Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TOP STORY >> Museum brings Civil War alive

Leader staff writer

History came alive on Saturday as “Tales from Beyond” were told during the Lonoke County Museum’s fundraiser dinner theater.

Members of the museum and the Grand Prairie Civil War Roundtable were dressed in period outfits and told stories that make up Lonoke and Prairie counties’ past.

Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin, introduced each historical character.

• Lonoke County Treasurer Patti Weathers played Caroline Goodrum, wife of William Goodrum. Weathers’ sisters, Rita Schmitz, who works in the county judge’s office, played Sarah Goodrum, the first wife of John Goodrum, and former coroner Sherry Stracener played Ida, the second wife of John Goodrum.

The Goodrums worked in the first county courthouse in Brownsville. William and John Goodrum were brothers and farmers who fought in the Battle of Prairie Grove during the Civil War. They had a store in Lonoke.

• William Goodrum served as Lonoke and Prairie counties’ commissioner and county clerk.

• John Goodrum was a mayor and one of five Lonoke County aldermen. He was head of education and Democratic Party chairman.

• Union soldier Joel McClintock was played by Nate Parsons. McClintock was a captain in charge of black troops stationed in DeValls Bluff. After the war, he stayed in the area. McClintock later became Prairie County sheriff.

When Lonoke County was formed in 1873, he was the sheriff there. In 1880, he was elected as Prairie County judge. Later in his life, McClintock was the postmaster at DeValls Bluff. He owned 2,500 acres of land in Prairie County.

• Local hero Elizabeth High was played by Carrie Parsons. High forced Yankee soldiers out of her house at gunpoint. She later married Isaac Hicks, the founder of Lonoke.

• Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society member Tommy Dupree spoke about his great-great-grandpa Mancel Stone. He came to Arkansas from South Carolina in 1853. Stone oversaw a farm and opened a grist mill. Stone sold feed and corn meal to travelers along the military road. During the war, Stone sold horses and mules to soldiers.

Stone moved to Jacksonville in the 1880s. He and his son operated a mercantile store until his death.

• Dwain Nichols played Lidge, the personal servant of Captain James Eagle. Lidge followed Eagle in the Civil War. Lidge spoke about taking three gold buttons from a dead soldier. He was tempted to take a pair of boots from a dead man, but Eagle told him to put them back so he wouldn’t be haunted from hell.

• Susie Morrison, played by Suzy Schmidt, spoke about her brother, Joseph Morrison. He came to Arkansas from Michigan after the Civil War and settled in Carlisle with his family.

• Dr. R.N. Ross was portrayed by Jim Schmidt. Ross came to Lonoke from Tennessee after the Civil War. He served as a pharmacist and a physician. He later became a preacher.

• Lou Boone Wheat, third wife of Capt. Patrick H. Wheat, was played by Leanna Rich. Capt. Wheat had an Arkansas regiment of 196 men. They fought battles in Lonoke, Prairie Grove and DeValls Bluff. Wheat had three horses shot from underneath him in the Civil War. He was captured by Union forces in DeValls Bluff and later escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp.

Wheat went on to become a steam boat captain. He also owned furniture and undertaker businesses in Lonoke.

• R.D. Keever played Sam Rister, a soldier at Camp Nelson in Cabot. Rister was a nurse at Austin in November 1862.

He spent three weeks there tending to his sick brother, who also fought in the Civil War. Rister and 20 other men then made to it Camp Bayou Meto in the first week of December. They went on to Little Rock and Pine Bluff.

• Annette Nellan portrayed former slave Emaline Waddle. She, her owners and their family walked from Georgia to Arkansas. They settled nine miles outside of Lonoke. Waddle was deaf and lived to be 106 years old. Waddle did not have any children of her own.

• Sallie Jones was portrayed by Shirley McGraw. Jones, originally from Tennessee, came to Brownsville to visit her uncle and aunt. She told the story of a Confederate horse thief who stole horses for his fellow soldiers on Christmas from a Union encampment near Des Arc.

• Jane Benton played Martha Ann Benton, who married Charles Vaughn, a widower with four children from Richmond, Va. They moved to southeast Pulaski County across from Cotham’s Country Store & Restaurant in Scott. Vaughn had a 300-acre planation, and his brother had the neighboring plantation.

Six months after they married, Charles Vaughn passed away. His will gave Martha Ann the plantation and directed her to educate his four children. In 1853, she married Phillip Benton, who oversaw her brother-in-law’s plantation. Martha Ann spoke about the Civil War. She said how frightening it was, with Union troops coming up from the bayou on their way to Little Rock.

Later, the Bentons moved to Lonoke.

• Pam Ryker played her great-great-great aunt, Charity Swaim Eagle. She married her husband, James, and they moved from Tennessee to Lonoke in 1839. They had three sons who served in the Civil War. During the war, the Eagle family fled to Austin, Texas. James died in Texas. After the war, the family returned to the area and rebuilt their homestead.

• Lonoke County Justice of the Peace Bill Ryker portrayed Ferdinand Gates, a Ger-man immigrant who settled in Hickory Plains in Prairie County. Gates had a business in Des Arc. When the war broke out, he enlisted in the Confederate Army.