27Jun/16

Arkansas Toothpick Update

Arkansas Toothpick- The Civil War Hub of ArkansasThere is a lot to report in this update regarding the Arkansas Toothpick and its publishing company. We have been getting a lot of incredible responses regarding the latest publication “Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas”. As of now this volume has a 5-Star rating and debuted as the #1 best seller on Amazon in the geography genre. Following is one of the several reviews left on Amazon:

When it comes to Civil War Arkansas, this resource is unparalleled. The amount of time and effort it must have taken for Ron and Randy to put this resource together is amazing. If you’re a student of CW Arkansas, this book is an ABSOLUTE MUST-HAVE for your library. I’m in the process of writing a fictional CW novel, and it has been impossible finding reliable information on the “layout” of CW Arkansas. This book fixed that problem. I can finally “see” CW Arkansas as it was then, complete with its land, rivers, creeks, ferries, homes, churches, businesses, etc. This book is worth its weight in gold for anyone researching CW Arkansas.

To order your copy of this new Arkansas Toothpick Publishing, LLC volume “Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas” click HERE.

Our Instagram feed on the site has not been as active recently but we will try to step that back up with daily shots of Arkansas battlefields. Email us your Arkansas battlefield shots and we will try to post those as well. Be sure to include your name so we can give you credit. Email your photos to info@arkansastoothpick.com. Please only one per day.

American Queen in Helena

American Queen in Helena

In other news, the American Queen will pay Helena a visit on July 3. If you have never seen the Civil War sites in Helena and you are looking for something to do with the whole family on Father’s Day, then come on over to Helena, Arkansas this Sunday from 830am until noon. Hundreds of passengers will be on the largest steamboat on the Mississippi River and the Civil War sites (Fort Curtis and Freedom Park) will have living historians to help interpret the Civil War in the Arkansas Delta. It will be a great time to visit some of the local shops downtown and grab some lunch on Cherry Street. If you are interested in becoming a living historian or if you would like more info on becoming a volunteer tour guide at some of the Civil War sites in Helena, email us at info@arkansastoothpick.com.

The Phillips County Chamber of Commerce invites community members and visitors alike are invited to downtown Helena on these special Sunday mornings. Shop, museums, and cultural sites will be open on Sunday mornings whenever the boats stop for a visit, including:

Bailee Mae’s (209 Rightor) – open every Sunday from 8:00am until 7:00pm
Delta Cultural Center (141 Cherry)
Delta Gypsy Caravan (509 Cherry)
Freedom Park (700 Biscoe) – interpreters onsite
Fort Curtis (350 Columbia) – interpreters onsite
Handworks (227 Cherry)
Harts Shoes (401 Cherry)
haute paré (403 Cherry)
Helena Museum (623 Pecan)
J.W. Hall & Co Marketplace (306 Cherry)
Pillow-Thompson House (718 Perry) – open for tours
Southbound (233 Cherry) – live music and a special brunch menu until 2:00pm
St. Mary’s Catholic Church (123 Columbia) – open for tours

The remaining Steamboat Sunday dates are:July 3, September 11, November 13 & 27. For more information, contact Main Street Helena at 870-338-9144.

24Jun/16

Civil War Round Table of Arkansas Reminder

Arkansas Toothpick- The Civil War Hub of ArkansasThe next meeting of the Civil War Round Table of Arkansas will be on Tuesday, June 28 at 7pm at 2nd Presbyterian Church at corner of Cantrell Rd & Pleasant Valley. Just off the Cantrell exit of I-430.

The speaker will be Brian Brown. His subject will be Abel Streight vs Nathan Bedford Forrest:The Mule Raid. Support the local Civil War community and give this meeting a shot. Great people and great info for Arkansas Civil War buffs!

20Jun/16

Arkansas State Archives Launches Redesigned Website‏

Arkansas Toothpick- The Civil War Hub of ArkansasThe Arkansas State Archives is pleased to announce the redesign of its website, www.ark-ives.com.

For nearly two years, the agency has worked with Aristotle, a local web design company, to give its website a new look with a more streamlined, user-friendly functionality.

Featuring lighter colors and a user friendly navigation bar at the top, the newly redesigned website now has an integrated records search that makes locating historic records in the State Archives much simpler. The new search function allows researchers to conduct a much broader search of records from one platform while also allowing them to limit their search very specifically. The new site also gives researchers the option to search finding aids of the agency’s archival collections or browse them alphabetically by title.

The website now features a section for educators with links to Arkansas History lesson plans, the Arkansas State Archives digital collections, research subject guides, microsites for the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, as well as links to other Arkansas History resources and archival agencies.

Other new features include information for researchers planning a visit to the State Archives or one of its regional archives, including driving directions, FAQs and research tips, and information on area lodging, ATMs, and restaurants. The website will also continue to maintain much of its current content.

The Arkansas State Archives, located in Little Rock, is the official state archives of Arkansas and maintains the largest collection of historical materials on Arkansas in the world. The agency has two branch locations; the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives is located in Powhatan and the Southwest Regional Archives is located in Washington.

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council.

Sponsored by Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville. http://libinfo.uark.edu/specialcollections/

18Jun/16

Steamboat Sunday in Helena Tomorrow on Fathers Day

Living History opportunities in Helena, AR

Living History opportunities in Helena, AR

The folks in Helena are steadily preparing for hundreds of Civil War buffs that will pour off the American Queen steamboat from all over the globe. There will be tour guides stationed all over town at several Civil War sites, museums, and even shops will be open for business from 8am-noon June 19 in historic downtown Helena.

With all the guides in place on historic sites, it will be the perfect day to bring the family to celebrate Father’s Day at the site of the July 4, 1863 battle. Fort Curtis will be manned with two full scale artillery pieces, including a ten-pounder Parrot Rifle and a three inch ord. rifle, both of which will have limbers and a full crew to fire them. Artillery shells will be on display in the fort for interpretation. Also at Fort Curtis will be a few infantrymen and perhaps a few cavalry will make their entry at some point throughout the day.

Battery C will be manned with Confederate soldiers and will include an interpretation of the Confederate charge about that occurred the morning of July 4, 1863. Battery C overlooks historic Helena and you can see 20 miles into Mississippi from the hilltop fort.

The Confederate Cemetery is also on the tour. The cemetery is where over one hundred Confederates are buried, including the remains of Major General Patrick Cleburne.

Freedom Park is also on the tour and will be a great place to visit Sunday. It is the site where over 2000 slaves were f reed in June 1862. It tells the entire story of the freedom process from 1862 through the battle of Helena in mid 1863. It is on the National Parks Service’s National Undergound Railroad and Network to Freedom and is a must-see.

For more info, email info@arkansastoothpick.com. All sites will be open and there is no charge for visiting them. Wear comfortable clothing and come on over and enjoy Father’s Day like never before.

15Jun/16

1836 Arkansas State Auditor’s Journal finds its way back to State Archives

Arkansas Toothpick- The Civil War Hub of ArkansasJune 15 officially marks the 180th anniversary of Arkansas’s entry into the union as the 25th state. The Arkansas State Archives received a fitting donation to mark the occasion. An Arkansas State Auditor’s journal containing entries from the first year of statehood through 1874 was donated by Philip Palmer of Maumelle to the state archives.

The journal, which contains entries by noted Arkansans like John Selden Roane and Elias Conway, the state’s fourth and fifth Governors, and includes correspondence and information about land grants, taxation, and county-level politics and finance, was almost lost to history. Palmer purchased the journal at a “junk store” in Benton in 2013. Store owners told Palmer that they had acquired the journal at a storage bin auction. The journal was at the bottom of a box with other, unremarkable contents thrown in on top. Palmer purchased the journal because he understood its historical value and wanted to save it from further damage or destruction.

In 2015, Palmer contacted Dr. Lisa K. Speer, State Historian and Director of the Arkansas State Archives about the journal. While Palmer initially loaned the journal to the State Archives for copying, ultimately he decided to make the loan a permanent gift. His only requests were that the donation be announced on Arkansas Statehood Day, and that the donation be recorded in memory of his parents, Dibrell W. Palmer and Billye June (Hiland) Palmer, who instilled in him an appreciation and love for the past.

Speer, State Archives Director, says of Palmer and the donation, “The State of Arkansas is indebted to Mr. Palmer that this important piece of history came into his care. The ledger fills a gap in our records from the State Auditor’s office. In the hands of a less historically-minded citizen this journal might have been lost.” Speer also noted that the inadequacy of the current public records law in Arkansas provides the archives with no legal process for recovering state records that have fallen into private hands, a process called “replevin” that other state archives use to recover lost or misappropriated official records. “I am very grateful to Mr. Palmer,” Speer said, “for understanding that the greatest value in this ledger was the historical worth for telling the story of Arkansas’s early days as a state.”

The Arkansas State Archives, located in Little Rock, maintains the largest collection of historical materials on Arkansas in the world.

Sponsored by Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville. http://libinfo.uark.edu/specialcollections/

14Jun/16

Rare Fabric Survives In Confederate Battle Shirt At Helena Museum

Confederate Battle Shirt in Helena MuseumConfederate Battle Shirt in Helena MuseumConfederate Battle Shirt in Helena MuseumConfederate Battle Shirt in Helena MuseumNo matter what your lever of expertise is when it comes to Civil War fabric, everyone agrees that this rare close up of this Confederate battle shirt is at the very least extraordinary. In one photo you can actually see the fatal bullet hole through the shirt that killed the local man who joined in the fight on July 4, 1863. Museum visitors recall the shirt at one point still had the Confederate soldier’s blood stained around the bullet hole. Since the shirt has been washed, which is probably a good thing; the fibers are amazingly in tact after over 150 years. This battle shirt can be seen at the Helena museum this Sunday during the Steamboat Sunday Civil War tours this Sunday on Father’s Day in downtown Helena.

Shops, museums, and cultural sites will be open on Sunday mornings whenever the boats stop for a visit, including:

Bailee Mae’s (209 Rightor) – open every Sunday from 8:00am until 7:00pm
Delta Cultural Center (141 Cherry)
Delta Gypsy Caravan (509 Cherry)
Freedom Park (700 Biscoe) – interpreters onsite
Fort Curtis (350 Columbia) – interpreters onsite
Handworks (227 Cherry)
Harts Shoes (401 Cherry)
haute paré (403 Cherry)
Helena Museum (623 Pecan)
J.W. Hall & Co Marketplace (306 Cherry)
Pillow-Thompson House (718 Perry) – open for tours
Southbound (233 Cherry) – live music and a special brunch menu until 2:00pm
St. Mary’s Catholic Church (123 Columbia) – open for tours

14Jun/16

Civil War Weekend in Helena on Father’s Day

Fort Curtis

Fort Curtis

Fort Curtis will be fully staffed with living historians this Sunday for a special Father’s Day Civil War tour of Civil War Helena. Full scale cannons will be firing from 8:30am-noon while Civil War trained interpreters help tell the story of the war. The tours will be on historic sites, including Fort Curtis and Freedom Park in downtown Helena, Arkansas. The American Queen steamboat will be docked in the Helena River Park until about 1pm. Several museums are open that tell the story of the Delta and many shops will be open downtown. If ever there was the perfect day to visit historic Helena, Sunday would be one of those days. Everything will be family friendly. For more info or if you are interested in becoming a living historian or historic site interpreter, email us at info@arkansastoothpick.com.

Shops, museums, and cultural sites will be open on Sunday mornings whenever the boats stop for a visit, including:

Bailee Mae’s (209 Rightor) – open every Sunday from 8:00am until 7:00pm
Delta Cultural Center (141 Cherry)
Delta Gypsy Caravan (509 Cherry)
Freedom Park (700 Biscoe) – interpreters onsite
Fort Curtis (350 Columbia) – interpreters onsite
Handworks (227 Cherry)
Harts Shoes (401 Cherry)
haute paré (403 Cherry)
Helena Museum (623 Pecan)
J.W. Hall & Co Marketplace (306 Cherry)
Pillow-Thompson House (718 Perry) – open for tours
Southbound (233 Cherry) – live music and a special brunch menu until 2:00pm
St. Mary’s Catholic Church (123 Columbia) – open for tours

13Jun/16

Message from the Director of the Arkansas History Commission

Arkansas Toothpick- The Civil War Hub of ArkansasThe following text is from Lisa K. Speer, Ph.D., M.L.I.S., the State Historian and Director of the Arkansas State Archives. She gives a perspective of the new changeover from the Parks department to the Department of Arkansas Heritage from the Arkansas History Listserv:

For a variety of reasons, I usually don’t reply on the list to posts about the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives. This time, I going to make an exception because I can speak from the perspective of someone inside the agency – someone who has worked here five to six days a week, every week for the last three years.

First, please let me say that my staff and I appreciate the support of the history community as we make the transition from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Our 45-year relationship with Arkansas Parks and Tourism has been a good one for our agency. The History Commission has been historically underfunded by the Arkansas General Assembly since we were established in 1905. Through the years, ADPT has provided support for the History Commission in more ways than probably most people realize. We are a small agency and all our of 26 full-time positions are devoted to archival work. We have no personnel positions devoted to human resources, accounting, payroll, budgeting, or technology support. ADPT has provided those services for us at no cost. Our regional archives are located in Arkansas State Park-owned facilities. Parks staff provides major maintenance for those facilities, and Parks staff pitches in any time our regional archives are short-handed or we have special events. No one can justifiably question the level of support that ADPT has provided to the History Commission through the years. I worked with Richard Davies for almost three years. In that time, he never micromanaged History Commission business, was a great mentor, and provided my agency with the support we needed to pursue our goals.

As for the state of the agency’s collections and our future under the Department of Heritage, the preservation of the Arkansas history materials housed at the State Archives is and will remain our primary consideration. My staff and I take our roles as stewards of Arkansas history very seriously, and we value the trust of our donors. Like all other state archives, we are committed to open access to materials in our possession. Records and collections in our care will continue to be governed by transfer and donor agreements. Protocols for accessing collections and using our research rooms at Little Rock, Powhatan and Washington are the same. In the last 3 years, my staff and I have worked diligently on a survey of collections in our care to ensure open access to all materials housed at the History Commission. I am very proud of my staff, in particular the collections working group that planned, organized and executed the survey. Every single member of our staff has been involved in the survey, which we believe has served active researchers well.

What might not have gotten attention on this listserv is Governor Hutchinson’s memorandum of February 17, 2016, to state agencies, offices and departments, mandating that these entities consult with the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives on the preservation of records potentially having long-term value. As a result of this directive, more state records having permanent value are already making their way into our archives. While everyone has noted that we’re transitioning, the fact that our holdings are growing (not shrinking) seems to have gone unnoticed.

My staff and I are excited to join our esteemed colleagues at Heritage and continue to contribute to the good work and fine scholarship coming out of its agencies. I’m particularly happy that our two commissions – the Arkansas History Commission and the Black History Commission of Arkansas – will continue to play an integral part in everything we plan and do. I could not be more fortunate to work with a better group of commissioners – they are forward-thinking, positive individuals, who are always supportive of our agency and staff at every turn. I appreciate them very much.

I would be glad to talk to any concerned citizen, donor, or member of the history community at any time. My contact information is included in this post, and I encourage you to email or call.

Lisa K. Speer, Ph.D., M.L.I.S.
State Historian and Director of the Arkansas State Archives