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Blog entries pertaining to goings on in Pocahontas, Arkansas, USA.
Enjoy driving in the Ozarks this autumn. Those Ozarks start right here in Pocahontas, and Lesmeister Guesthouse makes a perfect base for enjoying eastern Arkansas’ fall show!
(Click the photo above to take a video test drive.)
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, less than an hour from Lesmeister Guesthouse, includes a barn studio associated with renowned author Ernest Hemingway, as well as the family home of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.
Pauline’s parents, Paul and Mary Pfeiffer, were prominent citizens of Northeast Arkansas and owned more than 60,000 acres of land. During the 1930s the barn was converted to a studio to give Hemingway privacy for writing while visiting Piggott. Portions of one of his most famous novels, A Farewell to Arms, and several short stories were written in this studio.
Both the home and the barn studio were named to the National Historic Register in 1982. The properties have been renovated, focusing on the 1930s era and are open to the public as a museum. See more information at http://hemingway.astate.edu/
A new report in “Safe Choice Security News” ranks Pocahontas as having the state’s lowest crime rate, by far! See http://www.safechoicesecurity.com/blog/safest-cities-arkansas/
Check out our new slideshow of Pocahontas’ and Randolph County’s top ten things to see and do. It’s HERE.
It’s known that the town of Pocahontas existed before the nearby town of Powhatan was created in Lawrence County. So the name Pocahontas was definitely not given to the Randolph County Seat due to Randolph County being carved out of the larger Lawrence County, whose county seat became Powhatan. More likely, Powhatan got its name due to Lawrence being known as “the father of counties”. Powhatan was the father of Pocahontas, just as Lawrence County was the “father” of Randolph County.
Meriwether Lewis Randolph appointed Secretary of the Arkansas Territory by President Andrew Jackson
Meriwether Lewis Randolph (1810-1837) was the grandson of Thomas Jefferson, the ninth child of Martha Jefferson Randolph and Thomas Mann Randolph. He was born at Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and named for his grandfather’s secretary, the explorer Meriwether Lewis.
Randolph studied law and moral and natural philosophy at the University of Virginia, 1829-1831, but chose to pursue a career on the western frontier. He worked briefly as a clerk for the Department of State before being appointed Secretary of Arkansas Territory by President Andrew Jackson in February 1835, a position Randolph held through Arkansas’ transition to statehood.
Randolph County formed from part of Lawrence County.
It was proposed that Randolph County be named for Meriwether Lewis Randolph. Randolph, however, stated that he had resided in Arkansas for only a short time and had done nothing to merit such recognition, but, if it was desired that the Randolph name be attached to the county, it should be named for John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia, which it was. John Randolph was a direct descendant of Thomas Rolfe, the only child of the Indian Pocahontas and John Rolfe.
Arkansas Gazette reports, “The Seat of Justice of [Randolph] County has been established at Bettis’ Bluff, and a town is to be laid off, to be called Pocahontas.”
Until 1836, the place that’s now called Pocahontas was known as Bettis’ Bluff, which identified the location of the Bettis home and ferry. There was no town then, just “the Bettis place”.
Bettis had lobbied the commissioners of the new Randolph County to place the county seat were he owned property at Bettis’ Bluff. It’s quite likely that Bettis saw an opportunity to profit by selling lots in the new town, and it’s speculated that he needed a “catchy” name to attract attention to make the new town grow.
Since the new county had just been named for Virginia’s Randolph family, it’s quite likely that Bettis and others in the new county were aware of the connection the Randolphs had with Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, so that may be why they chose the name Pocahontas for the new county seat.
A step back in time…
Pocahontas is becoming unique, unfortunately, in still having a real, old fashioned downtown hardware store, right on our town square. Generally when I go to a store, I go straight to the item I came to buy, pick it up and buy it, and leave as fast as I can. As the video below attests, the hardware/home improvement store is the ONLY type of store on earth were we men enjoy shopping just for the joy of looking.
Futrell’s Hardware in Pocahontas has occupied the southeast corner of the town square, at 102 South Bettis Street, for as long as any of us can remember, and during all that time, nothing has changed in this time capsule of 1945!
This isn’t a video about Futrell’s, but it sure seems like it!
Pocahontas, Arkansas, is a wonderful little old town in need more investment. We currently have three pre-year-1900 family homes up for sale on the main avenue through town. Any of them would make a wonderful bed and breakfast, or private home!
We just need someone to come love us the way we love ourselves! Like Film Producer Joel Silver has done for Yemassee, South Carolina’s Auldbrass plantation, or like wealthy financier Gaylon Lawrence Jr., has done for Wilson, Arkansas (which is about 90 minutes from Pocahontas).
Pocahontas played a part in the last major Confederate offensive of the American Civil War. This action is described below, in the final installment of my “Pocahontas and the Civil War” series.
In the late summer of 1864, Confederate General Sterling Price began what would be the last major Confederate offensive of the Civil War. Headquartered south of Little Rock, Price intended nothing less than the reconquest of Missouri, a state that had been occupied by Union forces since September 1861. His primary goal was the capture of St. Louis.
Price’s expedition was a dismal failure, and he was later court-martialed over it. Price marched north to Missouri with 12,000 cavalrymen and fourteen pieces of artillery in August 1864. The force spent 2 days in Pocahontas as they prepared to attack Missouri.
Price lingered in Missouri for almost two months, attempting to stage a popular uprising. He marched to central Missouri and its wildly pro-Confederate Boonslick area along the Missouri River. Price lingered ten days in Boonslick, recruiting 8,000 local men to add to his 12,000 Arkansas troops, but falling far short of the 50,000 men he had anticipated, and needed, to take Missouri for the Confederacy.
Union forces, initially caught completely unprepared to resist Price, eventually concentrated forces from Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee and ejected him from the state in a series of battles fought along the Kansas and Missouri border.
Below is part of the report from Price’s court-martial.
April 22, 1865
At a Court of Inquiry then held at Shreveport, La.
Major General S. Price appeared before the Court.
The road was a rough and difficult one, and was adopted because of the forage and subsistence that it furnished. Headquarters with General Fagan’s division moved from Batesville, fourteen miles, to
Powhatan, Ark., which point it reached on the 15th September, 1864, where it was joined by Generals Marmaduke and Shelby. Moved from Powhatan to Pocahontas on the 16th, a distance of eighteen miles. At Pocahontas we halted two days for the purpose of reorganizing, many recruits being then in camp, and to distribute ordnance to the different divisions.
At that point two or more brigades were organized and added to Major-General Fagan’s division, under Colonels Dobbin and McCray, and one brigade, under Colonel Freeman, added to Major-General Marmaduke’s division, and a brigade, under Colonel Jackman, to General Shelby’s division. These four brigades were chiefly of recruits from Arkansas and Missouri. At this point, by direction of General Price, I prepared four or five maps indicating the routes by which the different divisions should move on entering Missouri, it having been determined by General Price to move by three routes to Fredericktown, Mo., 140 miles from Pocahontas. General Price directed me to lay the routes down clearly, so that the subordinate commanders could always communicate with him readily and know where he was.
From Pocahontas General Price, with Major-General Fagan’s division, moved direct to Fredericktown by Greenville, the middle route. Major-General Marmaduke moved by Poplar Bluff, Dallas, and Bloomfield, by the longest route to the same point. Brigadier-General Shelby
moved upon the left. This route leads through Patterson. He encountered the enemy in the vicinity of Doniphan and defeated him without loss to himself, capturing a few prisoners and the telegraph office with its instruments. He again engaged the enemy at Patterson, defeated him, capturing a few prisoners without loss to himself. Prior to this engagement the enemy had burned the town of Doniphan. Doniphan is in Missouri, twenty miles from Pocahontas. General Shelby’s engagement at Doniphan was on the 19th, the day after leaving Pocahontas.
Pocahontas is a real town, not just a suburb of some larger place. Our 18 block commercial historic district is the largest such district in Arkansas. Still mostly a “diamond in the rough”, buildings in this area retain most of their historic features, though some were covered by “modern” facades in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Our historic district is slowly but steadily being reborn as the wonderful place it was over 100 years ago, and Lesmeister Guesthouse is leading the way! The restoration of the building, removing modern additions and facades and restoring the historic appearance, has gone a long way in motivating local property owners to care for structures that have too-long been taken for granted here.
• Site of the 1863 capture of Civil War General Jeff Thompson
• The Downtown Playhouse, featuring live plays and other events in our rehabilitated movie theater
• 1872 Courthouse-Authentic Victorian Architecture
• Randolph County Heritage Museum
• Arkansas’ only Quilt Trail
• Black River Beads and Pottery Gallery
• Civil War Memorial Walking Trail
• Arkansas’ Oldest Barber Shop
• Arkansas’ Oldest Drug Store
• R.J. Reynolds Art Gallery
• A Real Meteorite
• Fully Restored 1921 Train Depot
• and much more!