See Rock City

See Rock City

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Helena-West Helena, AR

Helena-West Helena is the county seat of and the largest city within Phillips County, Arkansas. The current city represents a consolidation, effective on January 1, 2006, of the two Arkansas cities of Helena and West Helena. West Helena is located on the western side of Crowley's Ridge, a geographic anomaly of the typically flat Arkansas Delta. Helena is nestled between the Mississippi River and the eastern side of Crowley's Ridge. The Helena Bridge, one of Arkansas' four Mississippi River bridges, carries U.S. Route 49 across to Mississippi. According to the 2007 US Census, Helena-West Helena has a population of 12,246.

Downtown Helena Blues

The municipality traces its historical roots back to the founding of the port town of Helena in 1833 on the Mississippi River. Helena was occupied by the Union Army early in the American Civil War. The city of Helena was the site of the Battle of Helena fought in 1863. The battle was started by Confederate forces in an unsuccessful attempt to oust the Union Army from Helena. The Confederate goal was to use win victory in Helena in order to assist the important port city of Vicksburg, Mississippi from having to surrender to Union forces there. Helena later served as the launching point for the Union Army in the capture of Little Rock, the state capital, later in the year.

KIPP Delta College Prep School in Downtown Helena

The city grew into a thriving blues community in the 1940s and 1950s. The city continued to grow until the closing of Mohawk Rubber Company, a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber Company, in the 1970s. Unemployment surged shortly after.

The Pillow Thompson House in Helena. An example of Queen Anne Architecture.

Today, Helena-West Helena is home to just over 15,000 people, the Delta Cultural Center, the Pillow-Thompson House (owned and operated by the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas), the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival (previously known as the King Biscuit Blues Festival) held each October and a Confederate Army Generals Graveyard, which holds the remains of seven Confederate Army generals.

The Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena-West Helena, AR


The city's roots trace back to the founding of the city of Helena in 1833, along a port on the Mississippi River. Crowleys Ridge provided elevation and some protection against flooding, a rare feature along the right/west bank of the lower Mississippi River. During the Civil War, the Union Army occupied Helena prior to the Battle of Helena in 1863. In the early morning hours of July 4, 1863, Confederate forces attempted to retake Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. However, Confederate forces in Vicksburg had already arranged to surrender to General U.S. Grant on the morning of July 4th. Many of the old battle sites are still intact and several historians agree that Helena is in a unique position to develop and protect these historic areas. Prior to consolidation, Helena contained 6,323 people within 23.1 km². Neighboring West Helena had 8,689 people in 11.5 km². Merger proposals began as early as at least 2002 and a March 2005 vote among citizens of both cities approved the merger. The surrounding county is one of the poorest of Arkansas's 75 counties. Proponents of the consolidation stated that combining the cities would strengthen the bargaining power for its surrounding region in competing for projects to improve the overall economy and standard of living. Among the combined city's council's first tasks was the hiring of a new police chief, Vincent Bell.

Musical history

It has been said that Helena was a little Chicago back in the 1940s and 1950s because, much like Chicago, blacks from rural Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta were arriving. They were drawn to Helena because they could make money there. By then Helena was 70% black and wild music joints employed blues pianist such as Sunnyland Slim, Memphis Slim and Roosevelt Sykes.

In November 1941, a white businessman put together the staff for the town's first radio station KFFA. A group of blues musicians were given a one-hour radio spot on the condition that they sign a sponsor, which King Biscuit Flour agreed to do. Thus was born King Biscuit Entertainers and the beginning of King Biscuit Time, eventually leading later to the popular King Biscuit Blues Festival, renamed Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in 2005, one of the largest free blues festivals in the world.

Famous residents

John Hanks Alexander - second African-American West Point graduate,

John Hanks Alexander, (6 January 1864 - 26 March 1894), was the first African American officer in the United States armed forces to hold a regular command position and the second African American graduate of the United States Military Academy.

John Hanks Alexander was born on 6 January 1864 at Helena, Arkansas to former slaves James Milo Alexander and Fannie Miller Alexander. His father was a barber in Helena and acquired property there. All of the Alexander children graduated from high school and three attended Oberlin College in Ohio.

Alexander graduated number one in his high school class in Helena and soon moved to Carrollton, Mississippi to take a position as a teacher. In late 1880 he visited his uncle in Cincinnati, Ohio and ended up remaining in that city. The next year he enrolled at Oberlin College and attended that institution until passing the entrance examination for West Point in 1883. Alexander was sponsored by Democratic U.S. Rep. George W. Geddes of Ohio.

During his term at West Point Alexander was generally accepted by the other cadets and was not subjected to as much intolerance as previous cadets. Alexander was known as an excellent student, especially in mathematics and languages and was a skilled boxer while at the academy. He graduated in the class of 1887 ranking 32nd in a class of 64.

Alexander was assigned to the U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Robinson, Nebraska which was an all-black regiment commanded by white officers and nicknamed Buffalo soldiers. Alexander became the only black officer in an actual command position. In 1888 he was transferred to Fort Washakie, Wyoming where he engaged in the normal activities of an officer with a western frontier posting.

In 1894 Alexander was sent to Wilberforce University, an all-black institution, as a professor of military science and tactics. Shortly after arriving Alexander died unexpectedly of a ruptured aorta on 26 March, 1894. John Hanks Alexander is buried in Xenia, Ohio.

A military installation at Newport News, Virginia was named Camp Alexander in his honor.

John Allin - presiding bishop of Episcopal Church,

Unita Blackwell - First black woman mayor of Mississippi and civil rights activist.

Unita Blackwell (born 18 March 1933) was the first African-American woman to be elected a mayor in the U.S. state of Mississippi and is a civil rights activist. She is the founder of the United States China Peoples Friendship Association, a group dedicated to promoting cultural exchange between the United States and China. Barefootin' , Blackwell's autobiography, charts her activism.

Early life and marriage

Unita Blackwell was born on 18 March 1933 in Lula, Mississippi to sharecroppers Virda Mae and Willie Brown. Blackwell's uncle gave her the name U.Z., which she kept until she was in the sixth grade when her teacher told her that she needed "a real name, not just initials". Blackwell and her teacher decided on Unita Zelma.

Blackwell and her parents lived in Lula until she was three years old. Fearing for his life, Blackwell's father left the plantation on which he worked and fled to Memphis, Tennessee in 1936. Soon afterwards, Blackwell and her mother left the plantation to live with him. On June 20, 1938 Blackwell's parents separated due to religious differences, following this, Blackwell and her mother went to West Helena, Arkansas to live with Blackwell's great aunt so that she had the opportunity to receive an education. While Blackwell lived there she often visited her father in Memphis. During the summer months she would leave West Helena and live with her grandfather and grandmother in Lula, where she helped plant and harvest cotton. Blackwell was 14 when she finished the eighth grade, the final year of school at Westside, a school in West Helena for black children. While preparing her work for civil rights movement, she worked with her parents as a sharecropper, then chopped cotton for just $3 a day. Despite this, she later went on to receive her Master's Degree in Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Blackwell was in her early twenties when she first met Jeremiah Blackwell, a cook for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A few years later, they traveled to Clarksdale, Mississippi and were married by a Justice of the Peace. On 2 July 1957 the couple's only son, Jeremiah Blackwell Jr., was born. In January 1957, Blackwell became extremely ill and was taken to the hospital in West Helena. She was pronounced dead. She claims to have had a near-death experience at this time and was later found to be alive in her hospital room. In 1960 Blackwell and Jeremiah moved into his deceased grandmother's shotgun house, in Mayersville, Mississippi.


The front cover of Barefootin' Blackwell along with help from JoAnne Prichard Morris, wrote an autobiography about her life including her working as a Sharecropper for her parents, being elected Mayor of Mayersville causing her rise from "Poverty to Power", and then to her actions in the Civil Rights Movement. It was published in 2006 by Crown Publishing, a subsidiary of Random House.

Fred Childress - all-star football player in Canadian Football League,

Fred Childress (also known as "Freddie Childress"), born September 17, 1966 (aka "the Big Chill" for his 6 feet 4 inch and 345 pound size) is a former all-star offensive lineman in the Canadian Football League and the National Football League.

Patrick Cleburne - Confederate Civil War General,

Patrick Ronayne Cleburne (March 16 or March 17, 1828[1] – November 30, 1864) was an Anglo-Irish soldier, serving in the British Army and as a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, killed at the Battle of Franklin.

Ken Hatfield - college football coach at Clemson, Air Force, Arkansas, and Rice

Ken Hatfield (born June 6, 1943(1943-06-06) in Helena, Arkansas) is a former American football head coach. His last position was at Rice University, where he compiled a 55-78-1 record before resigning on November 30, 2005, following a 1-10 season.

Hatfield is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he starred at defensive back for the 1964 NCAA Division I-A national football championship team alongside such pro football luminaries as Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones. He is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Hatfield began his college head coaching career at the United States Air Force Academy from 1979 to 1983. Hatfield then compiled a 55-17-1 record during a stint from 1984 to 1989 at the University of Arkansas, and was also the head football coach at Clemson University from 1990-93, compiling a 32-13-1 record. In 1989, Hatfield became the first former player to coach his alma mater in the Cotton Bowl, as he led Arkansas to the 1964 National Championship over Nebraska in the 1965 Cotton Bowl. Ironically, the coach Hatfield succeeded at Clemson, Danny Ford, would eventually become the Razorbacks' coach in 1993.

One of the few remaining proponents of the conservative triple-option offense in college football, Hatfield has compiled a 168-140-4 record as a head coach.

Alex Johnson, Major League Baseball player,

Alexander Johnson (born December, 1942, in Helena, Arkansas is a former professional baseball player. He was an outfielder and designated hitter over parts of 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, California Angels, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers. He won the 1970 American League batting title while playing for the California Angels. Johnson turned down many football scholarships to pursue his dream of baseball.

His brother, Ron, was a professional football player.

Lucy Olivia Knox, civic leader, business woman & NAACP board member in Chicago, Illinois,

Mary Lambert, music video director,

Mary Lambert (born October 13, 1951) is an American director.

Lambert directed many of Madonna's music videos, including "Borderline", "Like a Virgin", "Material Girl", "La Isla Bonita", and "Like a Prayer". She also directed Chris Isaak's first music video "Dancin'" and Janet Jackson's "Nasty" and "Control" music videos. Also videos for Annie Lennox, Mick Jagger, The Go-Go's, Whitney Houston, Alison Krauss, Live, Mötley Crüe, Sting, Debbie Harry, Tom Tom Club and others. Her debut feature was the stylish controversial Siesta in 1987 which was nominated for the IFP Spirit Award for best first feature, starring Ellen Barkin and Jodie Foster. She directed the Digital Pictures FMV video game Double Switch. She is known to horror fans for directing the 1989 adapation of Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary (film) and its sequel, Pet Sematary II.

Lambert's subsequent projects steered toward the more commercial, emphasizing her connection to the pop-music world.

Her sister is Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a B.F.A.

Blanche Lambert Lincoln (born September 30, 1960) is the Democratic senior United States Senator from the State of Arkansas. She was the youngest woman ever to be elected to the Senate when she was elected in 1998 at the age of 38; as of 2008, she is also the youngest Senior Senator in the Senate. She is the second female senator from Arkansas after Hattie Caraway, who served 14 years in the Senate. She is amongst the most Conservative Democrats in the Senate.

Early life

Blanche Lambert was born in Helena, Phillips County, Arkansas. She attended Arkansas public schools and graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1982. She studied law at the University of Arkansas. Her sister, Mary Lambert, went on to be a movie director.

Blanche Lincoln, U.S. Senator from Arkansas,

Robert Lockwood, Jr., blues musician and stepson of Robert Johnson,

Robert Lockwood, Jr., also known as Robert Junior Lockwood, (March 27, 1915 – November 21, 2006) was an American blues guitarist who recorded for Chess Records among other Chicago labels in the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known as a longtime collaborator with Alec "Rice" Miller, a/k/a Sonny Boy Williamson II, and for his work in the mid 1950s with Little Walter Jacobs. An important session guitarist with many Chicago labels, especially Chess Records (w. Williamson, Jacobs, Eddie Boyd, The Moonglows, et al), Lockwood influenced many who had no idea who the guitarist was on these tracks.

Early life

Robert Lockwood was born in Turkey Scratch, a hamlet west of Helena, Arkansas. He started playing the organ in his father's church at the age of 8. The famous bluesman Robert Johnson lived with Lockwood's mother for 10 years off and on after his parents' divorce. Lockwood learned from Johnson not only how to play guitar, but timing and stage presence as well. Because of his personal and professional association with the music of Robert Johnson, he became known as "Robert Junior" Lockwood, a nickname by which he was known among fellow musicians for the rest of his life, although he later frequently professed his dislike for this appellation.

Robert Lockwood, Jr.
One of the last surviving roots bluesman of the twentieth century.

Robert Lockwood Jr. was born March 27, 1915 in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, a farming hamlet about 25 miles west of Helena. 1915 was remarkable because several other monumental blues artists were born within a 100-mile radius that year; notably Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Little Walter Jacobs, Memphis Slim, Johnny Shines, and Honeyboy Edwards. They would all meet up in the future.

His first musical lessons were on the family pump organ. He learned the guitar, at age eleven, from Robert Johnson, the mysterious delta bluesman, who was living with his mother. From Johnson, Lockwood learned chords, timing, and stage presence. By the age of fifteen, Robert was playing professionally, often with Johnson; sometimes with Johnny Shines or Rice Miller, who would soon be calling himself Sonny Boy Williamson II. They would play fish fries, juke joints, and street corners. Once Johnson played one side of the Sunflower River, while Lockwood manned the other bank. The people of Clarksville, Mississippi were milling around the bridge; they couldn’t tell which guitarist was Robert Johnson. Young Lockwood had learned Johnson’s techniques very well.

Johnson’s fast lifestyle caught up with him, passing away in 1937. Lockwood was 22 but prepared for the future.

Lockwood’s first recordings came in 1941, with Doc Clayton, on his famous Bluebird Sessions in Aurora, Illinois. During these sessions, he cut four singles under his own name. These were the first incarnations of “Take A Little Walk with Me”, and “Little Boy Blue,” Lockwood staples sixty years later.

Later in 1941, Lockwood was back in Arkansas where he re-united with Sonny Boy II to host a live radio program broadcast at noon from KFFA in Helena, sponsored by the King Biscuit Flower Company. James “Peck” Curtis and Dudlow Taylor provided the rhythm. This show became a cultural phenomenon; everybody would listen during his or her lunch hour. Several generations of southern bluesman can trace their musical roots to the show.

Lockwood moved around, the usual route was Memphis, St. Louis, to Chicago. By the early 1950’s, he had surfaced in the Windy City, where he became the top session man for Chess Records, the epitome of blues labels. Sonny Boy Williamson II, Little Walter, Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim, and Eddie Boyd, whom he toured with for six years, you can hear his smooth chords on their recordings.

Blues was giving way to Rock and Roll, even in Chicago, so Lockwood moved to Cleveland, Ohio at the urging of his old pal, Sonny Boy. Settling down and raising a family took priorities but blues was still in his soul, just on the back burner.

In the late 1960s Lockwood would gig all around Cleveland, playing whenever he got the chance. Long-forgotten clubs like Pirates Cove and Brothers Lounge were places where Lockwood taught his blues to generations of local musicians and fans.

Lockwood’s solo recording career, exclusive of the 1941 Bluebird Sessions, began in 1970 with Delmark’s Steady Rollin’ Man, backed by old friends Louis Myers, his brother Dave Myers, and Fred Below, collectively known as The Aces. In 1972, Lockwood hooked up with famed musicologist, Pete Lowry to record Contrasts, the first of two for Trix Records. Does 12 followed in 1975. They have been remastered and repackaged by Fuel 2000 Records.

In the early 1980s Lockwood teamed up with another long-time friend, Johnny Shines, to record three albums for Rounder, which has been comprised into 1999’s Just the Blues. Plays Robert and Robert, a Black and Blue recording of a solo show in Paris in 1982, was re-issued on Evidence in 1993.

From the early 1980s to 1996, there were no domestic Lockwood releases. In 1998, I’ve Got to Find Myself a Woman was released by Verve, gaining a Grammy nomination. This was followed by Telarc’s Delta Crossroads, also a Grammy contender in 2000. In 2001, What’s the Score was re-issued on Lockwood Records which has the rights to his Japanese live recordings, previously only available on Peavine. They will be a future project.

In the last twenty years, the Blues world has recognized Lockwood’s contributions to the genre. Recently, Lockwood has amassed so many that it is not possible to list all of them. The most notable are:

1980 Lockwood receives the very first W.C. Handy Award for “best traditional blues album”
1989 Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame
1995 Received National Heritage Fellowship Award, presented by Hilary Clinton
1996 Cleveland Mayor, Michael White, proclaims February 3, as “Robert Lockwood Day”
1997 Has street named “Robert Lockwood, Jr. Way” in Cleveland’s Flat District
1998 Inducted into Delta Blues Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Mississippi
2001 Received Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland
2001 Received W.C. Handy for “best traditional blues album,” Delta Crossroads
2001 City of Pittsburgh named 8/18 “Robert Lockwood, Jr. Day”
2002 Received honorary Degree of "Doctor of Music" from Cleveland State University on 5/12

Not content to rest on his laurels, Lockwood is touring more than ever at age 86. Lockwood leads an eight-piece band every Wednesday at Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland, roams the world playing his jazz-tinted Delta Blues, and records once a year. Lockwood is in better mental and physical shape than many men years younger. His guitar playing is as crisp as ever. Like a fine French cognac, he is only getting better with age; no dust, rust or must here.

Robert Lee McCollum, blues musician,

Robert Lee McCollum (30 November 1909 – 5 November 1967) was an American bluesman who played and recorded under the names Robert Lee McCoy and Robert Nighthawk.

Born in Helena, Arkansas, he left home at an early age to become a busking musician, and after a period wandering through southern Mississippi settled for a time in Memphis, Tennessee. There he played with local orchestras and musicians, such as the Memphis Jug Band. A particular influence was Houston Stackhouse, from whom he learnt to play slide guitar, and with whom he appeared on the radio in Jackson, Mississippi.

Nobody else could play a slide like him.
They think they can but they can't....
I ain't never heard anybody play a slide like
Robert Nighthawk. It's wailin' man." *

Robert Nighthawk was one of the blues premier slide guitarists playing with a subtle elegance and a fluid, crystal clear style that was instantly recognizable. Nighthawk influenced a generation of artists including Elmore James, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and particularly Earl Hooker. In many ways Nighthawk was the archetype of the classic bluesman spending his entire adult life rambling all over the South with frequent trips to the North playing a never ending string of one nighters punctuated by sporadic recording dates. Nighthawk's recording dates brought him only limited success but he remained popular in the South his entire life. Nighthawk's life remains somewhat indistinct; for one he never stayed in Chicago long enough to establish himself, he was interviewed only briefly and unlike many artists didn't appreciably benefit from the blues boom of the 1960's. The aim of this website is to shed light on this important bluesman and put his contributions in the proper historical context.

For all his influence Nighthawk remains a mostly neglected and mysterious figure. One reason was that he recorded very sporadically which saw only about a dozen scattered sessions from the 1930's up until his death in 1967. Though he consistently recorded strong material his record sales remained low. Another reason stems from the man himself who associates referred to as restless, taciturn and stubborn. "Nighthawk was polite but taciturn...He would grin, and occasionally "grandstand" on Maxwell Street or in a Club, he was usually serious; sometimes almost bitter."7 Others, however, have described Nighthawk in less somber terms. Charlie Musselwhite described him this way: "To me... he was real friendly, sort of reserved. He never lost his cool in any way; he was always in control, but not in control like "uptight", he was just a real smooth operator, you know?"12 Carey Bell relates: "He was a lot of fun. Tells a lot of lies. He was good at telling lies and jokes."12

His apparent dislike for Chicago kept him away in for much of the 1950's when Chicago Blues was in it's golden age. "Well, that's about all I been doin' all my life....I been in Florida. I was down in Florida about three years and back up in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa, New York and some other places."12

Nighthawk was born Robert Lee McCollum in Helena, Arkansas, on Nov. 30 1909 to Ned and Mattie McCollum. Robert was one of three children which included a brother named Samuel and a sister named Ethel (there is said to be another sister named Margaret but both Nighthawk's daughter (Geni Ward) and his son (Sam Carr) say Margaret was a friend). As Nighthawk relates in a 1964 interview he came from a musical family: "Well all my people played music. Mother and dad and sister and brother and all. My brother played guitar. My brother helped me in all kind of ways. (My family) ...mostly played dances, parties, picnics and all that. When I left home I got right into it and I started blowing harmonica. I learnt that back in 24'. ...boy named Johnny Jones, he's from Louisiana, ...say he learn me so I did."12

Nighthawk married for he first time in 1928 to Mary Griffen in Friars Point and they had two children, Sam the oldest, and Ludy the youngest. Sam grew up to be Sam Carr a well respected blues drummer. His parents left him when he was just a youngster and he was raised by the Carr family. Sam describes the situation: "I was adopted into the Carr family when I was one and a half years old. ...My mother had been dating Robert Nighthawk. ...My mother wanted to be out in the world following Robert, and I guess she went out on the road with him. ...I saw my daddy for the first time in 1933. I was seven years old. My daddy came by in a T-Model Ford, red. He was with Henry Townsend. I remember good. He told me he was my daddy "whether you believe it or not. I know you ain't seen me or know nothing about about me. I just want you to know I'm your daddy. ...I didn't see him no more untl 1937." He told him then "when you get a little bigger you can come over and stay with me, go with me to the radio station [KFFA] and hear me play."37 By the early 40's he was playing in his fathers' band working the door, acting as chauffeur and playing bass.5

He learned guitar from Houston Stackhouse who he met in Mississippi in the late 20's or 30'. There's some confusion if Stackhouse was actually Nighthawk's cousin. However in an interview for Living Blues magazine he states: "...we're first cousins. Me and Robert were two sisters children." Stackhouse recalls meeting Nighthawk "In 26, I guess. '29, '30. He was haulin' seed from Estill to Hollandale and I was haulin' seed from Murphy Bayou to Hollandale on 61. We was day workin' on Mr. Torey Woods' farm out there at Murphy Bayou: plowin' mules, gettin' a dollar a day."30

John Stroger, Jr., longtime president of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County, Illinois,

John H. Stroger, Jr. (May 19, 1929 – January 18, 2008) was an American politician who served from 1994 until 2006 as the first African-American president of the Cook County, Illinois Board of Commissioners. Stroger was a member of the Democratic Party. He was also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. Cook County's Stroger Hospital was renamed in his honor.

Early life

John Stroger was born May 19, 1929 in Helena, Arkansas. In 1953 he graduated from Xavier University in Louisiana with a B.S. in business administration. Stroger then relocated to Chicago in 1953 and became active in the Democratic party in the South Side of Chicago. After only a year Stroger was appointed as an assistant auditor with the Municipal Court of Chicago. Stroger then served as personnel director for the Cook County Jail from 1955 to 1961. Stroger attended law school at the DePaul University College of Law and graduated in 1965. While earning a law degree he worked for the financial director of the State of Illinois. In 1968, Stroger was elected 8th Ward Committeeman. After his election to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1970, Stroger went on to chair every major board committee, including finance, health, building and zoning. As Commissioner, Stroger sponsored legislation aimed at assisting minority- and female-owned businesses.

Roosevelt Sykes - blues pianist,

Roosevelt Sykes (January 31, 1906 in Elmar, Arkansas – July 17, 1983 in New Orleans, Louisiana) was an American blues musician also known as "Honeydripper".

He was a successful and prolific cigar-chomping blues piano player who influenced blues piano playing with his rollicking thundering boogie.


Sykes grew up near Helena, Arkansas but at age 15, began playing piano with a barrelhouse style of blues at various places until ending up in the St. Louis, Missouri area where he met St. Louis Jimmy Oden. He started recording in the 1920s, signing with multiple labels and recording under various names including "Easy Papa Johnson", "Dobby Bragg", and "Willie Kelly". After he and Oden moved to Chicago he found his first period of great fame when he signed with Decca Records in 1935. In 1943, he signed to Bluebird Records and recorded with "The Honeydrippers".

Sykes, like bluesmen of his time, travelled around playing to all-male audiences in sawmill, turpentine and levee camps along the Mississippi River, and gathering a repertoire of raw, sexually explicit material. In 1929 he was spotted by a talent scout and sent to New York City to record for Okeh Records. His first release was "'44' Blues" which became a blues classic and his trademark. He settled in Chicago and began to display an increasing urbanity in his lyric-writing, using an 8-bar blues pop gospel structure instead of the traditional 12-bar blues. However, despite the growing urbanity of his outlook, he could not compete in the post-World War II music scene, though he did continue to record for small labels until he stopped recording in the 1950s . When he returned to recording in the 1960s it was to label like Delmark Records, Bluesville Records, Storyville Records and Folkways Records, labels that were documenting the quickly passing blues history.

Roosevelt left Chicago in 1954 for New Orleans as electric blues took over the Chicago blues clubs. He lived out his final years in New Orleans until he died on July 17, 1983.

Conway Twitty (born Harold Lloyd Jenkins), country music star and his family moved to Helena from Friars Point, Mississippi when he was 10 years old.

Conway Twitty (born Harold Lloyd Jenkins, September 1, 1933; died June 5, 1993) was one of the United States' most successful country music artists of the 20th century. Most commonly thought of as a country music singer, he also enjoyed success in early Rock and Roll, R&B, and Pop music (among others). Until 2008, he also held the record for the most Number One singles of any country act, with fifty-five Number Ones on all trade charts.


Early life

Conway Twitty was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins on September 1, 1933 in Friars Point, Mississippi.

Jenkins was named by his great uncle after his favorite silent movie actor, Harold Lloyd. The Jenkins family moved to Helena, Arkansas (now known as Helena-West Helena, Arkansas) when Jenkins was 10 years of age, and it was in Helena that Jenkins put together his first singing group, the Phillips County Ramblers.

Two years later, he had his own local radio show every Saturday morning. Jenkins also practiced his second passion, baseball. He received an offer to play with the Philadelphia Phillies after high school, but he was drafted into the Army, which effectively put an end to that dream.

Inspired by Elvis

After his discharge from the Army, Jenkins again pursued a music career. After hearing Elvis Presley's song, "Mystery Train", he began writing rock 'n' roll material. As a matter of course, he headed for the Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee and worked with Sam Phillips, owner and founder of Sun Studios, to get the "right" sound.

Source of stage name

Jenkins felt that his real name wasn't marketable, and he changed his show business name in 1957. (Harold Lloyd Jenkins would always remain his legal name, however). Looking at a road map, he spotted Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas. Thus, he went with the professional name of "Conway Twitty".

Alternatively, Jenkins met a Richmond, VA, man named W. Conway Twitty Jr. through Jenkins' manager in a New York City restaurant. The manager served in the army with the real Conway Twitty. Later, the manager suggested to Jenkins that he take the name as his stage name because it had a ring to it. The Richmond Conway Twitty subsequently recorded the song, "What's in a Name But Trouble," in the mid-1960s, lamenting the loss of his name to Jenkins. The flip side of the 45 RPM record was "The Purple, Purple People Eater, Eater." ( The more well known version of Purple People Eater, however, now having sold over 100,000,000 copies was recorded by Sheb Wooley )

First successes

"It's Only Make Believe" was recorded in 1958 and became the first of nine Top 40 hits for Twitty, selling eight million copies. The song was written between sets by Conway and drummer Jack Nance when they were in Hamilton, Ontario playing at the Flamingo Lounge.

Ellis Valentine - former Major League Baseball player,

Ellis Clarence Valentine (born July 30, 1954 in Helena, Arkansas) is a former right fielder in Major League Baseball. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1972; playing for the Expos, he was elected a National League All-Star in 1977 and received a Gold Glove Award in 1978. He also played for the New York Mets, California Angels and Texas Rangers, before retiring in 1985 from a ball that hit his jaw. His wife's name is Karen.

Sonny Boy Williamson II, blues musician,

Aleck "Rice" Miller (December 5, 1899 or March 11, 1908 – May 25, 1965), a.k.a. Aleck Ford, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Willie Williamson, Willie Miller, "Little Boy Blue", "The Goat" and "Footsie," was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter.


Aleck Ford was born on the Sara Jones Plantation near Glendora, Mississippi in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. The date and year of his birth are a matter of some uncertainty. He claimed to have been born on December 5, 1899, but one researcher, David Evans, claims to have found census record evidence that he was born around 1912. Miller's gravestone has his birthdate as March 11, 1908.

He lived and worked with his sharecropper stepfather, Jim Miller, whose last name he soon adopted, and mother, Millie Ford, until the early 1930s. Beginning in the 1930s, he traveled around Mississippi and Arkansas and encountered Big Joe Williams, Elmore James and Robert Lockwood, Jr., also known as Robert Junior Lockwood, who would play guitar on his later Checker Records sides. He was also associated with Robert Johnson during this period.

Miller developed his style and raffish stage persona during these years. Willie Dixon recalled seeing Lockwood and Miller playing for tips in Greenville, Mississippi in the 1930s. He captivated audiences with tricks such inserting one end of the harmonica into his mouth and playing with no hands.

Miller lived in Twist, Arkansas for a time with Howlin' Wolf's sister Mary Burnett and taught Wolf to play harmonica. (Later, for Checker, he did a parody of Howlin' Wolf entitled "Like Wolf.") In 1941 Miller was hired to play the King Biscuit Time show, advertising the King Biscuit brand of baking flour on radio station KFFA in Helena, Arkansas with Lockwood.

It was at this point that the radio program's sponsor, Max Moore, began billing Miller as Sonny Boy Williamson, apparently in an attempt to capitalize on the fame of the well known Chicago-based harmonica player and singer John Lee Williamson (see Sonny Boy Williamson I). Although John Lee Williamson was a major blues star who had already released dozens of successful and widely influential records under the name "Sonny Boy Williamson" from 1937 onward, Aleck Miller would later claim to have been the first to use the name, and some blues scholars believe that Miller's assertion he was born in 1899 was a ruse to convince audiences he was old enough to have used the name before John Lee Williamson, who was born in 1914. Whatever the methodology, Miller became commonly known as "Sonny Boy Williamson," (universally distinguished by blues fans and musicians as "Sonny Boy Williamson number two" or "Sonny Boy Williamson the second") and Lockwood and the rest of his band were billed as the King Biscuit Boys. Sonny Boy's growing renown in the mid-south took him places such as West Memphis, Arkansas, where he performed on a KWEM radio show selling the elixir Hadacol.

Elijah Petty Ran for city councilmen an almost won an was the captain at the Helena West Helena Police department.

William H. Grey-1st African American to serve as Arkansas State Land Commissioner. Member of the Republican National Convention of 1868. Buried in Magnolia Hill Cemetery, Helena, Arkansas.


Allin Home
515 Columbia Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The Allin Home is a two-story brick five-bay c. 1850s structure with a rear ell having a two-story front porch. It is an unusual transitional design having a classical, almost Antebellum plan with Victorian trim and detailing, particularly across the front two-story porch. The Allin Home is architecturally significant not only because of its transitional design, but also because of its relatively small size in relation to its imposing appearance. Henderson B. Robinson, the African-American reconstructionist assessor and sheriff of Phillips County, purchased the house in 1874. He died in 1881 and his widow sold the property to Simon Seelig in 1889. Seelig sold the property to Richard Allin in 1907, and it remained in the Allin family until 1980 when it beame a bed and breakfast. It is currently used as an office building. Listed on the National Register June 4, 1973.

Almer Store
824 Columbia St.
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

In the early 1870s, the Ulrich Almers, a young couple from Iowa, built a flatboat and floated down the Mississippi River to Helena. The Almers, both Swiss immigrants who had come to the U. S. as children, dismantled the flatboat in Helena and used the wood to build their home, now known as the Almer Store. Though not officially used as a store by Almer, he used the little building to market milk products and to make cheese. In later years, other owners used the building as a neighborhood grocery. It was restored and reopened as an arts and crafts shop in the early 1970s. Listed on the National Historic Register Oct. 18, 1974.

Altman House
1202 Perry Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

A blend of Classical Revival and Arts and Crafts movement, the Altman House was constructed in Helena in 1914 for Gustave Altman. Altman was a prominent member of what was then a large Jewish community in the city. Reportedly the unique design of the house can be attributed to Altman’s wife, Estelle, who served as her own “architect.” No other residence in the city exhibits the unique combination of styles found in the Altman House. Listed on the National Historic Register Jan. 21, 1988.

Beech Street Historic District
McDonough, Columbia, Beech, Elm, Perry, & College Streets
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residences

Many of the original houses in the northern section of the Beech Street Historic District were built by Union officers who remained in Helena after the Civil War. The 800 block of McDonough Street was known as Reconstruction Row, but none of these homes remain, and those extant date generally from the early 1900s. Many involved in the lumber industry also made their homes in the Beech Street area. In addition to the many historic structures, the district also contains a number of foot bridges and two full-lot gardens. The historic houses date from 1858 to 1935 and include examples of virtually all of the popular American architectural styles of the period. Listed on the National Historic Register Jan. 30, 1987.

Cherry Street Historic District
Cherry Street: Porter to Elm streets
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residences

As the regional hub of both Mississippi River and railroad traffic, and the seat of local government and industry, Helena prospered throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All of the properties within the Cherry Street Historic District date from this period of prosperity, which ran from 1879-1935. Forty-four of the district’s 55 buildings contribute to its architectural and historical significance. The oldest extant structure in the district, the Bank of Helena Building, was built in 1879 and retains its second floor fenestration with arched brick lintels and decorative muntins. Also in the district is the earliest extant theater, the Paramount, constructed c. 1930 with Spanish Colonial Revival detailing. Listed on the National Historic Register Aug. 17, 1987.

Chicago Mill Company Office Building
129 N. Washington Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

The Chicago Mill Company Office Building, c. 1920, is a single-story, wood-frame structure designed in a restrained version of the Craftsman style. It is distinguished by its low, spreading, asphalt-shingle hipped roof that extends out and over the wrap-around front porch. The porch itself is also distinctive, as it extends across the eastern elevation of the building and wraps around to the north. It is supported upon wood box columns, painted white. Wood board-and-batten sheathing covers the entire building, including the later though sympathetic rear addition, and one-over-one wood windows light the interior. A single chimney is placed against the northern wall toward the rear, and the entire building is supported upon brick piers. The Chicago Mill Company was one of the largest wood processing industries to install a facility in West Helena during its boom years. It was one of the few to survive the Great Depression in the 1930s. Listed on the National Historic Register Oct. 31, 1996.

Coolidge House
820 Perry Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

1880 Queen Anne cottage. Listed on the National Historic Register Sept. 8, 1983.

Denison House
427 Garland Avenue
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The Denison House is a one-and-one half story, brick masonry residence designed in a simplified version of the Colonial Revival style and considered to be the best example of the Colonial Revival style in West Helena. It was constructed by local builder J.W. Denison just north of Plaza Avenue in one of the first developed residential areas of the city. Denison also was first mayor of West Helena. Listed on the National Historic Register Oct. 31, 1996.

Dixon Cemetery
C.R. 239, 1.3 miles north of intersection of Holly and Jackson Streets
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

Focal point of the cemetery is a large, imposing obelisk-type monument marking the grave of the Rev. Elijah Camp Morris, D.D. Morris was the second pastor of Centennial Baptist Church in Helena, founder of Arkansas Baptist College, founders and publisher of the "Baptist Vanguard," and president of the National Baptist convention for 28 years. Members of his family, as well as other African-American families, are buried here. Among these are Adams, Anderson, Clark, Cooper, and Drew families.

Estevan Hall
653 S. Biscoe Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

Also known as the Hanks Homestead, Estevan Hall is probably the oldest structure in Phillips County. Since its construction in the 1820s, Estevan Hall has continually been owned and occupied by a member of the Hanks family, meaning that it has probably been held by one family longer than any other structural property in Arkansas. In 1990, the home became an office building and is now a private residence. Three Hanks brothers, Fleetwood, James, and Millinder, were among the early setters of Helena. In 1827, Fleetwood and Millinder bought a 10-acre tract on which Estevan Hall now stands. Though the exterior of Estevan Hall has been greatly altered, the exterior lines have retained their present appearance during most of the last century. In addition to hosting Hanks family weddings, Estevan Hall was the site of the marriage of Helen Keller’s grandparents, Charles W. Adams and Lucy Helen Everett, on Sept. 29, 1845. Located on the Mississippi River, the 1870s alterations of Estevan Hall seem to have been strongly influenced by the New Orleans French style prevalent further south of the river. Listed on the National Historic Register Oct. 22, 1974.

Faust House
114 Richmond Hill
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The Faust House, built in 1924, is a single-story, wood frame and brick masonry residence designed in the Spanish Revival style. It is the best example of the Spanish Revival style residence in West Helena. Listed on the National Historic Register Oct. 31, 1996.

Gemmill-Faust House
321 St. Andrew's Terrace
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The Gemmill-Faust House, c. 1920, is a two-and-one-half story, wood frame and brick masonry residence. It is the best example of a pure Prairie style house in West Helena. Listed on the National Historic Register Oct. 31, 1996.

Helena Confederate Cemetery
SW corner of Maple Hill Cemetery
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Dawn to Dusk

The Helena Confederate Cemetery was created by the Phillips County Memorial Association in 1869. About 73 named and 29 unnamed gravestones are within its grounds. More than half of the bodies are casualties of the July 4, 1863 Battle of Helena, originally buried in other local graves and reinterred when the new cemetery opened. Many veterans who survived the war also chose to be buried there. It includes the burial site for Confederate General Patrick R. Cleburne. Listed on the National Register May 3, 1996.

Helena Depot
Natchez & Missouri Streets
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

c. 1915 Craftsman depot with Classical Revival influences. Listed on the National Historic Register Nov. 5, 1987. Today it is home to the Delta Cultural Center.

Helena Levee Walk
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

Helena Library & Museum
623 Pecan Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

Built in 1891, the Helena Library and Museum, also known as the Phillips County Library and Museum, is the oldest public building in Helena. As Helena’s civic center at the turn of the century, the library was used for dances, receptions, and women’s meetings. Religious services and school classes also were held there occasionally. It was not until 1914 that the main room of the building was used exclusively for library purposes. The museum wing was added in 1929 and displays Indian artifacts, personal effects of several individuals prominent in Helena’s history, Civil War relics, and early documents related to Phillips County’s history. The Helena Library and Museum is unusual in Eastern Arkansas because of its French mansard roof. Listed on the National Historic Register Dec. 6, 1975.

Helena River Reach Park
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Closed 9 p.m.-6 a.m.

Elevated boardwalk provides a great view of the Mississippi River.

Home of Former State Representative Ernest Cunningham
Helena, Phillips County

Horner House, Sydney H.
626 Porter Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The Horner House was built c. 1880 by Michael Brennan, Helena’s leading contractor. Brennan constructed the house for his family, but sold it to Sydney Horner in June 1882 before it was completed and after the birth of the Horners' first child. A larger house was needed as more children were born, and in 1895 a two-story wing was added to the east elevation. Originally the solid brick house had a rectilinear floor plan running north to south, but the addition gave it a " T" shape. Listed on the National Historic Register Dec.4, 1975.

Keesee House
723 Arkansas Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

1901 structure blending Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles Listed in National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 8, 1983.

Magnolia Cemetery
Wire Road off North College
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

African-American cemetery dating to 1850. Burials include one of first black legislators in Arkansas.

Maple Hill Cemetery
1801 Holly Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

Maple Hill Cemetery, once known as Evergreen, has stately magnolias, a river overlook, iron gates added in the 1920s, and an assortment of grave markers and unique cemetery design. The Evergreen Cemetery Company was incorporated in 1870 and divided roughly in half by a fence, with the western side for African-Americans, and the eastern side for whites. In 1898, the portion lying east of the fence was sold to the Maple Hill Cemetery Company, and in 1899 the portion lying west of the fence was sold to the Magnolia Cemetery. Maplie Hill was listed on the National Register on April 6, 2000.

Moore-Hornor House
323 Beech Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

Hours: By appointment. Open to the public Fall 2007.

The Moore-Hornor House is an early asymmetrical Greek Revival style. Built in 1858-59, it was a style-setter in Helena patterned after the newer Victorian style on the East Coast. It is one of the earliest examples of this type of architecture in Arkansas. In addition to its architectural significance, the main fighting during the Battle of Helena took place directly behind the Moore-Hornor House. It is amazing that the house escaped destruction because it was in the direct line of fire from Fort Curtis and Battery D. Listed on the National Historic Register June 4, 1973

Myers House
221 St. Andrew's Terrace
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The 1920s Myers House is the best example of a combination of the Craftsman and Prairie styles in West Helena. It is a two-and-one-half story, wood frame and brick masonry residence. Listed on the National Historic Register Oct. 31, 1996.

Nelson House
303 St. Andrew's Terrace
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The Nelson House, a two-and-one-half story, wood frame and brick masonry residence, is the best example of an American Foursquare-type house in West Helena.
The Nelson House was listed on the National Register on October 31, 1996.

Perry Street Historic District
Perry between Pecan & Franklin
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residences

The importance of the Perry Street Historic District lies in the variety of the structures that make up the district. The Methodist Congregation and St. John’s Episcopal Church are both designed in the Gothic style. The Classical Revival style Presbyterian Church served as a house of worship for the first Jewish settlers in Helena until they built a synagogue in 1913. The eleven residential structures comprise a chronology of residential architecture in Helena from 1900 to 1925. Most of the houses within the district, with the exception of the Queen Anne style houses, are small, modest residences. The Helena Library and Museum, built in 1891, also is located in district. Listed on the National Historic Register Jan. 26, 1986.

Phillips Community College, University of Arkansas
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

Oldest community college in Arkansas. Home of the Warfield Concert Series and productions of the Helena Little Theatre.

Phillips County Courthouse
622 Cherry Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

Phillips County's first courthouse was a two-story log structure that housed a courtroom on its second floor and a jail on the first floor. A two-story frame courthouse, completed in 1847, burned in 1861. No attempt was made to build another courthouse until after the Civil War. While a new courthouse was being constructed from 1868 to 1870, a privately owned building was rented for court purposes and county offices. The new two-story brick courthouse was completed in 1869. This building was razed when the current courthouse was completed in 1915. This rectangular-shaped two-story courthouse features a flat roof with a pent roof running around the structure detailed as classical cornices. The most distinctive features of the building are the recessed sections of cast-stone blocks with engaged fluted Corinthian columns set into the north, south, and west elevations. The Phillips County Courthouse was entered on the National Register on July 5, 1977.

Phillips County Museum
623 Pecan Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Telephone: (870) 338-7790
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Housed in 1891 Phillips County Library, the Phillips County Museum features artifacts including early paintings, a Thomas Edison Collection, Native American heritage, letters from General Lafayette and General Robert E. Lee, and Civil War memorabilia from the Battle of helena in 1863.

Pillow-Thompson House
718 Perry Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Telephone: (870) 338-8535
Web Site:
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wed-Sat Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and Easter. Guided tours available.

Built in 1896 by Jerome Bonaparte Pillow, the house is one of Arkansas’ most outstanding examples of the Queen Anne Victorian architectural style. It has an ornate style executed completely in wood, with the exception of a brick foundation and chimneys. Basically unaltered and in an excellent state of preservation, the Pillow-Thompson House embodies practically all of the Victorian period vernacular in terms of very irregular shape, multiple bays, towers, turrets and dormers and the whole accomplished in the ultimate eclectic manner of the late 19th century style in the United States. The Pillow-Thompson House was listed on the National Register on May 7, 1973. It is owned and operated by Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas and is open for tours. Lunch served the first Thursday of every month. Call for reservations.

Ready House, E.S.
929 Beech Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The E.S. Ready House is the only Helena residence known to have been designed by architect Charles L. Thompson of Little Rock. As one of the state’s leading architects in the early 20th century, Thompson designed many buildings for both public and private use. Though on a smaller scale than most residential structures designed by Thompson, the E.S. Ready House displays other characteristics of his work. The two-and-one-half story brick structure was constructed in 1910 for Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Ready, prominent Helena residents. Listed on the National Historic RegisterJan. 1, 1976.

Richard L. Kitchens Post No. 41
409 Porter Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

The Richard L. Kitchens Post No. 41, known locally as the Helena Legion Hut, is named for a Helena doughboy who was a private in the 312th Field Signal Battalion of the 87th Division in World War I. A temporary charter for the Richard L. Kitchens Post was issued August 11, 1919, with the permanent charter issued a year later. Constructed in 1922, the Helena Legion Hut was designed in a rustic style by Helena Legionnaire H. W. Walters. Another Legionnaire, E. T. Walker, supervised the construction of the building. The cypress logs used in the walls were cut from the farm of a third Legion member, Robert Gordon. Listed on the National Historic Register Sept. 30, 1976.

Sea Wall Mural
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Accessible All Hours

Depicts blues history and early scenes of the city.

Short House, William A.
317 Biscoe Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

Built in 1904, the William A. Short House is an example of the Colonial Revival architectural style. Short and his wife, Sallie Baker Short, came to Helena from Mobile, Ala. in 1885. Short had been hired by the Howell Cotton Company of Little Rock to supervise their Helena branch. He started his own cotton business, W.A. Short and Company three years later. In 1895, Short and Y.F. Harrington established a partnership and formed a cotton company that did more than $5 million worth of business in 1902. The business was so prosperous that Short opened branch offices in Marianna, Pine Bluff, Brinkley, Newport, Cotton Plant, Clarendon, Forrest City, Marvell, Holly Grove, Osceola, and Memphis. Short and Harrington were officers and stockholders in a number of other firms, including New South Oil Company of Helena, the Helena Hotel Company, and Peoples Savings Bank and Trust Company. They also owned the Grand Opera House of Helena. Due to financial losses, however, Short was forced to sell the house in 1917. In the mid-1980s, the house was renovated for use as a bed and breakfast, The Edwardian Inn. Listed on the National Historic Register April 18, 1985.

Spirit of the American Doughboy Monument
Jct. Of Cherry & Perry Streets
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Accessible All Hours

The Spirit of the American Doughboy Monument, commemorating the casualties of World War I, was the culmination of nine years of work by the Phillips County Memorial Association, with help from the Seven General Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The monument was completed and dedicated in 1927. Helena’s Doughboy monument is not unique; it is part of a nationwide series of Doughboy sculptures designed by artist E. M. Viquesney. Although the exact total is uncertain, 136 Viquesney Doughboys have been identified so far in 35 states. Listed on the National Historic Register on May 23, 1997.

Storm Creek Lake
South End of St. Francis National Forest
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County

Excellent fishing for bass, crappie and bream.

Straub House, William Nichols
531 Perry Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The William Nicholas Straub House was built by Straub himself in 1900 and combines a mix of features borrowed from the Shingle and Colonial Revival styles. William Nicholas Straub was very involved in the Helena community in 1900, including serving on the city's Board of Public Affairs and serving as treasurer of the Helena Chamber of Commerce. Listed on the National Historic Register April 18, 1985.

Tappan House, James C.
717 Poplar Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The James C. Tappan House is a two-story frame residence with three bays across the facade. It is basically Greek Revival in style and also has an original bracketed cornice that is normally considered Victorian. Tappan, who came to Helena from Tennessee as a young man, bought the partially completed house in 1858. Tappan served in the Arkansas General Assembly before and after the Civil War, including terms as Speaker of the House and acting Governor. He was a Confederate general in the Civil War and made a narrow escape from the home, which was occupied from time to time by Union officers. Listed on the National Historic Register June 4, 1973.

Tappan House, Maj. James Alexander
727 Columbia Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The Major James Alexander Tappan House, a typical Queen Anne style, was built c. 1892to house one of Helena’s most prominent families. Tappan, a native of Tennessee, joined the Confederate army at the age of 16. He was promoted to major within two years and earned the Bronze Cross of Honor. After the Civil War, he became a civil engineer and his work for a railroad brought him to Helena to survey the Arkansas Central Railway running from Helena to Clarendon. After completing his work with the railroad, he remained in Helena, successfully undertaking numerous business ventures and serving briefly as mayor. Listed on the National Historic Register Sept. 9, 1974.

Wellford-White House
1015 Perry Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

The Wellford-White House was designed by Charles L. Thompson c. 1910. It is an example of the transition from Victorian styling to Colonial Revival. Thompson usually designed transitional residences of wood, but the Wellford-White House is of brick construction. Although Thompson designed several buildings in Helena, the two-story Wellford-White House is the only one standing. Listed on the National Historic Register Dec. 22, 1982.

West House
229 Beech Street
Helena-West Helena, Phillips County
Hours: Private Residence

Constructed in 1900, the West House in Helena is an example of the Colonial Revival style. Some Queen Anne decorative detailing ties the house to others on the block which precede it by a few years. The house was built for Mercer Elmer West, a prominent banker and businessman, who hand-picked all the white oak used throughout the house. The house sits high on a terrace of Crowley’s Ridge and commands a magnificent view of Helena and the Mississippi River. It was built by the Clem Brothers of St. Louis who came to the city to build several other homes in Helena. One of these, the Short-Bieri House, is a mirror image of the West House. Listed on the National Historic Register Sept. 8, 1983.