Historic Arkansas · Nature · Photography · Travel

Cotton in the Raw

“Life is like a cotton. Don’t make it heavier by dipping it in the water of sorrow but make it lighter by blowing it in the joy of air.”

There’s a small patch of cotton growing at the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park in Scott, Arkansas. As many times as I’ve driven past the museum, and have even stopped from time to time this year, yesterday was the first time I’ve noticed it!

Cotton and farming played an important role in the history of Scott, AR. Many prominent businessmen and lawyers from Little Rock owned plantations in the rich, fertile bottom land of Western Pulaski County along the Arkansas River. Very few of the plantations still exist today but the Plantation Agriculture Museum has gathered many of the items from those plantations as displays throughout this state park.

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Historic Arkansas · Nature · Travel

Native American Trail Marker Trees

While searching for monarch butterflies at Camp Robinson Special Use Area near Mayflower, AR on Monday, I happened to run across a Native American Trail Marker Tree. I went back Tuesday afternoon and found at least one more plus two more that may be marker trees.

The tree I found Monday is close to a dry creek bed. Nowadays, it only has water after a significant rain but who knows what it actually looked like before Lake Conway was built. I’m not sure if the second one I found is actually a marker tree. It’s about 50 feet or less from the first one, just across the creek bed, and although it’s bent I’m not really sure if it’s because it was a marker tree or if mother nature bent it during a storm. The third one is just the remains of a bent tree, or limb, and not very big. The only reason I think it could be a trail marker tree is the knobby ends of the bends look man-made but it’s really kind of small to be a marker tree. The fourth and last one I found is near the top of the ridge right up the road from the others.

Native Amercian’s used to bend the tree to mark the trails they used. The way the tree was marked would indicate nearby water and food or convey warnings of danger or rough traveling ahead.

Historic Arkansas · Travel

In Search of: A Farming Colony in Scott, Arkansas

 

If you heard of Johnny Cash in Arkansas than you know he lived in the Dyess Colony Resettlement Area but did you know there are more resettlement area’s in Arkansas?

Resettlement areas were setup under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and was administrated by the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.

They were designed to help those whose lives were devastated by the natural and economic disasters of the Great Depression. In Arkansas, the flood of 1927 was followed by a severe drought and many families were left with nearly nothing. Resettlement areas were established to promote a self-sustaining community consisting of independent farms that provided educational, agricultural and commercial support facilities.

My father-in-law, Hubert Skillern, lived in one such colony near Scott, Arkansas in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. He was in his mid-teens at the time and helped his parents farm the land as well as attended school. He loved the time they spent in Scott and loved talking about it.

I’ve been trying to do research into the Jones Colony Resettlement Area in Lonoke County but so far I haven’t found out very much information. Buddy Raines, a longtime friend of Hubert, lived down Jones Colony Road (now Johnson Road) from the Skillern’s and his parents were also farmers in the colony. When I talked to Mr. Raines the other day he referred to the resettlement as the “Toltec Community.” An internet search calls it the Lonoke Colony. No matter what it is called I’m not finding any information at all.

If you have any information, stories or historical photos from the Jones Colony/Toltec Community/Lonoke Colony between Scott and Keo, Arkansas please feel free to email me!

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I believed the Skillern’s lived in this typical-styled “colony” house. When driving down Johnson Road (historic Jones Colony Road) you’ll see many homes that look like this one.
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What may have been the Jones Colony store. It’s near the corner of Hwy 165 and Johnson Road. It used to have a sign in front that read,”Hamiter Hicks Estate Est. 1869,” but the sign has been gone since the front overhang fell.
maps 1942 2017
Maps do not encompass the whole of Jones Colony. Including it as a reference point to the general area.
Historic Arkansas · Recipes

Lillian’s Orange Pecans

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This week I headed to Scott once again to take pictures of the few historic plantation homes that are remaining and other old buildings in the area but instead of just staying in the car I went in to the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park to see if they just happened to have a book on Scott history. No luck finding a book but I had a great talk with Linda Goza, the Superintendent of the museum.

One story she told me about was Lillian Walker Scott (yes, THAT Scott family that the town is named for) and her orange pecan candy that she made and sold to help save the Elmhurst Plantation after the severe flooding of 1927. She even sold them as far away as New York. Well of course my foodie heart wondered how yummy those pecans must have been. I mean orange and pecans …. how could it go wrong? The Californian in me still craves fresh oranges and the Arkansan in me LOVES pecans. I’ve never even heard of orange pecans but make the spicy cinnamon ones all the time so I set out to find the recipe. It didn’t take very long, back in December 2016, the Arkansas Times ran a bunch of old recipes and Lillian’s Orange Pecans was one of the recipes featured.

I made them this afternoon and they are wonderful! So much better than the cinnamon ones. Even Mr. Picky (my son Sean) liked them and he rarely eats nuts! I tell you though, if you’re diabetic, watch out!

Lillian’s Orange Pecans

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
3 cups pecans

Bring the sugar and juice up to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium and heat until 238°F (soft ball stage). Stir in nuts and the zest from one orange. Pour onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and spread nuts to cool. Once they’re cold off a bit you can break them apart. Or if you want to get real fancy and waste a bunch of time – take them out of the pan and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet one at a time. They will look better but the taste is the same either way!

Nature · Photography

The Math of Sunflowers and Crop Overlays in Lightroom

sunflower field near Conway, AR

I would try to explain the math of sunflowers but let’s face it, it’s math, and we all know how good I am at math. NOT! It blows my mind if I can’t count or figure it up on my fingers and toes. A great explanation of the Fibonacci sequence and the Golden Ratio found in middle of a sunflower is located at Nature Blows My Mind! The Hypnotic Patterns of Sunflowers.

For all my photographer friends out there using Lightroom. Did you know you can use the Golden Ratio overlay when cropping photos? While using the crop tool if you press the O key you can cycle through the many crop overlays available. When you find an overlay you like, if you press Shift O you can rotate the orientation of that overlay to fit your image if need be. More information on crop overlays in Lightroom can be found on Have Camera Will Travel.