NOLAND OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS.
SOURCE: THE WPA GUIDE TO 1930S ARKANSAS.
New Introduction by Elliott West.
Compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Works Projects Administration in the State of Arkansas.
UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KANSAS
Introduction Copyright 1987 by the University Press of Kansas
Copyright 1941 by C. G. Hall, Secretary of State, Arkansas
First paperback edition, with a new introduction, published in 1987.
Originally published by Hastings House in 1941 under the title:
Arkansas: A Guide to the State.
Page 5: One of the State’s most prominent political figures was Charles Fenton Mercer Noland (“Pete Whetstone”), who wrote broad humor for a New York paper a hundred years before Bob Burns of Van Buren stood in front of a microphone and began to immortalize imaginary relatives.
Page 110: In the two decades that preceded the War between the States, a trickle of backwoods humor grew into a stream of books printed throughout the United States. Arkansas was often the inspiration for these gusty writings, which make a vivid, if minor, contribution to American literature. Arkansans, including Charles Fenton Mercer Noland (“Pete Whetstone”), wrote a number of the popular items, . . . .
Page 385: Among the early residents of Batesville was Colonel Charles Fenton Mercer Noland, who gained fame in the East for his humorous sketches published under the name “Pete Whetstone.”
Garnered from the Microfilm I got at the Arkansas City Public Library...
WESTERN AMERICAN Frontier History of the Trans-Mississippi West 1550-1900
No. 4317 thru No. 4326, Reel 427
Box shows research publications, inc., 12 lunar drive, woodbridge, conn. 06525
Pope, William F. Early Days in Arkansas. Little Rock, Fred W. Allsopp, 1895. 330 p. il. One of Arkansas’ earliest histories.
Did not get the following...
Allsopp, Fred W. History of the Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More. Little Rock, Parke-Harper Co., 1922. 684 p. il.
MAN I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR:
Charles Fenton Mercer Noland.
CHAPTER III. JOURNEY TO ARKANSAS TERRITORY.
In July, 1832, John Pope, of Kentucky, who was then the Governor of the Territory of Arkansas, serving his second term as such, visited Shepherdsville, Bullitt county, Kentucky, and while there offered me the position of Private Secretary to the Governor, to fill the place made vacant by the death of another kinsman, William Fontaine Pope, who had recently died from the effects of a wound received in a duel with Charles Fenton Mercer Noland.
The offer was accepted and I at once set about making preparations to accompany the Governor on his return to Arkansas.
Toward the latter part of September of the same year I met Governor Pope at Louisville, and on Sunday morning, the 30th day of September, we left on board the steamboat “Reindeer,” an Arkansas River packet, commanded by Capt. Daniel Miller of the firm of Montgomery, Miller & Company, forwarding and commission merchants of Montgomery’s Point, Arkansas, at the mouth of White River.
The “Reindeer” was a side-wheeler of about 600 tons burden. She was built after the pattern of most of the steamboats plying the western waters. The gentlemen’s cabin was below and aft the wheel houses, and had for sleeping accommodations bunks, one above the other, and provided with curtains, an arrangement similar to that on modern sleeping cars, but very far from being so luxurious. The ladies’ cabin was immediately above and was provided with state rooms and some considerable show of comfort and convenience.
From the wheel houses back there were wide guards and steps leading up to the ladies’ cabin. In front of the ladies’ cabin, on the boiler deck, were accommodations for deck passengers. This in warm weather was the most pleasant part of the boat. In front of the wheel houses there were no guards, the boat coming to a sharp point at the bow.
Gov. Pope and myself were the only cabin passengers for Arkansas, although there were a large number of passengers for points along the Mississippi River as far down as Louisiana, among them Senator Black, wife and daughter, of Mississippi.
The boat carried a heavy cargo of freight for points along the Arkansas and White Rivers. On account of the low stage of water in the Ohio River and the heavily ladened condition of the boat, we stuck on every sand-bar between Louisville and Paducah.
It was not until Sunday, October 7th, that we reached Bird’s Point (now Cairo), at the mouth of the Ohio.
Soon after our arrival at Paducah a large New Orleans packet landed just below the “Reindeer,” and after she had been made fast and the gang plank put out, I observed two men go ashore who seemed to be in an angry altercation about something. One of the men was very tall, while the other was of rather slight build. When they reached the wharf the larger one struck his companion in the face and knocked him down, who, as he arose to his feet, drew a long dirk knife and stabbed his assailant to the heart, killing him instantly. The murderer started to run, but a boy stopped his flight by striking him in the back with a stone. The man was promptly arrested and hurried off, but I never learned his fate. These men were Italian fruit venders, and partners in the business. This tragedy made a very deep impression on my mind, as it was the first time I had ever seen human life taken, but it was by no means the last bloody affray I witnessed in those early days.
Just after entering the Mississippi River, a large New Orleans packet named the “Peruvian” passed us on her down trip, crowded with passengers returning to their homes in the South. She had a splendid band of music aboard, and as the sweet strains floated out over the “Father of Waters,” some of us wished that we were passengers on that high-headed craft instead of our slower and more lowly one. The “Peruvian” soon passed out of sight. Among the cargo of the “Peruvian” were some fifty head of horses and mules belonging to southern planters.
About 10 o’clock that night while sitting with Capt. Miller on the hurricane deck, just in front of the pilot house, listening to him relate some of the stirring events of his life on the river, we heard low, distant thunder, which came nearer and nearer. The day had been excessively hot and sultry. Capt. Miller remarked that we were likely to have a storm. I soon noticed that the captain showed some signs of apprehension of danger, as he would repeatedly apply his mouth to the speaking tube connecting with the engine room, to give orders to the engineer as to the proper management of the engines. As soon as the captain became fully satisfied of the danger that was about to overtake us, he directed the pilot to land, and the boat was headed for a high bluff on the Missouri side, where she was made fast, both bow and stern, with heavy cables. This task was hardly accomplished when the storm struck us in all its fury, and the enormous hempen cables in which we reposed so much confidence parted like silken threads, and the boat was blown out into mid-stream. The fires in the furnaces had been damped down and we now found ourselves in the middle of the Mississippi River, without steam, and at the mercy of a furious storm. By good management on the part of the officers, the boat was swung around and headed up stream. We were then struck by a counter blast which careened the boat so that water ran over the lower guards and into the gentlemen’s cabin. The report was soon circulated that the boilers had shifted, but this proved to be untrue. The freight in the hold had, however, been thrown to one side, which added greatly to the danger. The total destruction of the boat and the consequent loss of life was only averted by the fact that the steamer had a heavily laden barge lashed to her starboard side, which prevented her from going entirely over when the wind struck her on the lee side. Becoming somewhat reassured by the cool and calm manner in which Capt. Miller was giving his orders, I started to seek the Governor and render him what assistance I could, he being almost entirely helpless by reason of his age and infirmities, having but one arm. By the time the excitement and fears caused by the catastrophe had become somewhat allayed the boat had righted, and steam having been gotten up, we were soon steaming up the Mississippi, and out of the track of the storm. After reaching a convenient landing place, about five miles from the scene of our accident, the captain ordered the boat tied up, and we remained here until 9 o’clock the next morning, a heavy fog which arose during the night preventing an earlier departure. When we were leaving this place, the steamer “Volant,” which had left Louisville the same time we did, but had kept out of the track of the storm, came along, and the two boats proceeded down the river together.
About fifteen miles from our last stopping place, we found the proud steamer “Peruvian” with a huge cotton-wood tree lying across her middle, having almost crushed entirely through the boat, tearing away one of the wheelhouses and killing three cabin passengers and two deck hands, besides wounding several other persons. A number of horse and mules were also killed.
This magnificent steamer which had but a few hours ago passed us with colors flying and music sounding, and which had awakened something like envy in the breasts of some of the passengers on board the “Reindeer,” now lay a helpless hulk, with death and destruction all about her.
The “Reindeer” and “Volant” took off as many of the passengers of the disabled steamer as they had accommodation for and the fine St. Louis packet “Ossian” coming along at this time took the remainder of the “Peruvian’s” passengers, and the three boats proceeded down the river.
The next day we passed the ruins of New Madrid, Mo., which place had been almost totally destroyed by the memorable earthquake of 1811. New Madrid was originally settled by the Spaniards, and was at one time the capital of Louisiana Territory when that Territory belonged to Spain, and which afterwards passed into the possession of France. All that now remained of the once flourishing town was a few dilapidated houses standing on a high ridge between two deep ravines, caused by the quaking of the ground, and through which the waters of the Mississippi, when at high stage, flowed into the “sunk-lands,” also caused by the earthquake.
About thirty miles below New Madrid we came upon the steamer “Sampson” lying at the western shore, on fire. Her upper works had already been entirely consumed and her hull was now sharing a like fate.
The “Sampson’s” passengers, of whom there were a large number, were all on shore, but they had saved little baggage. This was a New Orleans and Louisville packet, and was bound for the latter place. Capt. Miller, with his accustomed goodness of heart, landed just below the burning steamer and rendered what assistance he could to the unfortunates.
The next day we arrived at Memphis, or as it was called by the natives and early settlers, Chickasaw Bluff. Here I met an old Kentucky acquaintance in the person of Major Craven Peyton, father of Dr. Craven Peyton, for many years a prominent physician of Little Rock. I also met and became acquainted with Gen. Edmund Pendleton Gaines, of the United States army, and his beautiful wife, Myra Clark Gaines, whose long litigation with the city of New Orleans has become a cause celebre.
On October the 11th we reached Montgomery’s Point, one of the oldest and most widely known landings on the Mississippi River. In the early settlement of Louisiana Territory this point was the place of residence of Francois D’Armand, a wealthy fur trader and a man of considerable importance in that region of country. Gen. William Montgomery resided at the Point at this time. A few of the old log cabins erected by Francois D’Armand in 1766 were still standing about three hundred yards back from the river.
Two large log warehouses, built upon piling, stood near the water’s edge and were used by the firm of Montgomery, Miller & Co., for storing freight destined for points along the Arkansas and White rivers. The extensive business of this firm was under the management of Mr. Moses Greenwood, who afterwards became a prominent and wealthy commission merchant of New Orleans, and who was well known and highly respected throughout the South for his many excellent traits of character.
The hotel at the Point was owned by Gen. Montgomery and was situated about two hundred and fifty yards from the river. The hotel building was elevated some distance above the ground on high brick pillars and had wide verandas on all sides. There my eyes beheld for the first time the stately magnolia—the trees, however, were not in bloom, and it was not until later that I had the pleasure of seeing its splendid flower and inhaling its exquisite and almost overpowering perfume. Here, also, was it that my ears were for the first time saluted by the ravishing strains of the mocking bird—that “glorious mocker of the woods.” It seemed to me that every tree and brush and shrub was vocal with the ever-changing notes of this wonderful bird of song. . . .
The Post of Arkansas was settled in 1686 by some of the followers of De Tonti, one of La Salle’s lieutenants. All that part of what was afterwards Arkansas Territory, east of the Quapaw line, an imaginary line running due south from a point of rocks on the south bank of the Arkansas River at Little Rock, to the line dividing what are now the States of Arkansas and Louisiana, was at the time of which I write, 1686, in the possession of the Quapaw Indians, in consequence of which De Tonti’s men made their settlement on the left, or north bank, of the Arkansas River, at a point where Grand Prairie strikes the river, and here they erected a rude fort.
De Tonti continued on to St. Louis, leaving a portion of his men at the fort. De Tonti never returned to the settlement, for upon arriving at St. Louis he found letters awaiting him which contained orders for him to proceed to Quebec, Canada. Soon afterwards he was commanded to return to France.
Many of the French settlers left by De Tonti at the settlement intermarried with the Quapaw Indian women, and some of their descendants were living at Little Rock and other parts of the Territory when I first came to Arkansas.
The Post of Arkansas is distant from Little Rock about 125 miles, and when I first saw it in 1832, the original part of it presented a very forlorn and desolate appearance. None of the habitations of the original settlers or their immediate descendants were standing at that time.
After the Territory passed into the hands of the French the Post became the official residence of Don Carlos De Villemont, who had been appointed commandant of the Post, and who was holding that position at the time of the cession of the Territory to the United States by France in 1803.
The settlement at the Post was scattered over a considerable area, extending back from the river to Grand Prairie. Many of the houses erected during Gov. De Villemont’s administration were still standing and were built after the French style of architecture, with high pointed roofs and gables and heavy exterior timbers, and high chimneys. These old houses presented a sad but interesting picture to look upon. In many instances the tall chimneys had fallen down, and trees of considerable size were growing out through the roofs and chimney places.
There were, however, a few modern buildings, situated near the bank of the river, among them two brick houses, one of which was the store and warehouse of the opulent Frederick Notrebe. The other was pointed out to me as having been the printing office of William E. Woodruff, publisher of the Arkansas Gazette.
At the Post I became acquainted with Mr. William B. Wait, a young man from Albany, N. Y., who was the confidential clerk of Col. Notrebe, and who had almost the entire management of Col. Notrebe’s vast business enterprises. Mr. Wait afterwards removed to Little Rock, where, for many years, he was a successful merchant and capitalist.
One of the earliest settlers at the Post of Arkansas was Col. Alexander Walker, a man of marked peculiarities and characteristics. He represented Arkansas county in the Territorial Legislature of Missouri when what is now the State of Arkansas constituted one county of Missouri Territory. He traveled all the way from the Post of Arkansas to St. Louis on horse-back when attending the meetings of the Legislature. When the seat of government was moved to Little Rock, Col. Walker settled on a farm opposite the town and resided thereon after I came to Arkansas. In all the histories of the State that I have ever read I have never seen mention made of this worthy old pioneer. Judge Walker maintained that everything in the realms of nature was beautiful with two or three exceptions only. He declared that the Almighty Architect created all things beautiful except “whistling women, crowing hens, fiddlers, fire-dogs and pop-corn.” Why the unoffending pop-corn fell under the ban it is hard to determine. His wife, though a plain and unattractive woman, but who was the soul of goodness, was, in the eyes of the old Judge, beautiful. The expressions “beautiful” and “beautifully” were as often upon his lips as the more forcible but less elegant by-words of other men. Despite his mortal antipathy to fiddlers, his only daughter, Jane, ran off and married a member of that despised following.
When this quaint old gentleman came to live just opposite the town of Little Rock, on the north side of the river, he had for a neighbor Judge David Rover. That is, they lived about two miles apart, which was considered very neighborly in those days.
On one occasion Judge Rover borrowed an ox yoke of his eccentric old neighbor, and failing to return it after sometime, Judge Walker sent him word to bring the yoke home. To this demand Judge Rover returned the rather exasperating reply to Judge Walker that if he wanted his yoke, to come or send for it himself. Without more ado the old Judge reached for his shot gun and set out for Rover’s house, bent on enforcing his demand. He found Rover in the horse lot and demanded that he instantly pick up the yoke and take it home without a moment’s delay. Rover, of course, demurred and offered to send it back by a servant, but the Judge came for the purpose of teaching Rover a lesson, and would not consent to have the article returned by other hands. In the end Rover took up the heavy and cumbersome yoke and started on his two-mile walk under a broiling hot summer’s sun. Several times he attempted to drop his burden, but the obdurate old Judge threateningly urged him on. Finally they reached Judge Walker’s outer gate, and Rover sat the yoke, which by this time weighed about 500 pounds to the exhausted man, against the fence; but the lesson was not completed to the satisfaction of Judge Walker, and he said, “You didn’t get that yoke there; take it to the barn.” So Rover was compelled to take it up again and carry it several hundred yards further. When the yoke had been bestowed to the Judge’s complete satisfaction, he remarked: “Come into the house, Judge, we have plenty of fans inside.” Rover sullenly complied and took a seat upon the porch, glad of a chance to rest. Judge Walker called to Jane and instructed her to draw a bucket of cold water from the north side of the well and make for Judge Rover and himself a couple of strong toddies. This offer of hospitality on the part of his task-master was not declined by Judge Rover, and under the benignant effects of the cooling draughts, the anger of both men cooled correspondingly. Presently Judge Walker said, “Judge Rover, you are welcome to the use of my ox-yoke whenever you want it, but when I ask for its return I expect you to send it home immediately.” I am not informed whether or not Judge Rover ever borrowed the article again.
In recounting this incident to me, in answer to the question if he really did make Judge Rover carry the heavy and unwieldy thing two miles, the old Judge laughingly replied, “I did, and he did it beautifully, too.”
Judge Rover afterwards moved to Iowa, where he killed an overbearing and quarrelsome man from whom he was fleeing at the time to save his own life. This last incident was related to me by Hon. Henry C. Caldwell, United States Circuit Judge, who knows much of Judge Rover’s history after he went to Iowa.
It is a tradition that the first Protestant sermon ever preached in Arkansas was by the Rev. John P. Carnahan, supposed to be a Cumberland Presbyterian, and was delivered at the Post of Arkansas in the year 1811.
In the early years of the century the Post of Arkansas was visited from time to time by missionary priests of the Roman Catholic church. Most of the very early settlers of that region of country, including Indian converts, were members of that religious body.
The town was destroyed in 1863 by the United States land and naval forces under General McClernand and Admiral Porter. . . .
Owing to the size of the party—about forty persons, it was not until nine o’clock that supper was announced. The supper consisted of huge chunks of boiled beef, middling bacon—swimming in grease, cold turnips and collards, corn bread and black coffee—without milk and sweetened with what was called “long sweetening;” that is, molasses. The corn bread was excellent, the meal having been ground in a steel hand-mill, much in use in those days. In the making of meal by this process two mills were generally used, one for cracking the grains of corn, and a smaller one for grinding the cracked corn into meal.
Ferry Boat ...
The ferry boat in use at this early date deserves more than passing notice. In construction it differed but little from those now in use on our smaller rivers, consisting of a long flat bottomed hull, with two bows. It was the method of propulsion that made it unique. This was accomplished by means of buoys or buoy boats, as they were called. These buoy boats were about twelve feet long and some four or five feet wide amidship, the two ends coming to a sharp point. These buoy boats were some fifteen or twenty in number and were staunchly built, and entirely floored over. In the center of each of them was a post, varying in height from three to ten feet, according to the location of the buoys. At the top of each of these posts was a large pulley, through which a large rope, one and one-half inches in diameter, ran. This rope was attached to a huge cottonwood tree on the north side of the river, opposite the foot of Main street and about fifty feet above the ground. The other end of the rope was passed through the pulleys on the buoy boats. These boats were distributed along at regular intervals, the last one being located about one hundred and fifty feet above the ferry landing on the Little Rock side. The rope passing through the pulley on the last buoy boat had a slack of about fifty feet. To this part of the large rope a pulley was attached, through which a smaller rope ran and was fastened to each of the upper corners of the ferry boat. At each end of the boat was what was called a lee board, some fifteen inches wide, and which was raised or depressed by a lever. On starting from either shore this lee board was so depressed as to swing the end of the boat quarter up stream, the buoy boats assuming the same position. The action of the water against the lee board gave the necessary impetus to the ferry boat to carry her across the river. On coming to within forty or fifty feet of the shore a vigorous pull upon the rope would straighten the course of the boat directly across the river and bring it to the landing. To prevent the buoy boats from drifting together a smaller rope was tied to the same cottonwood tree lower down, and attached to the bottom of the posts on the buoy boats. The speed of a ferry boat propelled in the manner I have attempted to describe was very rapid, indeed, almost equal to that of steam. This unique ferry boat, with her attendant buoy boats, was destroyed by the heavy drifts in the river during the tremendous overflow of 1833.
CHAPTER V. ARRIVAL IN LITTLE ROCK.
On reaching the landing at Little Rock, the Governor was met by a number of distinguished citizens, among whom I now recall the names of Colonel Chester Ashley, who afterwards became United States Senator from the State of Arkansas; Major Elias Rector; General James S. Conway, afterwards elected the first Governor of the State; Colonel Samuel M. Rutherford, Treasurer of the Territory in 1833; Richard C. Byrd, who had been Territorial Auditor in 1831, and who afterwards became acting Governor of the State from January 10, to April 19, 1849, upon the resignation of Governor Drew; William E. Woodruff, editor and proprietor of the Arkansas Gazette, and others: all warm personal and political friends of Governor Pope, and who gave him a cordial welcome back to the seat of Government.
One among this group of prominent men attracted my attention in no small degree, on account of his distinguished bearing and extreme elegance of dress. This was Major Elias Rector, United States Marshal for the Territory, and whom Albert Pike has immortalized in song as “The Fine Old Arkansas Gentleman, Close to the Choctaw Line.” Major Rector was above the medium height, and very symmetrically formed, with remarkably handsome and striking features. His hair was black and glossy and was allowed to grow in length almost, if not quite, to his hips, where it hung straight as an Indian’s when not confined under his hat by a comb, such as ladies use in tucking up their hair. He wore no beard or mustache and his face was as free from hirsute growth as that of a woman. Once he was a passenger from Memphis to Nashville in a stage coach, in which there were also several lady passengers. On removing his hat, his luxuriant growth of hair fell down about his shoulders, which so scandalized the ladies that at the next stopping place they alighted from the stage, and declined to proceed further in the company of a woman masquerading in male attire. The situation was explained to the ladies and the episode ended in a hearty laugh. On another occasion Major Rector’s long hair undoubtedly gave him immunity from a blood encounter, and probably saved his life. He was attending a Mardi-Gras ball in New Orleans, when the ball room was invaded and taken possession of by a crowd of drunken toughs, who locked the doors, extinguished the lights, and proceeded to attack the male portion of the assemblage with clubs, fists, and knives, inflicting serious injuries upon some. During the melee Major Rector bethought himself of his hair, and let it down to its full length. He had hardly done so when he was seized by someone, who, upon discovering his long flowing locks, ceased the attack, supposing him to be a woman. The Major was not long in escaping from the hall.
When I first saw him he was dressed in a full suit of black silk velvet, made in the height of fashion. His linen was of the finest and very elaborately ruffled, as was then the fashion. He wore a costly Mexican sombrero and morocco boots. With all this elegance of attire, Major Rector was in no sense a dandy. He was, withal, a man of unusual good common sense, and was brave and fearless in the discharge of the hazardous duties of United States Marshal of Arkansas and Indian Territory, which office he held for upwards of sixteen years. He was a warm personal friend of the late Fontaine Pope, and was the latter’s second in his duel with Dr. John H. Cocke, wherein six shots were had without injury to either party.
The Governor was escorted to his lodgings at the residence of Mr. David G. Etter, at the southwest corner of Louisiana and Cherry (now Second) streets, where the Turner and Gans building now stands.
The next day, October 17, the Governor reassumed the duties of his office, which had been performed during his absence in Kentucky, by William S. Fulton, Secretary of the Territory. One of the Governor’s first official acts on taking up the reins of government, was to sign my commission as private secretary, and aide de camp with the rank of Major. Having received my commission from the hands of the Governor, I called on Secretary Fulton to have the same attested and the seal of the Territory affixed. . . .
When I first came to Arkansas I had the good fortune to become acquainted with several of the old pioneers who had settled in the West shortly after the close of the Revolutionary War. From these sturdy and unique characters I obtained much valuable and interesting information regarding the very early times of the country.
About the 1st of January, 1807, Major John Pyeatt, of Georgia, who had been an officer in the American army during the war after the Revolution, and his brother, Jacob Pyeatt, and their families, together with several other families from Georgia and East Tennessee, left their former homes, to make new ones in the recently acquired possessions west of the Mississippi River. They brought with them their servants, household effects, horses, mules, cattle, and farming implements. This party made the entire journey by land through an almost impassable wilderness. Especially was this the case in West Tennessee, the home of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians. They followed the Beau Trace—merely a blazed trail, beginning in East Tennessee, and extending to the Chickasaw Bluffs (now Memphis). At that place the Indians assisted them in crossing the Mississippi River. This was a toilsome and hazardous undertaking, as it had to be done in “dug outs” and by swimming the horses, mules, and cattle.
Their original intention was to locate at New Gascony, a French trading post, on the north side of the Arkansas River, fifteen miles below where Pine Bluff now stands. But after crossing the Mississippi River, the party struck an Indian trail that carried them to where Batesville now is, on the White River. Thence they traveled in a southwesterly course until the struck the Arkansas River at a place about fifteen miles above the “Point of Rocks,” where the town of Little Rock was afterwards located. Major Pyeatt determined to stop here and establish his settlement. He gave the name of Crystal Hill to the place on account of the proximity of an eminence of considerable height, covered with quartz crystals of various sizes. Here they proceeded to erect log houses and to surround themselves with the rude comforts of pioneer homes.
This party of immigrants had not long been established in their new homes when they were greatly surprised to learn that another party of immigrants from North Carolina had preceded them about a year and were then living a few miles above Crystal Hill, on the south side of the river, at the foot of the Maumelle mountains, or, as they were then called, the “Mammal Mountains.”
These last mentioned people had been “Tories,” or British sympathizers, during the Revolutionary War, and getting into bad odor among their loyal neighbors of the “Old North State” on account of their political principles, had been forced to leave North Carolina. After wandering about for several years they had permanently settled at this place.
A short time after the establishment of the settlement near Crystal Hill, Jacob Pyeatt and a portion of the settlers moved up the river about twenty-three miles, and located another settlement near the mouth of a small stream called the Cadron. This place was for several years the temporary county seat of Pulaski County.
After the two settlements had been pretty thoroughly established, Mayor Pyeatt conceived the idea of cutting out a trace from the settlements to the Arkansas Post, for the guidance and benefit of those who might come in the future. With a number of the settlers, he set about the undertaking. At a point about fifty miles from the place of beginning and at a stream, afterwards known as the Wattensaw, he struck an Indian trail that led directly to the Post of Arkansas, his objective point. This, I think, may well be considered the beginning of road making in Arkansas.
An amusing anecdote is related of the old Major, which will give the reader some idea of the extreme isolation of this part of the country from the outside world.
Sometime in the latter part of the year 1815, an officer wearing the undress uniform of a Major of the United States Army, made his appearance at the Pyeatt settlement. The officer, whose name was Gibson, had been detailed with about four hundred men, by the War Department, to establish military posts or forts along the upper Arkansas. Major Gibson and party had descended the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in barges to the mouth of the Arkansas. Arriving there the officer in command determined to make part of the journey overland on horse-back. Attended by an orderly and a pack horse, he set out and in due time arrived as before stated. After having been heartily welcomed by Major Pyeatt and partaken of his hospitality, the old Major inquired for news from the States. The officer replied that the most important news was that the Treaty of Peace between the United States and Great Britain had been ratified. “Peace!” exclaimed the old Major, “What peace? I did not know the United States had been engaged in war with Great Britain since the Revolutionary War.” Major Gibson then told him of the war of 1812, and how General Jackson had won the battle of New Orleans, and of other leading events of a war that had begun more than three years before. This was the old settler’s first intimation that his country had been engaged in another long and bloody war with the English.
Fort Gibson, in the Indian Territory, takes its name from the Major Gibson here mentioned.
John Pyeatt, an old settler, died on the 23rd of July, 1823, from the effects of cold contracted while crossing the Grand Prairie.
CHAPTER VI. GOLD IN ARKANSAS, THE MOUNDS, ETC.
About the year 1809, one Trammell, a hunter, found near the foot of Crystal Hill—a high bluff on the north bank of the Arkansas river, some fifteen miles above Little Rock—a large quartz crystal, in which was imbedded lumps of ore resembling gold. In the course of his hunting trips, Trammell one day found himself at the Post of Arkansas, where he showed the ore which he had found to Colonel Notrebe. That gentleman pronounced the specimen to be gold. He purchased it from the hunter and sent it to New Orleans to be assayed, giving a full description of the locality where it was found.
The assay proved that the ore was pure gold, and the amount of the precious metal exhausted from this one specimen was worth over one hundred dollars. It was not long before the news of the discovery of gold along the Arkansas river spread like wild fire and caused great excitement among the bold and adventurous.
An expedition was soon organized at New Orleans to go in search of these wonderfully rich gold fields. The expedition was composed of persons of almost every nationality under the sun, and was commanded by one Captain Hillare, a Frenchman. [Footnote: The people of Arkansas Post at the time believed that the “Captain Hillare” referred to was none other than Lafitte, the celebrated “Pirate of the Gulf.”] A number of keel boats and barges were purchased by them, which they loaded with provisions, mining tools, and goods of various kinds to barter with the Indians who occupied the country. After a long and painful journey up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, the expedition reached the present site of Little Rock, where a stop was made and a mining camp established at what is now the foot of Spring street, and near a large spring of water which is still in existence within the Pulaski county jail yard enclosure.
The magnificent spring referred to has a history of its own far older than that of Little Rock itself. It was known far and wide among the Indians who came to it and remained for weeks at a time. In the very early days of Little Rock it furnished water for a large portion of the inhabitants for drinking and domestic purposes. Later on, and until recently, it supplied the water for making steam for use in the various manufacturing enterprises located in its vicinity.
Here the members of the expedition began to prospect for gold; and here a number of the party sickened and died and were buried on the high ground just east of the spring, on the spot where the State House now stands. The fact of the presence of these graves at the place referred to was the basis in after years for strong objections on the part of many to the Governor’s selecting this spot whereon to erect the capitol buildings. . . .
[Gold seeking did not work out. All sorts of problems: wrong location, water seeping in to diggings, fighting with Lipan Indians, which compelled them to abandon diggings and hastily retreat to the Arkansas River, and to their boats.]
The Mound Builders. Numerous evidences are not wanting that away back before the dawn of history the region now known as Arkansas was peopled by the Mound Builders. Sixteen miles east of Little Rock in the Richwoods country, near Toltec station, there are a number of these mounds, two of which, Mrs. Mary Eliza Field Knapp informs me, “were about one hundred feet in height each in 1846, but the washing rains of half a century and the work of plowing the ground around them has lowered them some, since denuded of trees.” One of them is 75 feet high and the other 80 feet in height at the present time. they are enclosed with an artificial levee, which was ten feet high. There are ninety acres embraced in this enclosure, and the embankment is semi-circular, the ends abutting on Lake Mound. The two large mounds are similar to those in Mexico: one is flat on top and the other conical. On the summit of the taller mound there stood until recently a large elm tree which scientists tell us was over 400 years old. If this estimate of the tree’s age is correct, it was in its infancy when Columbus discovered the Continent of America. Lake Mound, a sheet of water about three and one-half miles long and one-half mile wide, is nearby, and the hypothesis is that the bed of this lake, or pond, was formed by excavating for earth with which to build the enormous mounds, for they are evidently the work of man’s hands. . . . Mounds served a double purpose: that of a sarcophagus for some renowned chief of the tribe and a watchtower from which to view the surrounding country. They found skeletons, tools, and ornaments of stone, copper, brass, silver, and even precious stones. Vases of pottery of various shapes and sizes, wrought with much ingenuity and skill, and often very curiously carved and inlaid, have also been found in the mounds.
CHAPTER VIII. TERRITORIAL & EARLY STATE PRESS.
Newspapers have always been considered one of the principal adjuncts of civilization, and they have everywhere followed the footsteps of the missionary and the ax of the pioneer. This was strikingly true in the early days of this country, and anyone who may have access to the old files of newspapers long dead and forgotten will be struck with astonishment at the intelli-gence—political, historical, and literary—displayed in their columns. . . .
The second newspaper to be established, the Advocate, began March 1830. It was owned and edited by Mr. Charles P. Bertrand, a lawyer of great ability. It supported Mr. Crittenden and party in their opposition to the party then in power in the Territory, called the Sevier party. Paper had some bitter communications signed “Dinwiddie.” Major Fontaine Pope, nephew of the Governor, demanded of the editor the name of the writer of the articles, and the name of Dr. John H. Cocke was given him as their author.
Major Pope at once dispatched by the hands of his friend Major Elias Rector a challenge to Dr. Cocke to meet him in mortal combat. The challenge was promptly accepted, and preparations at once began for the duel. The encounter took place in the State of Mississippi, opposite the mouth of White River. Major Rector acted as second for Major Pope, and Dr. Robert A. Watkins attended him as surgeon. Mr. James B. Keatts and Dr. Bushead W. Lee acted in like capacity for Dr. Cocke. Regulation dueling pistols were used, distance fifteen paces. Three shots were exchanged, at one of which Dr. Cocke dodged after the bullet had passed him. Upon being asked by one of the party why he dodged, he replied by saying: “If I hadn’t, he would have hit me.” This dodging was merely an involuntary movement, and in no wise indicated a lack of bravery on the part of the doctor, who was a brave and courageous gentleman. After the exchange of the third shot, Col. Bowie, of Mississippi, who afterward fell at the storming of the “Alamo,” with other friends of both parties, interfered and put a stop to further hostilities. The two principals in the affair afterwards became warm personal friends.
Crittenden, called “Cardinal Wolsey,” on account of the political power which he wielded “behind the throne,” built a large and commodious brick residence, surrounded by ample grounds, in the suburbs of the town. Congress had recently passed an act donating to the Territory ten sections of land for the purpose of providing means for the purchase of a site and the erection of a suitable building for the use of the Legislative Assembly and the officers of the Territory. When the Legislature met, Crittenden laid before that body a proposition to exchange his handsome residence and block of ground for the ten sections of land donated by Congress. A bill was introduced and passed accepting Mr. Crittenden’s proposition and authorizing the Governor to make the exchange. The bill was promptly vetoed by the Governor, who gave as his reason for doing so that the six thousand and four hundred acres of land could be sold for vastly more than the Crittenden property was worth. The estimate of value put upon the respective properties by the Governor proved correct, for shortly afterwards the Crittenden property was put upon the market and brought six thousand seven hundred dollars only, while eight of the ten sections of land were sold for twenty-four thousand five hundred and four dollars, and it was estimated that the remaining two sections were worth six thousand four hundred dollars more. In point of fact, the two sections afterwards brought eight hundred and eighteen dollars more than the estimated value.
This action on the part of the Governor served to fan the fire of hate, and the old war on Governor Pope and his administration was vigorously kept up by the opposition through the columns of the Advocate and Helena Democrat, a paper that had recently been started at the latter place, and which was owned by Col. Henry L. Biscoe and conducted by William T. Yeomans, a strong editorial writer. It was rumored about this time that Governor Pope would be removed from office by the President, and Colonel Biscoe was anxious that the gubernatorial mantle should fall upon his shoulders. To that end the columns of the Democrat were vigorously used to further his aspirations. The Governor, however, was not removed from office, but served until the end of his second term, when he was succeeded by Hon. William S. Fulton, in 1835. Moreover, Congress amended the “Ten Section Bill,” giving the Governor the absolute control of the disposition of the ten sections, and the selection of the site and erection of the buildings provided for in the act. . . .
A series of articles appeared from week to week in the Advocate, signed “Devereux.” They reflected severely upon the Governor and his administration of public affairs, and, incidentally, upon his nephew, Major William Fontaine Pope. It will be remembered that Governor Pope had but one arm, and that he was aged and somewhat infirm of body, so that his nephew felt called upon to resent any injury done to his uncle’s honor. To the attacks made by “Devereux” in the Advocate, Major Pope replied by a card published in the Gazette, and which contained some very strong and forcible language.
To this card Mr. Charles Fenton Mercer Noland, who had now revealed his identity, responded in terms too emphatic to be misunderstood or lightly valued, and which demanded one reply only. Major Pope immediately challenged Mr. Noland to fight a duel.
A reply to this challenge being withheld for several days from some cause or another, Major Pope sent Mr. Noland a note in which he stated that if the challenge was not accepted, he would post him as a coward. Mr. Noland accepted the challenge without further delay, and the principals and their friends left for the scene of conflict, traveling together.
An amusing incident occurred at one of their stopping places while on the way to the duelling grounds, and which robbed Mr. Noland of one good night’s rest. The weather was cold and disagreeable with rain. After the members of the party had retired for the night, the mail rider, a mere stripling of a youth, entered the room, dripping wet, and after divesting himself of his soaking outer garments, started to get into the bed with Mr. Noland. Not relishing the idea of having a wet and half frozen mail boy as a bed-fellow, Mr. Noland said to him: “Look here, my friend, I have the itch,” hoping that such a dreadful announcement would have the effect of preventing any further intrusion. In this hope he was doomed to be disappointed, for the boy instantly replied: “That’s nothing, I’ve got the seven year itch,” and proceeded to get into the bed. As the boy got in at one side, Mr. Noland rolled out at the other, and sat up the remainder of the night.
The party arrived at the plantation of Col. Benjamin Milam, in old Miller County, February 4th, and were entertained by him that night. Grounds were selected by the seconds that afternoon, so as to have everything in readiness for the encounter the next morning at sunrise.
The place selected for the meeting was a narrow strip of land at the head of Lost Prairie, and which was generally supposed to belong to the Republic of Texas. This strip was afterwards claimed by Arkansas as a part of old Miller county. The disputed Territory eventually fell into the State of Texas after the final government survey was made.
The second on the part of Mr. Noland was Dr. Nimrod Menifee of Conway County. Major Pope’s second was Major Thomas Scott, of Lafayette County. Dr. William P. Reyburn attended him as surgeon. Major Elias Rector was to have been Major Pope’s second in this affair, but he was taken with a severe attack of the quinsy en route, and when the party reached Washington, Hempstead County, he was too ill to proceed further, and his place had to be filled as above stated.
Arriving upon the grounds, the principals were placed in position at ten paces and duelling pistols, properly loaded, put into their hands. Major Scott had been chosen to give the “words,” which he did as follows: “Gentlemen! Are you ready? Fire, one, two, three, four.” At the word “two,” both pistols were discharged, the ball from Mr. Noland’s weapon taking effect in Major Pope’s left leg, between the knee and the hip, and he fell to the ground, the shock having paralyzed the leg. Major Scott then asked Mr. Noland: “Are you satisfied?” to which the latter replied: “I am in the hands of my friends.” Dr. Menifee, Mr. Noland’s second, said: “As your principal if he is satisfied, being the challenging party.” This Major Scott proceeded to do, and the reply of Major Pope, who was still prostrate on the ground, was, “No, I must have another shot.” With the assistance of his second, he was raised to his feet and again placed in position. Before the second shot could be had he was seized with severe cramps in the wounded leg and again fell to the ground.
The bystanders, acting as friends of both parties, among whom were Col. Milam, Judge Powhatan Ellis, of the Province of Texas, and Jacob Buzzard, Esq., seeing that Major Pope was physically unable to continue the conflict, interfered and put a stop to the duel, whereupon Mr. Noland and his friends immediately left the grounds.
The surgeon proceeded at once to probe for the ball, but did not succeed in finding it. Major Pope was taken to the residence of Col. Milam in the near neighborhood, and in a few days was removed to Washington. He remained at that place about two weeks under the care of his surgeon, when he was conveyed to Little Rock, where he lingered until June 17th, dying in great agony, at the early age of twenty-three years.
Major Pope’s wound was not considered mortal at the time he received it, but the failure to at once find and extract the ball, and the slow and painful journey by carriage from Washington to Little Rock over rough roads and in bad weather, brought on a condition from which he could not rally. It is due to the memory and character of Gov. Pope to state that he used all the persuasive powers at his command and what authority he possessed over his nephew to prevent this duel, and did obtain from the latter a promise to withhold the challenge. . . .
Early in 1840 a paper called the Batesville Eagle, was established at that place, Whig in politics, and was ably edited by that gifted writer, C. F. M. Noland, who wrote under the rather amusing nom de plume of “Pete Whetstone.” Mr. Noland derived his pen name from a series of backwoods sketches written by himself and published in the New York Spirit of The Times. The leading figure in these sketches was a typical hunter and trapper named Peter Whetstone, who lived on the “Devil’s Fork: of Little Red River, then in Conway County, but now in Van Buren County, Arkansas. Whetstone was almost a giant in physical proportions, and was a jolly, good natured fellow, fond of fun and a frolic, but “mighty handy” with his rifle on occasions. Mr. Noland’s contributions to the literature of the day gained for him wide-spread notoriety as a writer, and his sketches were reproduced in other journals both in and out of the State.
It was during the Crittenden-Sevier campaign that Albert Pike came prominently before the public as a contributor to the political literature of the day. Mr. Pike styled his contributions to the Advocate “Intercepted Letters, purporting to have been written by Mr. Sevier to Messrs. Woodruff and Ashley, and their replies thereto. These letters were strikingly characteristic of the persons named and fully portrayed the political opinions and bias of the pretended authors. There also appeared in the columns of the Advocate, about this time, extracts from Pike’s diary of his journeyings in the Indian and Mexican country, and also some of his earliest political writings.
Albert Pike was a native of Boston, Mass., and received a classical education at Harvard University. After teaching school for awhile in Tennessee, he floated down the Cumberland River to Paducah, Kentucky, and took passage on a steamboat for St. Louis, Mo. At that place he joined Choteau’s trading expedition, which was about to set out across the plains for Santa Fe, Mexico. He next made a trip through the Rio Grande country, returning to Santa Fe. Here he joined a hunting and trapping party bound for the Rocky Mountains. This party of hunters and trappers had a very successful trip and accumulated a large amount of furs and peltries. The party now determined to return east. They had the Indians make for them several large birch bark canoes, into which they launched out into the upper Arkansas, floating down the river to Fort Bent, a point where the old Santa Fe trail crosses the Arkansas River. After reaching Fort Bent, they disposed of the results of their expedition to the traders at that place, and the party, with the exception of Pike, started overland for St. Louis. Pike continued down the Arkansas River and finally arrived at the plantation of Judge James Woodson Bates, on the Piney, in Pope county. When he reached Judge Bates’ he was very sick with fever, and the good old Judge took him and kindly cared for him. Judge Bates became so much attached to Pike that he offered him a home for as long as he would stay. Pike remained in this neighborhood teaching school until the fall of 1833. It was here that he met and became acquainted with Robert Crittenden and Mr. Sevier. Mr. Crittenden became so much interested in the young scholar, on account of his learning and brilliancy, that he induced him to come to Little Rock and embark in the newspaper business. No adequate biography of Albert Pike can possibly be given in the limited space at my command, or in following out the plan of this work. He became a great lawyer, a noted poet, a profound scholar of the oriental languages and a brave soldier. Ben. Perly Poore, the veteran Washington City journalist of ante-bellum days, aptly styled Pike “The Kit North and Korer of America.”
CHAPTER XII. AN EVENTFUL PERIOD.
In 1833 there occurred the most extensive and disastrous overflow, to both life and property, that had ever taken place on the Arkansas River within the memory of the oldest inhabitant up to that time. The river began to rise about the middle of May, and attained its greatest height about the first of June. Whole plantations, with all their buildings, livestock, and farming implements, were completely swept away. A number of human lives were lost in the devouring floods. The force of the current was so resistless that where bends occurred in the river the water ploughed across the points of land made by these bends and created new channels, leaving the old beds of the river in the shape of lakes and bayous. In several instances, farmers living on one side of the river went to bed at night to awaken the next morning to find their farms on the opposite side of the river to where they were located the day before. In other cases, some farms were diminished in size, while others were increased in dimension. A number of fine plantations were utterly ruined for cultivation by being covered to the depth of three or four feet by a deposit of sand which was left by the waters when they receded. . . .
The terrible hardships and suffering experienced by the Indians who had previously passed through the Territory of Arkansas by land on their way to the Indian Territory soon satisfied the Government at Washington that some easier and more expeditious mode of travel would have to be adopted. Thereafter steamboats were employed for transporting the Indians. This was certainly in accordance with reason and the dictates of humanity.
During the years 1834-1836 the tribes of the Cherokees from Georgia, North Carolina, and East Tennessee, with a tribe of the friendly Creeks from Alabama and lower Mississippi, were transported by boats up the Arkansas River to the lands set apart for them. The contract for conveying these Indians to their new homes was secured by Captain Simeon Buckner, an old steamboatman and a man of great humanity, who treated the Indians under his charge with great kindness and forbearance. The boats engaged in this work were the “Portsmouth,” the “Princeton,” and the “Creole.”
Long years before this time, a band of the Cherokees had broken loose from their tribal relations with the main body in Georgia, and had settled in what is now Conway County, Arkansas. As late as 1827 their title to these lands had not been fully extinguished.
In November 1832, to go back somewhat, a band of sub-chiefs of the Seminoles arrived in Little Rock, on their return from a tour of inspection of the country granted them by the Government in exchange for their lands in Florida. This band of Indians camped just below the town, and remained for several days. I frequently visited their camp. They had with them a negro interpreter named Sam, who was as black as the proverbial “ace of spades,” and who, although a slave, possessed great influence among the tribe. On their return to Florida these sub-chiefs, who had been sent out to view the country, advised against the proposed removal, stating, among other objections, that the climate was cold and windy in winter, whereas they were accustomed to a sub-tropical climate. Besides, the method of procuring subsistence for themselves and families was laborious in comparison to their easy life in Florida, where they lived principally upon fish and fruits, which were to be had in luxuriant abundance. A delegation of the Seminoles visited Washington and had an interview with the President, in which they stated their objections to leaving their ancestral homes and begged to be allowed to remain in Florida. President Jackson told the delegation, very emphatically, that they had to move. For several years no steps were taken by the Government to coerce these Indians. In the meantime the Seminoles were secretly making preparations to resist any such attempt should it be made.
During these years there was a large influx of white settlers into Florida, and conflicts between these settlers and the Indians were of frequent occurrence. The Seminoles, now aided by a band of renegade Creeks, who had refused to go out with their brethren under their principal chiefs, Rolla and Chilley McIntosh, in 1833, began to show a spirit of open defiance to governmental authority. United States troops were sent to Florida to enforce the order of removal. After several fruitless attempts to bring the refractory Indians to obedience, Gen. Zachary Taylor was placed in command of the troops, and his forces strengthened by the addition of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth regiments of regulars and several batteries of artillery from Forts Gibson, Towson, Ouachita, and Arbuckle in the Indian Territory. These troops went by the way of Little Rock to New Orleans, where they took shipping and joined Gen. Taylor at Tampa Bay. With this now adequate force, Gen. Taylor moved upon the Indians, who were in hiding in the almost impenetrable everglades. The Indians were finally driven to the high ground, where the artillery was brought into action with such deadly effect that the Indians were forced to surrender, with their renowned and principal chief, Osceola, and also the sub-chiefs Micanopy, Aligator, Tiger Tail, and Jumper. These chiefs were taken to Fort Moultrie, Sullivan’s Island, Charleston’s Harbor, and placed in confinement. Osceola died in a short time after his incarceration, his proud spirit being broken by defeat and captivity. His fellow-prisoners were released after a few months’ confinement. They and a large part of the hostile Seminoles and Creeks, with their families, were sent, under a strong guard of soldiers, to the Indian Territory.
CHAPTER XIII. A CHANGE IN TERRITORIAL AFFAIRS.
The year 1835 witnessed a change in Territorial affairs. Governor Pope’s second term having expired. Hon. William S. Fulton was appointed by President Jackson Governor of Arkansas, and Mr. Lewis Randolph, grandson of Thomas Jefferson, was appointed Secretary of the Territory.
Stewart, a detective living in Mississippi, wrote a book giving an account of the operations of the “Murrell Gang,” a thoroughly organized body of desperate characters, banded together for the purpose of carrying on a systematic plan of robbery, negro stealing, counterfeiting, and even murder. His expose caused the forming of Vigilance committees.
In the early fall of 1835 “Davy” Crockett and a party of Tennesseans passed through Little Rock en route to Texas to assist the patriots in their struggle to free themselves from the Mexican yoke. A committee, headed by Col. Robertson Childers, looked for Crockett at the hotel. They were informed that he was in the back yard slaughtering a deer, which he had killed some five miles out of town. They found the future hero of the “Alamo” engaged in his bloody task. Col. Crockett turned upon being addressed by Col. Childers, and exclaimed: “Robertson Childers, as I’m alive,” recognizing in the Colonel an old Tennessee acquaintance. Referring to the deer he was engaged in skinning, he remarked: “I made him turn ends at two hundred yards.” Old hunters will appreciate this turn of ends. The Rifle Club of Philadelphia had recently presented Col. Crockett with a magnificent rifle of the most approved pattern, the stock and barrel of which were richly inlaid with silver. This relic is still in the possession of his grandson, Col. Bob Crockett, of Arkansas County; also, the old fashioned timepiece, with its buckskin guard intact (as it was taken from its owner’s body after the fall of the “Alamo.”) The rifle with which he had made the deer “turn ends at two hundred yards” was a long, old fashioned deer rifle, with flint lock, and which he tenderly referred to as “Old Bet.”
Col. Crockett declined the dinner, stating that he and some of his neighbors were on their way to Texas to assist the people of that Province to gain their independence, and that they were anxious to reach the scene of conflict. He remarked at the same time that he hoped there were no deputy marshals present, having in mind, doubtless, President Jackson’s order of neutrality. He was assured that he might freely express his sentiments on that question, as the people of Arkansas were in deep sympathy with the Texans in the present struggle. At an impromptu banquet hurriedly gotten up at the City Hotel on Elm street, kept by Charles L. Jeffries, Colonel Crockett was the principal speaker, and his speech was devoted mainly to the subject of Texan independence. He, however, dwelt at some length upon the causes that had brought about his recent defeat for re-election to Congress. I was very agreeably surprised in Colonel Crockett, both as to his manners and personal appearance. I had always been of the impression that the clown was one of his leading characteristics. His manner was dignified and gentlemanly, and, while he showed some lack of a thorough education, he displayed a wide range of information upon the leading topics of the day. While his speech abounded in flashes of wit and humor, it never descended to the clownish or vulgar. That night after the banquet was over Crockett and his party again took up their march towards the Province of Texas.
CHAPTER XV. ARKANSAS A STATE.
The bill admitting Arkansas into the Union passed Congress June 15, 1836, and was signed by the President the next day.
The election for Governor, a Congressman, Presidential Electors, and members of the Legislature was held on the first Monday in August of that year, and James S. Conway was elected Governor and Archibald Yell Congressman. The Presidential Electors chosen were all Democrats and when the time arrived, cast the three Electoral votes of the State for Martin Van Buren of New York and Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky.
After Arkansas had become a State, but before the election and inauguration of a Governor, the State was called upon by the Federal Government for troops for active service on the frontier.
After the regular United States troops stationed at the several forts in the Indian country had been withdrawn to assist Gen. Taylor in the Seminole War, the Comanches, the Pawnees, and the Lipans, wild tribes of the plains, made frequent and bloody incursions against their more peaceable neighbors, the Choctaws and the Chickasaws.
According to the treaty stipulations, the Government of the United States was bound to protect these last named Indians against the wild tribes.
President Jackson accordingly made a requisition upon the Governor of Arkansas for one full regiment of cavalry. Gov. Fulton, who was still the acting Governor, issued his proclamation calling for one regiment of mounted volunteers.
The first company to respond was the one recruited by Absalom Fowler during his canvass for the office of Governor. After his defeat at the August election he completed the organization of the company and was elected captain. The regiment was to be composed of ten companies, five of which were to rendezvous at Little Rock and five at Van Buren, and then to proceed to Washington, Hempstead County, to be mustered into the service.
The regiment remained in active service, with headquarters at Fort Towson, Indian Territory, until February 1837, when it was disbanded, its services being no longer required.
The first session of the State Legislature met September 12, 1836, in the new Capitol, the main building of which was then about completed. In the Senate Sam C. Roane, of Jefferson County, was elected President, and A. J. Greer Secretary. John Wilson, of Clark County, was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Samuel H. Hempstead, of Pulaski County, Clerk. The vote for State officers having been canvassed, James S. Conway was declared elected Governor for the term of four years.
Origin of the “Arkansas Traveler.”
The origin of the “Arkansas Traveler” episode is about as follows: On one occasion Col. Sandford C. Faulkner, a wealthy planter of Chicot County, Ark., became lost among the wild, rugged hills of the Bayou Mason country in that county, and in his wanderings happened upon the dilapidated cabin of a squatter of the lowest type, when the now famous colloquy between the traveler and the squatter took place regarding the leaky condition of the cabin, which could not be repaired when it rained and which did not need repairing when the weather was good. So between the conditions of good weather and bad weather the miserable hovel continued open to rain and sun alike.
The squatter, who was non-committal to all inquiries of the traveler as to the locality, the road, or the way out of the hills, and who was very peremptory in his refusal of accommodation for the traveler and his horse, was engaged in a bungling attempt to play upon an old cracked and battered fiddle the first bar or two of an old familiar air much in vogue with the settlers of some of the older Southern States. Col. Faulkner, who was somewhat of a fiddler himself, took the squeaky instrument and played the whole of the tune and played himself into the heart and home of the surly old squatter, who joyously accorded him the only dry spot in the cabin, feed for his horse, and a pull at the old black whisky jug.
These points being related to a writer who had a keen sense of the humorous, were fully elaborated from the storehouse of the imagination and published in a volume of short stories entitled “Big Bear of Arkansas and Other Sketches,” said to have been written by Albert Pike.
A native artist, Charles P. Washburn, of Pope County, executed a very fine oil painting of the scene as described to him by Col. Faulkner. This painting, which was really a work of art, measured about 18 x 24 inches, and hung for many years, unframed, in Col. Faulkner’s parlor in Little Rock. Charles Washburn was undoubtedly an artist of rare merit, but death cut him down in early manhood, and all the examples of his talent are lost to sight and memory except the “Arkansas Traveler.”
I knew Sandford Faulkner intimately. He was a most original, jovial, and generous-hearted man. I have heard him repeat the dialogue which took place between himself and the squatter many a time. He usually told the story at parties which he would attend, sometimes accompanying it with a tune on the violin, and it always afforded much amusement.
CHAPTER XVI. “FLUSH TIMES IN ARKANSAS.”
The Presidential campaign of 1840 was the most exciting which had ever taken place in this country, and is still, in many respects, the most memorable that has ever occurred in our political history.
It will be remembered that this struggle between the Democratic and Whig parties for supremacy was facetiously called the “Log Cabin and Hard Cider Campaign.” Some Democratic speaker had sneeringly referred, in the beginning of the campaign, to Gen. Harrison as having emanated from a log cabin, and that that was the place for him to remain. The Whigs adopted the suggestion as a party emblem. This homely device—a log cabin with a coon skin nailed to the door and a barrel of hard cider near at hand—occupied a conspicuous place in their campaign literature, songs, and decorations. Every town, village, and hamlet through the country had its log cabin headquarters, at which was the ubiquitous barrel of hard cider, free to all comers.
Arkansas was not behind in catching the contagion that was sweeping over the country.
In the month of June, 1840, the Democrats held a State mass meeting at Little Rock, attended by about 1000 delegates from all parts of the State. A large torch-light procession was had at night and stirring Democratic speeches were made by Robert W. Johnson, Judge Edward Cross, of Hempstead County, Judge Hanley, of Helena, and others.
This demonstration did not, however, compare either in numbers of enthusiasm with the monster Whig meeting which took place on the 13th and 14th of the following July. People came from every nook and corner of the State, many of them prepared to camp out during the meeting. A party composed of one hundred and fifty men and fifty ladies rode horseback all the way from Independence County. They brought with them a large canoe, emblematic of Tippecanoe, and enthusiastically sang
“Then hurrah for the field where the bold eagle flew
In pride o’er the hero of Tippecanoe.”
This huge craft was made in sections and transported in a wagon from Batesville. On the day of the great parade—the procession was estimated to have contained between four and five thousand people—the canoe was put together and mounted upon wheels, and in it was seated a bevy of pretty ladies, representing the Twenty-six States, and wearing Harrison and Tyler badges. The prow of the boat was surmounted by a miniature log cabin, upon the roof of which was perched a live coon. . . .
Noland appears again.
In the State election which had been held in August, Archibald Yell, the Democratic nominee, was elected Governor, and on November 5, 1840, he was formally inducted into office.
When the procession reached the State House the troops opened ranks and the gubernatorial party passed through into the Capitol building and up into the hall of the House of Representatives, where both houses were in joint session.
The Governor-elect was escorted by Col. Caldwell, of the Senate, and Mr. Noland, of the House, to the chair of State between the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
CHAPTER XVIII. AFTER THE MEXICAN WAR.
Albert Pike Engages in the Last Duel of Prominent Arkansas Citizens.
Shortly after the close of the Mexican war there appeared in the columns of a Little Rock newspaper an article written by Albert Pike, severely criticizing the conduct of a part of the Arkansas regiment at the battle of Buena Vista, of which regiment John Selden Roan was Lieutenant-Colonel. Col. Roan construed the remarks of Capt. Pike as a personal affront which reflected upon his bravery, and he demanded of the writer satisfaction according to the code.
The challenge was promptly accepted by Capt. Pike, and the meeting took place on the sandbar opposite Fort Smith, in the Indian Territory.
In the Arkansas Gazette of April 2, 1893, appeared a very interesting article from the pen of Dr. James A. Dibrell, Sr., of Van Buren, giving the particulars of the aforesaid duel. Dr. Dibrell wrote: “On the bar opposite Fort Smith, Albert Pike as principal, with Luther Chase and John Drennen as seconds and the writer as surgeon, accompanied by Pat Farrelly and Wm. H. Cousin and Dr. R. Thruston as friends on one side, and John S. Roane as principal, with Henry M. Rector and R. W. Johnson as seconds and Dr. Phillip Burton as surgeon, met in mortal combat to decide a controversy by the code d’honeur, so falsely called. Pike, to the best of my recollection, was the challenging party, at least, was so considered on my side of the ground. At call, both parties promptly stepped forward, distance ten paces, when duelling pistols were loaded and placed in their hands. Both stood firm and determined, neither displaying the least agitation. Pike was enjoying a cigar during the firing. At the word, both parties fired but neither was wounded. A second fire was had, with the same result. Someone has said that Pike’s beard was touched; if so, I have no recollection of it. After the second fire, Pike and myself were sitting on a cottonwood log on the edge of a forest that fringed the bar, when Dr. Burton was seen approaching us, with his usual slow and dignified step, and when within a few paces of us, beckoned to me to meet him. I did so. He remarked: ‘Dibrell, it’s a d d shame that these men should stand here and shoot at each other until one or the other is killed or wounded. They have shown themselves to be brave men and would fire all day unless prevented. The seconds on neither side can interfere, because it would be considered a great disparagement for either to make a proposition for cessation of hostilities. So, let us, as surgeons, assume the responsibility and say they shall not fire another time; that unless they do as we desire we will leave the field to them helpless, however cruel it might seem.’
“I replied that I knew nothing about the code, but would consult my principal. I stated Dr. Burton’s proposition word for word as made to me. Pike remarked, ‘I want one more fire at him and will hit him in a vital part; I believe he has tried to kill me; I have not tried to hit him.’
“After reflection, he said, ‘Do as you think proper about it, but do not by anything compromise my honor.’”
The good offices of Drs. Dibrell and Burton in the interest of peace and humanity were so effective that the matter ended, honorably to both parties.
This was the last duel of prominence fought between citizens of Arkansas.
Among the very earliest acts of the Territorial Legislature, are to be found stringent laws against dueling. So rigidly were the laws in this behalf enforced in those days that, within my recollection or knowledge, not a single duel between citizens was fought within the limits of the Territory or State.