Monthly Archives: June 2008

Wet or Dry? 1945 (Part 2 of 3)

There was another, county-wide, local option election in 1945 on whether alcohol sales or transfers should be allowed.  That election, of course, affected Bradley and Roane Township just as much as the remainder of Lafayette County.

The 1945 election began when some petitioners, led by Rev. Fred A. White, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lewisville, presented their petition to hold an election to County Judge A. B. Parker.  On January 22, 1945, Judge Parker set a hearing on the petition for January 29, 1945. 

On the hearing day of January 29, Judge Parker found that the petitions to hold an election were sufficient and ordered a special election to be held on February 27, 1945.  An excerpt from Judge Parker’s January 29 order:

“Whereas at the time, place, date and manner of said ‘Public Hearing’ as set out in ‘Public Notice of same,’ did appear many qualified electors and/or voters in Lafayette County, Arkansas the said Rev. Fred A. White, upholding the validity of said petitions and qualifications of signers thereon, and a ‘general objection’ made by Pat Robinson, a regular license [sic] and practicing lawyer within the State of Arkansas as to the ‘invalidty of said petitions only’, together with oral argument, discussion, and debate of said petitions which were offered and open in said Court as evidence, the Court doth find that said petitions are sufficient and said petitions are signed by fifteen percent (15%) of persons who have paid their poll tax, and in accordance with law are qualified voters and/or qualified electors in and for Lafayette County, Arkansas as of the 22nd day of January, 1945.”  (County Court Record “T,” at page 169.)

Some members of the public were apparently not satisfied with Judge Parker’s ruling in the County Court, and filed an appeal to the Circuit Court.  Judge Parker entered an order granting that appeal, noting that it was requested by “John Coleman, V. J. Emerson, H. A. Fuller, Mark Jarnigan and A. A. Williams.”

The issue on the appeal to Circuit Court involved special federal rules in wartime allowing servicemen to vote, whether they were registered locally and had paid their poll tax (later found unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court) or not.  The Circuit Court upheld the legality of the original petitions.  Its Order, recorded in Lafayette County Circuit Court Record 17, at page 633, stated in part:

“…the court doth find that said petitions praying for an election to be held … are sufficient, , said petitions having been signed and acknowledged by 509 persons who are qualified votiers [sic] and/or electors in and for Lafayette County, Arkansas at the time said petitions were filed.  That at the time said petitions were filed there were 2,358 qualified electors, as shown on the poll-tax records of Lafayette County, Arkansas, who having paid their poll tax in the manner and within the time as required by law and possessing all other requirements of a qualified elector.  That in addition to paid poll-tax from the records in evidence, at the time of the filing said petitions there were 981 men and women (white and black), residents of Lafayette County, Arkansas serving in the Armed Services of the United States.  That of this number in the Armed Services there is found to be 129 who are under the age of 21 years at the time of filing said petitions.  There has been 192 discharged from the Armed Services of the United States, and from the Records of the Circuit Clerk of Lafayette County, Arkansas there has been u8 [sic] men and women discharged from Armed Services prior to 7th November, 1944.”  (Circuit Court Record 17, at page 633.)

So, the election was back on, but had to be rescheduled.  The anti-election forces attempted to appeal the Circuit Court’s decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court, but were denied because they did not perfect their appeal in the time limit allowed.  On July 9, 1945, County Judge Parker re-set the date of the election for July 31, 1945 (six days before the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan). (County Court Record “T,” at page 205).

On August 2, 1945, County Election Commissioners A. M. Shirey, F. E. Baker, and John F. Riggins, certified the results of the election to the County Court (County Court Record “T,” at page 208). The “drys” won the election 838–538 (61% to 39%).  Precincts in the southern part of Lafayette County voted as follows:  Walkers Creek 32 wet, 8 dry; State Line 16 wet, 4 dry; Canfield 9 wet, 34 dry; Gin City 7 wet, 24 dry; Hackney 9 wet, 18 dry; Canal 10 wet, 14 dry; Bradley 19 wet, 120 dry.

Lafayette County, Bradley included, was henceforth “dry.”


Wet or Dry? 1935 (Part 1 of 3)

Perhaps no issue raises passions in a local election like the question of whether alcohol sales and transfers should be allowed or prohibited.  Most of its current and former residents know that Bradley and Lafayette County are “dry,” but few know precisely how that came to be.  While the most recent “local option” elections have been county-wide, Roane Township once had such an election of its very own, which did not affect the remainder of Lafayette County.

Prohibition had begun in 1920 as the law of the United States by the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution  and the passage of the Volstead Act.  Prohibition was repealed in 1933.  At the time of its repeal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was quoted as saying, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”  Roane Township voters apparently thought differently. 

Two years later, on August 6, 1935, Lafayette County Judge A. M. Shirey entered an order in County Court calling a local option election in Roane Township:

“On this 6th day of August, 1935, … is presented the petition of Mrs. J. F. McKnight and 186 other legal voters of Roane Township, Lafayette County, Arkansas, which is 60 per cent of the legal voters of said territory … asking this Court to make an order … directing an election to be held in said territory on 22nd day of October 1935, … upon the proposition whether or not spirituous, vinous, or malt liquors shall be sold, bartered or loaned, therein and specifically requesting that if a majority of the legal voters be opposed to the sale, then barter or loan of said liquors as shown by said election that spirituous, vinous, or malt liquors shall not be sold, bartered, or loaned within said territory, neither shall they be sold by dispensaries, restaurants, hotels or clubs within said territory.”

“It is, therefore, … ordered … that an election shall be held on the 22nd day of October, 1935, within Roane Township, Lafayette County, Arkansas for the purpose of taking the sense of the legal voters in said territory and the
Sheriff, R. H. Duty is hereby directed to open a pole [sic] at each of the voting places within said territory on said date ….”

“In order that the sense of the legal voters of said territory may be determined in said election, the ballot shall read as follows: 

     ‘For sale, barter and loan at wholesale and retail of spirituous, vinous, or malt liquors, in Roane Township, in Lafayette County, Arkansas.

     Against sale, barter and loan at wholesale and retail of spirituous, vinous, or malt liquors, in Roane Township, in Lafayette County, Arkansas.’


This order can be found in County Court Record “S,” at page 88.

With 60 percent of the eligible voters signing the petition to hold the election, the outcome was predictable.  On October 29, 1935, one week after the date of the election, Election Commissioners F. E. Baker, as Chairman, and F. W. Youmans, as Secretary Pro Tem of the Election Commission reported to County Judge Shirey:

“We … certify that the votes as cast at said election were cast as follows to-wit:

     For the sale of Liquors and etc. ——————— 13 votes

     Against the sale of Liquors and etc. ————– 186 votes.

The report of the Election Commissioners can be found at County Court Record “S,” at page 131.

Sophomore Class of Bradley High School, 1940-41

On a sunny day during the 1940–41 school year, the sophomore class of Bradley High School gathered in front of the two-story high school building to have their picture taken.

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Front row, left to right:  Tom Burchett, Jr., Odis Walker, Bunny Jackson, Jackie Crabtree, Danny Collins, Jesse Daley, Gerald Hollis, Buddy Allen, Howard Bird.  Back row, left to right:  Kathryn Jones (Alegbra II teacher), Laura Jane Cochran, Frances King, Nell Ruth Love, Louise Dodson, Annie Marie Twitty, Betty Jo Pritchard, Alice Louise Lester, Mary McGill, Julia Ann Montgomery, R. W. Knight (sponsor).  Not pictured is another member of the class, Leah Somers.

Downtown Bradley, late 1950’s

Shown below are four black-and-white photos taken in “downtown” Bradley, apparently in the 1950s.  I don’t know who took these photos, but they were apparently taken on the same roll of film.  The photos are actually copies of copies and, therefore, rather grainy, and one is slightly out of focus.  After each of these photos is a color photo taken from approximately the same location and angle on June 15, 2008.

The first photo is of Fourth Street (Highway 160).  The Coca-Cola sign on the building on the left says “J. M. Drake.”  The building on the left must have been demolished not very many years after this photo was taken.

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The second photo shows a group gathered around a ladder, perhaps, judging from the jackets some are wearing, putting up Christmas lights.  Again, the building in the background must have been demolished not very many years after this photo was taken.

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The third photo shows the view from just east of the railroad depot on Fourth Street/Highway 160, looking west.  It also shows what was then the front entrance to the depot.  The building in the background was demolished in 1978.

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The fourth and last photo shows the building in which George Bell later published the Bradley Pioneer for 16 years.  It was demolished in the mid-1980’s.  The Bradley Public Library was located in the right side of this building for many years.  The sign on the side of the building says, “Jones Plumbing and Electric.”  To the right of that building is Alvin Owens’ barber shop.

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These photos remind me of a book that, as a boy, I spent literally hours poring over at the Bradley Public Library.  It was a large (perhaps 24 inches by 30 inches) scrapbook or photograph album put together by the Bradley B. & P. W. Club.  It contained many, many wonderful photographs of Bradley as it appeared in the 1950s.  I’ve often wondered whatever happened to that scrapbook.  If any of the readers of this site know of its present location, I would be most interested to learn its whereabouts.


J. B. Herndon of “Bradley Station”

In 1890, Goodspeed Publishing Co. of Chicago, Nashville, and St. Louis, published its Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas, which was one of a series of many such books covering various areas of the southern United States.  These books usually relied on information supplied by the subjects of the biographies themselves, and were hardly objective.  Nevertheless, this particular book and similar books for other areas contain some interesting historical and biographical information. 

The name of J. B. Herndon has previously appeared on this site as an incorporator and stockholder of the Walnut Hill Bank (see posts of 1/7/08 and 2/5/08).  He is also profiled in this particular Goodspeed’s, as follows:

“J. B. Herndon, the popular merchant of Bradley Station, was born in the county on February 9, 1860, and here he attained his growth and was schooled, received the best education that common schools afforded.  He was married September 20, 1888, to Miss Lola Velvin, who was born in Georgia in 1867.  Her father, R. C. Velvin, is now living in Texas.  Their marriage has been blessed in the birth of one child, a daughter—Ella W.  In 1885 Mr. Herndon began life’s battles for himself by engaging in the saloon business on Red River, but in 1888 he disposed of these interests, and opened a general store in Walnut Hill, continuing there about one year, and then came to Bradley.  Here he commenced a general merchandise business, which he has successfully conducted ever since, carrying a stock valued at $2,500, and he is conceded to be a very capable young business man.  His wife is a member of the Baptist Church, in which she is one of the most active workers, and is an intelligent and amiable lady.  J. B. Herndon is one of seven children—three boys and four girls—born to the marriage of J. D. and Eliza (Cramtree [sic?] ) Herndon, both of whom were natives of this country and are now deceased.  The father departed this life in March, 1872, and his widow on January 1, 1880.  The paternal grandfather was a native of Kentucky, and emigrated to Arkansas at an early day, being one of the early pioneers of this State, and here he passed the remainder of his life.  He was a farmer by occupation, as was his son also, the father of our subject.  Five of the seven children born to the parents are still living:  “Zurie (deceased), Mattie (deceased), Ida, J. B., R. F., Lola and J. D.”

Glynn McCalman’s book, Bradley Connections, furnishes many more details regarding the Herndon family and the contributions it made to this area.  

One wonders just how many saloons there were on Red River in the late 19th century, and whether Mr. Herndon “disposed” of his saloon because there were too many other saloons in competition with his or whether the river traffic had declined, probably due to the coming of the railroads, to the point where the business was no longer profitable.

The reference to “Bradley Station” is probably how the local stop on the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad was designated before the Town of Bradley was formally incorporated in 1905, some 15 years after the publishing of this book in 1890.