Foreman City Hall
Location in Little River County and the state of Arkansas
|• Total||2 sq mi (5.1 km2)|
|• Land||2 sq mi (5.1 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||417 ft (127 m)|
|• Density||505.5/sq mi (198.2/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0071657|
Foreman is located at (33.721213, -94.396888).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2).2.0 square miles (5.1 km²) of it is land and 0.51% is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,125 people, 490 households, and 297 families residing in the city. The population density was 573.7 people per square mile (221.6/km²). There were 566 housing units at an average density of 288.6/sq mi (111.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.29% White, 27.29% Black or African American, 1.96% Native American, 1.07% from other races, and 2.40% from two or more races. 2.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 490 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city, the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 84.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $22,176, and the median income for a family was $29,231. Males had a median income of $26,944 versus $18,229 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,202. About 18.2% of families and 26.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.9% of those under age 18 and 34.3% of those age 65.
Carved out of parts of Sevier County and Hempstead County, Little River County was established in 1867 by an act of the Arkansas legislature. The new county gave citizens a shorter and easier journey to their county seat of government. Because of the area’s close proximity to the Little River, which flows into the Red River near Texarkana (Miller County), it took the name of Little River County. This county is located in the southwest corner of the state and is surrounded by Sevier, Hempstead, Howard, and Miller counties in Arkansas and by counties in Texas and Oklahoma. The two rivers form major parts of the boundary of Little River County.
The land in and around Little River County is rich and fertile. It contains an abundance of lime formations in some areas near White Cliffs, Okay, and Foreman. In 1893, because of the available limestone, the Western Portland Cement Company once thrived at White Cliffs, though now only its ruins exist. Much later, because of the track of limestone running through Little River County, Sevier County, and Hempstead County, Ideal Cement Company was built in Okay. It made a quality cement for years but was later sold to a German company which did not want to make the costly repairs that were needed. At the same time that Ideal Cement Company was operating full scale, Foreman Cement Company, owned by Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company, was producing an abundance of quality cement. Eventually, Foreman Cement Company became the leading producer of cement in the southwest region of Arkansas. Today, it is still a thriving plant owned by Ash Grove Cement Company of Kansas City, Kansas.
Louisiana Purchase through the Gilded Age
Some Caddo settlements existed in the area that would become Little River County, but the Caddo moved south out of the Great Bend area by 1778. The land continued to be regarded as Caddo territory, though, until a treaty in 1835. A Quapaw reservation also included parts of southwest Arkansas between 1820 and 1825, but that land eventually was exchanged for lands west of the territorial border. Even before treaties with the Native Americans were signed, white settlers were squatting on the land, and after the completion of these treaties, more settlements and communities developed.
Pioneers had already begun settling in the area in the early 1800s. The first town to be plotted was Laynesport in 1836, on land donated for development by Benjamin Layne. By 1845, Willow Springs, later renamed Rocky Comfort, in the western part of the county, began to flourish, and by 1854, the community of Richmond had begun to thrive.
As they did throughout America, people suffered during the Civil War. They often experienced mental anguish and hardships because of the loss of lives and financial security. People in the South suspended raising cotton while other products were produced for the war efforts. Many lost property and experienced displacement.
After the legal establishment of Little River County in 1867, the first courthouse and jail in the county were located near the area that is now known as Alleene on land owned by the first sheriff, William M. Freeman. In 1868, Powell Clayton, governor of Arkansas, had all county records moved to established headquarters in Rocky Comfort.
In 1880, citizens of Richmond built a new courthouse. The property on which the courthouse was to be built was deeded to the county on the condition that Richmond would remain the county seat. After this courthouse burned, citizens of Richmond built another courthouse at no cost to the county because they wanted to keep the county seat in Richmond.
Little River County Race War of 1899
The Little River County Race War occurred in March 1899 in southwestern Arkansas and entailed the murder of at least seven African Americans throughout Little River County. The reported impetus for this race war was the murder of a white planter by a black man, but white fear of “insurrection” on the part of black residents quickly manifested itself into a campaign of violence and terror against African Americans.
During the last half of the nineteenth century, lynchings were widespread in Arkansas, especially in the southern part of the state. A number of factors contributed to this racial animus. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the black population of Arkansas increased greatly, mostly due to recruiters who canvassed the Southeast to lure black farm laborers to the state. The black population in many southern counties in Arkansas soon exceeded the white, and this new workforce provided lower-paid competition for local white workers. As a result, during the 1890s, the state began to pass Jim Crow laws that limited the rights of black citizens. Although the number of lynchings decreased nationwide between 1890 and 1899, the level of violence in Arkansas was high.
Early accounts of the race war began to appear in newspapers across the nation on March 21, 1899. The trouble started when an African American named General Duckett murdered planter James Stockton at his home on Saturday, March 18. According to an article datelined Texarkana (Miller County), March 22, and published in the Houston Daily Post the following day, Duckett was a “fomenter of racial troubles and…had often tried to organize the blacks of that section against the whites.” Reports indicated that as he was fleeing the scene of the crime, “he saw several negroes at their homes, told them what he had done, and said that more white men in Little River County would share the same fate as Stockton if his color would follow him.” According to the Atlanta Constitution, the motive for this particular crime lay in the fact that Stockton had met with Duckett to tell him to cease his activities or risk being called before a grand jury.
Accusations of “insurrection” were commonly laid upon African Americans who were politically active and/or had committed a crime against a white person. Rumors of full-blown insurrection were part and parcel of the 1883 Howard County Race Riot, the 1892 Hampton Race War, and the 1919 Elaine Massacre, though in none of these cases did evidence of a full-blown campaign against local whites ever actually arise.
On March 21, Duckett surrendered after hiding out in the Red River bottoms. The sheriff took him to the crime scene near Rocky Comfort (Little River County) and then began to escort him to what was then the county seat, Richmond. A few miles into the trip, a mob (numbering approximately 200 in some accounts) overtook them, took Duckett from the sheriff, and “within a few minutes his dead body was dangling from a tree.” Duckett reportedly confessed to the crime before he was hanged. According to some accounts, a few African Americans who disapproved of Duckett’s activities actually participated in the lynching, although they refused to bury the body afterward; some reports hold that the lynching of Duckett occurred at the exact location where he had murdered Stockton.
The murder of Duckett did not, however, sate the mob, especially given the rumors of black insurrection that were spreading. After Stockton’s murder by Duckett, it was reported that twenty-three (or thirty-three) African Americans were involved in a plot to kill white people. According to the Nebraska State Journal, all those in the plot were known, and “small parties of white men, varying in number from twenty-five to fifty, are scouring the country for them. Whenever one is found he is quickly strung up, his body perforated with leaden missiles to make sure of their work and the mob hastens on in quest of its next victim.” On March 23, the Mena Star reported that “seven negro men have been lynched by the citizens of that section.…All of the victims that have fallen before the whites were pursued singly over the country and met their fates at different times and in different localities. In the gang that was plotting for a race war there were thirty-three negroes, and it is likely that the entire number have been strung up in the thickets.”
According to reports from nearby New Boston, Texas, that same day, “This morning Benjamin Jones was found dead on Hurricane Bend and from New Boston it is learned that Joe King and Moses Jones were found hanging to trees at Horseshoe Curve today. Another Jones is missing.” (There is confusion here about whether Joe King was killed or just beaten and let go. Some lists of the dead report that Adam King, not Joe King, was the one killed. Others describe two incidents involving Joe King, one the beating and the other his lynching.) Most of these were victims of lynchings, with the bodies left “hanging to trees in various parts of the country, strung up wherever overtaken.” One victim who tried to escape was shot and thrown into the river. Among those dead were General Duckett, Edwin Godwin, Adam King, Joseph Jones, Benjamin Jones, Moses Jones, and an unknown man. In addition, Joe King and John Johnson had been captured by mobs and whipped. After being turned loose, they disappeared. The county’s black citizens panicked and immediately began leaving the area. Three wagonloads crossed the Red River at Index (Miller County) in the middle of the night and made it to Texarkana.
According to the Arkansas Gazette, the three Jones brothers were said to have been “intimate with the assassination of Stockton and it was discovered that they were leading a scheme to avenge their comrade’s death.” A few days later, the paper’s report was somewhat different. Joe King had apparently refused to give up his gun, saying he wanted it for self-protection. He and one of the Jones brothers had reportedly made offensive comments about Stockton’s murder. Goodwin and Moses Jones were killed because Moses Jones’s wife had prepared food for Duckett while he was in hiding and Goodwin had delivered it to him.
On March 24, the San Francisco, California, newspaper the Call noted that Joe King’s crime was to say that Stockton should have been murdered even earlier. According to the Call, Goodwin, a former employee of Stockton’s, was actually lynched in Bowie County, Texas, just across the Red River from Stockton’s farm. The next day, the New York Times reported that Joe King and Moses Jones had been hanged or shot, and a third man had been found near them in the Red River bottoms between New Boston and Rocky Comfort, stripped totally naked. According to the Times, a justice of the peace had held an inquest to look into these deaths and proclaimed that the victims had died “by natural causes or were frozen to death. The verdict is regarded as a gruesome joke.”
While many sensational stories were coming out of Texarkana, it was impossible to get accurate information. According to the Times, “One report states that the whites are still out in organized posses hunting the leaders in the negro revolutionary plot with the avowed intention of hanging them wherever found. Another report states that the negroes are recovering from their panic and terror and are securing arms and threaten vengeance on the whites….A negro who arrived here to-day from Wilton says that every negro in the neighborhood of Rocky Comfort and Richmond has left his home and is afraid to return. A large number of them have crossed Red River and gone into Bowie County in Texas. He says more negroes have been killed than has yet been reported.”
On March 26, the Times reported that the county was quiet, with no signs of further trouble: “It is impossible to learn how many negroes have really been lynched as nearly all the colored population has fled. The few remaining negroes are still in a state of great excitement. They assert positively that a dozen or more men have been killed in the Red River bottoms, mentioning names of negroes who have disappeared since the lynching of Duckett to substantiate their assertions. Two wagonloads of blacks arrived in Texarkana to-day [March 25] from Little River County.”
This is the last account of the incident in the national press. There was one final article, however—an editorial published in the New York Sun on May 15. The Sun came to this notable conclusion: “While it is not known just how many were killed, ten are already reported. But strange to say, not one of those reported to be organizing to kill off the whites did anything in the way of defending himself. Hence it is clearly evident that the white men of the section were murdering many defenceless negroes to avenge the death of one white man.”
Early Twentieth Century
In 1902, the county seat was moved from Richmond to Foreman, formerly called Rocky Comfort. Foreman and Ashdown later competed for the county seat. When an election was held in 1906, Ashdown won the most votes to become the new county seat. After this election, records were moved from Foreman to a vacant building, known as the Mizell Building. A new courthouse was constructed in Ashdown in 1907.
On October 24, 1929, the New York stock market crash brought about the Great Depression. Little River County citizens suffered in much the same way as people in the rest of the country. Farms were lost, wages decreased, and unemployment increased. By 1932, income had dropped to one third of what it had been before October 1929. Many farmers were forced to sell their property during the 1930s. For years, the county’s principal source of income was agriculture. Cotton was the leading crop, and most of the early communities had cotton gins. Corn was the second-largest crop, but soon the timber industry would become the leading industry in the county. Many of the small settlements in Little River County were located near sawmills, cotton gins, or rivers.
The construction of railroads had a definite impact on the development of some towns and the decline of others. Little River County had its first railroad in 1889. In 1895, the Arkansas and Choctaw Railroad from Ashdown to Arkinda was built. The Kansas City Southern Railroad began running three new fast-freight locomotives with larger engines capable of pulling 100 loaded freight cars. With these modern engines, goods could more easily be transported, making the tough economic times in the 1930s more bearable. The presence of the Kansas City Southern Railroad, the St. Louis/San Francisco Railroad and the Memphis/Dallas and Gulf Railroad caused the county to grow rapidly. Before the construction of railroads, the rivers were used to transport goods by way of ferries, steamboats, and flatboats. Passenger trains began operating in the county in the late 1890s. After the emergence of railroads, electrical and telephone services became available to parts of the county by 1912, and natural gas came into Ashdown in 1930.
World War II through Modern Era
By 1950, manufacturing plants began to change the economy. The development of Millwood Lake in 1965 was of major importance to the county’s industrial growth. Access to water was a necessity for industry, and Ashdown’s rivers and lake provided plenty. Nekoosa Paper Mill was built in Ashdown in 1968 because of its access to the Red River. The plant was sold to Georgia-Pacific in 1991 and to Domtar Industries in 2001. Presently, the timber industry is paramount in Ashdown; Domtar Industries is a major employer there. Another key company, generating millions of dollars for the county, is Ash Grove Cement Company in Foreman. It was built in 1956, but it is presently under new construction because it has proven to be a very profitable plant.
After the paper mill and the cement company came to Little River County, many citizens prospered. They began many building projects, including medical facilities. In 1958, the present Little River Memorial Hospital was constructed in Ashdown, and as of 2006, there are two nursing facilities and a retirement center. A new high school building, replacing the 1954 building, is under construction and is expected to be completed by 2007.
A modern bridge was constructed in 1980 over the Red River to replace the Index Bridge, built in 1919. Four-lane highways have encouraged easy access to Texarkana, now only a twenty-minute drive from Ashdown, which now has a bypass bridge to shorten the distance from Foreman to Texarkana.
Ashdown is home to the Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas. Millwood Lake and Millwood State Park are well known for trophy fishing contests and camping sites and sports facilities. The county courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it draws many tourists each Christmas season when the entire courthouse and its dome are covered in lights. Nine other properties are on the National Register, including the Hunter/Coulter House in Ashdown, the Will Reed House in Alleene, and the New Rocky Comfort House in Foreman. Ashdown recently established the Two Rivers Museum, which is a favorite tourist site, sponsored by the Little River County Historical Society.
Public educatIon for elementary and secondary students is provided by the Foreman School District, including Foreman High School (grades 7 through 12) and Foreman Elementary School (kindergarten through 6th grade).
- Marion H. Crank, Former state representative and Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives who was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 1968, having been narrowly defeated by incumbent Republican Winthrop Rockefeller.
- James T. Horn, country music singer
- Tracy Lawrence, country music singer
- James Otis Livesay (1871-1937), Republican candidate for governor of Arkansas in 1930 and 1932, a lawyer in Foreman
- Marshall Wright, Democratic member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from St. Francis County; graduated from Foreman High School
- Lawrence Hamilton, Broadway actor and singer
- Jimmy "Preacher" Ellis, blues singer and guitarist
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.[permanent dead link]
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- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.[permanent dead link]
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 193. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
4. Beasley, Bill. Little River County. Ashdown, AR: Little River County Historical Society, 1975.
5. Little River County. http://www.littlerivercounty.org/home/ (accessed May 18, 2006).
6. Little River County, Arkansas, Genealogy. http://www.rootsweb.com/~arlittle/ (accessed May 18, 2006).
7. Spigner, Daisy, et al. Little River County Celebrates 125 Years: Commemorative Book. Texarkana, TX: Alaska Printing, 1992.
8. “All Quiet at Texarkana.” New York Times, March 26, 1899, p. 4.
9. “Is the South Becoming Barbarous?” New York Sun, May 15, 1899, p. 6.
10. “Lynchings in Arkansas.” New York Times, March 25, 1899, p. 4.
11. “Murderer is Mob’s Victim.” Atlanta Constitution, March 22, 1899, p. 2.
12. “No More Killed.” Arkansas Gazette, March 25, 1899, p. 1.
13. “Race Riot in Arkansas.” Alabama Birmingham Age-Herald, March 21, 1899. Online at http://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/157 (accessed February 15, 2012).
14. “Race War is On. Whites of Arkansas Killing off the Colored Men.” Nebraska State Journal, March 24, 1899. Online at http://yesteryearsnews.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/little- river-county-Arkansas-lynchings-1899/ (accessed February 15, 2012).
15. “Seven Negro Men Lynched.” Arkansas Gazette, March 24, 1899, p. 1.
16. Stockley, Grif. Ruled by Race: Black/White Relations in Arkansas from Slavery to the Present. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2009.
17. “Tried to Stir up Trouble: Duckett wanted a General Assassination of Whites.” Houston Daily Post, March 23, 1899, p. 6.
18. “A War of Races Rages in Arkansas.” The Call (San Francisco, California), March 24, 1899, p. 1.
19. “A Wholesale Lynching.” Mena Star, March 30, 1899, p. 5.