Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Little Rock Look Back: Benjamin Harrison becomes first sitting president to visit LR

On April 17, 1891, Benjamin Harrison became the first sitting president to visit Arkansas.  He was on a cross-country railroad trip having left DC on April 13.

The morning of the 17th he spoke in Memphis and then took the train to Little Rock.  Accompanying him from Memphis to Little Rock were a delegation which included Governor and Mrs. James P. Eagle, Mayor H. L. Fletcher and Col. Logan H. Roots.  Also in the party was Mrs. W. G. Whipple, a former first lady of Little Rock.

They arrived in Little Rock in the afternoon.  A parade took them from the train station to the State House (now the Old State House Museum) where the Governor formally welcomed the President and his party.

In his brief remarks, President Harrison spoke of the hospitality and the natural resources available in Arkansas.  He also touched on the Civil War, which at the time was less than 30 years in the past. He noted “The commonwealth rests upon the free suffrage of its citizens and their devotion to the Constitution and the flag is the bulwark of its life.  We have agreed, I am sure, that we will do no more fighting among ourselves.” These remarks were met enthusiastically by the crowd assembled.

The President concluded is brief remarks thanking the State officials and the citizenry.  He then took the train to Texarkana where he made his third set of remarks of the day.

Benjamin Harrison was on the Presidential ticket two times. The first time he lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College defeating incumbent Grover Cleveland. The second time he lost both the popular and electoral votes to Cleveland.  He did not carry Arkansas in either election. Though he was the first sitting president to visit Little Rock, there is nothing here named for him.  Since there was already a Harrison Street named after his grandfather, he is skipped between Cleveland and McKinley in the presidential streets.


Little Rock Look Back: Leap Day City Council meetings

CLR Leap Day 1932February 29 may come around only once every four years, but it is even rarer for the City of Little Rock to have City Council or City Board meetings on that date.

The most recent official meeting on a Leap Day was on February 29, 1932.  Mayor Horace A. Knowlton presided with all sixteen Aldermen present.  Among the items discussed were regulating of junk dealers, taxes on slot machines, a building condemnation, and setting a license fee for bowling alleys.

There were several issues related to cemeteries discussed throughout the evening.  One forbade any new burials in a section of Oakland Cemetery while another sought to prohibit the creation of any new cemeteries within the City limits.  The Council also passed a motion instructing the Mayor to notify the State Board of Health that the City was “seriously objecting and would strenuously oppose the establishment of a [new] Cemetery within the present boundaries of the City of Little Rock.”  The final cemetery issue was the acceptance of the annual report of the Mount Holly Cemetery Association.

That night the Council also passed a resolution to name the city government hospital as “Little Rock City Hospital.” The purpose of the name was to “clearly designate said hospital to the citizens of Little Rock as the hospital owned and operated by the City of Little Rock.”

The issue which seems to have taken up most of the time was overriding a Mayoral veto of a resolution opposing the firing of a firefighter.  The motion to sustain the veto ended in a tie. After the Mayor promised to rehire the firefighter as soon as a vacancy occurred, on alderman changed his vote and the veto was sustained.

The only other City Council meeting on a February 29 was in 1892.  Mayor H. L. Fletcher presided over the meeting.  The main focuses of that meeting were to discuss boundaries of various sewer districts, pay the monthly bills, approve the relocation of a house from 9th Street to the corner of 12th Street and Commerce Street and to bring certain City criminal penalties in line with a new state law.


Little Rock Look Back: H. L. Fletcher, 35th Mayor of Little Rock

Mayor H L Fletcher

On September 15, 1833, future Little Rock Mayor Henry Lewis Fletcher was born in Saline County.  His parents were Henry Lewis and Mary Lindsey Fletcher.  One of his siblings was future Little Rock Mayor John Gould Fletcher.  The Fletcher brothers are the only set of siblings to serve as Mayors of Little Rock.

Though the life of John Gould Fletcher is fairly well documented, not much information is available on his brother Henry Lewis (and some of what is out there is incorrect).  He married Susan Bricelin August 30, 1855, in Pulaski County.  During the Civil War, he served as a sergeant in the cavalry for the Confederate Army in Captain Ed Nowland’s Company.

As a civic leader, Fletcher oversaw Arkansas’ contribution to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. The building received as a prize a cast-iron fountain. A replica of that stands in front of the Old State House Museum.

Fletcher served as Mayor of Little Rock from 1891 to 1893.  When Fletcher became Mayor he appointed a new Police Chief (as most Mayors did) and the entire police force was dismissed.  A new police force was hired by E. H. Sanders, who served as chief for 18 months.  Upon his resignation, Frank MacMahon (who had been dismissed from the force when Fletcher came to office), was appointed Chief by Mayor Fletcher.  He would serve from 1892 until 1905.

Mayor Fletcher died on June 30, 1896 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery next to his wife (who died in 1911).


Little Rock Look Back: President Benjamin Harrison becomes first sitting president to visit LR

Benjamin-Harrison-by-Joseph-Gray-Kitchell-1897-358x426On April 17, 1891, Benjamin Harrison became the first sitting president to visit Arkansas.  He was on a cross-country railroad trip having left DC on April 13.

The morning of the 17th he spoke in Memphis and then took the train to Little Rock.  Accompanying him from Memphis to Little Rock were a delegation which included Governor and Mrs. James P. Eagle, Mayor H. L. Fletcher and Col. Logan H. Roots.  Also in the party was Mrs. W. G. Whipple, a former first lady of Little Rock.

They arrived in Little Rock in the afternoon.  A parade took them from the train station to the State House (now the Old State House Museum) where the Governor formally welcomed the President and his party.

In his brief remarks, President Harrison spoke of the hospitality and the natural resources available in Arkansas.  He also touched on the Civil War, which at the time was less than 30 years in the past. He noted “The commonwealth rests upon the free suffrage of its citizens and their devotion to the Constitution and the flag is the bulwark of its life.  We have agreed, I am sure, that we will do no more fighting among ourselves.” These remarks were met enthusiastically by the crowd assembled.

The President concluded is brief remarks thanking the State officials and the citizenry.  He then took the train to Texarkana where he made his third remarks of the day.

Benjamin Harrison was on the Presidential ticket two times. The first time he lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College defeating incumbent Grover Cleveland. The second time he lost both the popular and electoral votes to Cleveland.  He did not carry Arkansas in either election. Though he was the first sitting president to visit Little Rock, there is nothing here named for him.  Since there was already a Harrison Street named after his grandfather, he is skipped between Cleveland and McKinley in the presidential streets.


Little Rock Look Back: H. L. Fletcher, LR’s 35th Mayor

Mayor H L FletcherOn September 15, 1833, future Little Rock Mayor Henry Lewis Fletcher was born in Saline County.  His parents were Henry Lewis and Mary Lindsey Fletcher.  One of his siblings was future Little Rock Mayor John Gould Fletcher.  The Fletcher brothers are the only set of siblings to serve as Mayors of Little Rock.

Though the life of John Gould Fletcher is fairly well documented, not much information is out there on his brother Henry Lewis (and some of what is out there is incorrect).  He married Susan Bricelin August 30, 1855, in Pulaski County.  During the Civil War, he served as a sergeant in the cavalry for the Confederate Army in Captain Ed Nowland’s Company.

As a civic leader, Fletcher oversaw Arkansas’ contribution to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. The building received as a prize a cast-iron fountain still standing in front of the Old State House Museum.

Fletcher served as Mayor of Little Rock from 1891 to 1893.  When Fletcher became Mayor he appointed a new Police Chief (as most Mayors did) and the entire police force was dismissed.  A new police force was hired by E. H. Sanders, who served as chief for 18 months.  Upon his resignation, Frank MacMahon (who had been dismissed from the force when Fletcher came to office), was appointed Chief by Mayor Fletcher.  He would serve from 1892 until 1905.

Mayor Fletcher died on June 30, 1896 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery next to his wife (who died in 1911).


Little Rock Look Back: Mayor Henry Lewis Fletcher

Mayor H L FletcherOn September 15, 1833, future Little Rock Mayor Henry Lewis Fletcher was born in Saline County.  His parents were Henry Lewis and Mary Lindsey Fletcher.  One of his siblings was future Little Rock Mayor John Gould Fletcher.  The Fletcher brothers are the only set of siblings to serve as Mayors of Little Rock.

Though the life of John Gould Fletcher is fairly well documented, not much information is out there on his brother Henry Lewis (and some of what is out there is incorrect).  He married Susan Bricelin August 30, 1855, in Pulaski County.  During the Civil War, he served as a sergeant in the cavalry for the Confederate Army in Captain Ed Nowland’s Company.

As a civic leader, Fletcher oversaw Arkansas’ contribution to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. The building received as a prize a cast-iron fountain still standing in front of the Old State House Museum.

Fletcher served as Mayor of Little Rock from 1891 to 1893.  When Fletcher became Mayor he appointed a new Police Chief (as most Mayors did) and the entire police force was dismissed.  A new police force was hired by E. H. Sanders, who served as chief for 18 months.  Upon his resignation, Frank MacMahon (who had been dismissed from the force when Fletcher came to office), was appointed Chief by Mayor Fletcher.  He would serve from 1892 until 1905.

Mayor Fletcher died on June 30, 1896 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery next to his wife (who died in 1911).