Five University of Arkansas - Fort Smith students have published their research in the Journal of the Fort Smith Historical Society.
Christina Butterfield of Nuremberg, Germany, Katie Dunn of Mulberry, Jacquelynn Rupp of Mountainburg, and Amanda Sexton and Jerry Wing, both of Cedarville, conducted research on a variety of topics from Fort Smith’s history and presented their findings in the journal.
Butterfield’s research focused on the Goff Collection, an assortment of documents belonging to the Goff family now stored in the university’s Pebley Center. Butterfield explores the lineage of the family and the sentiments of Southerners during the abolition of slavery.
Sexton explored the life of Trixie Goldman, a supposed prostitute living in Fort Smith during the 1900s. Sexton deciphered Goldman’s murky past through letters and postcards received by and sent from Goldman and analyzed the role of prostitution in Fort Smith in the early twentieth century.
Three students examined different aspects of the life of John Drennen, the founder of Van Buren and prominent businessman. The role slaves played in John Drennen’s financial success was the topic of Dunn’s paper titled “Wealth, Slaves and John Drennen,” while Rupp chronicled the escape of one of Drennen’s slaves during a visit to Pittsburgh and how legislation meant to curb the escape of slaves helped drive the nation to the Civil War.
In a paper titled “Good Whig Hunting,” Wing argued that the spoils system of American politics caused Drennen’s expulsion from his post as director of the Southern District of the Department of Indian Affairs. President Zachary Taylor -- who, like Drennen, was a member of the Whig Party -- appointed Drennen to the post, and Drennen was relieved of the post four years later following the election of Franklin Pierce, a Democrat.
Billy Higgins, associate professor of history at UAFS and editor of the journal, said he was impressed by the students’ work.
“The editorial board of the journal was quite taken with the concept, research and writing of these articles, and it showed a great deal of academic interest and capability on their part,” Higgins said. “We’re thrilled to see students finding interest in scholarship on local history.”
The Journal of the Fort Smith Historical Society was founded in 1977 and is published bi-annually in April and September. The journal works to research and preserve local history.