Entries - Time Period: Early Twentieth Century (1901 - 1940) - Starting with O

Oak Grove School

The Oak Grove School, located off Highway 270 in Grant County’s Oak Grove community six miles east of Sheridan (Grant County), is a single-story, wood-frame, four-room structure designed in the Craftsman style of architecture and constructed in 1938–1939 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era public relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 14, 1991. In 1938, the Oak Grove, Ellis, and Morris school districts in Grant County were consolidated to create School District No. 24, with the centrally located Oak Grove community selected as the site for the district’s school building. The new district applied to the WPA for funds to construct a new school, and the agency approved the project …

Official State Bird

aka: Mockingbird
On March 5, 1929, Governor Harvey Parnell and the Forty-seventh General Assembly adopted House Concurrent Resolution Number 22 proclaiming: “The mockingbird is declared and everywhere recognized as the state bird of the State of Arkansas.” In Arkansas, the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, in a campaign directed by Mrs. W. A. Utley, was responsible for promoting the legislation naming the mockingbird as the official state bird. The proposed bill was first perceived as a joke but passed following speeches proclaiming the mockingbird’s value to farmers. Four other states—Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas—have also designated the mockingbird as their official state bird, making it the third most popular choice, eclipsed only by the first-place cardinal and second-place western meadowlark. The mockingbird, …

Official State Flower

aka: Apple Blossom
In 1901, the Arkansas General Assembly designated the apple blossom—Malus (Pyrus) coronaria—the official floral emblem of Arkansas, the second state to adopt the bloom (Michigan was the first). Governor Jeff Davis signed the resolution into law on February 1 that same year. In 1900, the Arkansas Floral Emblem Society canvassed women’s groups to gauge sentiment for a choice of state flower or floral emblem. The holly, honeysuckle, passionflower, cotton boll, and apple blossom were considered. Some opposition to the apple blossom was voiced on biblical grounds, citing the apple’s role in Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden and, conversely, the passionflower’s folkloric identification with Christ’s suffering. Although the Arkansas Federated Women’s Clubs (now the General Federation of …

Ogden, Mahlon Dickerson

Mahlon Dickerson (M. D.) Ogden was a physician who cofounded Trinity Hospital of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1923. At Trinity, he pioneered the use of the health maintenance organization (HMO)—a form of health insurance in which member physicians provide medical care to subscribers for a fixed fee—in Arkansas. Born on December 5, 1881, in Little Rock, M. D. Ogden was the only son of railroad clerk Charles Cullen Ogden and his wife, Altamira Deason Ogden. An older cousin, Fred R. Bryson, was adopted into the family and became Ogden’s legal brother. Educated in the local schools, Ogden graduated from the Arkansas Medical School (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) in 1904. From 1905 to 1916, he taught …

Ohio Club

The Ohio Club at 336 Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) is considered Arkansas’s oldest continually operating bar. It was founded by John “Coffee” Williams and his nephew, Sam Watt, in 1905. It became a popular watering hole and meeting place for notorious figures such as Al Capone, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, as well as local legends like Owen “Owney” Madden and Arkansas gambling czar William Stokley Jacobs. The Ohio Club has never closed its doors despite bans on both gambling and alcohol. The Ohio Club was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hot Springs Central Avenue Historic District on June 25, 1985. In 1905, Coffee Williams and Sam Watt …

Old Arkansas 51, Curtis to Gum Springs

Old Arkansas 51 is an abandoned highway located in Clark County between the towns of Curtis and Gum Springs. Constructed in 1931, it was replaced by U.S. Highway 67 in 1965. This stretch of highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004. The communities of Curtis and Gum Springs were settled in the late nineteenth century, and each served as stops on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The two settlements were connected by roads, which were improved over the decades. The roads evolved from the Southwest Trail, one of the earliest roads in the state. Named Arkansas Highway 51, the road linking the communities became part of the Arkansas Highway System when it was created …

Old Bank of Amity

The Old Bank of Amity is a two-story brick structure located on the northwest corner of the square in Amity (Clark County). Constructed between 1906 and 1907, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 5, 1991. Amity was first settled in 1847 and grew over the next several decades due to the rich reserves of timber in the area. By the early 1900s, the Gurdon and Fort Smith Railroad reached the community, opening up new shipping options for the lumber mills that operated in the area. The Bank of Amity was founded in 1905 by William Curtis Hays. The first mention of the bank building appeared in 1906 when a Gurdon craftsman visited the …

Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge

Located in Bauxite (Saline County), the Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge stands as an example of the county’s earliest bridges designed specifically for vehicular use. Although it is no longer accessible by road, it is considered a beloved local landmark by the people of Saline County, much like the Old River Bridge in Benton. The bridge was built in 1919 to connect the communities of Benton (Saline County), Bauxite, and Sardis (Saline County). Settlements around the Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge reached their peak after the towns of Benton, Bauxite, and Sardis began developing in the early 1900s. In the 1910s, new and improved roads were needed to aid in the transportation of bauxite ore from the nearby strip mines to Alcoa …

Old Highway 16 Bridge

The Old Highway 16 Bridge, located on Lakefront Resort Road near Edgemont (Cleburne County), is a reinforced concrete, closed-spandrel deck-arch bridge built in 1936 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 11, 2011. Edgemont began as the Kinderhook settlement in the mid-nineteenth century but did not thrive until the arrival of the Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) Railroad in 1908, after which the town had a bank, three sawmills, a cotton gin, a lumber company, and several restaurants. A result of the railroad construction was the “Edgemont Cut,” which sliced through a steep ridge that ran between Edgemont and the middle fork …

Old Mike

Old Mike is the name given to a traveling salesman who died in 1911 in Prescott (Nevada County). The people of Prescott only knew him by his first name, Mike. He was subsequently embalmed and publicly displayed for over sixty years. Mike visited Prescott about once a month to sell pens, paper, and thread to homes and businesses near the railroad tracks in the center of town. He would arrive on the southbound 3:00 p.m. train and stay overnight. The next day, he would re-board the 3:00 p.m. train and continue his journey. During one trip to Prescott, Mike probably attended an outdoor revival in the city park. The next day, August 21, 1911, his body was found underneath a …

Old Mill

Famous for its appearance in the opening credits of the 1939 classic movie Gone with the Wind, the Old Mill in the five-acre T. R. Pugh Memorial Park in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) contains the work of noted Mexican sculptor Dionicio Rodriguez, who perfected the folk art style known as faux bois (fake wood) by crafting reinforced concrete to resemble petrified logs. Justin Matthews, the developer of the town’s Park Hill and Lakewood subdivisions, hired Rodriguez in 1932 to create a tourist attraction for his new suburban development. Formally named Pugh’s Mill in honor of Matthews’s lifelong friend Thomas R. Pugh, the mill features a two-story stone building, bridges, benches, and other examples of Rodriguez’s art, all designed to …

Old Scott County Courthouse

The Old Scott County Courthouse is located on courthouse square in the historic commercial district of Waldron (Scott County). It was built in 1934 and housed the county government until 1996, when the county completed the current courthouse: a plain, contemporary structure that is located on 1st Street in Waldron. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) recognizes the 1934 building, a three-level courthouse with a full basement, as architecturally and historically significant due to its Art Deco style and as an example of a New Deal–era project. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 1989. Since Waldron became the county seat in 1845, seven courthouses have served as the seat of justice, including the …

Old Scott County Jail

The Old Scott County Jail is located on West 2nd Street in Waldron (Scott County), adjacent to the Waldron Commercial Historic District. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 16, 2002. In 1907, plans were made to build a new jail to replace the old wooden jail that was in derelict condition, according to Judge W. A. Bates. J. L. McCartney was chosen to build the new jail after recently constructing a new courthouse downtown. The stone jail was completed in 1908. On March 22, 1933, a fire destroyed the courthouse that McCartney had built. A new courthouse opened on February 21, 1935, with the third floor designed to serve as the county jail. Upon …

Old Springdale High School

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) was enjoying great prosperity as a shipping and processing hub for the northwestern Arkansas fruit and vegetable industry. With the economic good times came population growth and the need for a new school building. School officials opted to demolish the town’s 1871 school and construct a new one on the same site (present-day corner of Highway 71B and Johnson Avenue). The land had been donated to Springdale School District 50 in 1901 by community leaders Millard and Ida Berry with the stipulation that the property always be used for school purposes. In the fall of 1909, Rogers (Benton County) architect Albert Oscar (A. O.) Clarke was hired …

Old U.S. 79 Kingsland Segment

Constructed in 1916, Old U.S. 79, Kingsland Segment, is a historic road located in Kingsland (Cleveland County). The segment measures almost 2,150 feet in length. Added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2005, it continues to serve as a local road. Kingsland incorporated in 1884, shortly after the Cotton Belt Railroad was constructed in Dorsey County. The heavily timbered county was renamed Cleveland County in 1885 to honor President Grover Cleveland. The railroad and other transportation systems became vitally important to the development of the economy of the county, as they were ways to get timber and other crops to market. By 1890, Kingsland was a thriving small community with a post office, a furniture factory, …

Old U.S. Highway 67

Highway 67 was one of the original highways included when the Arkansas State Highway System was formed in 1923; it was also one of the first Arkansas highways to be integrated as part of the U.S. highway system in 1925. By the late 1920s, Highway 67 was in need of serious improvement. The Arkansas State Highway commission began a major effort to upgrade and improve Arkansas’s major highways, including Highway 67, through the 1930s. Five sections of the highway and one rest area from this period, as well as a bridge and a rest area, have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The route of the highway followed that of the Southwest Trail of the early 1800s, …

Old U.S. Highway 71

Originally constructed over several years in the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. Route 71 began serving as a major thoroughfare in western Arkansas. Bypassed by new construction between the 1950s and 1980s, what is now referred to as Old U.S. Route 71 has six sections listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Each section listed on the register continues to carry local traffic in the twenty-first century, which is a testament to the sturdiness of the construction. The various sections of the road were constructed in a similar manner. Made of Bates-type concrete, the road surface includes tan stone mixed with concrete and laid over a wire frame. The road includes nine-foot-wide lanes that are separated by a four-and-a-half-inch-wide gap …

Old Union School

Early residents of Randolph County settled in the Ozark Plateau area of the county. While many of these communities are gone, remnants of their existence can be seen. For the Birdell (Randolph County) community, the Old Union School survives as an example of the early history of this once thriving community. Located approximately two miles northwest of the community, the school is a prime example of what early education looked like in rural Arkansas. The early community of Birdell constructed a hewn-log school out of material readily available, which was a common building technique in early Arkansas. It is believed that the original school was built sometime prior to the Civil War. This school burned in 1910, and classes were …

Oldfield, Pearl

aka: Fannie Pearl Peden Oldfield
In 1929, Fannie Pearl Peden Oldfield became the first woman from Arkansas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served from January 9, 1929, to March 3, 1931. While a member of the House of Representatives, Oldfield introduced twenty-eight bills, served on three House committees, and spoke in Congress on three occasions. Pearl Peden, daughter of John Peden and Amanda Hill Peden, was born on a farm near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on December 2, 1876. She attended Cotton Plant Grammar School and Batesville Public School. In 1891, Peden enrolled in Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville (Independence County) but withdrew before finishing a degree. In June 1901, she married William Allen Oldfield. The couple had no …

Oldfield, William Allan

William Allan Oldfield was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-first U.S. Congress and to the nine succeeding Congresses, serving from 1909 until his death in 1928. During that time, he served as a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means and was chosen as chair of the Democratic Congressional Committee, campaigning across the country for Democratic candidates and incumbents. He was reelected to the Seventy-first Congress, his tenth consecutive term, but he died before he could take office. After a special election, his wife took his place in Congress, becoming the first woman in Arkansas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. William A. Oldfield was born in Franklin (Izard County) on February 4, 1874, …

On a Slow Train Through Arkansaw

A ninety-six-page joke book, On a Slow Train Through Arkansaw gained wide popularity upon its publication in 1903 and eventually became the bestselling joke book in American history. Subtitled “funny railroad stories—stories of the Southern darkies—all the best minstrel jokes of the day,” the book includes puns, some tall tales, and the prevalent racial and gender stereotypes of its day. The author, Thomas W. Jackson (1867–1934), was a train brakeman for the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company who collected stories and jokes he heard on his travels; as he had injured his hand in an accident and was not able to write, his wife wrote his stories down for the book. Published in Chicago, the book was sold by “train butchers,” …

One Drop Rule

aka: Act 320 of 1911
aka: House Bill 79 of 1911
In 1911, Arkansas passed Act 320 (House Bill 79), also known as the “one-drop rule.” This law had two goals: it made interracial “cohabitation” a felony, and it defined as “Negro” anyone “who has…any negro blood whatever,” thus relegating to second-class citizenship anyone accused of having any African ancestry. Although the law had features unique to Arkansas, it largely reflected nationwide trends. Laws against interracial sex were not new. Virginia declared extramarital sex a crime during Oliver Cromwell’s era and increased the penalty for sex across the color line in 1662. In 1691, Virginia criminalized matrimony when celebrated by an interracial couple. Maryland did so the following year, and others followed. By 1776, twelve of the thirteen colonies that declared …

Ostrich Farm in Hot Springs

In the early twentieth century, a number of distinctive tourist attractions enjoyed tremendous popularity in the resort city of Hot Springs (Garland County). These attractions drew visitors to the town, as did the Spa City’s hot springs. Beginning in 1900, one of the city’s most remarkable places to visit was the Ostrich Farm on Whittington Avenue. After the Civil War, visitors from all parts of the country began to pour into Hot Springs. With the increasing patronage and resulting improvements in facilities and services, the sleepy little village rapidly acquired the characteristics of a wide-open boom town. By the end of the 1870s, Hot Springs enjoyed widespread acclaim across the nation as a health resort. Naturally, the health seekers needed …

Ottenheimer, Gus

Gus Ottenheimer, an industrialist, became known nationally through his successful efforts in manufacturing women’s garments. He was a land developer as well, and he spent much of the last one-third of his life promoting higher education in central Arkansas Ottenheimer was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 18, 1897, to Daniel Ottenheimer and Hannah Berger. He was the youngest of four children. The Ottenheimers were a Jewish pioneer family, some of whom came to the state in the 1850s. Ottenheimer’s father died in 1908. The eldest son, Leonard, became the family breadwinner at age sixteen and forfeited his education to his younger brother. Ottenheimer graduated in 1918 from Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, …

Ouachita Avenue Historic District

The bathhouses on Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue were the early main attraction to Hot Springs (Garland County), but as the city grew, it expanded in the direction of the Ouachita Avenue Historic District. The district encompasses the portions of Ouachita Avenue and Central Avenue from Olive Street to Orange Street and includes Pratt Street (once known as Parker Avenue).The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2011, and is considered locally significant as a commercial center supporting Bathhouse Row and the surrounding residential community of Hot Springs. The neighborhood’s period of National Register significance begins in 1905, after a fire in 1905 destroyed all the structures in the area. The neighborhood’s boundaries encompass …

Ouachita County Courthouse

The Ouachita County Courthouse, located on 145 Jefferson Avenue, was built in 1933 and is in the heart of downtown Camden (Ouachita County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the two-story building as architecturally and historically significant as the best example of Georgian-style architecture in Ouachita County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 1989. As a result of a tornado that struck Camden on the night of December 13, 1931, the Victorian Gothic courthouse built in 1888 was flattened. The loss of that courthouse, renowned as one of the more impressive courthouses in Arkansas at the time, was a setback for the community. The county constructed makeshift wooden structures to house county affairs …

Overstreet Hall

Overstreet Hall, located at the intersection of East University Street and North Jackson Street on the Southern Arkansas University campus in Magnolia (Columbia County), is a three-story, Colonial Revival–style building constructed between 1941 and 1943 with assistance from the Work Projects Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 26, 2016. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies provided financing for several construction projects at Magnolia A&M College (which later became Southern Arkansas University) during the Depression. The Greek Theater was constructed through the National Youth Administration (NYA), Cross Hall and Nelson Hall were built by the Public Works Administration (PWA), and the building that would later be called …

Owen, Hurley (Lynching of)

Hurley Owen, an African-American man, was lynched in Texarkana (Miller County) on May 19, 1922, in front of a mob numbering in the thousands for the alleged crime of murdering a local police officer. His body was subsequently burned. Hurley Owen (or Hullen Owens, as his name was sometimes reported) had been arrested on Thursday, May 18, 1922, on a charge of stealing automotive parts. The following afternoon, he reportedly told Patrolman Richard C. Choate and Police Chief L. J. Lummus that he was willing to show them where he had hidden away more stolen goods. They followed him into an alley, where he pulled a .45 caliber pistol from a trash bin. According to the Arkansas Democrat, Lummus then …

Owens, Freeman Harrison

Freeman Harrison Owens was a pioneer cinematographer and inventor of cinematic technology, including the A. C. Nielsen Rating System, a plastic lens for Kodak, and the method of adding synchronized sound to film. He is credited with 11,812 inventions and held 200 patents during his lifetime. Freeman Owens was born on July 20, 1890, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). He was the only child of Charles H. Owens and Christabel Harrison Owens and grandson of Arkansas Supreme Court judge William M. Harrison. Owens attended Sixth and Beech Street Elementary School, but he dropped out during his senior year at Pine Bluff High School. He went to work for a movie theater when he was twelve years old. He cleaned the …

Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology

The Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology was sponsored by the Pentecostal Holiness Church and operated by college president Dan W. Evans from 1927 to 1932 at Monte Ne (Benton County), in buildings formerly part of William “Coin” Harvey’s Monte Ne resort. Dan Webster Evans (July 21, 1885–September 19, 1963) was born and raised in Boone County and married Rexie Gilbert (May 13, 1892–September 29, 1976) there in 1910; they had six children. His religious upbringing is unknown, but from 1914 to 1915, he and his wife were faculty members at the Pentecostal Holiness School in Stratford,Oklahoma. Pentecostalism grew out of the American Holiness movement during the late nineteenth century, and the Pentecostal Holiness Church, one division of that …

Ozarka Water Company

The city of Eureka Springs (Carroll County) was founded in 1879 partly in response to stories of the curative powers of the water at Basin Spring. John S. Tibbs was the earliest shipper of spring water from Eureka Springs. He was known as “Eureka Basin Water Shipper,” and his business was across from Basin Spring. He is presumed to have sold his business to William Duncan, and it was Duncan who named it the Eureka Springs Water Company and then marketed it as “Ozarka” in 1905. Richard Ryan Thompson bought it in 1924 from a receiver and ran it until 1966, when he sold it to Arrowhead Puritas Water, Inc. In the twenty-first century, the Ozarka brand resides in Texas …