Category Archives: Elections

Wet Or Dry? 1949 (Part 3 of 3)

There was yet another county-wide local option election on the question of alcohol sales and transfers in 1949.  It is not clear from the County Court’s Record Book who the petitioners were or what their motives were.  On August 2, 1949, County Judge A. B. Parker considered “certain petitions” for such an election and ordered that election to be held on August 30, 1949 (County Court Record “T,” at page 500).

On September 2, 1949, Lafayette County Election Commissioners A. S. Bray, T. M. Black and A. L. Mashaw reported the results of the election to the County Court (County Court Record “T,” at page 505).  The “drys” won the election by the most lopsided margin of any local option election to that time, 1,234 dry to 269 wet.  The only precinct in the entire county that voted wet, by a margin of 21 to 16, was the Boyd Hill precinct in the northwest part of the county.

One of the more interesting facets of this particular election is the list of poll workers in each precinct, the great majority of whom were paid the princely sum of $4.00 for their efforts on the day of the election.  Results from the precincts in the southern part of the county and the poll workers for each precinct are listed as follows:

Bradley:  10 wet, 147 dry; Charlie Crabtree, J. R. Cochran, Homer Enyart, Mrs. Allie McDonald, Miss Birdie Crabtree, Mrs. Bessie Cochran.

Gin City:  3 wet, 47 dry; Byrd Powell, Herman Barnett, Mrs. Herman Barnett, Wylie P. Cryer, Mrs. Clyde Jackson, W. L. Blunt.

Hackney:  0 wet, 27 dry; Mrs. Mabel McGill, Mrs. Roy Barker; Mrs. L. G. Middlebrooks, Mrs. W. E. Rich, Mrs. W. A. McGee.

Canal:  1 wet, 15 dry; C. G. Taylor, L. M. Poole, Mrs. L. M. Poole, J. L. Wilson, Johnie Keahey.

Canfield:  6 wet, 31 dry; Ura Lynn, R. M. Moncus, Mrs. W. R. Smeltzer, Mrs. Odell Clary, L. D. Stuart, W. E. Copeland, Jr.

State Line:  0 wet, 19 dry; E. C. Allen, Mrs. E. C. Allen, Mrs. Jessie Watkins, Clyde Berry, Lee Maness, J. F. Tyler.

Walkers Creek:  13 wet, 33 dry; Phoenix Fish, N. L. Fish, J. N. Barnes, Earl Owens, Jess Taylor, Marvin Whitehead, E. H. Orr.

With this election in 1949, Lafayette County, including Bradley, remained “dry.”

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.