination of the twentieth century, Charles Harrison “Bishop” Mason ordained both black and white clergy in the early 1900s, when few did so. Mason was baptized, licensed, ordained in Arkansas, and he preached his first sermon in Preston (Faulkner County). Charles Mason was born on September 8, 1866, on the Prior Farm near Bartlett, Tennessee. His parents, tenant farmers Jeremiah “Jerry” Mason and Eliza Mason, had been converted to Christianity while they were slaves and attended the Missionary Baptist Church. Mason had two brothers and one sister. When Mason was twelve, a yellow fever epidemic forced his family to move from Tennessee …

McCracken, Isaac

Isaac McCracken played a prominent role in the farmers’ and labor movements in Arkansas (and, to a lesser degree, nationally) during the late nineteenth century. McCracken was also active in Arkansas politics as an independent and third-party leader during that era. He served in the Arkansas General Assembly in the 1880s and ran for Congress at a time when elections in Arkansas were notoriously violent and fraudulent. Isaac McCracken was born in 1846 in Huntingdon, Quebec, Canada, but he spent most of his childhood in Lowell, Massachusetts, where his family settled when he was eight years old. In 1867, he married Delia Maral Allen in Wisconsin, and the couple moved to Arkansas three years later. They had nine children between 1872 …

McCulloch, Philip Doddridge, Jr.

Philip Doddridge McCulloch Jr. was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the First District of Arkansas from 1893 to 1903, beginning in the Fifty-Third Congress and extending through the Fifty-Seventh Congress. Philip McCulloch Jr. was born on June 23, 1851, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Philip D. McCulloch, who was a doctor, and Lucy Burrus McCulloch. When he was three years old, McCulloch’s family moved to Trenton, Tennessee. He received most of his early education in the area’s private schools before attending Andrew College in Trenton. He studied law and after being admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1872, he opened a practice in Trenton. In early 1874, McCulloch moved to Marianna (Lee County) and began …

McDiarmid, Clara Alma Cox

Clara Alma Cox McDiarmid was Arkansas’s foremost nineteenth-century women’s reformer. She supported suffrage, temperance, women’s education, and the women’s club movement. Active locally and nationally and concerned about women’s inequalities under the law, she also supported cultural activities in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and farther afield. Clara Cox was born on December 11, 1847, the second of six children in a prominent Noblesville, Indiana, family. Her father’s mother was renowned preacher Lydia Sexton of New Jersey, the first female chaplain for Kansas State Prison. Her mother was Catherine Rowan Allison of Ohio. Her father, John Thomas Cox of Ohio, was a surveyor who moved his family to Coffey County, Kansas, in 1857, where he laid out the town of Ottumwa, …

McGehee Lynching of 1894

On September 22, 1894, Luke Washington, Richard Washington, and Henry C. Robinson were lynched in McGehee (Desha County) for allegedly murdering local merchant H. C. Patton and robbing his store. One of the interesting aspects of this case is that the African-American population of McGehee (then known as McGehee Junction) reportedly took an active part in the three men’s lynching. On September 20, 1894, Patton locked his store, which was located on the edge of a cotton field some distance from the depot in McGehee, and proceeded along the walkway to his bedroom. There, Robinson and the two Washingtons allegedly killed him with a club. Although Patton was armed with a pistol, he was unable to use it in time. His attackers then …

McKennon, Arch

aka: Archibald Smith McKennon
Archibald Smith McKennon was a Confederate military officer, storekeeper, lawyer, temperance advocate, and political activist in Arkansas in the latter part of the nineteenth century. These activities led to an appointment to the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, commonly known as the Dawes Commission. This committee negotiated land allotments to individual Native Americans in order to lessen tribal claims. This subsequently opened the area to white settlement in—and facilitated statehood for—the Oklahoma Territory. Arch McKennon was born near Pulaski, Tennessee, on February 7, 1841. He was one of several children of Dr. Archibald McKennon and Sarah Smith McKennon, who had moved there from South Carolina. The family later immigrated to Arkansas and made their home in Carroll County in …

Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (M&LR)

The Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (M&LR) was the first railroad to operate in the state of Arkansas. The M&LR was a 133-mile-long railroad line that ran from Hopefield (Crittenden County), just opposite Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock (Pulaski County). A five-and-one-half-foot-gauge railroad, it was constructed between 1854 and 1871. At the beginning of the Civil War, only the eastern portion of the railroad between Hopefield and Madison (St. Francis County) was in operation. Construction on the eastern and western thirds of the railroad was complete in 1862, but the Civil War interrupted construction of the middle division of the railroad. During this period, the M&LR played a vital role for both Confederate and Union forces and was under Union …

Merrell, Henry

Henry Merrell of New York was both an industrialist and an evangelical who contributed to the development of Arkansas and Georgia. He has been credited with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Arkansas, and he also served the state as a Confederate major and as an effective Presbyterian elder. Henry Merrell was born in Utica, New York, on December 8, 1816, to Andrew Merrell, an influential printer, and Harriet Camp Merrell; he had two brothers and two sisters. Merrell began working at the Oneida textile factory in Whitesboro, New York, when he was fourteen. He participated in the religious movement of “The Second Great Awakening” and attended the abolitionist Oneida Institute in Whitesboro. Concerning his 1856 arrival in Arkansas, …

Millar, Alexander Copeland

Alexander Copeland Millar was a prominent Methodist minister, educator (elected one of the nation’s youngest college presidents), and publisher. Alexander Millar was born May 17, 1861, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, to William John Millar and Ellen Caven. His father engaged in the drug business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, until the great fire of April 10, 1845, destroyed at least one third of the city, including his drug business and his family’s home. Later, William Millar tried his hand at being an inventor. In 1867, he moved his family to Missouri, where he bought a farm near Brookfield in Linn County. In 1885, Alexander Millar graduated from the Methodist-affiliated Central College in Fayette, Missouri. Four years later, he earned an MA from Central …

Miller, Abraham Hugo

The Reverend Abraham Hugo Miller was an African-American businessman, a legislator during Reconstruction, and a church and educational leader in Helena (Phillips County). During Reconstruction, he served in the Arkansas General Assembly as a representative from Phillips County. At the peak of his business operations, he was considered the wealthiest black man in Arkansas. Abraham Miller was born a slave in Colt (St. Francis County) on March 12, 1849. He was the son of Boyer Miller, who was born in Virginia in 1827; the name of his mother is unknown, though his stepmother was Henrietta Miller. During the Civil War, Miller moved with his mother to Helena. Like his father, he became a drayman, which involved hauling cotton, flour, meat, …

Miller, Nick

The artistry of stone carver Nick Miller is found in cemeteries throughout northwest Arkansas. The tombstones he made—crisp and legible well over a century later—employ the mourning symbols of his time: clasping hands, weeping willows, lambs, doves. Yet Miller’s bas-relief motifs and deeply incised lettering exhibit a level of skill and detail not generally found among contemporary carvers. All that is known about Nick Miller’s origins is that he was born in Germany. He never married, had no relatives in America, and is listed on the 1880 census as an “old batch” at age thirty-six. In addition to his distinctive carvings, Miller’s tablet-style tombstones are recognizable by his “Nick Miller,” “N. Miller,” or “N. M.” signature at the base. He …

Miller, William Read

William Read Miller, the twelfth governor and a longtime state auditor, was the first governor born in Arkansas. The second Redeemer governor after Democrats overthrew the Republicans, Miller acted to preserve civil rights for African Americans and to advance the cause of public education. William Miller was born on November 23, 1823, in Batesville (Independence County) to John and Clara Moore Miller. His father had built a log house north of Batesville that seems to have remained until the 1950s. The family settled on Miller’s Creek, and John Miller served as a Democratic elector in 1836 and 1840 and as registrar at the land office in Batesville from 1846 to 1848. During the election of 1836, the young William Miller …

Minstrel Shows

Popular during the nineteenth century, the minstrel show was one of the earliest forms of theatrical entertainment in the United States. The elements of the genre were developed during the 1820s and 1830s, and the first show fully dedicated to minstrelsy was staged in 1843 by the Virginia Minstrels. Early performances were given by white performers who used burnt cork to blacken their faces in order to represent different black characters. The white performers also drew heavily on the music produced by African Americans, and in particular plantation slaves in the South. The banjo, an instrument with origins in West Africa, and the “bones”—pairs of bones or wood that were struck against one another—quickly became part of the standard minstrel …

Mitchell, Charles (Lynching of)

On November 2, 1884, Charles Mitchell was murdered near Richmond (Little River County) for the alleged murder of a prominent farmer’s wife, Kate Waddell. The incident made news not only in Arkansas, but also in Texas, the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and Michigan. At the time of the 1880 census, forty-year-old Charley Mitchell—an African-American or biracial man—was living in Johnson Township of Little River County with his wife, Isabella, and their two sons, William (thirteen) and Mitchel (eleven). The census lists no occupation for Mitchell, but his two sons were working as servants. According to an October 31 article in the Arkansas Gazette, Mrs. Waddell, “an estimable woman,” was murdered on October 29 “by a notorious negro by the name …

Mitchell, James

James Mitchell was president and editor-in-chief of the Arkansas Democrat from the time he purchased the paper with W. D. Blocher in 1878 until shortly before his death in 1902. As editor, Mitchell made the paper a powerful statewide force backing Democratic policies and candidates. At the same time, he argued forcefully, both in the paper and through frequent public speeches, for economic diversification in the state, for educational improvement, for equal pay and improved opportunities for women, and for other progressive measures. James Mitchell was born on May 8, 1832, at Cane Hill (Washington County) to James Mitchell, a farmer, and Mary Ann Webber. He was the third of ten children whose parents had moved their family from Indiana …

Mitchell, Sarah Elizabeth Latta

Sarah Elizabeth Latta Mitchell was an early and dedicated member of the Children’s Aid Society in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the oldest charitable institution in the city. Mitchell earned community recognition as president of the society, serving in that capacity from 1886 until her death in 1920. In 1947, the institution she had served for over thirty years was renamed the Elizabeth Mitchell Memorial Home in her honor. Elizabeth Latta, Lizzie to friends and family, was born on January 6, 1839, at Vineyard near Evansville (Washington County), to John and Jane Starr Latta. She was the youngest of their thirteen children. Latta’s family had moved to northwest Arkansas in 1833 from York District, South Carolina, to escape the “idleness, drinking, …

Monroe County Lynching of 1893

In January 1893, five men were lynched in Monroe County near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) for allegedly murdering Reuben Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child, and then torching Atkinson’s house to cover up the crimes. Census and other public records yield no information on either Atkinson or his alleged murderers. According to the Arkansas Gazette, on January 7 a “prosperous farmer” named Rube Atkinson went to sell his cotton. He returned to his farm on January 8, and the following morning neighbors awoke to find that Atkinson’s house had burned down. When they went to inspect, they found three bodies in the ruins, which were later identified as those of Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child. Authorities arrested several African …

Moore, Elias Bryan

Elias Bryan Moore was a Civil War veteran and a local and state Democratic Party leader. He was also a newspaperman for much of his life. In 1884, he was elected to the office of Arkansas’s secretary of state, his only statewide elected office. He served two terms in that position. Elias Moore was born on January 23, 1842, in Sparta, Tennessee, one of nine children of William Ward Moore and Isabella Bryan Moore. In 1858, the family relocated to Fayetteville (Washington County), where his father, a tailor, operated a store and a sawmill. As a youth, he attended the schools of Sparta and area private schools. While in Fayetteville in 1859, Moore apprenticed as a compositor (or typesetter) for …

Morehart, Henry

Henry Morehart was a leader of the third-party agrarian political rebellion in Pulaski County during the late 1880s and early 1890s and served as an agrarian legislator in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1889. His political career illustrates the fierce opposition that the agrarian insurgency engendered among Arkansas’s Democratic Party chieftains and conservative elites, who were willing to use fraudulent means when necessary to maintain their primacy. Henry Morehart was born near Greencastle, Ohio, to Henry Morehart and Mary Plotner on October 30, 1841. He was the second of twelve children. After spending his youth on his parents’ farm, he left home to fight for the Union during the Civil War. He enlisted in Company C, 114th Ohio Volunteers, …

Morgan, Tom Perkins

Tom Perkins Morgan’s gravestone in the Rogers Cemetery says simply, “Writer, Humorist, Philosopher.” To many in Rogers (Benton County), he was best known as a successful local businessman who operated a newsstand and bookstore downtown. But Morgan was a nationally known writer whose work appeared in major publications such as Life and the Saturday Evening Post. Tom P. Morgan was born on December 1, 1864, in East Lyme, Connecticut, to Joseph P. Morgan and Mary A. Perkins Morgan. He moved with his parents and his only sibling, Harry, to Garnett, Kansas, when he was ten. He grew up there, spending much of his spare time in the local newspaper office. In his youth, Morgan was something of an adventurer. He …

Morgan, Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott Morgan (better known as W. Scott Morgan) lived in Arkansas for most of his life. As a writer, editor, lecturer, and political activist, he played an important role in farmers’ organizations and third-party politics at the state and national levels. Even after those organizations and parties disintegrated, Morgan maintained true to his reformist ideals, as evidenced by his published writings well into the twentieth century. Born on August 25, 1851, in Columbus, Ohio, W. Scott Morgan moved with his family to Chillicothe, Missouri, when he was fourteen. Four years later, he married Retta Gilliland, with whom he would have five children. Morgan initially supported his family by teaching school for an annual salary of $200. He also began …

Morrilton Male and Female College

In the spring of 1889, the residents of Morrilton (Conway County) put together a fund of $15,000 to build a college in the area. While a site was being selected, there arose the possibility of Hendrix College in Altus (Franklin County) moving to Morrilton, and the original plan to found a new college was abandoned. However, Morrilton failed to acquire Hendrix. Therefore, a stock company with a capital of $25,000 was organized with the intent to carry out the initial plan of building a college. A committee selected a site in the eastern part of Morrilton for the venture. A two-and-a-half-story stone building with arcaded windows and a ninety-one-foot tower was completed in March 1890. Morrilton Male and Female College …

Mosely, Julius (Lynching of)

On July 13, 1892, Julius Mosely, an African-American man accused of raping his stepdaughter, was lynched near Halley (Desha County) by a mob of fellow black residents. While the majority of lynchings in the South were perpetrated by white mobs against blacks, in a very small number of cases, lynchings were carried out either by mixed-race mobs or by mobs of African Americans. William Fitzhugh Brundage speculates that perhaps African Americans doubted that the all-white legal system would deal properly with crimes occurring within the black community. In addition, such lynchings often took place in cases of family-oriented crimes like incest. Interestingly, Brundage finds that such black-on-black violence was most prevalent in the Mississippi Delta regions in Mississippi, Arkansas, and …

Mount Pleasant Academy

The Mount Pleasant Academy was established in 1878 at Barren Fork (now Mount Pleasant) in Izard County. The two-story frame structure was situated on a hilltop overlooking the little community of about 100 people. Built with donated funds, materials, and labor, it operated under a board of directors. The area was settled during the 1850s, mostly by pioneer farmers from Tennessee and Kentucky with Scots-Irish ancestry. They established a church before building the village of Barren Fork, which was named for a creek that flows nearby and joins Poke (or Polk) Bayou in Independence County. The academy was named for the hill where it was located. It always had close ties to the two local Cumberland Presbyterian churches because most …

Mount Pleasant Methodist Church

Mount Pleasant Methodist Church is located on Highway 248 east of Waldron (Scott County). The church’s architectural style is not common in the area, making it a unique nineteenth-century church for Scott County. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 5, 1986. Methodist congregations were well established in Scott County as early as the 1820s. After the Civil War, Joseph L. Self brought his family to the Ouachitas from rural Georgia. They farmed and soon opened several small businesses on their property. By the 1890s, these consisted of a cotton gin, a saw and grist mill, three general stores, and a blacksmith shop. As the small-scale enterprises attracted other families to the area, it became …

Mountain Home Cemetery, Historic Section

The Mountain Home Cemetery, Historic Section, is located five blocks south of the Baxter County Courthouse at the intersection of Baker Street and 11th Street in Mountain Home (Baxter County). The cemetery, which is located on a hill and has a U-shaped driveway that goes through it, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 13, 2020. The Mountain Home Cemetery is a collection of parcels that have been donated and purchased over the years from individual landowners. The first acre was donated to the city by Milus S. and Catherine Casey Paul to be used as a cemetery when the city was laid out in 1874. Ten years later, when incorporation papers were filed, the map …

Murray, James (Murder of)

On December 6, 1897, the dead body of Constable James Murray was found by the roadside near Bonanza (Sebastian County). His hands were tied, and he had an injury to his head and bruises around his neck. Lying nearby was the unconscious body of Grant McBroom, whom he had earlier arrested. Both Murray and McBroom were white. The case attracted national attention, with newspapers such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Herald speculating wildly and describing the murder as a “lynching” to showcase the apparent lawlessness of western Arkansas during this post-Reconstruction era. Bonanza and nearby Jenny Lind (Sebastian County) are located south of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and were centers for coal mining in the region. Bonanza enjoyed …