The Family Histories of Breckenridge, Williams, Morrow,

Smelser, Andrews, Clark, Hall, Massey, and Eubanks

Plus Lovelady and Futrell

in Greene County, Arkansas

Combining generations of family history and up-to-date genealogical information, this collection of ancestry information tracks a group of families which settled in Greene County, Arkansas in the first two decades of statehood. Family trees, deed records, census records, and other official records create a factual framework for personal narratives and vintage photographs, creating a fascinating archive of information for any descendant of these families as well as any fan of local history.

Each marriage between these pioneer families brought certain talents and backgrounds to the next generation. They farmed the rich land of Crowley’s Ridge and other Greene County areas, weathered the storms of poverty and loss, and suffered the losses to sickness and war. Yet they survived, and their great-grandchildren entered the twentieth century determined to continue as they had begun.

Now the 21st century brings us the internet with its vast collection of historical documents, making it finally possible to reflect on their adventures and aspirations. The story of these families is the story of thousands of us descended from them. Includes an extensive ‘vocabulary’ of downhome sayings.

Paperback $14.95, Amazon

The Music Men of Turn-of-the-Century Fayetteville

As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, the world of entertainment experienced a massive shift. The invention of electronic media—radio, recordings, movies—brought music to remote homes and new audiences. Sweeping Fayetteville, Arkansas, and its outlying areas before its new wave, the familiar sounds of minstrels and brass bands soon made room for opera, jazz, and the Roaring Twenties.

Key to these transformations were three men and an innovation in the Black community, each taken singly in these chapters. Frank Barr spanned the days of military brass bands to the innovation of his boys’ band that performed soundtracks for silent movies. Henry Tovey, an import from the conservatories of Illinois, took the University of Arkansas fine arts program to unexpected fame. Owen Mitchell, a musician of unusual talent, embraced jazz and led one of the area’s most popular swing bands. Finally, the Black Diamond Orchestra rose from the heart of Fayetteville’s Black community to popular acclaim across the region.

The world of entertainment enjoyed by so many today grew from these roots, from the talented few who generously shared their knowledge and passion and gave music a future of unexpected and thrilling potential.

Paperback $19.95 Amazon Also available at Headquarters House, Washington County Historical Society, 118 W. Dickson

When Fayetteville Moved on Four Hooves

These are the stories of the innkeepers, stagecoach lines, and stablemen who served Fayetteville, Arkansas—and the region—for the first one hundred years. Travelers and new arrivals, salesmen and politicians, and shipments of food and goods all depended on horses, mules, oxen, stagecoaches, wagons, and buggies to carry out their plans. The animals required shelter, experienced care, feed, and hay. An array of craftsmen—wagon makers, blacksmiths, farmers, saddle makers, and farriers—supported the transportation industry, ensuring that the various needs of this expansive industry were met.

Who were the men who established inns, built stables, and bought sturdy stagecoaches? Where did they come from and how did they end up here? What experiences taught them the skills needed to fulfill their ambitions?

These fascinating biographical sketches along with vintage photographs re-create a time long gone, but not forgotten.

Paperback $19.95 Amazon

I’ll be on hand to sign copies 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. December 11, Washington County Historical Society 118 West Dickson, Fayetteville

A Pitts Family History

A Survey of English Ancestral Origins, Colonial Connections, and Proven Descendants

This genealogical study of one particular lineage of the many Pitts in America surveys the ancient origins of the Pitts name, the Pitt notables of English history, and the arrival of Pitt/Pitts in the American colonies. Discussion of ancestral Pitt/Pitts in England and American colonies leads to identified ancestors.

At the time of the first U.S. census in 1790, the Pitts ancestors of our interest live in Newberry County, South Carolina. Among the households of Pitts, we find Thomas Pitts and his son Elijah and follow Elijah into Overton County, Tennessee by the early 19th century.

By 1850, the federal census records Elijah’s sons Hiram and Levi in Johnson and Pope counties, Arkansas, working as farmers in the fertile bottomlands of the Arkansas River valley.

Details of Pitts participation in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War are included as well as information about the wives of Elijah’s sons. Subsequent generations are shown up to 1950 as this history narrows down to the life and offspring of Levi’s youngest son, Charles McDonald Pitts.

Full of descriptive details garnered from multiple sources, this family history relies on Ancestry.com, online genealogical resources, census records, wills, deeds, and military records, family histories recorded in family Bibles, letters, and notes, as well as research at cemeteries, churches, and courthouses. Vintage photographs of some family members are also included.

Other families include Matthews, Crabtree, Bilbrey, Davis, Bynum, Parker, Rose, and West.

Paperback $11.95, Amazon

The West Fork Valley: Environs and Settlement before 1900

Rushing down the northern slopes of the Boston Mountains, for millions of years the West Fork of White River has carved its sinuous path northward. Caves, hollers, steep bluffs, and rich bottomland followed in its wake. Native people made their homes here, hunting buffalo and deer. Within a few years after the Louisiana Purchase, white settlers arrived to set up homesteads.

This book briefly describes how this valley formed over millions of years, how Native tribes lived and hunted here, and what the first white men saw when they arrived. Short biographies of the earliest pioneers portray a fascinating assortment of men and women determined to carve out a livelihood from this rugged land.

Subsequent chapters describe the mills, churches, and early roads as well as the neighbor-to-neighbor conflict of the Civil War. Stagecoaches hurtled down the valley roads, later supplanted by the iron horse in 1882 with the completion of the railroad tunnel at Winslow. A chapter on crime reveals shootouts, knife fights, and barn burning. Histories of Winslow, Brentwood, Woolsey, West Fork, and Greenland outline their origins and heydays.

A must read for any resident of the valley, but a fascinating chronicle of human endeavor for any reader.

Paperback $23.95, Amazon or $20 at Headquarters House, Washington County Historical Society, 118 West Dickson, Fayetteville AR

The Violent End of the Gilliland Boys

Christmas Day horse races 1872, Middle Fork Valley. Bud Gilliland waits, eager for another chance at Newton Jones. Only this time, after two years of sparring, Newton gallops up in a cloud of dust, lifts his Spencer rifle to his shoulder to find Bud in his sights, and pulls the trigger, sending Bud to a well-earned grave.

Determined to wreak vengeance on his little brother’s killer, William Jefferson “Jeff” Gilliland takes control of a posse meant to bring Newton Jones to justice. But Jeff’s plan for the posse to kill “every last son of a bitch” goes horribly wrong and brings indictments for murder against Jeff and the rest of his posse.

Before the curtains closed in 1890 on these descendants of West Fork pioneers J. C. and Rebecca Gilliland, two other sons and a grandson would die violent deaths while yet another grandson serves hard time for murder.

What was it about the Gillilands?

This recounting of the family tracks their ancestry, their pioneer years on untamed land, and the hard work that made them one of the wealthiest families in Washington County, Arkansas. A fascinating tale of brash ego, brave gallantry, and plain old bad luck.

Paperback, $ 9.95, Amazon

Murder in the County

Contrary to popular notion, Arkansas was part of the Old West along with Texas and the rest of those more familiar dusty southwestern places. Its western border joined up with the Indian Nations where many a weary marshal rode out with his bedroll and pistol carrying writs from the U. S. District Court at Fort Smith in a search for a steady stream of men rustling livestock, stealing horses, selling whiskey, or running from the law.

From its earliest days, Washington County, Arkansas, experienced some of the worst the Old West had to offer. At unexpected moments, county settlers faced their fellow man in acts of fatal violence. These murderous events not only ended hopeful lives but also forever changed those who survived them. Not to say that the murders in the county all stemmed from conflict along its western border—plenty of blood spilled within its communities and homesteads.

The fifty chapters of Murder in the County each focus on one violent incident. Through family histories, legal records, and newspaper accounts, the long-dead actors tell their shocking stories of rage, grief, retaliation, and despair.

Excerpt from Chapter 39 — The Death of Joe Rich

“A hint of fall had come into the air as September heralded the change of season. Blood stirred by cooler air and lubricated by alcohol rarely bodes well in a gathering of young men intent on proving themselves. On the evening of September 21, 1890, just such a scenario unfolded amid the busy streets of Prairie Grove.

“No doubt some wags later remarked they could have predicted violence between Mack Rollans and Joseph Rich. Both families had seen their share of trouble. Just a month earlier, on August 10, 1890, Joseph’s younger brother David Lee Rich was indicted for selling “ardent spirits” to a minor without a license. The previous year in June 1889, Mack Rollans had been indicted for wearing a pistol but later found not guilty…

“…That evening, Mack Rollans got in over his head. Some minor skirmish erupted within the gathered group, perhaps a question of the price, quality, or quantity of the liquor or a slurred insult about a woman, a family member, or some other trifling matter. In the ensuing fight, weapons entered the fray. Rollans pulled his knife. As such events have a tendency to develop, Rich soon fell dead.

Paperback, $23.95, Amazon

Ray: One Man’s Life

“I’ve had my jaw broke three times, my nose broke five times to the point that the VA had to do the operation they do to boxers. My hand’s been broke and on fire once, enough that the skin was gone clear back to my wrist. I’ve fell off buildings, ladders, and mountains. Somehow I survived all that craziness.”

How Ray Mooney survived the incredible journey of his life is indeed a question for the ages. Polio, combat assault jumps from helicopters in Vietnam, and three children by three different wives didn’t kill him. Neither did the flagrant murder of his father by his father’s latest wife. But the traumas changed him, as they would change any man.

Told in his own words, Ray’s life story rushes from one shocking experience to the next and brings him to the last days as he faces end stage lung disease. Turkey killer, outlaw, entrepreneur, and disabled vet, this boy from the horse farms and tobacco fields of Kentucky relates his adventures with wry wit and breathtaking honesty.

One of several 5 star reviews:

“Ray” is one of the people you don’t usually find in books, especially as the central character.
As a true story, honestly served up without sweeping much out of sight, his story is about as raw and painful as most of us can bear or dare to step into. Wars change people for their entire lifetimes and in different ways. Vietnam certainly did that to Ray. If nothing else comes of his story inside readers’ minds and guts, at least maybe they’ll realize what we do to each other and what’s done to us in love and war defines who we are. Ray’s one of the survivors, one of the good ones.

Another 5 star review:

The take away from this book is that Ray Mooney has lived one tough life. And you won’t get any Pollyanna ending from it either. No falsely uplifting conclusion to make you feel good about yourself and the world. Nope, none of that. This book is about being honest and authentic. Put together by highly skilled author and historian Denele Campbell from the personal recollections of Ray Mooney, this basically chronological memoir takes us from the impoverished hills of Kentucky to the terrors of combat in Viet Nam. We learn about Ray’s many loves, wives and children and the horror of his father’s murder by Murderin’ Liz, one of Ray’s stepmothers. There’s no way to recount all the stories in here, there are too many of them and they often beggar the imagination to describe. Suffice it to say it is an extraordinary read, and a fast one. I give it five stars on sheer candidness alone.

Paperback, $9.95, Amazon

South County

1972. A Yankee learns the Ozarks way and lives to tell his tales. Now almost a native, Denny fondly reminisces about the people and places of his adopted home.

Denny Luke is an adventurer. During his years as a Navy man, he built hot rods with money he made with shipboard loansharking. He returned to his native Ohio where he soon tired of the mechanic’s life. Computers had just started to break the surface in 1966, the perfect attraction to a young man with a sharp mind and plenty of ambition.

Hot cars and Enduro motorcycle racing occupied Denny’s next few years as he helped usher in the computer age in Minneapolis. But another adventure awaited when in 1970 he fell in with a bunch of hippies. By 1972, he had found his way to the Ozarks.

An avid photographer and storyteller, Denny shares the adventures of his life as he recalls the outrageous backwoods tales and colorful characters who populate the southern fringe of Washington County in Northwest Arkansas.

Paperback, $9.95 Amazon

Rex Perkins: A Biography

Rex Warren Perkins left his mark in the courtrooms of Arkansas and on the lives of all who knew him. Bold, articulate, and full of himself, he arrived at the University of Arkansas in 1928 with his fiddle, five dollars, and a blue serge suit. Within five years, he graduated law school, was elected to public office, and ran headlong into a federal grand jury. The biography of Rex Perkins documents his rise to fame as the preeminent trial attorney of the state and recounts the scandals, losses, and most famous cases of his thirty-year career.

“Of all the stories still told about Rex Perkins, none has enjoyed such ongoing and avid public interest as the murder trial of Virginia “Queenie” Rand. Mrs. Rand, an attractive brunette and wife of J. O. Rand, a prominent Rogers businessman, was charged with the crime of second degree murder for the killing of Harry V. “Buddy” Clark on August 9, 1959. Clark, married and father of two, was shot late at night in Virginia Rand’s bedroom.

“…In Mrs. Rand’s first trial, held in Benton County before the case involved Rex Perkins, Prosecutor Coxsey had faced defense attorneys Jeff Duty and his uncle Claude Duty. The jury for the Benton County trial found Mrs. Rand guilty, and her attorneys appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

“The Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision in Rand v. State was delivered December 12, 1960. Their summary of the offense follows: It appears from the record that on the evening of August 8, 1959, the deceased, Clark, and his wife entertained Mr. and Mrs. Sam Davis in their home. At about 1:15 a.m. on August 9, Mr. and Mrs. Davis left the Clark home and at the same time Clark left in his car to check the receipts at the Horseshoe Grill, a café which he owned located some 8 blocks from the Clark home in Rogers. Although the evidence is somewhat uncertain, it is clear that Clark finished his work at the café and at 1:30 a.m. the night police radio operator received a call from a woman identifying herself as appellant, who said: “Send someone out here, I have had some trouble.” After the radio operator sent a patrolman to the Rand home, the appellant called again and said: “I have shot a man. I shot Buddy Clark.” Upon arrival at the Rand home, the patrolman was told by appellant that she shot Clark in her bedroom. The patrolman immediately went to the hospital where he found Clark on the floor in the hall. Nurses at the hospital testified that Clark came in the front door and fell to the floor. The records show he was admitted at 1:45 a.m. He expired at 4:17 a.m. that same morning.

“The patrolman testified he found tracks in the heavy dew going in and out of the Rand house and found a gun about 4 to 6 feet from these tracks. There were two bullet holes in the bedroom walls and 5 empty cartridges were found in the bedroom. The deceased was shot 4 times—3 times in the chest and one time in the right arm. No trace of blood was found in or around the Rand house but there was blood on the steering wheel and door of Clark’s automobile.

“Preserved in the Special Collections section of the library of the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the transcript of this trial runs 796 pages. After a review of the transcript index, librarian Kathryn Fitzhugh wryly observed that “everyone in town must have testified.” Such a massive body of information presented an enormous task to Justices Jim Johnson, J. McFaddin, and Ed. F. McFaddin in their work to review the case.”

The case was remanded back for retrial, at which point Rex Perkins managed to gain a change of venue. The rest of the story would take place at the Washington County courthouse where Perkins wielded all his legal maneuvering in support of Mrs. Rand. The outcome would shock the entire region.

Fascinating anecdotes, riveting legal challenges, and a personal story of this man, still a storied figure even in today’s legal community.

Paperback, $14.95, Amazon