Race, Labor, and Violence in the Delta: Essays to Mark the Centennial of the Elaine Massacre. HWH Mayor Kevin Smith took to Facebook Wednesday morning saying the fatal shooting happened on North 6th Street. Rate and review titles you borrow and share your opinions on them. [53] Bledsoe's two guns were driven off, but neither side could defeat the other. For every 100 females, there were 83.3 males. UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture. The sharecroppers who gathered at a small church in Elaine, Arkansas, in the late hours of September 30, 1919, knew the risk they were taking. 2023 Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Richard Hall asked my father to come to Mississippi to visit him. The Forgotten History of Americas Worst Racial Massacre, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/30/opinion/elaine-massacre-1919-arkansas.html. Some of the refugees were killed, some were taken prisoner, and the camp was burned by the Confederates at some point during the battle. He began moving towards Jacksonport and met Major General Sterling Price and Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke on June 18. Hostility toward him was so great from local white residents that, out of fear for his life, he was said to sleep at a different black familys house every night during the trials. Colonel Jencks sent all of the white women and children to Helena by train, ordered the immediate disarming of everyone and authorized the killing of black insurgents who failed to disarm. The few who made it close to Fort Curtis were easily repulsed. Language links are at the top of the page across from the title. Pop. Helena, city, seat (1830) of Phillips county, eastern Arkansas, U.S., port of the Mississippi River, about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Memphis, Tennessee, and adjacent to the city of West Helena. Collins, Ann V. All Hell Broke Loose: American Race Riots from the Progressive Era through World War II. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. For the American Civil War battle of the same name, see, U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Helena, Arkansas, "H. Glenn Mosenthin, "Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad", "Helena Harbor celebrates return of rail service to Phillips County - Talk Business & Politics", "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990", "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014", "CENSUS 2000 Block Map: WEST HELENA city", "State's last black Catholic school to close", "Saxophonist Red Holloway Dead at 84 Chicago tenor was prolific leader and sideman for six decades", "Helena, a city and the county-seat of Phillips county, Arkansas, U.S.A.", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Helena,_Arkansas&oldid=1151874553, Arkansas populated places on the Mississippi River, Populated places in Phillips County, Arkansas, 1833 establishments in Arkansas Territory, Short description is different from Wikidata, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Pages using infobox settlement with unknown parameters, Pages using US Census population needing update, Wikipedia articles incorporating a citation from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica with Wikisource reference, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, S.T.A.R.S. [25] Prentiss' men had advantages over the Confederates through their defenses, batteries, and naval support. . All the white people had to do was stay away from the church while the meeting was going on. As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Ms. Wells Barnett provided hard evidence of the massacre, but it took the Supreme Court to expose the truth to national attention. Language links are at the top of the page across from the title. In 1925, Sharpe Dunaway, an employee of the Arkansas Gazette, alleged that soldiers in Elaine had committed one murder after another with all the calm deliberation in the world, either too heartless to realize the enormity of their crimes, or too drunk on moonshine to give a continental darn.. For more information, contact 501-918-3025 orcalsfoundation@cals.org. Arkansas governor Charles Hillman Brough told a St. Louis, Missouri, audience during the war that there existed no twilight zone in American patriotism and called Wisconsin senator Robert LaFollete, who opposed the war, a Bolshevik leader. The Arkansas Gazette reported at least fifteen black bodies in Helena's streets and it's outskirts. [25] Trees were felled in front of the Union lines, although it is unclear if they were simply left where they fell as an obstruction or were converted into abatis. [20]. [24] The Union garrison would face the coming attack with 4,129 men. [4] After, a loss of rail service in early 2015, a successful effort was launched by the Helena-West Helena/Phillips County Port Authority to have freight service restored. Elaine sits in Phillips County, on one of the many bends in the Mississippi, roughly 95 miles southwest of Memphis. The white citizens of the county deserve unstinting praise for their actions in preventing mob violence., From this point forward, two versions of what occurred at Elaine exist. 1E, 6E. He made an agreement with Price, who was much more popular with the general public, that he would publicly support the decision of the attack in the case of a failure. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas. Robert Palmer noted that in the mid-1930s Helena was "the blues capital of the Delta". The first time you log in to our catalog you will need to create an account. The Malco theater in Helena has served as both a place to see a movie and as a movie location in Arkansas. According to the United States Census Bureau, Helena had a total area of 8.9 square miles (23km2), all land. [74] Holmes ordered Parsons to attack Battery D to support Fagan, but as Parsons' men were too badly disorganized at the time, McRae was given the order to attack. Pierce, Michael, and Calvin White, eds. Read our Privacy Policy. And heres our email: letters@nytimes.com. Helena was defended by about 4,100 Union troops led by Major General Benjamin Prentiss, manning one fort and four batteries. Estimates have ranged from 25 to 853, the latter from an Arkansas Gazette reporter who named no source. Their initial task was to appeal the sentences given to the Elaine Twelve and ask for a new trial based on errors committed by the trial court. When my father arrived at the address that was on the letter, a lady answered the door, but she said his uncle didnt live there. Leaders of the Hoop Spur union had placed armed guards around the church to prevent disruption of their meeting and intelligence gathering by white opponents. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.5 males. [16] Holmes and Fagan reached Clarendon on June 26. Soon, word spread that blacks were attacking whites in Elaine. [5], By early 1863, holding Helena provided the Union with significant advantages, such as serving as a supply depot for the ongoing Vicksburg campaign, providing a marshalling point for a future advance against Little Rock, and securing northeastern Arkansas. [15] Moving through swamps resulted in the loss of many accompanying animals and wagons. [50] Price's command consisted of the brigades of Brigadier Generals Dandridge McRae and Mosby Monroe Parsons, and was led by the 9th Missouri Sharpshooter Battalion and a company of Arkansans local to the Helena area. [58] Each wasted time waiting for the other to advance. White attorneys from Helena were appointed by Circuit Judge J. M. Jackson to represent the first twelve black men to go to trial. Wingo has a significant record of complaints against him, and fatally shot a man while on duty in Garland County last summer. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2018. The Elaine Race Riot. Masters thesis, George Peabody College for Teachers (now Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University), 1927. News of the shooting quickly reached the county seat of Helena. Battery K, 1st Missouri Light Artillery Regiment, 2nd Arkansas Infantry Regiment (African Descent), Troop engagements of the American Civil War, 1863, "Batteries A, B, C, and D (Battle of Helena)", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Battle_of_Helena&oldid=1141530720, Battles of the American Civil War in Arkansas, Battles of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War, Union victories of the American Civil War, Short description is different from Wikidata, Pages using Sister project links with hidden wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, This page was last edited on 25 February 2023, at 14:50. The. On September 10, Union troops took Little Rock. In their view a deliberately planned insurrection had occurred, where black sharecroppers had intended to murder the plantation owners to seize the land. Special thanks to the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Americans have yet to reckon with this horrible past. Union troops captured the city in July 1862, and had been using it as a base of operations. A defensive position known as Fort Curtis already existed to the west of Helena, but four new batteries, named with the letters A, B, C, and D, were ordered built. Anthony, Steven. The Elaine, Arkansas, Race Riots, 1919. Special Issue. The Arkansas Democrat sent . The descendants of the wealthier white perpetrators, they insist, have profited, and continue to do so, from the suffering and loss that their families endured in 1919. They write new content and verify and edit content received from contributors. The fear is instilled by people who continue to voice the hatred of slave owners of 257 years ago and they dont see it as the source of belligerent race rations. Thrown into this highly combustible mix was the return to the United States of black soldiers who often exhibited a less submissive attitude within the Jim Crow society around them. Magnolia Inn LR. Livingston, Kelly, and Madison Peek. There were 2,312 households, out of which 32.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.8% were married couples living together, 28.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. While its deepest roots lay in the states commitment to white supremacy, the events in and around Elaine (Phillips County)stemmed from tense race relations and growing concerns about labor unions. Helena is home to the longest running daily radio program in the U.S., King Biscuit Time. This article is about the Civil War battle. Additional support provided by the Arkansas Community Foundation. The trial had occurred in a setting dominated by a mob spirit, violating the prisoners right to due process. . He was elderly and handicapped, and ran too slowly. He lost 121 acres of cotton and corn. The population density was 710.7 inhabitants per square mile (274.4/km2). Helena is the seat of Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (1965). 72201. With the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi were cut off from the rest of the Confederacy. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2020. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2020. [45], Price's attack had been delayed. Clancy, Sean. For example, H. F. Smiddy, one of the white witnesses to the massacre, swore in an eye-witness account in 1921 that several hundred of them began to hunt negroes and shotting [sic] them as they came to them. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the troops from Camp Pike engaged in indiscriminate killing of African Americans in the area, which, if true, was a replication of past militia activity to put down perceived black revolts. The community, originally settled in 1797 and first called Monticello and then St. Francis, grew around a warehouse built for barge shipping. [8], Helena is located at 343134N 90365W / 34.52611N 90.60139W / 34.52611; -90.60139 (34.526223, 90.601377).[9]. Helena is the birthplace of many notable people including prominent African Americans and Arkansas' former senior United States senator, Blanche Lincoln. The findings blamed outside agitators for stirring up ignorant sharecroppers. There she interviewed the 12 prisoners accused of murder, their wives, and many others, publishing her findings in a 1920 pamphlet. Holmes noted that the defenses of Helena were stronger than he expected, but carried on with the attack anyway. Our editors will review what youve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. A steel gondola car was hauled back and forth on the railroad track, he said, adding, the men inside firing from the shelter of the steel walls of the car, shooting black people. She was able to go one way. In the last nine months, Elaine's last grocery store and restaurant closed. After Marmaduke's withdrawal, Union troops attempted to attack Walker's flank, but the Confederate cavalrymen withdrew from the field before they were caught. Charles H. Brough of Arkansas and a World War I veteran, Col. Issac Jencks, personally escorted 583 soldiers, including a machine gun battalion, from Camp Pike in Little Rock, the state capital, to Elaine. Johnson, J. Chester. They came to discuss membership in an organization called the Progressive Farmers and Household Union, which would help them secure a fair price for the cotton they picked and to buy land. America cannot address the inequality, poverty, inadequate education, the racially biased criminal justice system, and the limited life chances of black people that define contemporary society until the nation confronts and acknowledges this history. [32] Their plans were also hampered by poor reconnaissance. Many wept as they told of murder, land theft, forced migration and the legacies of living in a region where fear of retribution silenced people over generations. Delta Cultural Center, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. Brough issued a stay of the executions to permit an appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court after the motions were denied. Bearden, Russell E. "Arkansas' Worst Disaster: The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927." Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies 34 (August 2003): 79-97. Joseph Bledsoe's Missouri Battery was brought up to provide artillery support, and two of its guns opened on the Union positions. [60] The failure of the attacks on Batteries A and D allowed those positions to fire on Price's men, and Tyler and Fort Curtis added artillery fire as well;[61] Tyler had moved to a different location that allowed for better fire on Graveyard Hill after suppressing Brooks' men. In Moore v. Dempsey, the court in 1923 overturned the convictions of six of the Elaine 12, arguing that the confessions had been secured through torture. For additional information: Anthony, Steven. [97] Vicksburg had surrendered on July 4, and the Confederate garrison at Port Hudson, Louisiana fell within a week. Stockley, Grif, Brian K. Mitchell, and Guy Lancaster. At the same time, the New York offices of the NAACP, upon the advice of Arkansas attorney Ulysses S. Bratton, hired the Little Rock law firm of George Murphy, a former attorney general and candidate for governor, as counsel for the twelve men. State police say Officer Wallace was shot around 6:11 p.m. Thursday outside the Delta Inn on U.S. Highway 49 in Helena-West Helena. [73] Holmes ordered the 8th Missouri Infantry Regiment (Burns') to attack Fort Curtis,[66] but upon seeing the regiment charge, the rest of Parsons' men joined in, believing a general attack was beginning. [66] Many men from the 7th Missouri Infantry Regiment (Lewis') were captured at this time. The murders, thefts, violence and terror continued long after the troops had gone and the convicted men had been released. [30] The Confederates had support from the local white populace. Anatomy of Four Race Riots: Racial Conflict in Knoxville, Elaine (Arkansas), Tulsa and Chicago, 19191921. [44] Brooks' men became disorganized and did not reform until 8:00 am. For additional information: During the trials, Murphy became ill, and Jones became the principal counsel. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1988. The Moore defendants were granted a new hearing after the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Moore v. Dempsey, ruled that the original proceedings in Helena had been a mask, and that the state of Arkansas had not provided a corrective process that would have allowed the defendants to vindicate their constitutional right to due process of law on appeal. Through a partnership with local government and the federal government more than 20 crimes committed in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas have landed federal charges over the last two years. [47] Price's advance was led by the 9th Missouri Sharpshooter Battalion, who sighted the Union positions on Graveyard Hill. https://www.britannica.com/place/Helena-Arkansas, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture - Helena-West Helena. Waskow, Arthur I. Confederate infantry deserted in large numbers, their morale shattered. Colonel Jenckss report of his mission supported this view, claiming only two black people and one of his corporals had died. Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1970. In 2 U.S. Cities Haunted by Race Massacres, Facing the Past Is Painful and Divisive. NPR, December 11, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/12/11/1137090651/elaine-massacre-tulsa-race-riot (accessed December 12, 2022). Krug, Teresa. St. Francis National Forest is immediately to the north. Low Villains and Wickedness in High Places: Race and Class in the Elaine Riots. Arkansas Historical Quarterly 58 (Autumn 1999): 285313. Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Walter White, of the N.A.A.C.P., reported first that more than 100 African-Americans were killed, later changing it to 250. Elaine Race Massacre: Red Summer in Arkansas. HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. Federal Troops and the Elaine Massacres: A Colloquy. Arkansas Historical Quarterly 61 (Autumn 2002): 272283. In Little Rock and at the headquarters of the NAACP in New York, efforts began to fight the death sentences handed down in Helena, led in part by Scipio Africanus Jones, the leading black attorney of his era in Arkansas, and Edgar L. McHaney. As many as several hundred African Americans and five white men were killed. In the interim, Jones had secured the release of the other Elaine defendants. [48] They were now in front of Battery D.[50], Marmaduke has his own problems in his sector on the line. Local officials and businessmen conducted their own investigation of what had transpired in the Elaine area. Brough once again stayed their executions until the Arkansas Supreme Court could again review the cases. My mother said she believed his uncle Richard was there, but he was afraid to come outside for fear someone would be there to take him back to Arkansas. Donations made to the CALS Foundation are tax-deductible for United States federal income tax purposes. The Arkansas Race Riot. N.p. More atrocities were later reported, including cutting souvenirs from black bodies and . The Edwardian Inn is located on land occupied by Union forces during the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.[14]. Additional support provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council. [6] In late May, with Union troops heavily pressuring Vicksburg, Confederate authorities sent a message to General Joseph E. Johnston suggesting that forces from the Trans-Mississippi Department be used to relieve the pressure on Vicksburg. Union troops captured the city in July 1862, and had been using it as a base of operations. 100 years after hundreds of African Americans were reportedly killed in Elaine, Arkansas, a memorial is set to bring details of the tragedy to light Some observers say the number of people who. He also told how soldiers brought a suspected union leader to his company store for interrogation, poured kerosene over his body and tossed a match. It was a system intended to keep black people in debt and dependent upon planters. McRae sent about 200 men to attack the battery, but they were unsuccessful. Wikipedia On April 10, 1929, an F5 tornado struck northern Jackson County. Grif Stockley As a result, sixty-five others quickly entered plea-bargains and accepted sentences of up to twenty-one years for second-degree murder. [26] Prentiss was originally intended to be reinforced by three vessels from the Union Navy, but only one, the timberclad USS Tyler,[a] was available when the Confederate attack struck. All Rights Reserved. Price was to attack the Union center, focusing on Battery C on Graveyard Hill. A shooting incident that occurred at a meeting of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union escalated into mob violence on the part of the white people in Elaineand surrounding areas. The following morning, Gov. It was founded in 1833 by Nicholas Rightor and is named after the daughter of Sylvanus Phillips, an early settler of Phillips County and the namesake of Phillips County. A Rural Town Confronts Its Buried History of Mass Killings of Black Americans. The Guardian, August 18, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/18/a-rural-town-confronts-its-buried-history-of-mass-killings-of-black-americans (accessed February 22, 2023). New York: Peter Lang, 2008. Animal rescue groups from across the country are converging on the Humane Society of the Delta in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, faced with the challenge of evaluating . I have been trying to close a chapter in my family history. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. According to Christ, Prentiss lost 220 of the 4,129 men he took into battle: 57 killed, 127 wounded, and 36 missing. [64] The advance up the hill had also thrown the Confederates into disarray. [17] Price's advance continued to be slowed by the terrain and weather, to the annoyance of Holmes, who rightly believed that the delay had prevented any remaining chance of the movement being a surprise. The re-trials of the Ware defendants began on May 3, 1920. Little Rock, AR. The military placed several hundred African Americans in makeshift stockades until they could be questioned and vouched for by their white employers. For the next year, it served as a command post for the Union since it was centrally located on the Mississippi River. Historian Robert Kerby describes the Confederate plan as "a model of brutal irresponsibility". This article is about the U.S. city. What is certain is that the massacre cast a long shadow for decades, with fear of reprisals silencing those who witnessed and survived the terror. Carrying an ax with their guns, they then moved to another home, where they murdered yet another union member, Frances Hall. How could anyone treat people with such horrendous disregard and violence? Still others described the barbarism of cutting off the ears or toes of dead negroes for souvenirs and the dragging of their bodies through the streets of Elaine. Gerald B. Lambert, the founder of Listerine, who owned 21,000 acres near Elaine, saw white men spread throughout the woods, firing at any suspicious person. Others had their charges dismissed or ultimately were not prosecuted. [42] The Confederates came under fire from the 29th Iowa Infantry Regiment, which had been sent to reinforce the position at Rightor's Hill, and became disorganized. Dunaway, L. S. What A Preacher Saw Through a Keyhole in Arkansas. Facebook/Historic Arkansas Facts and Photos.
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