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

Reeves-Melson House

The Reeves-Melson House is a dogtrot-style wooden home located in eastern Montgomery County. With two pens constructed in 1882 and 1888, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 5, 1986. The first pen was built by William Reeves in 1882. After service as a sergeant in the First Arkansas Infantry (Union) during the Civil War, Reeves appears as a sheriff in Montgomery County in the 1870 census. He subsequently was listed as both a farmer and merchant in other censuses. Information in the National Register nomination for the property states that Reeves homesteaded eighty acres at that time. Reeves lived and farmed the land until the winter of 1887–88, when Larkin Melson purchased the …

Reynolds, Dan (Lynching of)

In late December 1888, Dan Reynolds, an African American, was beaten and left for dead near Coffee Creek (Phillips County) by nine other African-American men who apparently disapproved of his relationship with a local black woman. The Arkansas Gazette referred to this incident as “one of the most atrocious crimes ever committed in this or any other country.” Coffee Creek is located in Big Creek Township, and Dan Reynolds had been living there for almost twenty years. He is listed in the 1870 census as a farm laborer, living with his wife, Vester (or Vesta) who was thirty-nine. By 1880, they had a ten-year-old daughter named Eliza. According to a report published in the Arkansas Gazette on January 15, 1889, …

Richard Allen Institute

The Richard Allen Institute in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) was founded in 1886 by the Reverend Lewis Johnston and his wife, Mercy. By 1887, they were being assisted by Anna E. Grenage. Rev. Johnston remained in charge of the school until his death in 1903. It was named in honor of Richard Allen, secretary of the Board of Missions for Freedmen of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA). The institute was one of the earliest Presbyterian schools for African Americans founded in Arkansas. While the Board of Missions for Freedmen began opening schools for freed slaves in the South as early as the 1860s, work in Arkansas did not begin in earnest until the 1880s, when a new presbytery …

Ricks, G. W. and Moses (Lynching of)

In June 1898, prosperous African-American farmer G. W. Ricks and his son, Rev. Moses Ricks, were lynched in southern Monroe County for the alleged assault of a white farmer’s wife. According to historian Terence Finegan, whose A Deed so Accursed is a study of lynching in South Carolina and Mississippi, prosperous African Americans were occasionally lynched because their success threatened the notion of white superiority. Census information both illuminates and confuses the story. In 1870, there was a black farmer named Jim Ricks living in Monroe County’s Duncan Township. He was twenty-seven years old, and living with him were his wife, Miriam, and several other family members, all of them too old to be the Rickses’ children. Ricks was a …

Rideout, Conrad Alfred

Conrad Alfred Rideout was an African-American man whose travels and controversial activities stretched from Florida and Arkansas to Seattle, Washington, to Africa and then back to the United States. His identity seemed to balance perilously on the border between activist and con man. With Rideout having left behind a trail of unverifiable claims and a legacy of unfulfilled hopes, the effort to chronicle his life becomes a lesson in separating fact from fiction. Little is known about Rideout’s early years. According to one source, he was born in Ohio, and he apparently stayed in the Midwest through college, as he is alternately reported to be a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor or the non-existent University of …

Riley, Sallie Irene Robinson-Stanfield

The earliest recorded Arkansas woman to use a hyphenated name after her marriage, Sallie Irene Robinson-Stanfield Riley, owned and edited the Cleveland County Herald in Rison (Cleveland County) during the 1890s and again early in the twentieth century. She exemplified the progressive spirit among Arkansas women. Sallie Irene Robinson was born in Tennessee on January 5, 1873, to William B. Robinson and Laura Pettey Robinson. One of her mother’s sisters, Adah Lee Pettey, married newspaperman Leon Roussan of the Osceola Times. Robinson lived with her aunt and received her early training in that office. In 1892 or 1893, she moved to Rison, where she set type for George H. Tisdale at the Cleveland County Herald and shortly thereafter purchased the …

Rock Island Bridge (Little Rock–North Little Rock)

aka: Choctaw Bridge
aka: Clinton Presidential Park Bridge
The Rock Island 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 Rock Island Bridge was originally constructed as a railroad bridge in 1899; it was converted to serve as a pedestrian bridge in 2011 to complement the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. In late 1898, the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad was organized with the goal of establishing a railroad into the Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). Congress passed legislation authorizing construction of a new bridge across the Arkansas River in January 1899, and the Little Rock Bridge Company formed that May to develop plans for constructing the …

Rogers Academy

The Rogers Academy was organized in 1883 by the American Home Missionary Society (AHMS) of the Congregational Church. During its three decades, the academy trained many of the early educators who taught in the Rogers (Benton County) public schools. A number of local business and civic leaders received their secondary educations there, and musical and dramatic performances by the students and faculty made the academy a cultural center for the community. Rogers, founded in 1881, was named for C. W. Rogers, general manager of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad. Rogers and his wife took a keen interest in the town and are credited with establishing the Congregational Church in Rogers. The only public school serving the new town …

Rogers, John Henry

John Henry Rogers was a Civil War Confederate hero, a lawyer in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), a four-term Congressman, and a United States District Court judge for the Western District of Arkansas. John Rogers was born on October 9, 1845, in Bertie County, North Carolina. His father, Absolom Rogers was a successful planter and slaveholder. In 1861, when Rogers was fifteen years old, he became the drillmaster for a company of home guards, and in March 1862, he was mustered into Company H, Ninth Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers, as a private soldier. Rogers served in the same regiment until it was surrendered at Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 1, 1865. He saw a considerable amount of action and was twice wounded, …

Roots, Logan Holt

Logan Holt Roots settled in Arkansas after serving the Union in the Civil War. He was a congressman, banker, and promoter of the state. Born at Locust Hill, near Tamaroa, Illinois, on March 26, 1841, Roots was the third of four children of Benajah Guernsey Roots, an educator, and Martha Sibley Holt. His early academic interest focused on mathematics, although he worked with an engineering corps engaged in railroad construction at fifteen, acquiring a lifetime interest in railroad development. He enrolled in Illinois State Normal University in 1857, taught for a year then returned and graduated valedictorian in 1862. After graduation, Roots enlisted in the Eighty-first Illinois Infantry, a volunteer regiment, and served in the Union Army until the Civil …

Rose Hill Cemetery

Rose Hill Cemetery is a historic cemetery located in Arkadelphia (Clark County). It was officially opened in 1876, although some graves in the cemetery date to the 1850s. The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 1, 1999. The first public cemetery in Arkadelphia was established shortly after the town was settled. It was named the Blakely Graveyard for an early name of the settlement. The graveyard was closed by the city board to future interments in 1869. In 1876, the Maddox family donated land for a new cemetery. In 1880, the Maddox Cemetery was renamed Rose Hill, although it is unclear why this change occurred. Several graves from the Blakely Graveyard were moved to …

Rose, Uriah Milton

Uriah Milton Rose was a nationally prominent attorney who practiced in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for more than forty years at what is now known as the Rose Law Firm. He was a founder and president of both the Arkansas Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as an ambassador for the United States to the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907. U. M. Rose was born on March 5, 1834, in Bradfordsville, Kentucky, to Nancy and Joseph Rose. His father was a physician. He was his parents’ third son and had two half-siblings from his father’s first marriage to a Miss Armstrong from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rose’s mother died in 1848, and …

Rosewater, Benjamin J. (B. J.)

Modern Eureka Springs (Carroll County), including the historic Carnegie Library and Basin Spring Park, owes much of its development to early resident of the city Benjamin J. Rosewater. An energetic advocate of civic improvement and a business leader serving for several years as postmaster, the Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe left a lasting mark on the Ozarks mountain town where he lived for more than sixty years. Born in Hungary in 1857, B. J. Rosewater first came to the United States to visit family in Chicago, Illinois. After moving briefly to Cairo, Illinois, Rosewater visited Eureka Springs in August 1882 in an effort to improve his health. Rosewater quickly recovered from his illness, and he liked the chaotic frontier town …

Rottaken, Herbert H.

Herbert H. Rottaken was a larger-than-life presence in post–Civil War Little Rock (Pulaski County). A Union army officer during the Civil War, he moved to Little Rock in 1868 and, six years later, was a colonel in Governor Elisha Baxter’s militia during the Brooks-Baxter War. Afterward, he served as Pulaski County sheriff, chief of the city’s volunteer fire department, county assessor, and two-term city alderman. An ardent sportsman and renowned marksman, he was, the Arkansas Gazette declared, “as great a Nimrod as ever was.” In his eclectic business career, Rottaken was a successful planter, developer, inventor, and investor, often dealing in highly speculative ventures as well as conventional ones. Herbert Rottaken was born in Elberfeld, in what is now Germany, …

Roussan, Adah Lee Pettey

Adah Lee Pettey Roussan was a pioneering newspaperwoman who took over the Osceola Times after the death of her husband, running it for twelve years between 1906 and 1918. An indefatigable progressive, she championed political reforms and societal betterment. Adah Lee Pettey was born on July 20, 1859, in Navarro County, Texas, the third of six children of Dr. Francis Marion Pettey and Sarah A. G. Elliot Pettey. In 1870, Dr. Pettey moved his family to Mississippi County, where he practiced medicine. On April 14, 1879, Adah Pettey married Leon Roussan, a printer who had worked at the office of the Ste. Genevieve Plain Dealer and other newspapers. In 1870, he had been one of the three founders of the …

Rutherford, James

James Rutherford fought at the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War. He later became a political leader in Independence County, serving in the Arkansas General Assembly. James Rutherford was born on July 7, 1825, in Rutherfordton, Rutherford County, North Carolina, to Walter Blythe Rutherford Sr. and Sarah McTyre Rutherford; he was the fourth of nine children. His father had migrated from Jedburgh, Scotland, in the winter of 1815 to Rutherford County, which was named after other members of the family who lived there before the American Revolution. In February 1849, Rutherford traveled to Independence County in Arkansas for his father to collect a $3,000 debt from a man named Dillingham; this was money owed to his uncle Jimmie Rutherford. …