As we make new discoveries about Natural State ancestors, we sometimes get lucky when newly published works yield fascinating information and general context about their lives.
There’s a new book this month by David Hill, The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice, that may especially interest those with Garland County (and nearby) roots.
In his New York Times book review, Jonathan Miles writes, “The mayors winked. The cops winked. The preachers winked, or at least averted their gaze. Winking was how [Hot Springs,] a Bible Belt town of 28,000 (circa 1960) attracted upward of five million visitors per year and why, as Hill writes, on any given Saturday night, there may have been ‘no more exhilarating place to be in the entire country’ . . . Hazel’s story, as The Vapors progresses, provides the emotional ballast, the counterweight to all the good-timey glitz, the darkness behind the neon signs. It gives the book its heft, and its warmth.”
Have you ever looked for your ancestors’ naturalization records, news stories about the naturalization, and wondered how it felt when they first became citizens? Researchers 100 years from now will be discovering a different kind of “pandemic naturalizations” in this isolation period. Beginning in March when shutdowns became common across the country, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services created “naturalization drive-throughs” where prospective citizens could take steps toward citizenship without leaving their cars. Instead of greeting an auditorium full of faces, officers administering the oath often have been doing so for just one or two new citizens at a time. The drive-through new citizens wanted their citizenships especially to vote in the November election.
Historic Arkansas Voter Records Online
Since it’s election year, it’s a good time to explore when and if your Arkansas ancestors first voted. County voter registration records for various Arkansas counties from 1868-1910 are now available at familysearch.org, provided courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives. Information may include name, registration precinct, county of residence, and when they registered. Since the records are in the era before women’s suffrage, most will be for males, with few registrations for property-owning female voters.
14th Annual Red River Heritage Symposium July 25
Learn more about how and why your ancestors may have moved to Arkansas. The 14th Red River Heritage Symposium will be Saturday, July 25, via ZOOM, and will be hosted by Historic Washington State Park. Conference topics will include migration of different Arkansas groups, emphasizing The Trail of Tears in the 1830s and its impact on the Red River. Cost is free and the event is from 9 to 4. Teachers may receive six credit hours.
Registration for participants is required. Contact the park at 870-983-2684 to register by July 23.
We’re lucky that Historic Washington itself is well worth visiting for research. It’s a restoration village that preserves one of Arkansas’ most prominent 19th century towns. A branch of the Arkansas State Archives is also there. For more information on the Symposium, visit www.
“Monday Maladies” from CALS
To help researchers who can’t fully use the library facilities in all branches because of virus concerns, the Central Arkansas Library System is making available a “Monday Maladies” virtual series this summer. Among many topics upcoming: “Soundings in Medical History: Hazards of U.S. Medical Practices in the Past, “on July 20, and “Cows, Contagion, and Conflict: Federal Efforts to Eradicate Tic Fever and Local Resistance in Arkansas History” on August 3. The programs are interesting in general, but may also provide new context for our very own Arkansas family history. For information on other offered topics, check for “Monday Maladies” on the cals.org web site.
By the way, if you have had time to do more family history research on your Native American, German, Italian, French, Scottish, or Irish ancestry during the pandemic, you’re right in step. For example, the numbers of people connecting with “Ireland Reaching Out” has doubled since last year – with the bulk of that increase happening since the pandemic began. Members of the free service can seek free advice to trace family roots and connect with their particular Irish place of origin through its online platform, IrelandXO.
Jeanne Rollberg is a genealogist with American Dream Genealogy and Research who also serves on the boards of the Friends of the Arkansas State Archives and the Arkansas Genealogical Society. She teaches genealogy classes at LifeQuest of Arkansas.