Hollywood Plantation

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For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I traveled to Tillar, Ark., with my aunt to visit the Dr. John Martin Taylor House (also known as the Hollywood Plantation). The Arkansas Archeological Survey – University of Arkansas Monticello (UAM) Research Station was hosting a cemetery clean up of the Taylor family cemetery and Valley Farm cemetery, the nearby African American cemetery.

The two-story, dog-trot log house was built in 1846 alongside Bayou Bartholomew (which by the way is the world’s longest bayou). The 11,000-acre plantation was inhabited until the 1940s, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It has since been donated to UAM and is being restored as an education site for people to visit to learn the history of one of Arkansas’ earliest major cotton plantations.

The Taylors were from Kentucky. According to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP), the Hollywood Plantation got its name from all the native holly trees on the property. The family brought over slaves from its Kentucky plantation — there were 83 slaves according to the 1850 Census and 101 slaves by 1860. After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, those slaves were given the option to stay on as tenant labor or travel back to the Kentucky plantation with the owner’s wife. That trip in fall 1863 was documented, according to AHPP.

We did get to tour the old Taylor house before work began. The house was built with slave labor, and our tour guide showed us a handprint that remains in the wall of a second-floor bedroom. I just want to know the story behind it — the upper story is the most original to the 1840s.

Our work for the day was primarily cleaning up the land in the Valley Farm cemetery. This is also believed to be the site of the plantation’s original slave burying grounds. According to staff, there are about 18 known graves (ranging from 1906 to 1926) there, and not all of the headstones for those graves could be found. See below for more pictures from the day:

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Fall tradition

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It has become a fall tradition to travel about 30 minute south of Jonesboro to White Hall (a tiny town six miles south of Harrisburg) to visit Parker Homestead with my niece and Mom. This year, my sister, Dad and the latest addition to the family, my fourth-month-old niece, joined us.

Parker Homestead is a recreated 19th century town with buildings and artifacts from White Hall’s past. The neat part is my Dad’s mother grew up in White Hall (her sister still lives there in their family home) and Parker Homestead actually displays homework of their older brother in a school house on the property. My family searches for my uncle’s work each time we visit.

I may be drawn to the school house but my 3-year-old niece is drawn to the church where an old piano is located. If given the chance, I think she would remain on that piano bench all day.

Here’s some pictures from Parker Homestead:

150 years: Battle of Arkansas Post

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The Yankees outnumbered the Confederates seven to one in the Battle of Arkansas. The outcome was obvious, although the Yankee casualty was still higher — by thousands. The facts of the Arkansas County battle were revisited this past weekend during a commemoration of the battle’s 150th anniversary.

I traveled down to Gillett to watch a small re-enactment (many of the expected reenactors cancelled due to the flu or bad weather) and attend a ceremony to honor those who fought in the battle. Of course, I also had to attend the Union and Confederate camps. I couldn’t believe the reenactors spent the night on site and were still so cheerful and talkative throughout the weekend.

(To learn more about the battle, visit here) Here’s some more pictures from the weekend:

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