Unvarnished Arkansas


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A man squanders his family fortune until he is penniless, loses every time he runs for public office, and yet is so admired by the people of Arkansas that the General Assembly names a county in his honor. A renowned writer makes her home in the basement of a museum until she is sued by some of the most prominent women of the state regarding the use of the rooms upstairs. A brilliant inventor who nearly built the first airplane is also vilified for his eccentricity and possible madness.


Author Steven Teske rummages through Arkansas’s colorful past to find—and “unvarnish”—some of the state’s most controversial and fascinating figures. The nine people featured in this collection are not the most celebrated products of Arkansas. More than half of them were not even born in Arkansas, although all of them lived in Arkansas and contributed to its history and culture. But each of them has achieved a certain stature in local folklore, if not in the story of the state as a whole.

Steven Teske works at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, where he is an archival assistant and staff member of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. He also teaches at Arkansas State University–Beebe and is the co-author, with Velma B. Branscum Woody, of Homefront Arkansas: Arkansans Face Wartime, published by the Butler Center in 2009.

Distributed for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.