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Adolph Meyer arrives at Grand Lake in 1867

Adoph Meyer, an early Jewish merchant in the Grand Lake/Eudora area, recounted his 1867 arrival to Grand Lake in a 1925 Arkansas Gazette article:

Adolph Meyer of Eudora, one of Chicot county’s well known business men, opened a business at Grand Lake in the year 1867. The old pioneer tells of the great Mississippi Delta, when the river was the only artery of transportation and before the era of levees, reminiscent of the earlier days in this section.

"Arkansas Boasts of Real Seaport: Ocean Steamers Soon will be Stopping at Grand Lake," Arkansas Gazette, August 16, 1925.

“Arkansas Boasts of Real Seaport: Ocean Steamers Soon will be Stopping at Grand Lake,” Arkansas Gazette, August 16, 1925.

In the year of 1867…I went from Bizell [sic], La. on the steamer Robert E. Lee to Memphis on a business trip. On my return the steamer docked at Grand Lake to load on 600 bales of cotton. It took some four or five hours for the boat to be loaded, and while this was being done I walked out over the little town, and to my surprise I saw at least 100 wagons loaded with cotton and wool, and the business people were not able to handle his tremendous trade.

Some of these wagons were from Bonita and Bastrop, La., some from Wilmont, Portland and Hamburg, and from various places out west. During that same year I established a business at Grand Lake, and operated a general store there until the advent may years later of the old Memphis, Helena and Louisiana Railroad through this section, now part of the Missouri Pacific system. 

The old grand Lake of 1867…is not the Grand Lake of today. The river’s banks constantly caving has moved its channel some one and half miles to the west and the Grand Lake of 1867 is not in the state of Mississippi.

According to Goodspeed’s Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas (1890) and other sources, Adolph Meyer was born the son of Jacob and Sarah Meyer in Germany near Frankfurt in 1848. He and his brothers emigrated from Germany– likely in the mid-1860s–perhaps just after the Civil War. Meyer made stops in New York City and Louisiana, before arriving at Grand Lake in 1867. He married Carrie Pfeipher of New Orleans in 1875. His first store on Grand Lake was at Bernard, but was moved in 1886 to Cariola [Carrieola] Landing. Cariola was named for his wife and Eola Ford, spouse of his business partner, Judge Peter. H. Ford. The business moved again in 1905 to Eudora (or Readland in some sources) with the coming of the railroad that year.

Adolph Meyer died on March 31, 1929 in St. Louis, Missouri. Carrie died almost a year later in St. Louis on March 27, 1930. Both are buried in New Mt. Sinai Cemetery in St. Louis.

1929_00013732 1930_00011398

Sources:

“Arkansas Boasts of Real Seaport: Ocean Steamers Soon will be Stopping at Grand Lake,” Arkansas Gazette, August 16, 1925.

Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1890, pgs. 1080-83.

Cashion, Elbert Thomas, Sr. A History of Eudora, Arkansas, Chicot County. Eudora: 1937, n.p.

“Reynold Herbert Meyer,” clipping in private collection of Carrol Meyer, source unknown, n.d. [ca 1935].

“Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1965.” Online database. https://s1.sos.mo.gov/records/Archives/ArchivesMvc/DeathCertificates: 2017.

Will Record Book D, Chicot County Courthouse, pgs. 566-575.

Wintory, Blake. Images of America: Chicot County. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2015, pg. 93.

 



The Other Lycurgus Johnson: Exploring History at Lakeport

A version of this article originally appeared in Life In the Delta, August 2016

Amanda Worthington, living at the Willoughby Plantation at Wayside, lamented in her diary in 1862 that her invitation to Linnie Adams’ 15th birthday party had arrived a month late “after the thing was over and nearly forgotten.” With Linnie across the river at Lakeport in Chicot County, Arkansas communication between the two friends was cumbersome. The two did exchange timely letters during the Civil War, but after a visit to Lakeport in August 1865, Amanda confessed “I love Linnie so much – I do wish she lived on this side of the river.”

Amanda and Linnie would have marveled at the convenience of the two bridges that have connected Chicot County with Washington County since 1940. However, the counties have been connected for far longer. Many Washington County couples married in Chicot County at Point Chicot and later Columbia, since Washington County’s first county seats, Mexico and Princeton, were many miles down river from the county’s northern section. The practice ended when old Greenville, not too far from the current city, became the seat in 1846. Amanda Worthington and Linnie Adams’ friendship also testifies to the connection. The Worthingtons and Johnsons (Linnie’s mother was a Johnson) were some of the first planters in the region. They arrived from Kentucky in the 1820s and 1830s and ultimately built huge cotton plantations with hundreds of enslaved laborers at Leota, Lake Washington, Grand Lake, Sunnyside, and Lakeport.

Today the 1859 Lakeport Plantation is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site restored to capture and preserve the house and the history of the people who lived and labored there. Built with a view of the Mississippi River for Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson, guided tours of the house and exhibits explore 19th century life, the lives of enslaved laborers, and the preservation of the structure. While Lakeport is the locus of the history, it is not where the story ends. Lakeport explores the Delta through on-going research, publications, and our “Lakeport Legacies” lecture series.

Our 2016 Lakeport Legacies, which began in March, dug deep into the Delta’s history with presentations on the geology of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the life and family of African American politician James Worthington Mason, the lives of five Italian-American immigrant sisters, the Arkansas Delta’s Mid-Century Modern architecture, as well as the history of the Mississippi Capitol Building.

By the time this is published, Lakeport will have one presentation left in our 2016 Legacies series: “The Other Lycurgus Johnson: U.S. Colored Troops and Civil War Pension Files in the Delta” to be presented August 25 by Lakeport Director, Dr. Blake Wintory.

Pension files sometimes contain photographs of claimants, like this one of John Gordon who joined the 11th Louisiana Infantry in 1863. Gordon was a slave on George Falls plantation on Deer Creek in Washington County, Mississippi. The rare discovery was made by Linda Barnickel while researching her book on Milliken's Bend.

Pension files sometimes contain photographs of claimants, like this one of John Gordon who joined the 11th Louisiana Infantry in 1863. Gordon was a slave on George Falls plantation on Deer Creek in Washington County, MS. Linda Barnickel highlights this find in her book on Milliken’s Bend.

Beginning in 1863, the Union Army heavily recruited slaves into their ranks. Nearly 200,000 African American men served in the Union Army, with over 47,000 coming from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The U.S. Pension Bureau, created in 1862, provided monthly payments for Union soldiers and their affected families disabled during the war. Later the criteria for a pension were expanded and by the mid-1890s, the Bureau accounted for over forty percent of the Federal budget. Today the National Archives holds about 100,000 pension applications for African Americans who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Challenged to prove their identity, African American pension claimants were often hindered by illiteracy and lack of documentation of important life events like marriages, birth, and even age. To fill the gaps, the Pension Bureau initiated “special examinations,” generating volumes of interviews with family, friends, comrades, and former owners. These examinations are a trove of information on 19th century African American life, sometimes providing complete life histories for former enslaved laborers who toiled on Delta’s plantations.

lycurgus-johnson-pension-index

General index card for Lycurgus Johnson, Company D, 47th US Colored Infantry. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. T288, 546 rolls (Accessed on Ancestry.com)

One pension that caught my attention is for a one Lycurgus Johnson. This Lycurgus, who happens to share the name of Lakeport’s owner, enlisted at Lake Providence, Louisiana on May 5, 1863 in the 8th Louisiana Regiment Infantry (African Descent), Company D–later  renamed the 47th U.S. Colored Infantry. Sgt. Johnson died just over a year later on July 20, 1864 in Vicksburg of tuberculosis, then called “consumption.”

Lycurgus’ widow, Mary Johnson, remarried in 1880 and filed for a pension under her new name “Covington” with her two sons Rhoom and James Johnson. According to an interview with Mary in 1900, she and Lycurgus were slaves on Edward P. Johnson’s Avon Plantation on Lake Washington. (Edward Johnson and Lakeport’s Lycurgus were first cousins). She arrived on the plantation as a “mere child,” while Lycurgus arrived from Kentucky around 1849, when he was likely in his early 20s. He and Mary were married by “a slave-preacher [Hilliard Holmes] long before the war on the Avon Place & we lived together without separation till Lycurgus Johnson enlisted,” she recalled. Mary was a house servant and Lycurgus worked around the house; he’d “drive the wagon & did things that did not require heavy work” due to his illness.  

Pension records like that of Lycurgus Johnson can provide important details about African American communities on the plantation. For example, the file also includes interviews with two other slaves on the Avon Plantation, Matt Harris and Downing Williams, and an affidavit signed by the slave preacher, Hilliard Holmes, that married the couple in 1850.

Mary also revealed Lycurgus has always been sick: “it was just the consumption that ailed him. He was just up & down all the time for several years

Page from deposition of Mary (Johnson) Covington, Febuary 6 1900.

Page from deposition of Mary (Johnson) Covington, February 6 1900.

before he enlisted.” Questioned why the army enlisted a sick man she replied, “he wanted to go so bad because all the other colored people were going in the army.” The pension was eventually denied because Lycurgus’ illness was preexisting and his two surviving sons were both over sixteen. By 1900, James Johnson, appears to be the only surviving child of twelve. According to the census that year, he and his wife Eujean and two children were farming near Wayside.

Unfortunately, the pension file for Lycurgus Johnson leaves the basic questions about the origin and meaning of the name “Lycurgus,” unanswered. Pension files have their limitations, often focusing on a specific issue. In this case, Lycurgus Johnson’s  pre-existing illness.  When asked about Lycurgus’ parents’ health, she stated “I never knew Lycurgus Johnson’s father & mother or brothers or sisters & never heard what caused their deaths.” But perhaps she did know more about who they were. She must have been aware that her husband’s father was white. In 1864, when the couple had their marriage legalized by a military chaplain in Vicksburg, Lycurgus was recorded as a “quadroon”  with a “white father.”

“Lycurgus” was a common name in the white Johnson family. Lakeport’s Lycurgus Johnson was born in 1818, the same year as Edward’s brother, Leonidas Lycurgus Johnson. Both men had grandsons that were there namesake. It was not uncommon for a house servant like Lycurgus (born around 1827) to be bestowed with an honorary family name.  

The Delta certainly has a rich and intriguing history to be explored. History at the  Lakeport Plantation opens up many topics, whether it is relationships with Washington County planters or a former slave named Lycurgus.

The Delta certainly has a rich and intriguing history to be explored. History at the  Lakeport Plantation opens up many topics, whether it is relationships with Washington County planters or a former slave named Lycurgus. You can learn more at our next Lakeport Legacies, August 25 at 5:30 p.m or by touring Lakeport. Lakeport is open year around with tours scheduled at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday or by appointment, 870-265-6031.

 

Dr. Blake Wintory has been the on-site director at the 1859 Lakeport Plantation since 2008. He is the recent author of Chicot County (2015) in Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series. His wife, Debra, is Greenville’s Chamber Director. They have a five year-old daughter, Janey.



Lake Village Postcard shows Lakseshore homes ca 1950

We recently added this ca 1950 postcard to our collection at Lakeport. The mid-century scene clearly shows two homes along Lakeshore Drive.

lake-village-reynolds-house-ca-1950

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Roughly the same view of South Lakeshore Dr via Google Streetview (August 2016)

Looking closely, I believe I have identified both houses on South Lakeshore Dr., just south of downtown. The second home in the image is commonly called, the Reynolds House. “Lakeside,” as its owner officially christened it, was built for General D. H. Reynolds in the 1870s by Nelson Bunker. The home was significantly remodeled in the 1890s.

reynolds-house-zoom

Close up of “Lakeside,” ca. 1950

reynolds_house_2_arcadia_ppt

“Lakeside” in 1990. Courtesy of Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first house (unnamed as far as I know) is also still standing, although modified a bit. The home is identifiable by the four sets of columns along the front porch.  Today the house has a brick exterior and the lattice work along the roof is gone; the dormer, now a window rather than a vent, is still a distinguishing feature for the early twentieth-century home.

The home was likely built in the first decade of the twentieth-century and appears on the 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Lake Village. D. H. Reynolds’ death in 1902 and the subsequent growth in Lake Village initiated new construction around the Lakeside homeplace. Sanborn Maps label the area, “Mrs. Reynolds Second Addition”

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The home is still identifiable by the four sets of columns along the front porch.

lake-village-postcard-zoom-1950

Close up of “unnamed house,” ca. 1950

 

 

 

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The two homes appear in the 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance map.

 

Updated November 22, 2016



Naming Lake Village’s Streets

For two decades after its incorporation in 1898, Lake Village never bothered to officially name its streets. Only a few streets, like Main St., likely had agreed upon names until 1919.

Lake Village has served as Chicot County’s seat since 1857. Platted in 1856, Lake Village’s unnamed streets were identified as 40 foot wide and only the “Lake Front” received anything resembling a name. Main St. seems to be such by 1908, but outside the business district streets didn’t seem to have official names.

1856 Platt of Lake Village, Deed Book H, pg 339, Chicot County Courthouse

1856 Plat of Lake Village, Deed Book H, pg 339-40, Chicot County Courthouse.

This 1908 Post Card identifies Main St.

When Lake Village incorporated in 1898, it was just a hamlet of 250 people. This 1908 Post Card identifies Main St.

The 1912 Sanborn fire insurance map labeled most of Lake Village’s city streets, but those names are qualified as “arbitrary”–that is made up by Sanborn. By 1917, Sanborn still listed arbitrary street names with a few semi-official names: (E-W) Orleans, and Memphis; (N-S) Lake Shore Blvd, Chicago Blvd, Hamburg, Duval, and Bruce.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, June 1912, Lake Village, Sheet 1

Early Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps list most street names as “arbitrary.”, June 1912, Lake Village, Sheet 1.

Naming of Lake Village’s streets in 1919 coincided with the rise of cars and paving of roads. The Arkansas-Louisiana Highway, which connected Louisiana with Eudora, Lake Village and McGehee, was paved between 1919 and 1922.

Lake Village City Council on September 12, 1919, acting upon the advice of a civic league committee, voted to officially name the city’s streets.

Council met tonight in call session[;] all members being notified, said meeting was called for the purpose of naming the streets of the town…The following members were present. Mayor Snell, Alderman Gaines, Houge & Seale & Recorder Bagby.

The following names were suggested for the streets of the town by a committee representing the civic league… Mrs. Wm Clug?, Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Dabney, and Mrs. Jas R. Yerger. Streets recurring North and South starting at Lake front were as follows No 1 Lake Shore Drive. No 2 Court Avenue. No 3 Cokely Ave. No 4 Chicot Ave. No 5 Woodrow Ave and No. 6 Commerce Ave. And there recurring East and West as follows,

No 1. Liberty St. No 2 Columbia St. No 3 Highway St. No 4 Confederate St. No 5 Lee St. No 6 Washington St. No 6 Jackson St. No 8 Main St N 9 Church St. No 10 St. Mary’s St. No 11 Lake View Place. No 12 Reynolds St. No 13 Lake Side Way. No 13 South Side Street.

The roll was called and the above names were adopted by the following votes, Snell aye, Gaines aye, Hogue aye Seale aye, Bagby aye.

Lake Village City Record Book 3, Lake Village City Hall

Lake Village City Council Minutes, September 12, 1919, Lake Village City Record Book 3, Lake Village City Hall.

The 1928 Sanborn maps reflect most of the familiar names for Lake Village today.

Sheet 1 of 1928 Sanborn Map

The 1928 Sanborn map shows many familiar street names, Sheet 1 of 1928 Sanborn Map.

 

East to West — Lake Village Street Names

Street names 2016 Sanborn 1928 Sanborn 1917 Sanborn 1912
Wynne St. Vicksburg [Liberty St. in 1919 by City Council] Vicksburg [Arbitrary] not listed
Columbia St Columbia (Birmingham) Birmingham [Arbitrary] not listed
Hwy St. Highway (Orleans) Orleans (Finch) Finch [Arbitrary]
Sgt. Thomas Armour Jr. St. [renamed in 2015] Confederate (Memphis) Memphis (Gull) Gull [Arbitrary]
Lee St. Lee (John William) John William [Arbitrary] not listed
Washington St. Washington (Rye) Rye [Arbitrary] Rye [Arbitrary]
Jackson St. Jackson (Oat) Oat [Arbitrary] Oat [Arbitrary]
Main St. Main (Wheat) Wheat [Arbitrary] Wheat  [Arbitrary]
Church St. Church (Barley) Barley [Arbitrary] Barley [Arbitrary]
St. Mary’s St. St. Mary’s (Hemp) Hemp [Arbitrary] Hemp [Arbitrary]
Lake View St. Lakeview Place Wool [Arbitrary] Wool [Arbitrary]

North to South: Lake Village Street Names

Street names 2016 Sanborn 1928 Sanborn 1917 Sanborn 1912
N. / S. Lakeshore Dr.  Lake Shore Dr.  Lake Shore Blvd. Lake Shore Boulevard
N. / S. Court St.  Court Av. St. Louis St. / A. St.  [Arbitrary] A St. [Arbitrary]
N. / S/ Cokley St. Cokley Av. Lark / B St. [Arbitrary] Lark / B St. [Arbitrary]
Hamburg St.  Hamburg  Hamburg  [Unnamed]
N. / S. Chicot St.  Chicot Ave.  C St. [Arbitrary] C St. [Arbitrary]
Chicago Blvd  Chicago Blvd.  Chicago Blvd. St. [Arbitrary]
N. / S. Duval St.  Duval [Woodrow in 1919 by City Council]  Duval Duval [Arbitrary]
 Commerce St.  Bruce  Bruce Bruce St. [Arbitrary]

Update: February 13, 2018 — ca 1918 Map of Lake Village shows streets with arbitrary names

1918 Map of Lake Village from Rockefeller Foundation Annual Report

 



Scott House Designed by Architect James Willis

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The Scott House, also known as the Buffington House, in Lake Village was built in 1951 for Clyde and Leslie Scott. Clyde, a gifted athlete for the Arkansas Razorbacks and an Olympic medalist, married Leslie Hampton of Lake Village in 1946. The couple built this Mid-Century Modern home as a summer house in 1951. Local lore attributes the house to E. Fay Jones (likely because he was a friend during the Scott’s time in Fayetteville); However, the home does not resemble any of Jones’ work nor is it listed in any of his projects. According to Leslie Scott, the architect was James Willis, who was with the Little Rock firm of Wittenburg, Delony and Davidson from 1949-1955. Later Willis formed the Pine Bluff firm of Reed & Willis with D. A. Reed.

The Scotts owned the house for about five years and then it was sold to the Marvin & Louise Buffington. Marvin Buffington, a local historian, wrote several histories of Chicot County institutions.  After Marvin’s death in 1994, Mrs. Buffington sold the home to Charles Turnage. The home is currently vacant.

Courtesy of Arkansas State Archives

Architect James P. Willis (center) with partner D. A. Reed (right) in Pine Bluff, 1958. Photograph by Ernie Deane and Courtesy of Arkansas State Archives

IMAG2098 IMAG2100 IMAG2102 IMAG2103 IMAG2104 IMAG2106 IMAG2107 IMAG2108 IMAG2110

 

Sources:

Cashion, Scott.” Clyde Luther “Smackover” Scott (1924–),” in Arkansas Encyclopedia of History & Culturehttp://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2761 (Accessed June 15, 2016)

Fay Jones Collection, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, https://libraries.uark.edu/specialcollections/manuscripts/FayJones/projects.asp (Accessed June 15, 2016)

Hampton, Leslie. Phone interview, June 15, 2016

Williamson, Elizabeth (Buffington). email correspondence, July 13-14, 2017

Willis, James. Obituary in Find a Grave.com, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=96807198 (Accessed June 15, 2016)

 

 

updated July 14, 2017

 

 

 



Lakeport Legacies · The Adventures of the Bastianelli and Pianalto Sisters: History from the Tontitown Museum

The Adventures of the Bastianelli and Pianalto Sisters: History from the Tontitown Museum

presented by

Dr. Rebecca Howard (University of Arkansas & Tontitown Museum)

Thursday, May 26

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

Mary Bastianelli (l) and Katie Pianalto (r).

Photograph of Mary Bastianelli (l) and Katherine Pianalto Ceola (r) taken around 1917, possibly at the Washington County (AR) Fair. Mary is wearing an engagement ring; her sweetheart, Jack Zulpo, was killed in France in 1918. Courtesy of Tontitown Historical Museum

The Bastianelli & Pianalto sisters were part of the first wave of Italian immigrants that came to the Sunnyside Plantation in Chicot County in the 1890s. Later they immigrated again to Tontitown in northwest Arkansas with Father Pietro Bandini. Many in the generation who immigrated as children followed Old World marriage habits, meaning young couples delayed marriage until they were financially established. Few walked down the aisle before their late twenties or thirties. So what did a young woman in the 1910s in rural Arkansas do with an extra decade or so as a single woman? Between the five Bastianelli and Pianalto sisters, they lived in at least four states, taught school, became nurses, and aided priests. One sister was a long-time schoolteacher in Lake Village. Another was among the first graduates of St. Edward Nursing School in Fort Smith. Two exercised their voting rights for the first time in California. An examination of their lives reveals fascinating information about an often “silent” generation.

 

Please click to RSVP to this FREE Event
870.265.6031
lakeport.ar@gmail.com

Lakeport Legacies (LL) meets in the Dining Room of the Lakeport Plantation house. LL, held on one of the last Thursdays of the month at the Lakeport Plantation, features a history topic from the Delta. For more information, call 870.265.6031.



Lakeport Legacies · The Life and Wives of James Worthington Mason

The Life and Wives of James Worthington Mason

presented by

Dr. Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation)

Thursday, April 28

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

 

The Baths by Josephine Mason (1872-1952), daughter of James W. Mason. Courtesy of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.

The Baths by Josephine Mason (1872-1952), daughter of James W. Mason. Courtesy of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.

James Worthington Mason (1841-1874), a former slave turned Reconstruction politician, emerged as Chicot County’s “political boss” in the 1870s. Few, if any, Chicot County slaves had the advantages of Mason in the antebellum era: the son of the county’s wealthiest planter, Elisha Worthington, he and his sister were educated in the North and James continued his studies in France. While historians are aware of Mason’s important political career, little has been made of his personal life. The wives he chose and what became of his two daughters is a fascinating window into four African American women’s lives. Emerging from slavery and freedom, their lives extended to Lincoln’s White House, the American West, Liberia, Paris and London.

 

Please RSVP to this FREE Event
870.265.6031
lakeport.ar@gmail.com

Lakeport Legacies (LL) meets in the Dining Room of the Lakeport Plantation house. LL, held on one of the last Thursdays of the month at the Lakeport Plantation, features a history topic from the Delta. For more information, call 870.265.6031.



Southeast Arkansas’s African-American Legislators, 1868-1893

Reconstruction gave black males (freed former slaves) the right to vote for the first time. This had enormous consequences for civil society.  During Reconstruction and in the following years, eighty-six black men were elected to represent Arkansas in the General Assembly. Of the eighty-six, fourteen were elected from southeast Arkansas. Active participants in the legislative process, black legislators engaged in debate, introduced bills, and voted. They tended to support civil rights, education, public improvements, and immigration into the state. Black legislators from the southeast included the wealthy son of Chicot County’s largest planter; a noted abolitionist from Illinois; a former slave who became a college president and physician; educators; ministers; as well as men who eked out their living as farm laborers into the early 20th century. Laws designed to disenfranchise black voters (poll taxes, complicated election procedures and ballots), ultimately ended the election of African Americans in the late 19th century.

Senate

  • James W. Mason, 1868, 1871   (Ashley, Chicot, Drew, Desha)
  • Samuel H. Holland, 1873, 1874   (Ashley, Chicot, Drew, Desha)
  • W. H. Logan, 1887, 1889   (Chicot, Desha)
  • George W. Bell, 1891, 1893 (Chicot, Desha)

House

  • Edward A. Fulton, 1871  (Ashley, Chicot, Drew, Desha)
  • James A. Robinson, 1871, 1874-75  (Ashley, Chicot, Drew, Desha)
  • John W. Webb, 1871  (Ashley, Chicot, Drew, Desha)
  • John C. Rollins, 1873  (Ashley, Chicot, Drew, Desha)
  • Isaac G. Bailey, 1885  (Desha) [born in Chicot]
  • Green Hill Jones, 1885, 1889 (Chicot)
  • Hugh L. Newsome, 1887 (Chicot)
  • Henry A. Johnson, 1891 (Chicot)
  • R. C. Weddington, 1891 (Desha)
  • Nathan E. Edwards, 1893 (Chicot) 
Legislator Term Party Birth Antebellum Status Occupations
Bailey, Isaac G. 1885 (H)  R

b. Chicot Co. (1846)

d. 1914

Slave Baptist Minister, Educator, son attended Howard University
Bell, George W. 1891 (S), 1893 (S)  R

b. MS/TN (ca 1855)

d. after 1927

Slave ? Teacher, Doctor, Southland College President, Insurance Salesman
Edwards, Nathan E. 1893 (H)  R

b. AL (1855)

d. 1900-1910

Slave ? Farmer, Farm Laborer; Minister
Fulton, Edward A. 1871 (H)  R

b. KY (1833)

d. St. Louis, MO (1906)

Slave (KY & MO) Abolitionist, U.S. Intelligence Officer, Farmer, Census Taker (1870), Tax Assessor, Editor, Farmer, Postmaster, Laborer (1900 Census)
Holland, Samuel H.

1873 (S),

1874 (S)

 R  b. OH (ca 1844) Free ? Sheriff, Jailer, Principal, Teacher
Johnson, Henry A. 1891 (H)  R  b. Jackson, MS (1856) Slave ? Farmer/Planter, Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, Graduate of Alcorn State University
Jones, Green Hill 1885 (H), 1889 (H)  R  b. TN (1842) Slave (TN & AR) Sharecropper, Farmer, Co. Treasurer, Co. Assessor, Slave on Kenneth Rayner’s Plantation on Grand Lake in Chicot County. Joined Comp F, 3 U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery in 1863. Educated at Hillsdale College, Michigan, 1870-1873.
Logan, W. H. 1887 (S), 1889 (S)  R  b. OH (1850/55 Free ? Justice of the Peace, Preacher, Teacher, Farmer
Mason, James W.

1868 (S),

1871 (S)

 R

b. Chicot Co. (1841)

d. 1874 (Lake Village)

Slave, Free Planter, Postmaster, Sheriff, Judge
Newsome, Hugh L. 1887 (H)  R

b. Nashville, TN (1848)

d. 1900-1910 (Little Rock)

Slave ? Teacher, Postal Clerk, City Marshal (Little Rock)

Robinson, James A.

1871 (H) 1874-75 (H)

 R  b. AR (ca 1836) Slave Merchant

Rollins, John C.

1871 (H)

 R

b. GA (1812/1835)

d. before 1880

Slave ?

Farmer
Webb, John W.

1871 (H)

 R

b. KY (1824)

Slave ?

Justice of the Peace, Farmer, Farm Laborer

Weddington, R. C.

1891 (H)

 R

b. Rodney, MS (1866)

NA

Farmer, Teacher, Principal

Adapted from Wintory, Blake J. “African American Legislators in the Arkansas General Assembly, 1868-1893.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 65 (Winter 2006): 385-434.

Updated April  4, 2018



WPA Slave Narratives for Chicot County

Between 1936 and 1938 the Federal Writers’ Project collected over 2,000 oral histories with former slaves. While Arkansas collected more histories than any other state, no interviews were collected in Chicot County. However, six narratives taken in cities across Arkansas are by former Chicot County slaves (or their children):  Fanny JohnsonNannie MaddenJames MorganLucretia AlexanderNannie Jones, and Mattie Nelson. A seventh narrative by a former Chicot County resident, William Lattimore, describes his move from Mississippi to Arkansas.

Fanny Johnson was 76 years old in 1936 when she was interviewed at her daughter’s house in Hot Springs. She recalled she was a 5 years old slave on the Woodfork Place near Grand Lake when the Civil War started. Her parents were born in Maryland and were brought to Nashville, TN by Woodfork, who owned several plantations throughout the South. Fortunate for her family, Woodfork “didn’t believe in separating families.” The overseer on their plantation was good to them “most of the time.” She recalled “Just once did anybody on the Woodfork place get whipped” unlike at the plantation next door. There the overseer could be mean with the whip. She stated “Why you could hear the sound of the strap…the ‘niggah drivah’ would stand and hit them with a wide strap…Some they whipped so hard they had to carry them in.”

Fanny was too young to work in the fields during slavery, but she helped her grandmother take care of babies while the women work in the fields.

After the war, they were taken (presumably by Federal troops) to the The Bend, Jefferson Davis’ former plantation near Vicksburg. She later returned to Arkansas, living and working in Jefferson County and in Oklahoma. She also worked as a cook in tourist towns like Eureka Springs and Hot Springs.

First page of Fanny Johnson's WPA Interview

First page of Fanny Johnson’s WPA Interview

Nannie Madden, interviewed in West Memphis at age 69, was born in Lake Village in 1867, just after slavery. It’s not clear from her narrative, where her parents were enslaved. Her father served in the Union Army, and after the war rented a farm at Red Leaf Plantation, then managed by Isaac M. Worthington. Her mother died there in 1876 and her father died in West Memphis at another daughter’s house at age 88. She stated, “I farmed and worked all my life.” Nannie recommended Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, Booker T. Washington’s Own Story of His Life and Work,and a biography, The Master Mind of a Child of Slavery–Booker T. Washington by Frederick E. Drinker.

James Morganinterviewed in Little Rock, was born in Chicot County in 1873. His father, Aaron Morgan, was brought to Chicot County as a slave by his master, Charles McDermott. Morgan believed his father and mother were brought here from Georgia and South Carolina, but the 1880 Census shows Aaron and Rosa Morgan were both born in Louisiana–where Charles McDermott was from. His mother’s first husband was sold during slavery and Aaron and Rosa met after freedom. Once free, Aaron stayed on the McDermott plantation and sharecropped. Later, according to James, Aaron bought 160 acres of government land for $1.60, and “built a house and cleared it up.”

Morgan worked 35 years on the Missouri Pacific Railroad; 22 years as a foreman. He retired in 1932 and received a pension from the government for his work on the railroad.

Lucretia Alexander, interviewed in Little Rock at age 89, was a 12 year old slave on the Rossmere Plantation in Chicot County when the Civil War began. She was born in Copiah County near Hazelhurst, Mississippi and arrived at Rossmere when she was “six or eight years old.” She remembered the plantation’s four overseers by name. The last overseer, Tom Phipps, was “mean…mean as he could be.” She recalled, “I’ve seen him take them down and whip them till the blood run out of them.” Once, he whipped her and “aimed to kill.” Protected by her mistress, Susan Chapman [Read], Phipps was run off the plantation.

Lucretia’s mother and father were both born in Virginia. Her mother, Agnes Toliver, “was treated well during slavery times”; but her father was sold five times, because he “would take nothin’.” Later, Lucretia’s mistress purchased him for $1500 without ever seeing him.

During the Civil War her mother stayed on the plantation because her children had been “refugeed…off to different places to keep them from the Yankees.” Lucretia’s brother returned in 1865, but she did not see her sister until 1869.

When freedom came they were told “You’re free as I am” by a Union soldier.  She recalled, “old colored folks…that was on sticks, throwed them sticks away and shouted.”

After the Civil War, Lucretia stayed on the Rossmere Plantation for about 4 years and was paid $12 per month, plus food and cloth. Next she worked in the fields, making more money. Around 1923, she moved to Little Rock. She stated, “I have been a widow for thirty years. I washed and ironed and plowed and hoed–everything. Now I am gittin’ so I ain’t able to do nothin’ and the Relief keeps me alive…I used to take a little boy and make ten bales of cotton. I can’t do it now. I used to be a woman in my day. I am my mother’s seventh child.”

Nannie Jones was 81 years old when interviewed at her home in Pine Bluff. Living at Dr. Gaines’ Plantation, she was only 4 years old when the Civil War started. She remembered being a cute little girl around the house…”a pet.” But when freedom came, she recalled people “jumped up and down and carried on.” Her mother was sold down river from Kentucky, but died when Jones was small. Her father likely fought for the Union Army for a short time. As an adult she worked “in the field and anywhere. I worked like man.”

Nannie Jones: “My father went to war on one side but he didn’t stay very long.”

Mattie Nelson was 72 years old when she was interviewed in Pine Bluff. She was born around 1865 during her family’s “emigration” from Texas. Her unnamed parents were enslaved by the Chapmans — Johnson and Elizabeth Chapman. The Chapmans, like many slaveholders in Arkansas trying to protect their property, took slaves to Texas in 1863. Mattie remembered “I member when I was a child mistress used to be so good to us. After surrender my parents stayed on there with the Chapmans…til they died.”

While her parents were illiterate, Mattie went to school. But still work called. Mattie began working at age six, rolling logs and cleaning up new ground.

Without her maiden name or her parents’ names, it was difficult to find more about her. However in the 1940 Census, she is still living in Pine Bluff.  The 75 year old is a widow and taking care of her grandson, Fred Burt, age 9.

William Lattimore, 78 years old when interviewed in Pine Bluff, likely only spent a few years in Chicot County. He was born in Canton, Mississippi in 1859. He remembered Yankees soldiers’ arrival in Canton during the siege of Jackson in 1863. His father joined Col Ziegler’s 52nd US Colored Infantry that year.

After the Civil War, the family moved to Vicksburg and shunned an opportunity to return to their old plantation. He remembered “Mr. Lattimore [old master] came and wanted my father to live with him…before the surrender old master whipped my father over the head with a walking stick…and I was afraid he would whip him again.”

William went to school after freedom and went until he married. It’s difficult to piece together a concise timeline. However, he moved to Arkansas, first Chicot County and then Jefferson County. He became a school director at 18 and was elected justice of the peace (probably in Jefferson County).

There were three men with the last name Lattimore in Company G of the 52nd USCI–Reuben, Hilliard, and William. In the 1930 Census, a 65 year old William Latimer [sic] of Pine Bluff lists his father’s birthplace as Virginia. According to service records, Hilliard Lattimore was born in Virginia. However, in the 1900 Census a William Latimore in Chicot County, born in Mississippi in 1852, lists his father as born in Tennessee. The William Lattimore that served was born in Davidson, Tennessee. Further research into the soliders’ pension files would lead to more information.

The full text of most of the WPA slave narratives are available on the Library of Congress’s Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938.



Belmont Plantation House: Some Facts

Belmont LOC

1936 HABS Photograph, Library of Congress

When cotton prices rose in the 1850s, Delta planters like the Worthingtons and Johnsons built mansions like Belmont, Mount Holly, Willoughby and the Lakeport Plantation. While we have lost Leota (1883), Willoughby (1932) and Mount Holly (2015), Belmont and Lakeport still stand. Lakeport is restored and owned by Arkansas State University; and Belmont has new owners with grand plans for the 1857 home.  Below are a few  facts about the Belmont Plantation.
    • Belmont was built around 1857 for Dr. William W. Worthington (1802-1886) and Elizabeth (Stringer) Worthington along American Bend on the Mississippi River. The next year that bend would become Lake Lee.
    • Belmont’s name may have been derived from Belle Island, the island plantation surrounded by American Bend (later Lake Lee) and the Mississippi River. Belle Island was owned by Judge Benjamin Johnson was a native Kentuckian who became one of Arkansas’s Territorial judges in 1821.
    • The dominant architecture of the house is Greek Revival. However, Italianate brackets along the cornice and pediment show architectural tastes were in transition.
    • Belmont and Lakeport both feature double galleried, three-bay projecting porticos.

  • Belmont has some of the finest plaster work in Mississippi.
  • The entry medallion at Belmont is nearly identical to the the medallion at Lakeport.
  • William Worthington was one of four brothers from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky who settled in the Delta (AR & MS) in the 1820s and 1830s.
  • The land on which Belmont was constructed was originally owned by Alexander G. McNutt, who served as Mississippi Governor from 1838-1842. The land was later purchased by William’s brother, Samuel Worthington. William purchased the land from his brother in 1855 and then constructed Belmont around 1857.
  • Samuel Worthington built the Willoughby (Wayside) Plantation to the southwest of Belmont in 1858. Samuel’s daughter, Amanda Worthington, penned her diary there during the Civil War.
  • There is strong evidence that the same builders from Madison, Indiana constructed Belmont (1857), Willoughby (1858), and Lakeport (1859). The same evidence suggests the builders also built a home at Leota (likely for Isaac Worthington’s widow) and another at Grand Lake, Chicot County, Arkansas.
  • Samuel’s Willoughby Plantation home, then vacant, was razed in 1932 for the expansion of the levee. Samuel’s son estimated it cost $35,000 to build and furnish the Willoughby home.
  • Isaac Worthington and his wife, Anne Taylor Worthington, settled at Leota. The Leota home fell into the Mississippi river in 1883. Anne was the sister of Lydia Taylor Johnson at Lakeport.
  • Anne Taylor Worthington’s house at Leota was, according to a 1936 newspaper article, “a handsome two-story brick home facing the river [built] exactly like Belmont except that it had two wings whereas Belmont has only one.”
  • Elisha Worthington, who settled in Chicot County, was the largest planter in Arkansas. His prized Sunnyside Plantation also had a large home. One newspaper report described it as “magnificent,” but little else is known about it.
  • The 1860 Census for Washington County is missing (as are the county’s 1850s tax records), however in 1855 William Worthington owned 80 enslaved laborers. His holdings most likely increased during the next six years until the Civil War began.
  • During the Civil War, from 1863-1865, supply rich plantations like Belmont were often raided by troops to feed and supply the Union Army operating in the Lower Mississippi Valley.
  • North of Belmont, in the winding Greenville Bends, Confederates often attacked Union transports and gunboats. This prompted retaliation on planters and plantations along the Bends, including the burning of Old Greenville in 1864.
  • The Worthingtons owned the home and land until 1929.
  • Belmont was documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in 1936. The HABS photographs are in the Library of Congress.
    094144pv_Belmont Interior

    1936 HABS Interior Photograph, Library of Congress

  • The Weathers family soon acquired the house and owned it until the mid-1940s.
  • In 1946, Belmont became the home of the Belmont Hunting Club. 
  • Most of the changes to Belmont in the upstairs and in the north parlor took place in the 1990s during the ownership of Fernando Cuquet, Jr.
  • Added to the National Register in 1972, Clinton Bagley’s nomination text is the best source of history on Belmont.
Fact sheet created November 2015 by Blake Wintory of the Lakeport Plantation, an Arkansas State University Heritage Site — lakeport.astate.edu. Updated 05/04/2016


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