Monthly Archives: April 2008

Bradley High School Commencement, 1934

The end of the 2007–2008 school year is fast approaching, so perhaps this is a good time to look at graduation ceremonies from years past.  Shown below is the Bradley High School Commencement program from 1934.  President Franklin D.  Roosevelt had been in office for just over a year and his “New Deal” even made it into the commencement program.  A transcription follows the image.

Sunday, March 14, 2004 (163)B



         Bradley High School,

               May 11, 1934


Processional                                 Mrs. Madison Allen

America                                       Audience

Invocation                                   Rev. B. B. Cox

Solo                                           Mrs. J. G. Allen, Jr.

               “Only A Rose”

Salutatory Address                        Anna Marie Collins

        “A Song To Unsung Heroes”

Class President’s Address                John Coker

      “The New Deal Brings A New Dawn”

Valedictory Address                       Burl Allen

       “An Old, Old Story”

Solo                                            Rev. B. B. Cox

Farewell Address                           T. W. Croxton

Presentation of Diplomas                 F. M. Cochran

Benediction                                  Rev. B. B. Cox

Mackinaw, Arkansas

In 1994, a statewide newspaper ran a picture which bore an inscription of “Town Site of Mackinaw, Arkansas.”  The picture showed a large group of people gathering around a single structure which was apparently intended to be a house.  The newspaper had no idea where Mackinaw was and asked readers for help.

The short answer to that inquiry is that Mackinaw is located mostly just west and north of where Arkansas State Highway 29 crosses the Louisiana state line.

The picture in the newspaper prompted Frank M. Cochran, Jr., to write the following:


Mackinaw was a land lottery scheme that took place sometime between 1914 and 1916.  The chances were sold in Indiana.  Each entrant was promised a parcel of land.  The size of these ranged from a city lot to a full section (one mile square).  Of course, most got one of the many city lots which were worthless.  A town called Mackinaw was platted and was filed in the Lewisville courthouse.  The town was located in Section 10, Township 20 South, Range 25 West.  The entire promotion covered ten sections, plus or minus one or two.  This land is located mostly west of the Cotton Belt Railroad and is bordered on the South by the Arkansas-Louisiana state line.

The plots were mostly divided into 2, 5, 10, and 20–acre blocks.  There were a few larger with the grand prize being a full section.

Mr. J. G. Allen, Jr., a native of Indiana who was living near Bradley, was hired by the promoters to oversee the clearing of some of the streets and to build three houses.  This was done during a winter when he was not busy on the Red River bottoms farm owned by his father, an attorney who lived in Washington, Indiana.  When the day of the drawing came, he supervised the feeding of the visitors.

A special train ran from Indiana to Mackinaw and brought a number of people in several carloads.  The booze flowed freely.  When the train stopped in Bradley, 5 miles to the north, several of the locals jumped into the baggage car and each grabbed a gallon jug of whiskey.  My father [Frank M. Cochran, Sr.] worked in a store [Holland Hardware Co., see post of 10/8/07] less than a block from the train station and saw this happen.  Mr. Allen’s daughter, Mrs. Marjorie Bishop of Bradley, said Mr. Allen told her that he thought that the people got so drunk that most didn’t care what size piece of land they drew in the lottery.

An oil well was drilled and “salted” with oil to make the people think that they would get oil checks.  During the 1980’s oil was discovered along the south edge of Mackinaw and there were some good wells.  This was at a depth of 6,000 to 12,000 feet, much deeper than the original well.

During the Great Depression, most of the plots of land reverted to the State for unpaid real property taxes.  At that time, State-owned land could be bought for $1 per acre.  When the Land Commissioner began to sell it, some people are said to have given a little extra and got more than the ones first in line.  Very little of the land is still in the hands of the original owners.  The ones who held on to it have largely sold it to the large timber companies or local dealers in such land. 

I am 73 years old and have lived in Bradley since birth.  I can remember seeing one or more of the Mackinaw houses still standing after Highway 29 was graveled in 1929.  It crossed the railroad just about 200 yards from those houses.  The houses soon disappeared, either by burning or by being torn down for the lumber in them.  I do not know if any were ever occupied.

The picture [in the newspaper] must have been made on the day that the special train was here for the drawing.  I do not think that there would ever have been that many people there at any other time.

[end of piece by Frank M. Cochran, Jr.]

– – – – –

Below is a photo of the plat of Mackinaw on file in the Lafayette County Circuit Clerk’s Office.  Notwithstanding the fact that it is located in a low, poorly drained, remote rural area, it has a Byzantine complexity worthy of downtown New York City.  The Cotton Belt Railroad is the slanted line on the right side of the photo.



Letter from an American Hero (Part 2 of 2)

I asked Glynn McCalman, Clyde Vernon McCalman’s brother, to write a paragraph or so describing Clyde as he was before he entered the U. S. Army, and Glynn was kind enough to provide the following:

“Clyde Vernon McCalman was born June 13, 1923, to Odell and Gertrude McCalman at their farm home on the old Shreveport Road south of Walnut Hill.  He and his brothers, Marvin, Byrd and Glynn, attended school at Bradley, where Clyde excelled academically and socially.

Clyde continued to excel as a student at Ouachita College during the early years of World War II.  He was exempted from service in the war because of his status as an ordained minister, but he was uncomfortable with that exemption.  After the death of a close cousin, neighbor and friend, Harland Bird, in a bombing raid over Germany, he felt compelled to offer himself in the conflict.

He volunteered for service in the Army on March 17, 1944, and was killed on the same day one year later, March 17, 1945, in the final weeks of the war in Europe.  The letter (in the previous post) was written in the month preceding the month of his death.”

Thanks to Glynn McCalman for providing the above information.  For any reader of this site who may not already be aware of it, Glynn is a Bradley area historian and the author of two books on local history:  Bradley Connections and Walnut Hill And Somewhere Else.

– – – – –

Clyde’s letter touches on several aspects of an infantryman’s life during active combat, such as the simple pleasure of sleeping inside a building.  Perhaps it may be useful to add a clarifying comment to some passages from the letter.

There is a reference in the first paragraph to someone named Hogue.  I have no idea who this was, other than someone who was obviously a mutual acquaintance of Clyde and my father.

The third paragraph of the letter refers to the “big German counterattack” and the awful winter weather.  This is a reference to what we now call the Battle of the Bulge, which began shortly before Christmas in 1944.  It was Hitler’s last serious attempt to break out of the encirclement into which the Allied advances had forced him.

The fourth paragraph of the letter states that “It was my division which cut off the Cherbourg Penninsula and took 1/4 of all prisoners taken on Cherbourg.”  This refers to combat operations shortly after D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy in France.  Cherbourg, with its fine port facilities which the Allies coveted and which the Germans were determined to defend long enough to destroy, was taken on June 30, 1944. 

Clyde states in the letter that he has “five months of combat behind me,” so it is doubtful that he was personally engaged in active combat during the Cherbourg operations.  Indeed, that would have occurred only a little more than three months after his enlistment in the U. S. Army.  It does, however, provide an idea of how long his unit had been actively engaged with the Germans.  Another indication of constant attack operations by the U. S. Army can be found in the comment in the next-to-last paragraph that “We have not been farther back than our own artillery since early October.”

It is ironic that Clyde’s letter states that he had “a comparitively soft job – mil clerk and administrative assistant to the 1st Sgt,” yet he was killed in action a little more than one month later.  This is perhaps an indication of the ferocity of the fighting, the urgency to maintain the attack, and the need for every soldier, including the ones with a “comparatively soft job,” to actively participate in the fighting.

– – – – –

Pfc. Clyde Vernon McCalman’s remains were temporarily interred at Henri-Chapelle in Belgium and were later moved to the Walnut Hill Cemetery.  Below is an image of the foot marker on his grave:

Letter From An American Hero (Part 1 of 2)

Clyde Vernon McCalman was the son of Mr. R. Odell McCalman and Mrs. Gertrude McCalman.  He was born on June 13, 1923.  In February of 1945, he was serving as a Private First Class with the United States Army on its final push into Nazi Germany.  On February 6, 1945, he wrote the following letter to Frank M. Cochran, Jr., who was serving with the United States Army in the Pacific theater.  A verbatim transcription of the letter follows the images.


                                           February 6, 1945

Dear Frank M;

     Recieved your letter of Dec. 27 today and was very glad to hear from you again.  Had a brief letter from Hogue recently saying you had moved but didn’t know you were in Air Corps.

     To be sure things are pretty rough over here but so far as I am personally concerned I can not complain — naturally, with five months of combat behind me, as an infantryman I have had some close calls — God has been good to me.

     I find it amazing how much a fellow can take when the chips are down —the big German counterattack was bad enough without the 20 degrees below weather and snow about 3 or 4 ft. deep usually.  For the past few days our Ninth Div has been making the headlines — as it did in Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium, and now Germany — It was my division which cut off the Cherbourg Penninsula and took 1/4 of all prisoners taken on Cherbourg.

     We got quite a bit of “loot” off of prisoners — I sent a good German compass home yesterday for which I was offered $10.  Could easily have sold it for twice that much.


     Also, I have a fine 120 bass accordian which one of my buddies captured and made me a present of — as good or better than my own for which I paid $325.

     It is quite a source of pleasure to us when we get our occassional rest.  I drag it out and we have a song fest even though the Jerries may be only a couple of miles away— (We have not been farther back than our own artillery since early October.)  I can play the accordian quite well now — even more tunes than I can on the piano.

     I “lasted long enough” to rate a comparitively soft job — mil clerk and administrative assistant to the 1st Sgt.  My candle is about burned out so I had better hit the hay — Am sleeping in a building tonight for a change.  That is the good part about being in Germany —


                                             Clyde Mc.”


     On March 17, 1945, exactly one year after he enlisted in the U. S. Army, and exactly 39 days after he wrote this letter, Pfc. Clyde Vernon McCalman was killed in action in Germany.  He was 21 years old.