Monthly Archives: March 2009

Governor Conway Days, 3-28-09, Part 1 of 2

Bradley celebrated its 24th annual Governor Conway Days on March 28, 2009.  Most of those present will probably remember this as one of, if not the, coldest Governor Conway Days ever.  The temperature never climbed higher than the mid-50’s, and there was a stiff wind all day long.

The morning, and most of the day, was overcast and cold:

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Radio station KRMD and the folks with the great barbecue were back this year:

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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commissiion’s rolling aquarium attracted many of those present:


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A new attraction this year was an exhibit of antique tractors, some of which are shown below:

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The Cochran Museum had a record number of visitors, probably due at least in part to the visitors’ desire to get inside out of the cold wind:

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Roy Lamar and John Lamar are standing by an old Philco radio which was used by the Lamar family beginning about 1947.

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Among those who visited the Museum were Kay Dayton Croom, her husband Ed Croom, and Billy  Bynum:

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Kay and Ed reside in Oxford, Mississippi.  Billy is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the U. S. Air Force.

Four members of the Bradley High School Class of 1969 posed for this photo:

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From left to right, Billy Bynum, John Bishop, Susie Cochran Hargis, and Jan Allen Segrest.  (That’s Richard Drake in the back of the photo, but he’s not part of this class).  Some members of the Class of 1969 met later in the day to plan a 40th class reunion for later in the year.

In the next post, we’ll take a look at Saturday’s parade.

1st & 24th Governor Conways Days, 1986 & 2009

Just a reminder that Bradley will celebrate the 24th annual Governor Conway Days this weekend, March 27 and 28, 2009.

Dickie and Judy Bishop have generously shared with some photos from the first Governor Conway Days on March 29, 1986.  That was the occasion of the dedication of the Conway Cemetery as a state park.  There were several notable speakers on that date, but the most notable by far was then Governor, and future President, Bill Clinton.

Shown in the photo below are Alice Bishop, Governor Bill Clinton, and Bryan Bishop, being held by Dickie Bishop:

090325 Alice Bishop, Clinton 3-29-86

(The astute reader will notice that both Dickie’s and President Clinton’s hair has changed color since then.)

And pictured in the photo below are Governor Bill Clinton, Luther Harris and Sam Gill:


And, finally, here are two photos of Governor Clinton speaking and of part of the audience on that occasion:

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090325 Audience 3-29-86

Let’s hope for similarly good weather for the 2009 celebration of Governor Conway Days in Bradley.

Who Shot Tom Dooley? (Part 2)

The post on this site of 3/4/09 introduced the reader to Bradley’s most notorious unsolved mystery:  the murder of Tom Dooley in 1910.

Glynn McCalman, in his book Bradley Connections, has written an excellent overview of what he calls “The Dooley-Cryer Tragedy,” and has graciously consented to the reprinting of part of it here. His use of the word “tragedy” is especially apt.

“The Dooley-Cryer Tragedy

A community-shaking tragedy occurred at Walnut Hill in 1910 which devastated two families and affected the whole township and beyond.  Because of its highly emotional nature and volatile repercussions it remained for several decades a topic for conversation only in hushed tones, and generally only among trusted family members and friends.  Precisely what happened is difficult to ascertain because those most affected reported it differently.  The following version represents what we were told by persons who were neighbors of the two families when it happened.

Tom and ‘Frankie’ Dooley were next door neighbors, good friends, and relatives (via a marriage of Duty and Dooley) of Robert and Mary Cryer.  The fine old Dooley home was on the west side of the Old Shreveport Road, and approximately 125 yards north of (now) Highway 160.  Fifty yards further north lived the Cryers.  The adults enjoyed each other’s company, and their several sons were constant playmates as they grew up.  But the friendship was totally dissolved as a result of a single event and circumstances surrounding it on November 15, 1910.  Most neighbors agreed that the problem related to Tom Dooley’s role as a deputy sheriff.  Acting in that capacity one day, Dooley felt it necessary to confront (if not arrest) one of the Cryer sons for an alleged legal infraction.  As a result serious tension arose between the families.

One frequent, if not daily function of Dooley, was to bring the mail from Bradley to the Post Office at Walnut Hill.  While making that delivery on the fateful day he was shot by some unknown person, and died as a result, ….  No one was ever arrested for the murder.

The escalation of passion between the two families eventually prompted Frankie Dooley [Tom Dooley’s wife] to send her sons away from the community to avoid further violence.  Although for several decades many felt that one of the Cryers had killed Dooley, a half century after the event, a report was circulated that on his death bed, another man, not a Cryer, confessed that he had actually done the shooting.  In less than a year from Dooley’s murder, Bob Cryer was also murdered.  And for fear of more violence, Frankie began to take steps to protect her sons by sending them to live with distant relatives.


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The contemporary newspaper article in the post of 3/4/09 on this site states that R. B. Cryer was “retained” by Sheriff Barham.  Glynn’s piece above states that there was never an arrest for Tom Dooley’s murder.  Both are in all probability correct.  I have been unable to find in the records of the Lafayette County Circuit Clerk any mention of anyone being indicted or charged with Tom Dooley’s murder.  When the contemporary article mentions that R. B. Cryer was “retained,” it probably refers to a procedure commonly referred to today as someone being detained for questioning.

On the other hand, the Lafayette County Circuit Clerk’s records do contain some clues as to the aftermath of Tom Dooley’s murder and the murder of R. B. Cryer about one year later.  After I’ve had time to sift through some of those records, a subsequent article or articles on the Dooley-Cryer affair will follow.

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Below is a photo of the tombstone (on the left) of Thomas J. “Tom” Dooley in the Conway Cemetery.


It reads:  “Thomas J. Dooley; Born Sept. 4, 1956; Died November 15, 1910.”  The marker to the right front of the photo is that of Frances B. “Frankie” Dooley, his wife.

Bradley Chamber of Commerce Banquet, 3-7-09

The Bradley Chamber of Commerce held its 25th (!) annual banquet in the Bradley Elementary School cafeteria this past Saturday, March 7, 2009, with a good crowd present.

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Emcee and auctioneer Richard Estes auctioned off one of this year’s Governor Conway Days T-shirts, as shown by Mollye McCalman, below.

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Also auctioned off was a glass etching donated in memory of the late Jackie Walker.

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The Best Ad for Bradley award was presented by Travis Gore to the Walnut Hill Telephone Company, represented by Mitchell Ham.  Travis holds this year’s Walnut Hill phone directory which has an image of Governor James S. Conway on the cover.

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Fred Harris, below, announced that the Centenarian Award was being given to Mrs. Mariah Mitchell.  Mrs. Mitchell, widow of the late Frank Mitchell, was not able to be present.

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Mollye McCalman presented the Community Service Award to Mickie Gore, shown below with her husband, Travis.

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Governor Conway Days, as always, will be held this year during the last weekend in March, specifically March 27–28, 2009.

Oh, and one last note.  After the banquet had adjourned, my camera caught this bit of nefariousness:

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In the interest of full disclosure, however, I must admit that I walked out with some of those rolls myself!

Update on 2008-09 Bradley Senior Boys

Sadly, the Bradley Senior Boys basketball team’s season and quest for a state championship came to a premature end last Thursday night.  In the quarterfinals of the state tournament at Westside-Greer’s Ferry, they lost to Guy-Perkins, 65–62.

While Coach Bennie Ray Harris would be the last person to make excuses, the simple fact of the matter is that the Bears were not as dominating after an injury suffered by a key player in the conference tournament.  Nevertheless, they had an excellent season with a final record of 34 consecutive wins before the one loss. 

Congratulations to these Senior Boys and to Coach Harris for all their hard work and for their fine season!

Who Shot Tom Dooley? 1910 (Part 1)

In the 1990’s, there was a popular television program, narrated by Robert Stack, called “Unsolved Mysteries.”  What follows is a contemporary newspaper article which describes what is easily the biggest unsolved mystery in Bradley in its slightly more than 100 years of existence.  This newspaper from which this article was clipped is not known.  The murder it describes occurred in Bradley on Tuesday, November 15, 1910.  The article contains several grammatical and spelling errors, which purposely have not been corrected.

While the article is for the most part self-explanatory, a future post will attempt to provide some context for the events it describes.


Mr. Thomas J. Dooley of Walnut Hill, was shot and killed at Bradley by unknown party at 6:30 o’clock last Tuesday night.

Mr. Dooley left Walnut Hill on schedule time with the U. S. mail  in his buggy, and about 6:30 drove into Bradley, and got out of buggy, and was on the eve of hitching to a small pine tree just back of the store of H. C. Stewart & Son; and at this juncture, he was fired upon.  From the circumstances, evident in the case, it seems just as he descended from buggy some one near by called to him.  He turned, facing them, and they opened fire.

They shot twelve times, each shot taking effect, one in jugular vein of the neck, several in the arms, five or six in both right and left breasts, and some in the thigh and leg.  He was dressed in his rain coat, and hat and trousers.

His rain coat was buttoned up about him.  He had no gun.  The horse he drove being unhitched, ran away, and was found at Mr. Dooley’s gate with hitch rein and lines and mail pouch in front of buggy.

From the balls cut out of the body, it seems that the instrument used was a 32 or 38 pistol, or two pistols, which is more apt to be the case, since twelve shots were fired.

The remains were picked up and carried to T. W. Maryman’s room back of store and Masonic Hall, and a Coroner’s Jury called upon the case, which stayed in session nearly all Tuesday night and Wednesday, hearing about thirty witnesses.  Through this research and questioning, but little information was gathered; only a few circumstances.

The situation is this:  Mr. Dooley was killed on a drizzley dark night, perhaps, just at the time there was a faint glimmering in the west, and starlight.  There are no eye-witnesses yet heard of to the tragedy, so circumstances are all people are judging from.  Several parties are under suspicion, but no one yet having given the deed away, since no one knows exactly, and those who do won’t say.

Mr. R. B. Cryer, whom Mr. Dooley had a difficulty with about three weeks ago, is retained by sheriff Barham at Lewisville.

Mr. Dooley was buried in the Conway Family Cemetery Thursday afternoon at 3 o’clock in the presence of all his friends and relatives here, and his sister and brother-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Jim Dillard of Texarkana.  His daughter, Daisy Bell, and his son Bill Dooley of Memphis, and R. E. Dickson, of Lewisville.

Rev. L. D. Crandall officiating at the funeral from Texarkana.

We tender our deepest heart-felt sympathy in these dark hours of pain and sadness, to his sorrow-laden friends and family.

P. S.  Coroner’s Jury suspended action Thursday on account of the funeral and re-assembled again for work Friday.”

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Lest the reader jump to any conclusions, Glynn McCalman reports in his book, Bradley Connections, that “no one was ever arrested for the murder.”