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

Talbert, Mary Burnett

Mary Burnett Talbert was a leading African American civil rights and anti-lynching activist who also served as an educator, a nurse, and a historic preservationist. Mary Burnett was born on September 17, 1866, in Oberlin, Ohio, to Cornelius Burnett and Carolyn Nichols Burnett. As the only African American woman in her 1886 graduating class, she received a BA from Oberlin College, one of the few integrated coeducational colleges in the country. After graduating from Oberlin, she moved to Arkansas, where she taught at Bethel Institute (now Shorter College) in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She soon became the assistant principal of Union High School in Little Rock, making her the highest-ranking Black woman in the state in the education professions. In …

Tate Plantation Strike of 1886

In 1886, the Knights of Labor engaged in two strikes in Arkansas. The first of these strikes, the Great Southwestern Strike, involved railroad workers from Texas to Illinois. It began in March and ended in failure by May. The second strike occurred in July at the Tate Plantation in Young Township of Pulaski County, nine miles south of Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the Arkansas River. While this strike also proved unsuccessful, and much briefer, it remains significant because all of the strikers were African Americans, and it foretold efforts at black farm labor activism that would continue in Arkansas well into the twentieth century. Formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1869, the Knights of Labor spread across the nation during …

Tatum, Luke (Execution of)

Luke Tatum was an African American preacher who was executed at Camden (Ouachita County) on January 31, 1893, for murdering his wife in Union County, though he denied committing the crime to the end. Luke Tatum, described as “a large man, coal black and of ordinary intelligence,” lived with his wife Eliza about eleven miles east of El Dorado (Union County). On July 13, 1892, her body was found in a wooded area, “the skull…crushed in and the neck broken” and a bloody pine knot lying nearby. An inquest concluded that “Eliza Tatum…came to her death at the hands of Luke Tatum, on or about July 10, 1892.” Tatum waived his preliminary hearing so the case would go to a …

Taylor, Henry (Execution of)

Henry Taylor was an African American Baptist preacher who was hanged at Forrest City (St. Francis County) on June 27, 1879, for the rape of a seven-year-old Black girl, a crime he denied up to his death. Henry Taylor was a hired hand on the farm of the family of Martha Anthony, aged seven, near Wheatley (St. Francis County). He was left in charge of the children while the parents went to church on September 13, 1878, and when they left, the Arkansas Democrat reported, “he threw the child upon the ground and attempted to outrage her.” Taylor was arrested and jailed in Forrest City until his trial in April 1879. During the trial, he claimed that Martha’s mother had …

Taylor, Luther (Execution of)

Luther B. Taylor was hanged at Corning (Clay County) on April 21, 1882, for a murder he claimed was committed by another man. Luther B. Taylor was born in Clay County around 1858, the son of “industrious and respectable” parents. He was of medium height and had “dark blue eyes and an intelligent countenance” but, by the early 1880s, “had been regarded as a dangerous character” who had been involved in Reconstruction-era violence in southern Missouri, where “he was credited with having killed as many men as the most ferocious partisan.” On December 29, 1881, Taylor left the Iron Mountain Railroad depot at Nellville (Clay County) with Riley Black and William Mullholland. As they were walking home, Taylor reportedly pulled …

Telephone Exchange Building (Powhatan)

The Telephone Exchange Building is the oldest commercial building still standing in Powhatan (Lawrence County) in the twenty-first century and visually represents the commercial and civic characteristics of the town during the nineteenth century. The Powhatan Telephone Exchange Building is a one-story brick building that reflects Greek Revival architecture and design. The building was constructed between 1887 and 1888, placed in the heart of the thriving town where commerce, business, and social interaction took place. The Telephone Exchange Building is a rectangular structure with long, straight, flat sides. There are no windows on the south side, and the north side has two windows like those on the front of the building. The design style of the time called for buildings …

Templeton, Fay

Born into a theatrical family, Fay Templeton excelled on the legitimate and vaudeville stages for more than half a century. As an actress, singer, and comedian, she was a favorite headliner and heroine of popular theater. Fay Templeton was born on December 25, 1865, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), where her parents were starring with the Templeton Opera Company. John Templeton, Fay’s father, was a well-known Southern manager, comedian, and author. Helen Alice Vane, Fay’s mother, starred with her husband. At age three, Templeton, dressed as Cupid, sang fairy tale songs between the acts of her father’s plays. Gradually, she was incorporated into the productions as a bit player and then, at five, had actual lines to recite. At eight, …

Templeton, George (Lynching of)

Even when they appeared in several newspapers across the United States, some accounts were of lynching so brief that it is difficult to uncover details or even confirm the events. Such was the case with the lynching of George Templeton in Hempstead County on October 26, 1885. The first of several papers to report the lynching was apparently the New York Times. In an article published on October 28, the Times reported that “six disguised men rode up to the residence of a colored man named George Templeton, in Hempstead County, called him out and shot him down.” Templeton, described as “a quiet, peaceable colored citizen,” died instantly. According to reports, “The affair has produced considerable excitement.” The following day, …

Terry, William Leake

William Leake Terry was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas from 1891 to 1901, beginning in the Fifty-Second Congress and extending through the Fifty-Sixth Congress. William L. Terry was born on September 27, 1850, near Wadesboro, North Carolina, to William Leake Terry and Mary Parsons Terry. Terry and his family moved to Tippah County, Mississippi, in 1857. After his mother’s death in 1861, he and his father moved to Pulaski County, Arkansas. Terry was orphaned by 1865 and became the ward of his uncle, Colonel Francis A. Terry, who provided for his education, first at Bingham’s Military Academy in North Carolina and then at Trinity College in North Carolina. He …

Texarkana Race Riot of 1880

In late May 1880, racial unrest often described as the Texarkana Race Riot erupted in Texarkana (Miller County). Some newspapers, including the Arkansas Gazette, compared the event to the 1874 Brooks-Baxter War in Little Rock (Pulaski County), which centered around the contested gubernatorial election between Joseph Brooks and Elisha Baxter. According to newspaper reports, the trouble started as a land dispute between an African-American man identified only as Dr. Cromwell and a white railroad worker named Conner. According to the 1880 census, railway employee James Conner was living in Miller County with his wife, Sarah, and three small children. The census was taken in June that year, and at the time there was an African-American man named Robert Cromwell, a …

Texas Tick Fever Eradication

aka: Tick Eradication
aka: Dipping Vats
From 1907 to circa 1943, Arkansas was a participant in the federal tick eradication program for the prevention of Texas tick fever among the state’s cattle herds. Arkansas’s climate and traditional agricultural practices among stockmen in the early twentieth century were perfect for the spread and sustenance of Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus (also known as the cattle tick), one-host arachnids that completed their life cycle on a single animal. These ticks would acquire protozoan parasites by ingesting the blood of an animal infected with pathogens that destroyed red blood cells. After the engorged tick dropped off the host and laid eggs, the newly hatched ticks would pass the pathogens on by attaching to another host, thus conveying parasitic blood diseases babesiosis …

Thomas, Henry Andrew “Heck”

Henry Andrew “Heck” Thomas became one of the best-known officers of the law in Arkansas and Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). His reputation as a fearless crime fighter stemmed from a determination to bring felons to justice and from the notorious characters he encountered. Tall and lean, with dark eyes and a mustache, Thomas was the image of the frontier lawman, usually attired in knee-high boots, corduroy trousers, and a flannel shirt. Thomas, and others like him, helped combat frontier criminals in order to make the region safe for settlers. Heck Thomas was born on January 6, 1850, in Oxford, Georgia, the last child of twelve of Martha Ann Fullwood Bedell Thomas and Lovick Pierce Thomas. He acquired the nickname “Heck” …

Thompson, Green Walter

Green Walter Thompson was a major African-American political leader and businessman in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from the end of the Civil War until his death. Green Thompson was born Green Elliott, a slave on the Robert Elliottt farm in Ouachita County. Nothing is known of his early life, though his tombstone lists a birth date of August 15, 1847. A birth year of 1848 is estimated from documents accumulated later in his life. The 1880 census records him as a “mulatto,” so it is likely a white man fathered him. His mother eventually married a slave named Thompson, and Green Elliott took his stepfather’s name. While a teenager, he married a slave named Dora Hildreth; they soon had a …

Thompson, William B. “Buck” (Execution of)

William B. “Buck” Thompson was hanged on December 17, 1875, in Lewisburg (Conway County) for the fatal wounding of Rebecca Stover, a local widow. The 1870 federal census shows John B. Stover, a wealthy farmer, living at Perry County’s Bentley Township south of Lewisburg with wife Mary and five children, including seventeen-year-old Thomas. Mary Stover died in 1872, and John Stover apparently married a woman named Rebecca. John Stover died in May 1875, and his sons-in-law, including John R. Snapp, were made executors of his estate. In a letter to the Arkansas Gazette, someone identified as A. W. R. wrote that “it appears that Stover was married to a woman unlawfully and the heirs were anxious to get her off …

Thornton, Flanigan (Lynching of)

On April 19, 1893, an African-American man named Flanigan (sometimes referred to as Flannagan or Flannigan) Thornton was hanged in Morrilton (Conway County) for allegedly murdering constable Charles Pate. While there are no records for Flanigan Thornton in Arkansas, he may have been the ten-year-old living with his parents Hyram and Chasity Thornton in Desoto County, Mississippi, in 1880 and working as a farm hand; this would have made him twenty-three at the time of the lynching. Charles Pate was born in White County, Arkansas, but by 1891, when he married Alice Phelps, he was living in Conway County. According to newspaper accounts, the alleged murder happened on April 4 near Menifee (Conway County) station, about fifteen miles from Morrilton. …

Three Guardsmen

The Three Guardsmen were three U.S. marshals based in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) who became famous for their effort to track down the Doolin Gang, also known as the Wild Bunch, in Oklahoma in the early 1890s. When the three accomplished lawmen teamed up in 1891, they spent the next five years pursuing the group, finally capturing gang leader Bill Doolin in January 1896, only to have him escape from the Guthrie Federal Prison less than six months later. They tracked him down again, but refusing to surrender, Doolin was killed in a shootout on August 25, 1896. The leader of the Three Guardsmen was Henry Andrew “Heck” Thomas, who was born in 1850 in Athens, Georgia. Thomas was joined …

Tom Sawyer, Detective

Tom Sawyer, Detective, a novella written by Mark Twain and published in 1896, was a parody of mystery stories, especially the Sherlock Holmes tales of Arthur Conan Doyle, which began to appear in 1887. Set in Arkansas, the novel was adapted into a movie in 1938. In the mid-1890s, Mark Twain, near bankruptcy after unwise investments, returned to his popular characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to revive his fortunes. He wrote Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894), a parody of the travel adventures of Jules Verne, and began a novel to be titled Tom Sawyer among the Indians, which was never completed. Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896) had an unusual origin. While visiting Europe in late 1894, Twain had been told the …

Tomson, Dan Fraser

A native of Tennessee, Dan Fraser Tomson helped organize—and was a charter member of—the first local assembly (or lodge) of the Knights of Labor in Arkansas. He also served as a state organizer and lecturer and, eventually, as the Knights’ highest-ranking state officer. In addition, he edited a weekly newspaper, the Industrial Liberator, which served as the official organ of the Arkansas Knights of Labor, and he became a significant figure in the national Knights of Labor organization. He served in a variety of military- and government-related jobs throughout his life, including as a clerk in Washington DC, copying the Civil War records of Missouri soldiers; a staff member in the Missouri Senate; and a clerk in the Missouri adjutant …