Harrison, Arkansas: Wikis


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Harrison, Arkansas
—  City  —
Historic downtown Harrison
Location in Boone County and the state of Arkansas
Coordinates: 36°14′14″N 93°6′49″W / 36.23722°N 93.11361°W / 36.23722; -93.11361
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Boone
 - Total 10.2 sq mi (26.5 km2)
 - Land 10.2 sq mi (26.5 km2)
 - Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 1,050 ft (320 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 12,152
 - Density 1,191.4/sq mi (458.6/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 72601-72602
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-30460
GNIS feature ID 0077134

Harrison is a city in Boone County, Arkansas, United States. It is the county seat. According to 2007 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 13,108.[1] Boone County was organized in 1869, during reconstruction after the civil war. Harrison was platted and made the county seat. It is named after L. LaRue Harrison, a Union officer who surveyed and platted the town. [2] Boone County Regional Airport serves the city.

Harrison is the principal city of the Harrison Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Boone and Newton counties.



Harrison is located at 36°14′14″N 93°6′49″W / 36.23722°N 93.11361°W / 36.23722; -93.11361 (36.237247, -93.113703).[3]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.2 square miles (26.5 km²), all of it land.


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 12,152 people, 5,259 households, and 3,260 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,187.5 people per square mile (458.6/km²). There were 5,747 housing units at an average density of 561.6/sq mi (216.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.24% White, 1.00% Black or African American, 0.74% Native American, 0.51% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.62% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. 1.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,259 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.3% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 85.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,850, and the median income for a family was $34,009. Males had a median income of $27,934 versus $18,873 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,909. About 11.5% of families and 16.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.5% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over.


Indians were the first inhabitants of the area, the first probably being the "Bluff Dweller", who lived in caves in the bluffs along the rivers. In later times, the Osage, a branch of the Sioux, was the main tribe in the Ozarks and one of their larger villages is thought to have been to the east of the present site of Harrison. The Shawnees, Quapaws, and Caddo Indians were also familiar to the area.

The Cherokee arrived around 1816 and could not get along with the Osage. This hostility erupted into a full scale Indian war in the Ozark Mountains. By the 1830's both tribes were removed to Oklahoma. Some historians contend that the first white man to visit the area were some forty followers of Hernando Desota and that they camped at an Indian village on the White River at the mouth of Bear Creek. It is more probable that the first white men were French hunters or trappers who followed the course of the White River.


Harrison is home to Cavender's Greek Seasoning, the general office of FedEx Freight, the second Wal-Mart store ever opened, Claridge Products. The courthouse, opened in 1909, serves as the heart of the downtown district.

Harrison serves as the National Park Service's Buffalo National River headquarters. The park was established in the 1970s, and was the nation’s first National River. The river flows for 135 miles. There are over 60 different species of fish in the Buffalo National River.

Crooked Creek, a nationally recognized “Blue Ribbon” smallmouth bass fishery flows through Harrison.

Hemmed-in-Hollow, the tallest waterfall between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians is near Harrison and stands at 209 feet tall. On the same bluff line is Diamond Falls. At 148 feet, it is the second tallest in the state.

The historic Lyric Theatre is now used for plays, community events, old movies and other gatherings. It was originally opened as a movie theater in 1929.

Harrison hosts the annual Arkansas Hot Air Balloon races each September, Crawdad Day's Music Festival each May, a Harvest Homecoming festival each October, and Christmas celebration in December.

The recently renovated North Arkansas Regional Medical Center is located in Harrison.

Harrison is just 35 miles south of the live music capital, Branson, MO.


Residents are served by the Harrison School District[1]. Harrison is also home to North Arkansas College (NAC).

The Harrison mascot is the Golden Goblin.

Harrison has been a member of the North Arkansas Association and Colleges and Schools since 1936.


In 1905, a white mob entered a local jail and took two burglars outside the city, whereupon they whipped them and ordered them to never return.[5]

The Harrison Police Department has had two officers killed in the line of duty, both by gunfire and both within a year of one another. The first was officer Ed Williams, killed on a disturbance call on May 25, 1934. The second was Chief of Police Burr Robertson, killed while arresting a murder suspect at the railroad station on March 27, 1935.[6]

Gracie Pfost, first woman elected to Congress from Idaho, was born in Harrison.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has recognized the Harrison Courthouse Square Historic District. It contains a large number of the city's original commercial and governmental structures, including the still-used courthouse in the center of the square, the recently refurbished Lyric theater, and the beautiful 1929 Hotel Seville, which underwent a complete restoration in 2008.

Harrison was the home of All-American Offensive Lineman Brandon Burlsworth. He played for the Arkansas Razorbacks in the late 1990s. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the 3rd round of the 1999 NFL Draft, but was killed in a car accident just 11 days later.

Harrison Goblins had a ridiculously good football team in 1999 going 14-0 and winning the state championship Class AAAA.

Race Riots

Though nowhere near as murderous as other race riots across the state, the Harrison Race Riots of 1905 and 1909 drove all but one African American from Harrison (Boone County), creating by violence an all-white community similar to other such “sundown towns” in northern and western Arkansas.

The U.S. Census of 1900 revealed a black community in Harrison of 115 people out of 1,501 residents. This constituted a vibrant community that, despite its poverty, had a cohesive culture and deep roots. By all accounts, relations between the white and black communities were relatively friendly and stable before the riots (dependent, of course, upon the expected subservience of black citizens to white people). The catalyst for change was the St. Louis and North Arkansas Railroad (later the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad), which was built through Harrison in 1901, exciting the populace with visions of prosperity. But the railroad went bankrupt on July 1, 1905, creating hardship for the townsfolk and the railroad workers who had moved to the area. The completion of the rival Missouri Pacific line, which ran through Omaha (Boone County), fifteen miles north of Harrison, left many more unemployed, both black and white. Some found their way into Harrison, where their lack of deference (they had been independent and used to being paid well for their work) enflamed the ire of Harrison’s white residents.

The enmity that Harrison felt for its black population came to a head on October 2, 1905, when a white mob stormed the jail and took two black prisoners—one of whom had been charged two days earlier with breaking into Dr. John J. Johnson’s residence—along with several others and transported them outside city limits. There, they whipped their captives and ordered them to leave. The mob then went on a rampage through Harrison’s black community. Numbering about thirty, they burned down homes, shot out windows, and ordered all African Americans to vacate the town that night. Many did, fleeing to places such as Fayetteville (Washington County) and Eureka Springs (Carroll County) or to Missouri. In the following days, the people who had stayed were attacked and harassed. On October 7, 1905, J. E. Hibdon, member of a posse, shot and killed black railroad worker George Richards at the Omaha railroad camp.

The civic power structure of Harrison likely approved of the mob action. According to Jacqueline Froelich and David Zimmerman, “Diligent research has failed to reveal any records of actions taken by law enforcement officers or any other local officials to protect Harrison’s African American community at any time preceding, during, or after the attacks.” But John Henry Rogers and James Kent Barnes—judge of the Western District of Arkansas and district attorney, respectively—sought to use a grand jury already scheduled to be impaneled to bring the perpetrators of mob violence to justice. Their task was rendered impossible by the disappearance of so many potential black witnesses and by the reluctance of the white jury to seek indictments against their fellow men, many of whom were reputedly of good standing in the community.

The remnants of the black community in Harrison lived a tenuous existence until 1909, when Harrison’s transformation into an all-white town was made complete by yet another riot. The ostensible catalyst for this second round of violence was the January 18, 1909, arrest of Charles Stinnett on the charge of raping a white woman. To stem the potential for mob violence, Judge B. B. Hudgins made provisions for a speedy trial. On January 21, Stinnett and the victim, Emma Lovett, testified, and the jury went into closed session at 11:00 a.m. to return a guilty verdict four hours later, with a sentence of death by hanging.

Upon hearing news that Lovett was gravely ill after the trial, a lynch mob formed and proceeded toward the Harrison jail; Stinnett was transported to Marshall (Searcy County). But the continuing presence of the mob resulted in another mass exodus of black citizens from Harrison. Most left on the night of January 28, 1909, following some of the same roads their predecessors took four years earlier. Only one black townsperson, Alecta Caledonia Melvina Smith, known as “Aunt Vine,” remained. The property of those who left was quickly declared forfeit.

Racial violence in Boone County may have led African Americans in neighboring counties to flee the area. Census records for Carroll and Madison counties show that, between 1900 and 1910, the black population dropped steeply. Whether this was because of a desire to escape the area’s climate of hostility, or whether other, unreported incidents of racial violence may have driven the black population out, remains unknown.

As Harrison’s white residents tried to erase the black community in their town, they apparently also tried to erase the historical record of the events in question. The files of the local newspaper, the Harrison Daily Times, contain gaps coinciding with the dates of the riots, and though records exist, including transcripts of testimony, for most of the other cases heard by Judge Rogers’s 1905 grand jury, only one handwritten note with the dates of the investigation’s beginning and end remains extant. But the cumulative historical record makes the Harrison Race Riots an undeniable instance of racial violence, in the manner of what was occurring elsewhere in the nation—as the increasing disenfranchisement of African Americans made violence toward them a political expediency—and in the world, which was experiencing a new penchant for ethnic cleansing.


  1. ^ "American Factfinder". 2007 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. June 21, 2006. http://factfinder.census.gov/. Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Template.cfm?Section=Find_a_County&Template=/cffiles/counties/usamap.cfm. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  5. ^ "Independent Lens. BANISHED. Harrison, Arkansas. PBS". Public Broadcasting Service. January 11, 2008. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/banished/harrison.html. Retrieved November 30, 2009.  
  6. ^ Ed Williams, Burr Robertson.

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