Little Rock Look Back: C. P. Bertrand

On November 23, 1808, future Mayor Charles P. Bertrand was born in New York.  He was the son of Pierre and Eliza Wilson Bertrand; his father died in 1809 in an uprising in Haiti and his mother eventually remarried.  With her new husband, Dr. Matthew Cunningham, she and the family moved to Little Rock in 1820.

After apprenticing with family friend William Woodruff at the Arkansas Gazette, Bertrand opened the Arkansas Advocate newspaper.  He later studied law under Robert Crittenden and entered the legal profession.

In 1835-1836, he served as State Treasurer for the Arkansas Territory, and in 1836 as secretary for the first constitutional convention. He was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1840-1841 and 1844-1849.

Bertrand followed in his stepfather’s footsteps and became Mayor of Little Rock.  (Dr. Cunningham had been the first Little Rock Mayor in 1831.)  He was in office from January 1855 through January 1857, serving two one-year terms.  He later served on the City Council and filled in as acting mayor. (Another influence on his upbringing was studying under future Mayor Jesse Brown who taught at the first school in Little Rock.)

Bertrand, as acting mayor, was involved in the negotiations of the surrender of Little Rock to federal troops in 1863.  He also later corresponded with President Lincoln on behalf of Little Rock citizens

.

Though a staunch Confederate, his good will toward the Union soldiers and federal officials is credited with helping to save Little Rock from the destruction which befell many other Southern cities.  He is also credited with delaying the start of the Civil War.

Prior to the attack on Fort Sumner, members of the Arkansas Militia were planning to attack the Federal Arsenal at Little Rock during the absence of Governor Rector.  This would have been viewed as an act of war.  Bertrand was able to dissuade them from the attack.  Had he been unsuccessful, the Civil War would have likely started in Arkansas instead of South Carolina.

He had put his considerable fortune into Confederate money during the war. At the Civil War’s conclusion, the family was financially ruined. Though they had vast land holdings, those would be sold off in parcels to pay for taxes.

Bertrand died August 27, 1865, shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War.  He, like his mother, step-father, and several other relatives, is buried in Mt. Holly Cemetery.

Advertisements

Still Time to RSVP for NPR’s Steve Inskeep’s “Rule of Law” lecture in conjunction with US Marshals Museum

This week is the final week to RSVP for next Monday’s program featuring NRP’s Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep.

The United States Marshals Museum will host him for a “Rule of Law” lecture in Little Rock on November 12.

As part of his remarks, he will discuss the impact then and now on the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The free and open to the public lecture at UA-Little Rock’s Jack Stephens Center will begin at 6 p.m.

Inskeep is the co-host of Morning Edition, a nationally-broadcast daily news program on NPR public radio. Inskeep is the author of Jacksonland, his 2015 historic account on President Andrew Jackson’s long-running conflict with John Ross, a Cherokee chief who resisted the removal of Indians from the eastern United States in the 1830’s. In 1839, Ross’ wife Elizabeth “Quatie” Ross fell ill on the Trail of Tears and died in Little Rock. Her headstone lies in Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery. Inskeep is also the author of Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi, a 2011 book about one of the world’s great megacities.

Former United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Judge Morris “Buzz” Arnold will introduce the program and moderate the question-and-answer session. Event sponsors include UA-Little Rock, Sequoyah National Research Center, KUAR-Radio and NPR.

“We’re excited to bring Steve Inskeep to Arkansas,” said Alice Alt of the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation. “We are all huge fans of his at the museum, and we’re looking forward to hearing his insights on the Rule of Law, one of our nation’s constitutional bedrock principles and a major part of what the museum will be about.”

The Museum, set to open in the fall of 2019, will focus on civic literacy and the Rule of Law, and feature five immersive galleries – Defining Marshals, The Campfire: Stories Under the Stars, Frontier Marshals, A Changing Nation and Modern Marshals.

Admission is free, but an RSVP is required by November 9 to https://theruleoflaw.eventbrite.com/.

About the United States Marshals Museum

The future United States Marshals Museum will be a national Museum located on the riverfront in Fort Smith, Ark. Opening in the fall of 2019, the United States Marshals Museum will tell the story of our nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency from its establishment by President George Washington through current day. The Museum will honor the sacrifice of Marshals killed in the line of duty, as well as those who continue to place their lives in harm’s way, as they enforce the Constitution. For more information, visit usmmuseum.org.

Little Rock Look Back: Civic Leader Adolphine Fletcher Terry

Adolphine Fletcher Terry was born on November 3, 1882 to former Little Rock Mayor John Gould Fletcher and his wife Adolphine Krause Fletcher.

Raised in Little Rock, in 1889 she moved into the Albert Pike House on East 7th Street, when her aunt transferred the title to her father. That house would be her primary residence the rest of her life.  Her sister Mary Fletcher Drennan never lived in Arkansas as an adult after marriage. Her brother John Gould Fletcher spent much of his adulthood in Europe before returning to Little Rock and establishing his own house, Johnswood.

At age 15, Adolphine attended Vassar. She later credited that experience as broadening her views on many issues.  After graduating at age 19, she returned to Little Rock.  Her parents both died prior to her 1910 wedding to David D. Terry, which took place at what was then known as the Pike-Fletcher House (and today is known as the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House).

She is perhaps best known today for establishing the Women’s Emergency Committee in 1958 and for her subsequent deeding of the family house to the City for use by the Arkansas Arts Center.  But her entire life was based on civic engagement.

She was instrumental in establishing the first juvenile court system in Arkansas and helped form the first school improvement association in the state. She was long an advocate for libraries, serving 40 years on the Little Rock public library board.  Through her leadership, the library opened its doors to African Americans in the early 1950s. Today a branch of the Central Arkansas Library System (the successor the Little Rock public library) is named after her.  Another branch is named after her Pulitzer Prize winning brother.

Adolphine formed the Little Rock chapter of the American Association of University Women, the Pulaski County tuberculosis association and the Community Chest.

In 1958, when the Little Rock public high schools were closed instead of allowing them to be desegregated again, she called Harry Ashmore the editor of the Gazette and exclaimed, “the men have failed us…it’s time to call out the women.”  With this, she formed the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools. This group played a major role in getting the four high schools open the following year.

From 1933 to 1942, David Terry served in the U.S. Congress. During that time, Adolphine alternated her time between Washington DC and Little Rock. But she spent much time in Little Rock raising her five children.

After her husband’s death in 1963, she continued to remain active in civic affairs. In the 1960’s, she and her sister deeded the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House to the City of Little Rock for use by the Arkansas Arts Center upon both their deaths.  Following Adolphine Fletcher Terry’s death in 1976, Mary turned over the title to the City.

Adolphine Fletcher Terry is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery alongside her husband. Three of her children are also buried in that plot.  Her parents and brother are buried in a nearby plot.

Her granddaughters and their families carry on Adolphine Fletcher Terry’s commitment to making Little Rock better.

Little Rock Look Back: Mr. J. N. Heiskell

At the age of 87, J. N. Heiskell in 1960.

John Netherland (J. N.) Heiskell served as editor of the Arkansas Gazette for more than seventy years.  He was usually called “Mr. Heiskell” by all, but a very few confidantes felt confident to call him “Ned.”

Mr. Heiskell is the person most responsible for Robinson Center Music Hall being located at the corner of Markham and Broadway.  As Chair of the Planning Commission and editor of the Arkansas Gazette he had twin bully pulpits to promote this location when those on the City Council (who actually had the final say) were looking at other locations.  He felt the location would help create a cluster of public buildings with its proximity to the county courthouse and to City Hall.  Mr. Heiskell finally succeeded in winning over the mayor and aldermen to his viewpoint.

He was born on November 2, 1872, in Rogersville, Tennessee, to Carrick White Heiskell and Eliza Ayre Netherland Heiskell. He entered the University of Tennessee at Knoxville before his eighteenth birthday and graduated in three years at the head of his class on June 7, 1893.

His early journalism career included jobs with newspapers in Knoxville and Memphis and with the Associated Press in Chicago and Louisville. On June 17, 1902, Heiskell’s family bought controlling interest in the Arkansas Gazette. Heiskell became the editor, and his brother, Fred, became managing editor.

Governor George Donaghey appointed Heiskell to succeed Jeff Davis in the United States Senate after Davis’s death in office. Heiskell served from January 6, 1913, until January 29, 1913, when a successor was chosen by the Arkansas General Assembly.  His tenure is the shortest in the U. S. Senate history.  His first speech on the Senate floor was his farewell.  He was also only the second US Senator to live to be 100.

On June 28, 1910, Heiskell married Wilhelmina Mann, daughter of the nationally prominent architect, George R. Mann. The couple had four children: Elizabeth, Louise, John N. Jr., and Carrick.

In 1907, he joined a successful effort to build the city’s first public library. He served on the library board from that year until his death and was issued the first library card.  He also served on the City’s Planning Commission for decades.  In 1912, he was instrumental in bringing John Nolen to Little Rock to devise a park plan.

In the paper and in his own personal opinions, he crusaded on a variety of progressive causes.  Perhaps the most famous was the Gazette’s stance in the 1957 Central High desegregation crisis.  It was for this effort that the paper received two Pulitzer Prizes.

Although Heiskell stopped going to the office at age ninety-nine, he continued to take an active interest in the newspaper. He began by having a copy of the newspaper delivered to his home by messenger as soon as it came off the press each night. Eventually, he switched to having his secretary call him daily at his home and read the entire newspaper to him. He operated on the premise that “anyone who runs a newspaper needs to know what’s in it, even to the classified ads.”

A few weeks after turning 100, Heiskell died of congestive heart failure brought on by arteriosclerosis on December 28, 1972. He is buried in Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery.  Interestingly, he is buried in the same cemetery as two of his most notable adversaries: Governor Jeff Davis, and segregationist Congressman Dale Alford.

Mr. Heiskell donated his vast papers to UALR. They are part of the Arkansas Studies Institute collection. These papers give insight into not only his career as a journalist, but also his political and civic affairs.  Thankfully he saved much of his paperwork. Without it, much insight into Little Rock in the 20th Century would be lost.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep will speak in LR hosted by US Marshals Museum

The United States Marshals Museum will host NPR Morning Edition co-host and author Steve Inskeep for a “Rule of Law” lecture in Little Rock on November 12.

As part of his remarks, he will discuss the impact then and now on the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The free and open to the public lecture at UA-Little Rock’s Jack Stephens Center will begin at 6 p.m.

Inskeep is the co-host of Morning Edition, a nationally-broadcast daily news program on NPR public radio. Inskeep is the author of Jacksonland, his 2015 historic account on President Andrew Jackson’s long-running conflict with John Ross, a Cherokee chief who resisted the removal of Indians from the eastern United States in the 1830’s. In 1839, Ross’ wife Elizabeth “Quatie” Ross fell ill on the Trail of Tears and died in Little Rock. Her headstone lies in Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery. Inskeep is also the author of Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi, a 2011 book about one of the world’s great megacities.

Former United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Judge Morris “Buzz” Arnold will introduce the program and moderate the question-and-answer session. Event sponsors include UA-Little Rock, Sequoyah National Research Center, KUAR-Radio and NPR.

“We’re excited to bring Steve Inskeep to Arkansas,” said Alice Alt of the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation. “We are all huge fans of his at the museum, and we’re looking forward to hearing his insights on the Rule of Law, one of our nation’s constitutional bedrock principles and a major part of what the museum will be about.”

The Museum, set to open in the fall of 2019, will focus on civic literacy and the Rule of Law, and feature five immersive galleries – Defining Marshals, The Campfire: Stories Under the Stars, Frontier Marshals, A Changing Nation and Modern Marshals.

Admission is free, but an RSVP is required by November 9 to https://theruleoflaw.eventbrite.com/.

About the United States Marshals Museum

The future United States Marshals Museum will be a national Museum located on the riverfront in Fort Smith, Ark. Opening in the fall of 2019, the United States Marshals Museum will tell the story of our nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency from its establishment by President George Washington through current day. The Museum will honor the sacrifice of Marshals killed in the line of duty, as well as those who continue to place their lives in harm’s way, as they enforce the Constitution. For more information, visit usmmuseum.org.

LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

Little Rock Look Back: Roswell Beebe Gets the Deed to Little Rock in 1839

Map showing boundaries of original City of Little Rock

On September 25, 1839, businessman Roswell Beebe received title to all of the land in Little Rock.

Starting in the 1810s, there had been much dissension as to who had title to land in what would become Little Rock.  As the settlement developed into a town and city, these disagreements became greater. Often land speculators would sell land to settlers without having the right to do so.

Coming to Little Rock in 1835, Beebe was a witness to the continued uncertainty over land ownership.  In early 1839, he acquired 240 acres which had the only incontestable title in town. This acreage comprised most of Little Rock. He went to Washington DC in 1839 and, on September 25, received the original patent for the town of Little Rock, signed by President Martin Van Buren. It is recorded in the Pulaski County recorder’s office Book L, page 312.

Upon his return, Beebe gave all the people who had bought lots from a certain real estate developer, whom he considered to be fair and honest, title to their land for a dollar. In December 1839, he drew up a plan for Little Rock, laying off blocks and streets. He deeded the streets and alleys to the city for a dollar.

He gave the state the title for the land on Markham Street, where the new capitol building (now the Old State House Museum) was located.  He also donated part of the land for Mount Holly Cemetery, the other portion came from his brother-in-law Chester Ashley.