HAUNTED ARKANSAS

THE OLD STATE HOUSE
Little Rock, Arkansas

The Old State House in Little Rock is one of the city's historic and haunted spots...where bloody and violent events of the past have left a lasting impression on the building.

One of the building's ghost is said to be that of former politician John Wilson. He was a representative for the state in the days when politics were taken very seriously....in fact, deadly serious. On a day in 1837, Speaker of the House Wilson ruled a representative Anthony to be "out of order". Anthony refused to be silent as the two men had shared many disagreements in the past and proceeded to make personal remarks against Wilson. The men exchanged heated threats and knives were drawn. The two men started fighting and soon, before anyone realized what had happened, Anthony lay dead on the floor in a pool of blood. Wilson was expelled from the house and indicted, although he was later acquitted on grounds of "excusable homicide".

It is not believed that he got away from his punishment so easily though. It is said to be Wilson's ghost who has been seen sadly wandering the corridors of the Old State House in a frock-coat. Staff members of the building report seeing the apparition of the former politician and sometimes encountering his distinctive presence. If it isn't Wilson roaming the building, it may be another doomed politician, Joseph Brooks. This man is yet another link in the Old State House's line of violent events.

In 1872, Elisha Brooks was declared the Governor of Arkansas after a disputed election. His opponent, Joseph Brooks, declared that he had been cheated and seventeen months later, staged a coup of the State House. He threw Baxter out of office and set up a cannon on the State House lawn to discourage attacks. The ousted governor moved down the street and set up another office, operating his own government against that of Brooks. The two offices clashed for a short time before President Grant himself stepped in and restored order to Arkansas. Baxter was named as the legitimate governor and Brooks was forced to retire.

Could the passionate and violent events of the past have left a permanent impression on the Old State House? Possibly, or perhaps the spirits of the past are still wandering the place, sometimes crossing the line between their time and ours....

Little Rock is located near the center of the state of Arkansas and the Old State House can be found downtown between the Robinson and State House convention centers. It is operated as a museum today and is open to the public.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor

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