Little Rock Look Back: Benjamin Harrison is first current POTUS 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.

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Little Rock Look Back: Brooks-Baxter War erupts 145 years ago today

On 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.

2nd Friday Art Night – Old State House Museum offers a Cheese Dip Social, craft beer, and The Salty Dogs

Join the Old State House Museum on Friday, April 12, from 5 – 8 pm​, and enjoy a true taste of Arkansas at their Cheese Dip Social, featuring dips from local Central Arkansas restaurants, along with local craft beer from Core Brewing!

While you’re sampling the cheese dip and local brew, enjoy the honky-tonk country sounds of The Salty Dogs, another Arkansas favorite.

A Night at the Museum: Raiders of the Lost Arkansas – tonight at the Old State House Museum

Get ready for the next Night at the Museum on Thursday, April 4,  from 6-9 pm! This month’s theme is “Raiders of the Lost Arkansas!”

Nights at the Museum is an event for ages 21+ that offers attendees a chance to enjoy games and activities, libations, and a fun new way to interact with history. Nights at the Museum will take place on the first Thursday of each month seasonally, March-October, on the iconic front lawn of the museum.

Nights at the Museum is hosted by the Arkansas State House Society, and all proceeds will benefit the museum’s educational programs.

Admission is $5; food and beverages will be available for purchase at the event. Tickets may be purchased in advance HERE or at the gate.

The museum can validate parking at the DoubleTree Hotel; all metered parking downtown is free after 6 pm.

Women Making History – Louise Loughborough

Louise Loughborough was the first woman to serve on the Little Rock Planning Commission.  Not only was the she first woman to serve on this body, she was the first to serve on any City commission other than the Board of Censors or Library Board.

Born Louisa Watkins Wright in Little Rock 1881, her ancestors included many early Arkansas leaders including Little Rock Mayor David Fulton, who had been born in Ireland.

In 1935, Loughborough was appointed to the Little Rock Planning Commission, and it was in this role that she first heard about the plan to condemn the half-block of houses that she had grown up admiring on Cumberland and East Third streets. Although the neighborhood had fallen on hard times, becoming a red-light district and slum, Loughborough feared the loss of several historic structures, including the Hinderliter House, the oldest building in Little Rock and thought to be Arkansas’s last territorial capitol. She mobilized a group of civic leaders to save these buildings. She enlisted the aid of prominent architect Max Mayer and coined the term “town of three capitols” to try to capture the imagination of potential supporters, grouping the “Territorial Capitol” with the Old State House and the State Capitol.

The Arkansas Territorial Restoration opened on July 19, 1941. The project was the first Arkansas agency committed to both the restoration of structures and the interpretation of their history, and it served as a model and inspiration for historic preservation in the state. Around the same time, she was a moving force behind the creation of a museum at the Old State House as well.  Today both Historic Arkansas Museum (as the Territorial Restoration is now known) and the Old State House Museum are agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

As founding Chairman of the Arkansas Territorial Restoration Commission, Louise Loughborough provided daily direction for the museum house complex through the first twenty years of its existence. She died in Little Rock on December 10, 1962 and was buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

2nd Friday Art Night – The Cons of Formant at the Old State House Museum

Tonight (March 8) from 5pm to 8pm, explore the Old State House Museum exhibits and the Museum Store, and enjoy the folk rock sounds of The Cons of Formant!

Combining backgrounds from old soul-filled hymns and rock & roll to blues and bluegrass, The Cons of Formant have established themselves as a core part of the Americana & Folk Rock movement. The diverse blend of styles has created a beautiful balance of sound that is uniquely their own.
Beer, soft drinks and light snacks will be provided.

Tonight at the Old State House Museum – Erin Enderlin in Concert

Image may contain: 1 person, guitar and indoorThe Old State House Museum (OSHM) will host rising country music star Erin Enderlin on March 1, 7-9 p.m., for a free community concert.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Beer and soft drinks will be served.

The museum can validate parking at the DoubleTree hotel; metered parking near the hotel is free after 6 p.m.

Recently named one of CMT’s Next Women of Country and Arkansas’s Country Music Songwriter of the Year, Enderlin is an Arkansas native and award-winning singer/songwriter currently based in Nashville, Tenn.

Her critically acclaimed sophomore album, “Whiskeytown Crier,” was co-produced by Jamey Johnson and Jim “Moose” Brown and features Chris Stapleton, Randy Houser and Ricky Skaggs. An in-demand songwriter, Enderlin penned Alan Jackson’s “Monday Morning Church,” Lee Ann Womack’s “Last Call,” and others for Luke Bryan, Randy Travis, Terri Clark, Joey + Rory and many more.

During the March 1 concert, Enderlin will present the guitar she used when writing “Monday Morning Church,” which she is donating to OSHM. The guitar will be included in the museum’s collection of Arkansas music artifacts.

Enderlin is touring with Jamey Johnson during February and March, and she will take a detour to Arkansas to play the March 1 show. All tour dates are available on her website at https://www.erinenderlin.com/p/tour.

Previously, Enderlin has toured with artists including Willie Nelson, Kip Moore and Marty Stuart. She was recently named Nashville Scene’s Runner-up for Best Singer-Songwriter in Nashville behind Jason Isbell.