May is Arkansas Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Arkansas Arts: Celebrating Our Creative Culture.”
Did you know that a former Little Rock mayor was a published songwriter?
John Elliott Knight (1816-1901) published a song entitled “I A Near to Thee” in 1858. He wrote the lyrics while Benjamin Scull wrote the music. The song was dedicated to Mary Woodruff, a daughter of Arkansas Gazette publisher William Woodruff.
As an attorney and newspaper editor, John E. Knight collected documents about the settlement of Little Rock. Those papers are now part of a collection at the Arkansas History Commission. The majority of these papers are from William Russell to Chester Ashley, pertaining to pre-emption claims in and around Little Rock. Other material concerns the 1819-1822 dispute related to the the New Madrid Certificate and pre-emption claims of James Bryant, Stephen F. Austin, and William M. O’Hara.