Book on Washington AR is focus of Old State House Museum Brown Bag today

OSH Brown Bag

Today at noon at the Old State House Museum, Josh Williams will be speaking on his recent book through Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series entitled “Washington.” The book is a pictorial history of Washington, Arkansas located in southwest Arkansas.  His talk is part of the museum’s Brown Bag Lecture series.

Washington was home to James Black, maker of the first Bowie knife and saw visitors such as Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie & Sam Houston pass through.  After September 1863, it was the Confederate capital of Arkansas.

Josh Williams is the curator at Historic Washington State Park and has worked there since 2006. He graduated from John Brown University in Siloam Springs and attended graduate school at Louisiana Tech University and Louisiana State University. He also published another book through Arcadia Publishing on Hope, Arkansas. He is currently the president of the Arkansas Living History Association and has served on the boards of the Arkansas Museum Association and the Arkansas Historical Association.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Margaret Deane Smith Ross

Ross bookMargaret Deane Smith Ross was born August 24, 1922 in Central Arkansas.  She attended both what is now Arkansas Tech University and the University of Arkansas. A journalism major at the latter, she left the university before graduating to marry Captain Edwin L. Ross in September 1942; he was killed in combat in Normandy on July 4, 1944.

Following the death of her husband, she lived in Little Rock and worked as a freelance writer for the Arkansas Democrat. In 1953 she became an associate editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, a position she retained until 1993. She was a charter member of the Pulaski County Historical Society, and from 1953 to 1957 served as its journal’s first editor. From 1954 to 1957 she was a research assistant at Arkansas History Commission.

In 1957 she became the Arkansas Gazette historian and curator of the J.N. Heiskell Collection of Arkansiana; she remained with the Gazette for twenty-seven years. From 1958 to 1968 she wrote a historical column for the Gazette, the “Chronicles of Arkansas.” She was a charter member of the Arkansas Genealogical Society, founded by Walter Lemke in 1962. In 1968 she became a member of the Arkansas Historical Association’s board of directors, a position she occupied until 1980. In 1969 she published a book, Arkansas Gazette: The Early Years, 1819-1866: A History; it received the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. From 1979 to 1984 she wrote “Grass Roots,” a genealogical column for the Gazette. Also in 1979 she became the first fellow of the Arkansas Museum of Science and History. In April 2000 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Arkansas Historical Association.

As a historian for the Gazette, she became the de facto historian for the State of Arkansas.  Her knowledge of Arkansas history was unsurpassed during her lifetime.  She also served as an unofficial teacher to generations who were interested in learning more about the history of their state, and how to do that research.


She died in Little Rock in December 2002.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Kathryn Donham Rice

Katy RiceKathryn Donham Rice was better known by her friends as Katy.  As a historian, she was an archivist and an author.

A native of Little Rock, she was a lifelong Methodist.  Her interest in Arkansas Methodist history led to her appointment as the Archivist of the Little Rock Conference of the United Methodist Church. In 1980, she authored A History of the First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas 1831 – 1981 to commemorate the church’s sesquicentennial. She served as church historian for twenty-eight years, creating with her husband, James H. Rice, Jr., the History Hall where many Methodist historic photographs and artifacts are displayed. She was a board member of the Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church and a charter member of the Arkansas United Methodist Historical Society.

In the 1970’s she was employed at the Old State House Museum, first as a guide, then as Registrar, a position for which she trained at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. In 1986 she was appointed to serve on the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Commission as head of the Religious Organizations Task Force. This group sponsored four regional workshops on church history-writing and church archives management during the year.

Katy was an active supporter of Hendrix College, her alma mater.  She volunteered as archivist in the Winfred Polk United Methodist Archives and the Bailey Library.  She also was active in the Aesthetic Club, where she served as President; the Arkansas Women’s History Institute; the Pulaski County Historical Society; and the Arkansas Historical Association.  She wrote two additional histories which were published: The History of Lakeside Country Club and The History of Belcher Lake Farms.

For several years she was a very active volunteer for the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.  She assisted with registrar duties, including processing many of the photographs in the Allison collection. For several hours every week, she could be found in the basement of the museum with her white archivist gloves on helping out.  She would also give tours of the museum once it opened.