Little Rock Look Back: Brooks-Baxter War Starts

Brooks BaxterOn April 15, 1874, Joseph Brooks, accompanied by armed men, including the Pulaski County Sheriff, went into the office of Governor Elisha Baxter demanding he vacate the office.  Alone, save a young son, Governor Baxter departed the Arkansas State Capitol (now the Old State House), and met up with a group of supporters to plan their response.

Thus, the Brooks-Baxter War in Arkansas had begun.

Brooks had faced off against Baxter in the 1872 gubernatorial election.  Both were Republicans, but represented different factions of the party.  Brooks led the Brindletails, which were more aligned with efforts to gradually re-enfranchise former Confederates as well as have a smaller government with limited gubernatorial powers.  Baxter led the Minstrels.  This group was focused on retaining power and control of state government by limiting re-enfranchisement of former Confederates.

Many historians believe that Brooks may have actually won the election, but Baxter’s faction’s control of the state machinery resulted in him being declared the winner.  Brooks’ appeal to the Arkansas General Assembly was unsuccessful.  He took it to the state courts, which was likewise going nowhere.  EXCEPT….

Baxter had changed course on his views toward Democrats and members of his own party. This resulted in him losing support of many Republicans.  He also fought with fellow Republicans regarding a railroad issue.  This led to a meeting of many leading Republicans including Arkansas’ two US Senators.  Not long after that, Pulaski County Circuit Judge John Whytock heard Brooks’ case.  On April 15, 1874, Judge Whytock ruled in favor of Brooks.

Following his ouster from the governor’s office, Baxter telegraphed President Grant, asking for assistance.  In the meantime, both sides recruited supporters.  Baxter and 200 men set up headquarters in the Anthony House, which was near the State Capitol.  Brooks and his supporters used furniture to barricade the capitol building.  Robert Catterson, a former Little Rock mayor, set up artillery pieces on the capitol lawn to defend Brooks.

For the next month, there would be many rumors and skirmishes.  Little Rock, like the rest of the state, was divided. And the conflict was just beginning.

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Little Rock Look Back: J. G. Botsford

Botsford GraveOn December 30, 1838, future Little Rock Mayor Jefferson George Botsford was born in Port Huron, Michigan.  He married Charlotte Adelia Henry on June 13, 1867.  She had been born in Massachusetts, but moved to Little Rock with her parents and grandparents.

The couple had seven children: Nellie, Charlotte, Harriett, James, Edward, George and Charles. Nellie, James and Charles died in childhood.

Botsford had served in the Union Army and fought in frontier battles against Indians.  Among his commercial involvements in Little Rock were serving as mail contractor between Little Rock and Baton Rouge, proprietor of Anthony House, organizer of Merchants National Bank and president of the White River Valley & Texas Railroad.

In 1868, Botsford was elected to the Little Rock City Council.  The City Council suspended Mayor A. K. Hartman in February 1870.  Elected in 1869, he was disliked by the aldermen, the press and a portion of the public.  A court order overturned the suspension in June 1870.  In January 1871, Mayor Hartman was again suspended by the Council.  This time, Botsford was declared Mayor.  However Hartman also still claimed the title of Mayor through the remainder of his term in November 1871.

After stepping down as Mayor with the election of Robert Catterson in November 1871, Botsford returned to private life.  He died on October 29, 1915 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

Little Rock Look Back: Mayor J.G. Botsford

Botsford GraveOn December 30, 1838, future Little Rock Mayor Jefferson George Botsford was born in Port Huron, Michigan.  He married Charlotte Adelia Henry on June 13, 1867.  She had been born in Massachusetts, but moved to Little Rock with her parents and grandparents.

The couple had seven children: Nellie, Charlotte, Harriett, James, Edward, George and Charles. Nellie, James and Charles died in childhood.

Botsford had served in the Union Army and fought in frontier battles against Indians.  Among his commercial involvements in Little Rock were serving as mail contractor between Little Rock and Baton Rouge, proprietor of Anthony House, organizer of Merchants National Bank and president of the White River Valley & Texas Railroad.

In 1868, Botsford was elected to the Little Rock City Council.  The City Council suspended Mayor A. K. Hartman in February 1870.  Elected in 1869, he was disliked by the aldermen, the press and a portion of the public.  A court order overturned the suspension in June 1870.  In January 1871, Mayor Hartman was again suspended by the Council.  This time, Botsford was declared Mayor.  However Hartman also still claimed the title of Mayor through the remainder of his term in November 1871.

After stepping down as Mayor with the election of Robert Catterson in November 1871, Botsford returned to private life.  He died on October 29, 1915 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

Little Rock Look Back: J. G. Botsford, LR’s 29th Mayor

Botsford GraveOn December 30, 1838, future Little Rock Mayor Jefferson George Botsford was born in Port Huron, Michigan.  He married Charlotte Adelia Henry on June 13, 1867.  She had been born in Massachusetts, but moved to Little Rock with her parents and grandparents.

The couple had seven children: Nellie, Charlotte, Harriett, James, Edward, George and Charles. Nellie, James and Charles died in childhood.

Botsford had served in the Union Army and fought in frontier battles against Indians.  Among his commercial involvements in Little Rock were serving as mail contractor between Little Rock and Baton Rouge, proprietor of Anthony House, organizer of Merchants National Bank and president of the White River Valley & Texas Railroad.

In 1868, Botsford was elected to the Little Rock City Council.  The City Council suspended Mayor A. K. Hartman in February 1870.  Elected in 1869, he was disliked by the aldermen, the press and a portion of the public.  A court order overturned the suspension in June 1870.  In January 1871, Mayor Hartman was again suspended by the Council.  This time, Botsford was declared Mayor.  However Hartman also still claimed the title of Mayor through the remainder of his term in November 1871.

After stepping down as Mayor with the election of Robert Catterson in November 1871, Botsford returned to private life.  He died on October 29, 1915 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

Little Rock Look Back: Jefferson George Botsford

Botsford GraveOn December 30, 1838, future Little Rock Mayor Jefferson George Botsford was born in Port Huron, Michigan.  He married Charlotte Adelia Henry on June 13, 1867.  She had been born in Massachusetts, but moved to Little Rock with her parents and grandparents.

The couple had seven children: Nellie, Charlotte, Harriett, James, Edward, George and Charles. Nellie, James and Charles died in childhood.

Botsford had served in the Union Army and fought in frontier battles against Indians.  Among his commercial involvements in Little Rock were serving as mail contractor between Little Rock and Baton Rouge, proprietor of Anthony House, organizer of Merchants National Bank and president of the White River Valley & Texas Railroad.

In 1868, Botsford was elected to the Little Rock City Council.  The City Council suspended Mayor A. K. Hartman in February 1870.  Elected in 1869, he was disliked by the aldermen, the press and a portion of the public.  A court order overturned the suspension in June 1870.  In January 1871, Mayor Hartman was again suspended by the Council.  This time, Botsford was declared Mayor.  However Hartman also still claimed the title of Mayor through the remainder of his term in November 1871.

After stepping down as Mayor with the election of Robert Catterson in November 1871, Botsford returned to private life.  He died on October 29, 1915 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.