In a ceremony to be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, a marker will be dedicated in Batesville as part of the Division of Arkansas Heritage’s program to assist communities in the placement of historical markers across the state, announced Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT).
The marker recognizes the 10th Governor of Arkansas, Elisha Baxter. It is placed by his gravesite at the Oaklawn Cemetery located at 1575 Grays Avenue in Batesville.
“It is always a thrill to see a new historical marker placed in our state,” said Hurst. “To qualify for the Historical Marker Program is quite an accomplishment for any community. I congratulate all of the people who supported this effort and now get the satisfaction of seeing the physical representation of their hard work.”
To participate in the program, markers must commemorate a historic person, place or event, and significance must have been attained at least 50 years ago. Markers must be sponsored by civic groups and organizations, such as chambers of commerce, historical societies, or individuals partnering with these organizations.
Baxter’s marker provides a brief history of his life and explains the significant role he played in Arkansas history. It reads as follows:
Elisha Baxter (1827-1899), 10th Governor of Arkansas, was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina. He came to Batesville in 1852, opened a mercantile business and was elected mayor in 1853. Baxter served two terms as state representative (1854-1856, 1858-1860) and was admitted to the bar in 1856. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Baxter refused to fight; he fled to Missouri but was later captured and tried for treason. He escaped and, in 1863, accepted command of the Unionist 4th Arkansas Mounted Infantry. Baxter later served on the bench of the Third Circuit Court from 1868-1873.
In 1872, Baxter ran against Joseph Brooks in a contentious race for Governor. Baxter was declared the winner and sworn into office on January 6, 1873. Brooks and armed supporters physically ousted Baxter from the State House on April 15, 1874, resulting in the Brooks-Baxter War. A month later, Baxter was restored to power and served until November 12, 1874 as the last Republican governor during Arkansas’s Reconstruction. Baxter declined to run again and returned to Batesville where he lived on his farm and practiced law. He and his wife, Harriet Patton Baxter, had six children. Baxter County, Arkansas is named for him.
The contingent of supporters who helped make this historical marker come to fruition include:
Rick Elumbaugh, Mayor of Batesville
Skip Rutherford, Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and a Batesville native.
Diane Tebbetts, advocate for local history and preservation
Steve Bryant, Independence County Historical Society
Batesville Area Civil War Roundtable
Johnathan Abbott, landscape supervisor for the city of Batesville