What Was Happening in Arkansas the Last Time Chicago Cubs Won It All?

The last time before  2016 , that is.


Before last week it had been a long time since the erstwhile ne’er-do-well Chicago Cubs won it all.

One hundred and eight years, to be exact. Yes, that really is a long time, as we’ve been repeatedly reminded in numerous articles, blog posts and during the Fox broadcast of Wednesday night’s Game 7 itself.

So long, in fact, that when the Cubs last won the World Series on October 14, 1908, World War I had not yet erupted, a sultan ruled the Ottoman Empire and Russia had an emperor. Babe Ruth was only 13 years old and Henry Ford had just finished his first Model T car.

But what was happening in Arkansas that October day in 1908?

Turns out a lot, actually. Residents in more baseball-crazy parts of the state were following the series’ last game. Thanks to an Arkansas Gazette brief, we know in several different parts of Pine Bluff, for instance, fans eagerly awaited inning-by-inning updates by telegraph.

But the bigger news belonged to the third annual State Fair, then winding down in Hot Springs. There, in the midst of  a reunion of Confederate and Union soldiers America’s first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing gave an impromptu speech to the veterans. The 50-year-old John L. Sullivan “admitted that he was now living in the memories of a past day of fighting,” according to the Gazette.

John L. Sullivan
Ol’ John L. in bare-knuckled    days.

“50 per cent better than that of last year”

The fair included a statewide agricultural exhibit. An Arkansas Democrat writer reported:  “Washington County has a rare exhibit of apples which occupies an imposing amount of space. Elberts peaches from Sevier County delight the eye and the fruit from Baxter makes a fine appearance. The magnitude of the growing rice industry is strikingly shown by exhibits from the heart of the rice growing counties of Arkansas, Prairie and Lonoke.

The horticultural exhibit is estimated by Mr. Manville to be 50 percent better than last year… In the live stock department the improvement over the exhibits of last year is calculated to be at least 20 percent…”

Southern Sympathies

When it came to the Confederate veterans traveling from Hot Springs to Little Rock, the Arkansas Democrat wasn’t shy about laying out its sympathies for Dixie.

“Little Rock today welcomes the veterans who wore the gray in the sanguinary days of the sixties [1860s]. The number is dwindling to a handful, and there is more of silver in locks once raven.

The steps have less of the elasticity that once marked them but their hearts are as warm with the chivalry of the Old South, and best as true to the dictates of loyalty to home and loyalty as ever.

It is a benign mission laid upon the shoulders of the new generation to make the path of the veterans as free from thorns as possible.”

Today, Arkansas is one of a handful of states to celebrate an annual holiday celebrating the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. That day, January 19, falls on the same day as Martin Luther King Day. “Proposals to end the joint holiday failed multiple times before a House committee last year after opponents said the separation would belittle Southern heritage,” according to a 2016 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article.

Democrat-Gazette opinion writers regularly pay tribute to Robert E. Lee around January 19.

Folks were going “autoing”

Decades before the construction of the interstate system and invention of more efficient car engines, driving across the state wasn’t exactly what we moderns would call “snappy.”

Just your normal half-a-day drive from LR to Helena (Arkansas Democrat).

In southwest Arkansas’ Montgomery County, the big news involved a new A.L. Clark Lumber Company sawmill

(Nashville News)
 (Nashville News)

… and word that a $171.50 artesian well would be going up on Nashville’s Main Street

(Nashville News)
(Nashville News)

Last thing: Advertisements circa 1908 could be strange. And a tad misleading, too:


(Arkansas Democrat)

For more Arkansas pro baseball history, read our piece on Dizzy Dean and Satchel Paige.

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