Delta Stories: An Appeal from Helena to the Governor in 1913

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James Dean

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Friday, April 28th 2023
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Arkansas Governors Arkansas History Delta Stories
Junius Marion Futrell had a unique and colorful political career, but nothing prepared him for an appeal from the good women of Helena in April 1913. Futrell was born August 14, 1870, in Greene County, Arkansas and was first elected state representative in 1896. After serving several terms, he was elected state senator in 1912. Because of his popularity, Futrell was then chosen as Senate president pro tempore. Although an honor, it resulted in confusion when Governor J.T. Robinson resigned. Since there was no lieutenant governor during those days, the Senate president pro tempore was next in line. However, some officials wanted the previous president pro tempore to take over, so there were two acting governors for a time. A ruling by the Attorney General settled this question though, and Futrell became the sole governor on March 13, 1913. However, he would only be governor until August 6 when someone else took the position after a special election. Nevertheless, J.M. Futrell was faced with that unique appeal by the women of Helena, Arkansas.

On April 21, 1913, a letter was received by Governor Futrell that asked for his help in ridding Helena of a desperate character named Red Minnie. Apparently, she had established an immoral resort in a houseboat parked along the Mississippi Riverbank. Since the city authorities claimed no jurisdiction, these offended women asked the governor to get involved.
The authors of the letter stated she had two children enrolled in the city school system and those unfortunate minors should be taken from their mother. Red Minnie was also accused of sending her female employees all over Helena to visit the married women and invite them to her establishment, since their husbands were always there. Worse yet, she threatened any person with death if they tried to stop her activities. This was too much for the good ladies of Helena, so they demanded the governor do something about this "house of shame."
After two days of statewide news and considerable pressure from the ladies of Helena on this subject, Mayor Hugh Martin decided that the city did have jurisdiction over the river. He promptly ordered Red Minnie and "all of her class" to move on. This was done, and the menace of Red Minnie disappeared from Helena. Governor Futrell had just about been ready to act as well, and it was reported that he was much relieved to hear the problem had been solved.
J. Marion Futrell returned to his senate seat in August 1913 and then served as a judge. In 1932, he was elected the thirtieth governor of Arkansas and served until 1937. While governor, Futrell dealt with the Great Depression, New Deal and prohibition, but none of those were probably as thorny and dangerous as the appeal from the women of Helena about Red Minnie in 1913. #deltastories #helenaarkansashistory #mississippiriverhistory #arkansashistory #arkansasgovernors
Newport Daily Independent (Newport, Arkansas) 22 April 1913, Tue. Page 1
Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock, Arkansas) 25 April 1913, Page 1
Dougan, Michael B. Jonesboro, Arkansas. "Junius Marion Futrell (1870-1955)" Encyclopedia of Arkansas. 2023.

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