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

U.S. Highway 62

aka: Highway 62
U.S. Highway 62 crosses the northern counties of Arkansas. It passes through eleven counties, from Washington County in the west to Clay County in the east. Some portions of Highway 62 were proposed by William Hope “Coin” Harvey, who wanted to facilitate automobile traffic to his tourist destination, Monte Ne (Benton County). Route U.S. Highway 62 begins in El Paso, Texas, and runs through ten states to Niagara Falls, New York. It is the only east-west highway in the United States that connects Mexico to Canada. The entire length of the highway is 2,245 miles, of which 329.9 miles cross the state of Arkansas. U.S. Highway 62 enters Arkansas from Oklahoma as a two-lane highway. It runs through Summers (Washington …

Umsted, Sidney Albert

aka: Sid Umsted
Sidney (Sid) Albert Umsted, known as the “Father of the Smackover Oil Field,” drilled the first well in the Smackover (Union County) area, introducing Arkansas’s largest oil discovery. In 1925, the Smackover field produced over 77 million barrels of oil and was the largest oil field in the nation at that time. Sid Umsted was born on November 22, 1876, in Houston County, Texas, to Caroline Pearson and Albert “Newt” Umsted, who had moved there from Chidester (Ouachita County). Umsted’s father abandoned the family while Sid was a child, and his mother moved back to Chidester to be near family members. When Umsted was eight, his mother married Harrison Bratton, and the family settled on a farm near Bernice, Louisiana. …

Union County Courthouse

The Union County Courthouse is located in downtown El Dorado (Union County), a 1920s oil boomtown about twenty miles from the Louisiana state border. The four-story Union County Courthouse, like others across the state, is situated in a public square where businesses, banks, and law offices occupy rows of buildings around the seat of justice. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the courthouse as historically and architecturally significant for its symbolism of El Dorado’s growth and its example of the Classical Revival style. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 30, 1983. The first building used as a courthouse in Union County was a storeroom owned by Albert Rust at Champagnolle (Union County) in the …

Union County Lynching of 1904

Three people were lynched in the Union County community of Mount Holly on August 30, 1904. These include one white man known only as Stover (or Stowers), a black man sometimes identified as Smead Stith, and a black woman identified only as Bates. There was a black man named Smead Stith living in Union County during the 1900 census. He was aged nineteen and working as a farm laborer. Two white men, Charley and Jessie Stover, father and son, are recorded as living in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, on the same census, both working as farmers. There are a number of possibilities for the identity of Bates in both southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. The Osceola Times covered the situation more …

Union Station

aka: MoPac Station
The original version of what became Union Station in Little Rock (Pulaski County) was built in 1872–73. This building was demolished in 1906 to make way for a concrete and brick structure built in 1907. This station burned in 1920 but was rebuilt, opening again in summer 1921. Also known as the Missouri Pacific or “MoPac” Station, Union Station is located on Markham and Victory streets and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 17, 1977. In the twenty-first century, it is used as a stop for the Amtrak Texas Eagle and as part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. It also serves as an event venue and houses office space. The fire in 1920 that destroyed …

United Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1911

Little Rock (Pulaski County) hosted the twenty-first annual United Confederate Veterans Reunion on May 16–18, 1911. The reunion drew more than 140,000 people, including approximately 12,000 veterans, making it the largest event in Little Rock history until William Jefferson Clinton’s election night in 1992. The United Confederate Veterans (UCV) formed in 1889 with a goal of keeping alive the memory of the men who fought for the South during the Civil War and to bring national attention to the needs of the aging veterans. The annual reunion was one of the group’s major projects, and towns across the country vied to host the event. Judge William M. Kavanaugh chaired Little Rock’s planning committee for the event. Subcommittees arranged for lodging, …

United Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1928

The thirty-eighth annual national reunion of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), held on May 8–11, 1928, marked the second time that Little Rock (Pulaski County) served as the event’s host city, seventeen years after the much-celebrated 1911 reunion. Governor John Ellis Martineau’s personal invitation, along with a $30,000 legislative appropriation to provide free entertainment for all veterans, helped Little Rock beat out the cities of Atlanta, Georgia, and Lexington, Kentucky, for the honor. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) oversaw all planning. Edmund R. Wiles, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Division of the SCV, served as general chairman of the reunion committee and used the War Memorial Building (now the Old State House) as committee headquarters. In November 1927, Wiles dispelled …

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) was at one time the most powerful union in the United States. The union, which remains active in the twenty-first century, encouraged the development of the Arkansas State Federation of Labor. The UMWA was formed in 1890 in Columbus, Ohio, when Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 merged with the National Progressive Union of Miners and Mine Laborers. This combined union banned discrimination against any members based on race, national origin, or religion. By 1898, the UMWA had achieved improvements in wages and hours per week with mine operators in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In 1898, the UMWA began organizing miners in western Arkansas. Arkansas became a part of District 21, and …

United States v. Miller et al.

United States v. Miller et al. originated in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division when a federal grand jury indicted two men for transporting a sawed-off shotgun from Oklahoma to Arkansas in violation of a federal firearm statute. The case eventually became the single instance in which the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly tackled the Second Amendment in the twentieth century, and it remains controversial to this day. The National Firearms Act (NFA), Public Law 73-474, effective July 26, 1934, was in reaction to widespread gun violence during the Prohibition era. The NFA required that certain weapons—principally machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and rifles, and silencers—be registered with the federal government and be heavily taxed. On April …

Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)

Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was an ambitious organization of people of African descent worldwide in the late 1910s and 1920s. The movement built upon Back-to-Africa movements of the late 1800s, which encouraged people of color to look to Africa both as an ancestral homeland and a hope for a future. The association’s founder, Jamaican-born Garvey, had come to the United States in 1916, and he took advantage of a wave of racial violence following the end of World War I to mobilize African Americans to eschew integration for black nationalist goals. The message of racial pride, separation from white society, and emigration to the African continent distinguished the UNIA from other civil rights movements of the period. …

University of Arkansas Senior Walk

The Senior Walk at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) is one of the oldest and most distinctive traditions maintained by the university. The walk, which contains the inscribed names of over 200,000 seniors and graduates, snakes through the campus for several miles and includes the names of famous athletes, architects, poets, heads of state, a Miss America, and some honorary names including Bill and Hillary Clinton. The university claims it to be the only one of its kind in the United States. It is believed that the origin of the walk lies in a request by the Class of 1905 to inscribe the names of class members on a campus sidewalk. Once permission was given, the …

USS Arkansas (BB-33)

The battleship USS Arkansas (BB-33) was the third ship of the U.S. Navy to bear the state’s name, the prior vessels being a wooden-hulled steamer during the American Civil War, and an 1890s single-turret monitor that was renamed Ozark in 1909 and used as an instruction ship. The battleship Arkansas participated in both world wars and received four battle stars for service in World War II. The Arkansas’s keel was laid on January 25, 1910, in Camden, New Jersey. The USS Arkansas was launched on January 14, 1911, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on September 17, 1912. Measuring 562 feet by ninety-three feet, the Arkansas was designed for a crew of 1,594. It was armed with twelve twelve-inch …

USS Arkansas (M-7)

aka: USS Ozark (BM-7)
The USS Arkansas (M-7), also known as the USS Ozark (BM-7), was one of four monitor-class naval vessels built for the U.S. Navy in the late 1800s. Although designed as surface warships, these vessels were primarily relegated to support operations because they were obsolete by the time they were finished. In 1898, the navy approved designs to introduce four new monitor vessels. These vessels were known as the USS Arkansas (M-7), USS Connecticut (M-8), USS Florida (M-9), and USS Wyoming (M-10). Because the navy designates the first ship of a class series the class name of the ship, M-7 through M-10 were known as Arkansas-class monitors. The USS Arkansas was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company …

USS Pruitt

The USS Pruitt was a Clemson-class destroyer built in 1919 and named for John Henry Pruitt, an Arkansas native who won two Medals of Honor for gallantry during World War I. John Henry Pruitt was born on October 4, 1896, in rural Newton County near the community of Fallsville. Pruitt joined the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after the United States entered World War I. On October 3, 1918, during the battle for Mont Blanc Ridge, Corporal Pruitt single-handedly attacked and destroyed two German machinegun nests before capturing forty enemy soldiers in an adjoining trench. Wounded by shellfire, he died the next day—his twenty-second birthday. Both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy awarded Pruitt a Medal of Honor for his actions …

Utley, Joseph Simeon (J. S.)

J. S. Utley was an influential attorney and Democratic officeholder in the first half of the twentieth century. Joseph Simeon (J. S.) Utley was born on October 18, 1876, on a farm in Greenbrier (Faulkner County) to Francis David Utley and Amanda Melvina Snow Utley. He received his early education in the county’s rural schools, and beginning in 1894, he taught in the county schools. In 1897, he enrolled at Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County), from which he would receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1906. While he pursued his own education, he also served as the principal of the public school in Ashdown (Little River County) from 1902 to 1905. Following his graduation from Hendrix (to which …