For Lakeport’s 10th Anniversary, supporters, Johnson descendants, and authors gathered on Labor Day Weekend.
Since opening in September 2007, Lakeport has become a unique, off-the-beaten-path destination in southeast Arkansas. Tourists bisecting the country or traveling the Great River Road always keep us busy, but we also held a number of events (big and small) in 2017.
On Labor Day Weekend, we commemorated our 10th Anniversary with Lakeport supporters and Johnson family from Canada and the across the U.S. The two-day event was filled with local food and authors who have written about the Johnsons. The authors included Dr. Christina Snyder, Dr. Tom DeBlack, Dr. Blake Wintory, Rex Nelson, and Mike Jordan.
Earlier in the year, Lakeport partnered with Preserve Arkansas for the Behind the Big House. The two-day workshop explored extant slave dwellings and explored ways to interpret the experiences of the enslaved people who inhabited them. The event featured Joseph McGill, an African-American preservationist and founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, and included living history performances, a historic cooking demonstration, and presentations by McGill, Jerome Bias, Angela Walton-Raji, Dr. Blake Wintory, and Dr. Jodi Skipper.
Lakeport continues to host smaller events as well. In 2017, we hosted a book signing with Mike Jordan, author of The Freedom Song (historical fiction about Lakeport) and seven Lakeport Legacies. Our speakers presented on topics like the Civil War in the Delta, African American fraternal organizations, the Delta Chinese Heritage Museum, and the Delta plantations related to Lakeport.
We have also added to local history by publishing on Lakeport’s blog. Here are some posts you might have missed over the past year:
Adolph Meyer Arrives at Grand Lake in 1867 (January 2017)
April 21, 1927 [1927 Flood] (April 21, 2017)
Greenville, Mississippi’s City and Telephone Directories (June 2017)
Greenville’s Elks’ Lodge (October 2017)
This past year, we had a great start on the Lakeport Pillars, our friends’ group and museum membership program. The Lakeport Pillars is an important way you can help support research, outreach, and events at the Lakeport Plantation. Your contribution is tax deductible.
If you are local, consider volunteering some of your time at Lakeport. There is no better way to learn history than by engaging with it through tours and research.
Greenville’s Elk’s Lodge, in the city’s downtown, was completed in late 1906 or early 1907. Once a mainstay of the city’s social scene, today it is facing destruction for a downtown “greenspace” (i.e. empty space).
Built for the local “Cotton Pickers” lodge of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the two-story, Greek Revival, concrete building was almost complete in August 1906, when the newspaper reported it “is one of the prettiest club rooms anywhere.”
Designated a Mississippi Landmark in 2002, the building is also a contributing structure to the National Register Greenville Commercial District. Contributing resources adds to the historic significance of a district. Despite this significance, the city seems set on a new “greenspace” to replace the Steinmart Square that has been designated for a new downtown Federal courthouse. Smart downtown greenspaces are nice in thriving urban area, but destroying an iconic building in Greenville’s struggling downtown isn’t. It will leave a hole in the historic downtown corridor where there was once a majestic 100+-year-old building. The city’s decision is also troubling given the fact that an out-of-town developer, Joshua Cain, has expressed interest in restoring the building into a boutique hotel. Cain has a proven track record in California and with the 1857 Belmont Plantation at Wayside. Ignoring a potential investment and creating an empty space in Greenville’s downtown is obviously a lose-lose situation for the city.
Sources and Resources:
“New Members for Elk’s Lodge,” Greenville Weekly Democrat, August 16, 1906
Lakeport Plantation to Feature Polk Family Plantations
LAKE VILLAGE — “The Polks’ Plantations and the Creation of Cotton Kingdom in the Old South” will be presented by Dr. Kelly Houston Jones in the latest Lakeport Legacies monthly history talk on September 28 at the Lakeport Plantation, 601 Hwy 142, in Lake Village.
The event gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments and conversation, and the program starts at 6 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. For more information and to Register, contact Dr. Blake Wintory at 870-265-6031.
Jones will discuss her research on the Polk family’s extensive cotton plantations across Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The prominent family moved at the center of the historical processes that created King Cotton in the newest parts of the Old South. James K. Polk himself invested in cotton, while his relatives ran cotton plantations in the Mississippi Delta. The Polks’ and their business network represent patterns of cotton investment that characterized the late 1840s and early 1850s and built the slave empire of the Old Southwest.
James K. Polk, who served as president from 1845 to 1849, purchased a plantation in Yalobusha County, Mississippi in 1834. A nephew, William Wilson Polk, owned a large plantation at Walnut Bend in Phillips County, Arkansas and financed his uncle’s presidential run. George W. Polk, a cousin of President James K. Polk, co-owned the Hilliard Plantation on Grand Lake in Chicot County. Polk with his brother-in-law, Isaac Hilliard, owned 151 slaves and 550 acres of improved land in 1850. In 1845, he built a magnificent Greek Revival home near Columbia, TN he named “Rattle and Snap.”
Dr. Jones is an Assistant Professor of History at Austin Peay State University specializing in the history of slavery. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 2014. Her most recent work will appear later this year in Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950, edited by Guy Lancaster.
Lakeport Legacies is a monthly history talk held on the last Thursday at the Lakeport Plantation during the spring and summer. Each month a topic from the Delta region is featured. The Lakeport Plantation is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site. Constructed in 1859, Lakeport is one of Arkansas’s premier historic structures and still retains many of its original finishes and architectural details.
Open to the public since 2007, Lakeport researches and interprets the people and cultures that shaped plantation life in the Mississippi River Delta, focusing on the Antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction Periods.
Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University develops and operates historic properties of regional and national significance in the Arkansas Delta. A-State’s Heritage Sites include the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, Lakeport Plantation, the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, and the Arkansas State University Museum.
Attached image: George W. Polk, a Chicot County planter, completed his home, Rattle & Snap, near Columbia, Maury County, TN in 1845. Courtesy Library of Congress
The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program created a lesson plan on slavery and the Civil War to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Read more about the lesson plans on the AHPP Blog.
You can download the presentation and lessons plan here:Let+Freedom+Ring+Lesson+Plan+2016
AHPP Offers 13th Amendment Classroom Presentation, Lesson Plan
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program – Wednesday, March 18, 2015
The AHPP education outreach coordinator is pleased to announce a new classroom program called “The Impact of the 13th Amendment in Arkansas.” The fifty-minute program discusses the United States Constitution and its relationship to slavery, slave life and slave owners in Arkansas, the place of slavery as a cause of the Civil War, and life for freedmen after the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which made slavery illegal in the United States.
In addition to this new program, the AHPP is offering a new lesson plan for students in grades 7-12 called “Let Freedom Ring! The 13th Amendment and Freedmen’s Bureaus in Arkansas.” This lesson plan offers secondary source readings about slavery and the 13th Amendment in Arkansas, primary source readings of Freedmen’s Bureau records from Arkansas, and instructional guidelines on writing an argument using these readings. The lesson plan is aligned to the 2015 Social Studies guidelines for Arkansas.
To request a copy of the lesson plan, or to schedule a date for a free classroom program, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Lakeport Legacies · Ironclads, Cotton & Corn: The Civil War in the Mississippi Delta · Jim Woodrick (Mississippi Department of Archives & History)
Ironclads, Cotton & Corn: The Civil War in the Mississippi Delta
Jim Woodrick (Mississippi Department of Archives & History)
Thursday, July 27
Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm
Many Civil War historians have treated the Mississippi Delta region as a sideshow to more significant campaigns in the east. However, the Delta’s plantations supplied Union forces, witnessed some of the first ironclad battles of the Civil War, and the emancipation of thousands of slaves. Historian Jim Woodrick will explore how the Delta was vital to Confederate interests and was the target of repeated Union attempts to utilize the region’s waterways as an avenue of invasion.
Jim Woodrick, a native of Meridian, Mississippi, serves as Director of the Historic Preservation Division at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, where he worked for a number of years as the Civil War Sites Historian. In that capacity, he managed the Mississippi Civil War Trails program, participated in a number of battlefield and campaign studies with the National Park Service, and worked closely with the Civil War Trust and the American Battlefield Protection Program to identify Civil War battlefield properties in Mississippi for acquisition and preservation. He is a graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson and the author of The Civil War Siege of Jackson Mississippi, published by The History Press (2016).
Signed copies of Woodrick’s book, The Civil War Siege of Jackson Mississippi, will be available for purchase — $24.00 (includes tax, cash or check only, please).
601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653
Greenville, Mississippi has a solid run of city directories from 1913-present, with 1918-1926 as the most significant gap. Filled with names, businesses, addresses, and other information, directories are important resources for historians and genealogists. Directories are also a record of the town’s growth from a small county seat of under 1,000 people in 1865 to a city of over 40,000 in 1960.
The oldest directories that include Greenville are business directories along the Mississippi River. Having been rebuilt (and moved north) after the Civil War, Greenville was just a few years old in 1871, when the James’ River Guide wrote: “county seat of Washington co., Miss., is a small village. Population about 300.” While across the river, Chicot County’s more established seat, Columbia, seemed to be thriving: “IT is a very pleasant place, containing a number of stores, a court-house, and a population of about 400. Here commences the great cotton growing region, and the banks of the river are almost one succession of plantation. Just below this commences the growth of the Spanish moss.”
Two business directories centered around Vicksburg published in 1877 and 1879 also lists Greenville as a stop along the river just above “La Grange, Miss.”
During the last decades of the 19th century, town grew in population and modern amenities. The telegraph arrived in Greenville in 1877 and railroads crossed the town in all cardinal directions by the 1880s. Electricity came in 1888 and two years later a network of two electric streetcars was unveiled. That year the city reached a population of 7,642.
In the Lakeport Plantation Collection is a Greenville telephone directory from 1900. The directory, published by the Cumberland Telephone & Telegraph Company, contains 347 listings. In 1906 the Cumberland Telephone & Telegraph Company claimed their “Long distance lines and telephone enable you to talk almost any where in Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.”click to downolad the 1900 Greenville MS telephone directory
In 1961, the Delta-Democrat Times (March 1, 1961) chronicled “Greenville’s 40 year evolution from town to city” by comparing a 1961 directory to a newly discovered 1920 directory. Unearthed in a demolition of an old house, the 1920 directory was in the possession of Dean Loyd of 838 Bolivar St in 1961; today its location isn’t known and no copy of a 1920 Greenville directory can be found in any archive. According to the DDT, the 1920 directory had 1,428 listings compared to more than 11,000 in the 1961 directory. In that 40 year period, Greenville’s population grew from 11,560 to 41,502.
If you have Greenville city directory or telephone directory not in any archive, tell us about it.
Where to access Greenville City Directories:
Ancestry.com has Greenville’s city directories (1913-1960) in its U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 database. Ancestry requires a monthly fee to access its databases, but many local libraries and LDS Family History Centers offer access to patrons. Ancestry’s database is part of a microfilm collection offered by the Library of Congress & the Gale Group. Microfilm copies of the Greenville’s directories, 1913-1960 can be found in a number of libraries, including the William Alexander Percy Library in Greenville.
- city directories: 1927 [photocopy], 1929, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1946, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1976-1993, 1996, 1998, 2000
- telephone directories: 1938, 1939, 1942, 1947, 1950, 1953
Lakeport Plantation: 1900 telephone directory
Library of Congress: 1913-1917, 1927-1940, 1946-1960 [1913, 1916, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1946, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960]
Memphis Public Library: 1918
Mississippi Department of Archives & History:
- city directories: 1946, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2003
- telephone directories: 1972, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979
St. Louis County Library: 1913-14, 1916-17, 1927-32
University of Memphis: 1918, 1975
University of Mississippi: ca.1913, 1918, 1975
University of Southern Mississippi: 1946, 1950-51, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971-79, 1987, 1989
Washington County Courthouse:
- Greenville: 1981, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998
- Leland: 1973, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995
William Alexander Percy Library/Washington County: 1913-1932, 1936-1951 [microfilm]; 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 [4 others with no date in catalog] [screenshot];
- Greenville–on shelves in Reference section: 1946; 1950-1951; 1954; 1956; 1958; 1960; 1961; 1964; 1965; 1966; 1968; 1969; 1970; 1971; 1973; 1972; 1974; 1975; 1977; 1978; 1979; 1981 [2 copies]; 1982 [2 copies]; 1983 [2 copies]; 1983 [cross reference directory]; 1984 [2 copies]; 1984 [cross reference directory] 1985 [3 copies]; 1986 [2 copies]; 1987 [2 copies]; 1989; 1990 [3 copies]; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994 [2 copies]; 1995 [2 copies]; 1996 [2 copies]; 1996 [cross reference directory] 1997 [cross reference directory]; 1998; 1999; 2000; 2001, January [2 copies]; 2001, December [2 copies]; 2002; 2003; 2005 [2 copies]; 2006; 2007; 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011; 2012; 2013; 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017
- Leland: 1966, 1968; 1975; 1978; 1980; 1983; 1988; 1989; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994; 1995; 1996.
Keating, Bern. A History of Washington County. Greenville, MS: The Greenville Junior Auxiliary, 1976.
Willis, John C. Forgotton Time: The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta after the Civil War. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2000.
Lakeport Legacies · A Case Study in Diversity: Southeast Arkansas Legislators, 1868-Jim Crow · Rodney Harris (University of Arkansas)
A Case Study in Diversity: Southeast Arkansas Legislators, 1868-Jim Crow
Rodney Harris (University of Arkansas and Williams Baptist College)
Thursday, June 29
Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm
During Reconstruction (1867-1874), Republicans, including the first African American office holders, controlled most political positions in Arkansas. Many people assume that African American office holding ended with Democrats’ political “Redemption” in 1874. Despite Redemption, office holding on the local and legislative level remained quite diverse until 1893. Southeast Arkansas continued to elect Republicans, both black and white, along with Democrats at the county level and to the general assembly. This electoral diversity makes Southeast Arkansas unique and worthy of further examination.
Rodney holds a B.A. in Political Science from Arkansas State University, and a M.A. in History from the University of Central Arkansas. Rodney spent 10 years as a real estate broker, ran for State Representative in 2004, and was named one of the 25 Outstanding Young Executives in Northeast Arkansas. Rodney wrote his Dissertation, “Divided Saints: Democratic Factions in the 1874 Arkansas Constitutional Convention” under the direction of Dr. Patrick Williams at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Rodney specializes in Political History and Southern History. He will join the faculty at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas this fall.
601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653
Lakeport Legacies · From Mosaic Templars to Royal Circle of Friends: Identifying Arkansas’s African American Fraternal Headstones
From Mosaic Templars to Royal Circle of Friends: Identifying Arkansas’s African American Fraternal Headstones
Dr. Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation)
Thursday, May 25
Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm
Arkansas’s African American cemeteries are dotted with monuments from fraternal organizations founded in late 19th and early 20th centuries. Membership was often social, but also came with desirable sickness and death benefits. Several Arkansas-based fraternal
In this presentation you will learn about the rise and decline of these organizations and see examples African American fraternal monuments throughout Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta.
601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653
In addition to Lakeport’s regular weekday schedule, Lakeport will add Saturday hours (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) from May 20 until July 29.
Tours begin on the hour at the Lakeport Education Center.
For group tours and other questions, please call us 870.265.6031.
- Lakeport Legacies · September 27 · Casqui and Hernando de Soto’s Cross: Is Parkin the Place? · Dr. Jeffrey Mitchem (Arkansas Archeological Survey)
- Lakeport Legacies · August 23 · Fixed and Fleeting: Some Arkansas State Symbols and Why they Matter · Dr. David Ware (Capitol Historian at Arkansas Secretary of State)
- Lakeport Legacies · July 19 [Encore July 26] · Old Houses of Blanton Park: Greenville’s Lost Downtown Neighborhood
- Lakeport Legacies · June 21 · Yankee Mistress of the Old South: Plantation Life in the Arkansas Delta, 1847-1866
- African American Fraternal Headstone Symbols in Arkansas: A Guide
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