Monday, July 22, 2013

Dr. Jamie Brandon to Address Historical Society

Do you know what item of archaeological interest rests behind Immaculate Conception Church on Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith? Do you know who once lived in the home that was located there? Do you know what happened to that home in the 1850s? 

Dr. Jamie Brandon, professor of archaeology at the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) and South Arkansas University (Magnolia), will answer these questions as he addresses the August 19 meeting of the South Sebastian County Historical Society. Dr. Brandon will discuss an archaeological project that investigated the early history of Fort Smith’s Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters were founders of St. Anne’s Academy, St. Edward’s Hospital and educators of generations of Catholic youth in Sebastian County. 

The meeting will convene at 7 PM, Monday, August 19 at the Community Room of the Farmer's Bank, 71 West Center Street, Greenwood, AR. All are welcome to attend. For more information, call 479-996-6357.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sharing Memories of the Historic Communities and Families of Fort Chaffee

Monday night's meeting of the South Sebastian County Historical Society was an event that brought together generations of families with roots in the area we know today as Fort Chaffee.
Former resident of Cornish, Jerry McConnell, and former resident of Oak Grove, Betty Mayo, shared their memories of growing up in these close-knit communities. A group of four men (Jeff Turner, Aaron White, Clifton James and Brant Warrick) presented a special performance of "Fort Chaffee: You Can Never Go Home Again," which won the the National History Day competition in Washington, D.C. in 1984 when the men were seventh graders. Fort Chaffee Museum Coordinator Joey Chasteen shared rare photos of area families. Former mayor Ken Edwards acted as emcee. Mansfield's "Just Us" and Hartford's "Shankle Sisters Plus One" rounded out the evening with their musical performances.

The Historical Society hopes to make transcripts of the event available in the annual society publication and may be able to offer videos of the event to the public in early fall. Stay tuned for more information.

Thanks to all who participated and all who attended and made this event a tremendous success. Thanks as well to the Greenwood Democrat and Greenwood Tradition for media coverage and to Greenwood School District for the use of the Performing Arts Center. Kudos to tech Bruce Linam for his superb and skilled assistance.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fort Chaffee: You Can Never Go Home Again

Check out the nice write-up in E Fort Smith (July edition, p. 49)! And plan to join us Monday evening, July 15,  at 7:00 at the Performing Arts Center in Greenwood as we hear first hand accounts by Jerry McConnell and Betty Mayo of the displacement of families and communities by the creation of Fort Chaffee, enjoy a photo retrospective of those historic communities and families courtesy of the Ft. Chaffee Museum,  and enjoy the great sounds of "Just Us" and "The Shankle Sisters."  After the program we hope to take a group photo on the former residents and their descendants. Refreshments will be served in the lobby and Key Magazines containing articles about the evening's topic will be available for purchase for $5. We hope you'll join us for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear this history from the people who lived it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fort Chaffee: You Can Never Go Home Again

The hurried formation of Fort Chaffee  in the early days of World War II  resulted in the relocation of many Sebastian County families and the dissolution of such communities as Cornish, Oak Grove, Center Valley, Auburn and Biswell Springs.  The South Sebastian County Historical Society will honor the memory of the many families and communities of the area in a special program Monday, July 15, 7 PM at Greenwood’s Performing Arts Center.

 Jerry McConnell, retired reporter and editor of the Arkansas Democrat, born in the Oak Grove community, will reminisce about his father, W. M. (Bun) McConnell, and his country store at Cornish, the hub between Oak Grove and Union Grove.  Betty Mayo, local historian and merchant, will relate her experiences growing up in Union Grove during the 1920s and 1930s. She’ll share her memories of friends, housewives’ remedies, entertainment, school days and games she played.  

­­A national award winning tribute to the families and communities, entitled “You Can Never Go Home Again,” will be presented by Dr. Aaron White, Jeff Turn, Brant Warrick and Clifton James (pictured below as seventh graders in 1984 with then-Governor William Clinton.)

Music will be provided by Mansfield’s “Just Us” and Hartford’s Shankle Sisters, who will perform a medley of tunes, including one famous melody written at a kitchen table in the area we now call Fort Chaffee. Ken Edwards will serve as master of ceremonies.

This program offers a unique opportunity to learn history firsthand through the storytelling of two celebrated and respected Sebastian County citizens and to hear the how the displacement has impacted families two generations later. The Historical Society invites all to attend.