Tag: Grand Lake

Lakeport Legacies · Rev. Green Hill Jones: From Slavery to the State House · Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation)

Rev. Green Hill Jones: From Slavery to the State House

presented by

Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation)

Thursday, April 26

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

Rev. G. H. Jones served in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1885 and 1889. Courtesy of the Old State House Museum.

Rev. Green Hill Jones was one of over a dozen African-American men from southeast Arkansas who served in the Arkansas General Assembly between 1868 and 1893. Born a slave in Maury County, Tennessee in 1842, Jones was brought four years later to Kenneth Rayner’s Grand Lake cotton plantation in Chicot County, Arkansas. A young man when the Civil War began, Jones joined the Union Army at Memphis in 1863. After the Civil War, he became an ordained minister and received an education in the North. He returned to Chicot County in 1873 and was soon elected county treasurer (1874-1876), county assessor (1876-1878), and to two terms in the Arkansas House (1885, 1889).

Wintory will tell his story from church and school records, and interviews with Jones and others contained in his Civil War-era pension file.

Wintory’s talk is based on his research on Jones and Arkansas’s eighty-six other 19th century African-American legislators. His essay on the subject will be published in May 2018 in A Confused and Confusing Affair: Arkansas and Reconstruction. Edited by Mark Christ, the book will be published by Butler Center Books, a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System.

Read more on Green Hill Jones: here and here

Register for this FREE Event
(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 ·

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653

Rev. Green Hill Jones of Grand Lake, Arkansas

Rev. G. H. Jones served in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1885 and 1889. Courtesy of the Old State House Museum.

Few people realize that African-Americans continued to be elected in Chicot County into the early 1890s. The Rev. Green Hill Jones (1842-1924) was one of those men.

Jones had been enslaved on the Rayner Plantation on Grand Lake in Chicot County prior to the Civil War. Jones escaped slavery and served in the U. S. Colored Troops during the war. After the war, Jones went north to New Madrid, Missouri and Mound City, Illinois where he taught school and was ordained in the Free Will Baptist Church. From 1870 to 1873, he attended Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. After graduation, he taught in Paducah, Kentucky. Upon his return to Chicot County, he was elected county treasurer in 1874 and then to two terms in the Arkansas House–1885 and 1889.

The Free Baptist Cyclopaedia published a short, but fascinating biography of Rev. Jones in 1889:

Biography of Rev. Jones, published in Free Baptist Cyclopaedia (1889)

Jones, Rev. Greenleaf [sic] H., of Gr[a]nd Lake, Ark. was connected with the Cairo Mission as an ordained minister as early as 1870. The next year he attended Hillsdale College and afterwards taught among the colored people in Paducah, KY., and vicinity, where he also engaged in ministerial work. Subsequently, he secured land in Arkansas and became wealthy. He served in the Legislature of the state and held many county offices. He is at present pastor of the Rising Sun church of the Bon Eagle Q. M. (Miss.), and exerting a wide influence among his people.

Jones pastored several churches in Chicot County:

Rising [Risen] Sun at Grand Lake (1876-1877; 1889-1897; 1899)
Mt. Pisgah at Grand Lake (1898; 1903)
Mt. Olive at Grand Lake (1902)
Sweet Home at Eudora (1906-1907).

Jones died in 1924 and is buried in Mason Cemetery south of Eudora.

Also see Southeast Arkansas’s African-American Legislators, 1868-1893 and

Wintory, Blake. “African-American Legislators in the Arkansas General Assembly, 1868-1893: Another Look,” in A Confused and Confusing Affair: Arkansas and Reconstruction, ed. by Mark Christ. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2018. [expected April 2018]

Wintory, Blake J. “Green Hill Jones (1842-1924),” Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (April 2018)


Update February 15, 2018

It appears the Rising Sun Church was still standing as late as 2006. A 1936 Chicot County Highway Map shows a church between Eudora and Grand Lake. This church, as of 2018, still shows up in Google maps as Rising Sun Church. Google Earth’s historical imagery shows what is likely the Rising Sun Church still standing as late as 2006.

Church, now identified as Rising Sun, as shown in a 1936 Chicot County Highway Map

Rising Sun Church, Google Earth imagery, 2003


Close-up of 2003 image of Rising Sun Church

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


“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.