Inventor McDermott

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Here’s more about Charles M. McDermott (1808–1884), a medical doctor, minister, plantation owner, Greek scholar, charter member of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company and inventor. His patented inventions include an iron wedge, iron hoe, a cotton-picking machine, and a “flying machine.” He was a regular contributor to the Scientific American, and he was among the first to advocate the germ theory of disease.  Read More

The Great Red River Raft

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Have you ever heard of the Great Raft on the Red River? It took the Freeman-Custis crew 14 days to maneuver around it. What was it exactly? The Great Raft was an impressive mess—a gigantic logjam, or a series of “rafts,” on the Red River in present day Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.   Read More

Historic Places: Bedford Brown Bethell House

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Historic Places: Built in 1912-13, the Bedford Brown Bethell House in Des Arc, Prairie County, has been called one of the most elegant old homes in the Grand Prairie region of Arkansas. Bedford Brown Bethell, the original owner, was born August 23, 1846, in Tulip Ridge. In the mid-1850s, Bethell and his family moved to Des Arc. After fighting in the Civil War and a stint on the steamboat “Libery #3,” Bethell went into business with his brother-in-law. “B.B. Bethell and Sons,” as the business came to be known, was a success. The pair owned mercantile stores in Conway, Searcy, Russellville, Monticello and Paris. Sadly, it’s thought that B.B. Bethell didn’t spend much time in his new home. Bethell bought the property on which the home was built on May 2, 1912, and he died the following year, on December 20, 1913. He only spent a few months living in the house. His widow, Mary Agnes Walsh Bethell, continued to live in the home until her death in 1919. Her eldest son, William inherited the home, where he and his family lived until 1953, when the property was sold out of the family. The house was built by a well-known builder from the area, Captain Keaty. Some say the house was designed by architect R.P. Morrison, who also designed the Prairie County Courthouse. Bethell was supposedly so taken with the courthouse, he contracted Morrison to draw up his house plans. This claim remains unsubstantiated. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 4, 1978. Read the entire nomination online, hosted by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. [Photographs courtesy Flickr user “Sunnybrook,” see more of her work here.]  Read More

Arkansas's National Landmarks: Eaker Site

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Arkansas’s National Landmarks: The Eaker Site is a large, prehistoric archaeological site located near Blytheville in Mississippi County, on land that was formerly Eaker Air Force Base. The Eaker Site is considered the largest and most intact Late Mississippian Nodena site in the Central Mississippi Valley. The Arkansas Archeological Survey’s Blytheville Research Station developed a multi-year archeological project at the site to increase understanding of Mississippian towns, to gather information to aid in the management and interpretation of the site for the public, and to provide information about the site to the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.   Read More

Creativity Arkansas

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Wednesday, May 06, 2015

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The History of DAH

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH) was created in 1975 to preserve and promote Arkansas’s natural and cultural heritage as a source of pride and enjoyment for all. Originally, the agency had a different name. The original legislation named the agency the Department of Arkansas Natural and Cultural Heritage. The agency’s name was changed to its current title in 1985.   Read More

Historic Places: Louisiana Purchase Marker

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

 Historic Places: The Louisiana Purchase Marker is located at the junction of Phillips, Lee and Monroe counties in eastern Arkansas. The marker commemorates the “initial point” from which land surveys of the territory acquired through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 were surveyed. The land surveys for all or parts of the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana were measured from this point in the middle of an eastern Arkansas swamp.   Read More

Arkansas Literary Festival 2015

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Thursday, April 23, 2015

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Important Arkansan: Pharoah Sanders

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Born in Little Rock in 1940, Grammy award-winning Ferrell “Pharoah” Sanders, noted jazz saxophonist, is recognized as a pioneer of the “free jazz” movement. Collaborations with artists such as Sun Ra and John Coltrane remain his most noted work, but his solo efforts stretch over four decades from 1964 to the present.

Click here to watch Sanders perform with William Henderson (piano), Dennis Carrol (bass) and George Fludas (drums), concluding the Iowa City Jazz Festival on July 7, 2013.

Sanders began his musical career accompanying church hymns on clarinet, but his initial artistic accomplishments were in art. He discovered the tenor saxophone while attending Scipio Jones High School in North Little Rock. His band director, Jimmy Cannon, introduced the student to jazz. When Cannon left the school, Sanders (still a student!) took over as the band director until a replacement was found. During the late 1950s, Sanders sneaked into clubs in downtown Little Rock to play with acts that were passing through. At the time, Little Rock was part of the touring route through Memphis, Tennessee, and Hot Springs for rhythm and blues (R&B) and jazz musicians, including Junior Parker. Limited by the state’s segregation and the R&B and jazz standards that dominated the Little Rock music scene, Sanders left for Oakland, California, where he lived with relatives and could play in both white and black clubs. While in the Bay Area, Sanders was given the nickname, “Little Rock.” During his stay in California, Sanders met and befriended John Coltrane Read More

Almeda Riddle and Alan Lomax

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Folklorist Alan Lomax spent his career documenting folk music traditions from around the world. He and his father John spent time in Arkansas collecting old stories and songs. Recently thousands of the songs and interviews Lomax recorded were made available for free online, many for the first time, including outtakes and false starts. It’s a real treasure-trove for folk music fans. Listen to a two-part interview and song session Lomaxrecorded with Arkansas’s own folk music treasure, Almeda Riddle, about the song, “Down in the Arkansas.”  Part One; Part Two  Discovered by a ballad collector in the 1950s, Almeda James Riddle of Greers Ferry (Cleburne County) became a prominent figure in America’s folk music revival. Her memory of ballads, hymns, and children’s songs was one of the largest single repertories documented by folksong scholars. After two decades of concerts and recordings, she received the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts for her contributions to the preservation of Ozark folksong traditions. [Photograph by Alan Lomax, courtesy of the Association of Cultural Equity.]   Read More