Washington County has always been strongly Democratic in politics. In its early history the Whig party had some very able leaders, and through their superior ability were frequently able to secure an election to some legislative or judicial office. In 1836, and again in 1838, the Democrats elected solid delegations to the Legislature, but in 1840 David Walker, a Whig leader, was elected to the Senate, and two of the representatives, W. D. Reagan and G. A. Pettigrew, were Whigs. In 1842 the failure of the State Bank still farther strengthened the Whigs, and Mark Bean, another Whig leader, was elected to the Senate, while David Walker held over. At this election there were also two Whigs chosen representatives. Two years later the Democrats regained their lost ground, and held it until the opening of the Civil War.

The first election statistics that could be obtained were for the year 1860. The September election resulted as follows:

Governor, R. H. Johnson, 969; H. M. Rector, 1,305. Representative in Congress, J. N. Cypert, 662; T. C. Hindman, 1,606. Circuit judge, J. M. Wilson, 718; J. J. Greene, 1,440. Representatives in the Legislature, R. West, 1,132; John Crawford, 1,530; W. Hulse, 1,044; L. M. Bell, 1,293; G. W. Tate, 505; B. F. Boone, 1,194; D. C. Smithson, 407; James Mitchell, 1,297; T. J. Kelly, 354; Dr. Cansler, 282. Prosecuting attorney, John R. Cox, 744; Lafayette Gregg, 1,534. Clerk of the courts, Z. M. Pettigrew, 946; P. R. Smith, 1,424. Sheriff, W. P. Taylor, 557; George Gibson, 1,688. County judge, Jonathan Newman, 944; A. A. Crawford, 1,225. Treasurer, Joseph Holcomb, 833; W. A. Watson, 978. Surveyor, H. P. Ross, 1,703. Coroner, A. Beattie, 476; H. Fincher, 829. School commissioner, F. Smiley, 739; P. P. Van Hoose, 1,375.

In 1866 the Union party nominated the following county ticket: Representatives in the Legislature, Thomas J. Hunt, Jacob Yoes, W. H. H. Nott and Wilson Rizley; county judge, W. E. Graham; sheriff, J. W. Carney; circuit court clerk, George W. M. Reed; treasurer, Thomas Carlisle; coroner, J. J. Hutchinson; surveyor, G. M. Cline. This ticket was defeated by the Conservative Democrats, but by what majority could not be ascertained. In 1868, at the election to vote upon the adoption of the new constitution, the majority against adoption was 550, but it was adopted by the State as a whole, and under its provisions the Radical party easily maintained its ascendancy.

The campaign of 1872 marks the beginning of the end of “carpet-bag” rule in Arkansas. The Radical party became divided within itself, and two tickets were placed in the field. One was headed by Elisha Baxter and supported by Gov. Clayton, and the other by Joseph Brooks, a “carpet-bagger” from Ohio, supported by those who opposed the administration, which included the Democratic minority. The result of the election in Washington county was as follows: For governor, Joseph Brooks, 1,178; Elisha Baxter, 738; for lieutenant-governor, Daniel J. Smith, 1,216; V. V. Smith, 710; for secretary of state, Edward A. Fulton, 807; James M. Johnson, 712; for auditor, James R. Berry, 1,232; Stephen Wheeler, 696; for treasurer, Thomas J. Hunt, 1,024; Henry Page, 715; for attorney-general, Benjamin T. DuVal, 1,211; T. D. W. Yonley, 702; for congressman-at-large, William J. Hyne, 1,227; John M. Bradley, 696; for congressman third district, T. M. Gunter, 1,218; W. W. Wilshire, 701; for representatives to the Legislature, David Bridenthal, (Dem.), 1,216; T. W. Thomason (Dem.), 1,183; James H. Berry (Dem.), 805; David Chandler (Dem.), 824; W. E. Gould (Dem.), 254; – McGaugh (Dem.), 273; H. S. Coleman (Rad.), 608; J. F. Johnson (Rad.), 393; – Rutherford (Rad.), 433; for sheriff, Z. M. Pettigrew (Dem.), 1,060; William Mayes (Lib.), 304; W. J. Gilliland (Rad.), 497; for circuit clerk, J. H. Van Hoose (Dem.), 529; Joseph Holcomb (Dem.), 663; J. Q. Benbrook (Rad.), 652; for county clerk, P. R. Smith (Dem.), 1,082; R. Putnam (Lib.), 214; G. W. M. Reed (Rad.), 536; for treasurer, A. B. Lewis (Dem.), 1,061; John A. Pearson (Rad.), 769; for assessor, – Moore (Dem.), 1,127; – Reed (Rad.), 445; for county judge, E. T. Stirman, 665; A. J. Hale, 603; for coroner, W. D. Holland, 998; – Cate, 431; for surveyor, L. A. Buchanan, 1,089; W. L. Alexander, 376.

In 1874, at the first election after the adoption of the present constitution, there was no Republican State ticket, and B. F. Walker was elected to the State Senate without opposition. For circuit judge J. M. Pittman received 1,994 votes, and J. H. Huckleberry, 242. For prosecuting attorney the vote was: Peel, 1,247; Cullom, 482; Dougherty, 192. Two county conventions were held. The first met at Prairie Grove, and nominated what was termed the farmers’ and laborers’ ticket, which was elected by a large majority. A week or two later a second convention was held at Mt. Comfort, and an “Independent” ticket placed in the field. The result was as follows:

Representatives in the Legislature: J. S. Williams, 1,731; W. F. Dowell, 1,721; T. J. Patton, 1,430; William Alexander, 660; J. B. Russell, 570; John Enyart, 127. Sheriff, Z. M. Pettigrew, 1,376; J. D. Henry, 977. County clerk, P. R. Smith, 1,952; J. P. Pyeatt, 201. Circuit clerk, Joseph Holcomb, 1,517; Dr. Putnam, 855. County judge, Hiram Davis, 1,403; George Gibson, 99; A. J. Hall, 643. Assessor, William Mitchell, 1,699; “Sid” Williams, 455. Treasurer, Lafayette Boone, 1,429; John Mayes, 858. Surveyor, A. Buchanan, 1,706; Mark Cline, 714. Coroner, W. D. Holland, 1,859; – Arnett, 450.

In 1876 the Republicans met in convention and decided to nominate no county ticket, but to give their support to the best men announced as candidates. The result was the distribution of the votes among a large number of candidates. The following was the vote:

Representatives in the Legislature: W. E. Braly, 1,576; T. W. Thompson, 1,342; C. W. Walker, 1,327; W. C. Roberts, 1,250; D. M. Fields, 945; John Billingsley, 577; Thomas Wainwright, 305; John Enyart, 289; S. T. Kennedy, 292. County judge, Hiram Davis, 1,888; W. W. Brownlee, 749. Sheriff, Z. M. Pettigrew, 1,755; J. D. Henry, 1,216. Circuit clerk, A. S. Gregg, 1,409; R. H. Smith, 1,228. County clerk, P. R. Smith, 1,964; C. C. Conner, 1,069. Assessor, William Mitchell, 1,113; G. W. Van Hoose, 207; John Pearson, 500; A. Tankersly, 124; George Gibson, 437; O. M. Rieff, 50; W. B. Brodie, 294; F. F. Curtis, 47; J. F. Johnson, 262; C. B. Pettigrew, 34. Treasurer, Lafayette Boone, 1,754; A. B. Lewis, 991. Surveyor, A. Buchanan, 1,694; G. M. Cline, 645. Coroner, W. D. Holland, 1,207; H. West, 170.

At the same election the vote for governor was W. B. Miller, 2,320; A. W. Bishop, 751. For prosecuting attorney, E. T. Stirman, 1,682; George J. Crump, 950. For senator, A. M. Wilson, 1,404; W. D. Reagan, 1,060; B. F. Williams, 505. For congressman, T. M. Gunter, 1,936; J. H. Huckleberry, 774. For President, Tilden, 1,888; Hayes, 817; Cooper, 87.

The election of 1878 resulted as follows: Circuit judge, J. H. Berry, 1,872; J. M. Pittman, 1,406. Prosecuting attorney, H. A. Dinsmore, 1,799; E. I. Stirman, 1,562. Representative, W. C. Braly, 2,191; Thomas Mullins, 1,272; E. B. Moore, 2,071; Thomas D. Boles, 1,060; W. T. Walker, 2,128; Trueman Niman, 1,054. Sheriff, Z. M. Pettigrew, 1,761; John Garrett, 943; William Mitchell, 934. County clerk, P. R. Smith, 2,236; John Mayes, 1,202. Circuit clerk, A. S. Gregg, 2,481; Thomas Wainwright, 876. Treasurer, Lafayette Boone, 1,280; John Pearson, 901; T. H. Cartner, 291. County judge, Hiram Davis, 1,980; Harris, 1,150. Assessor, J. W. M. Trent, 2,120; A. B. Lewis, 204; J. R. Beaman, 1,030. Surveyor, – Hale, 1,648; J. A. Buchanan, 1,362. Coroner, J. J. Mount, 1,855; Hanna, 226; – West, 228.

The Republicans nominated no State ticket this year, but at the November election there were three candidates for Congress, and the vote was as follows: T. M. Gunter (D), 1,253; James F. Cunningham (I), 405; Byrd Smith (G), 79.

In 1880 there were two county tickets, the straight Democratic ticket and an Independent ticket, supported by the Republicans and Greenbackers, with the following result:

Representatives: E. B. Moore (D), 1,884; Trueman Niman (I), 1,416; S. E. Marrs (D), 2,107; R. R. Fallen (I), 1,495; T. W. Thomason (D), 2,118. County judge, A. S. Vandeventer (D), 1,381; Thomas Mullins (I), 2,343. Sheriff, G. H. Pettigrew (D), 1,264; C. M. Henry (I), 2,466. Circuit clerk, A. S. Gregg (D), 1,915; T. W. Cline (I), 1,806. County clerk, P. R. Smith (D), 1,417; H. F. Reagan (I), 2,312. Treasurer, A. B. Lewis (D), 1,695; J. B. Rainwater (I), 1,997. Assessor, J. W. M. Trent (D), 2,093; Pearson (I), 1,533. Surveyor, J. A. Buchanan (D), 1,810; P. R. Bates (I), 1,807. Coroner, A. A. Maguire (D), 1,504; George Van Hoose (I), 1,682.

At the November election the vote for congressman was T. M. Gunter, 1,430; S. W. Peel, 719, and Samuel Murphy, 816. For President, Garfield electors, 788; Hancock electors, 1,936, and Weaver electors, 262.

In 1882, in the county election, the contest was the same as in 1880, and resulted as follows:

Representatives: E. B. Moore (D), 1,908; H. D. Gorham (I), 1,246; S. E. Marrs (D), 1,879; Jesse Jones (I), 1,082; W. C. Braly (D), 1,722; T. L. Harvey (I), 931; R. R. Fallen (I), 235. County judge, Robert J. Wilson (D), 1,704; Thomas Mullins (I), 1,781. Circuit clerk, A. S. Gregg (D), 1,578; Thomas Welch (I), 554; Mack Devin (D), 827; Henry Cartner (I), 487. County clerk, P. R. Smith (D), 974; Hugh F. Reagan (I), 2,434. Sheriff, C. M. Henry (D), 1,469; C. M. Henry (I), 1,538; P. McGuire (D), 467; Z. M. Pettigrew (I), 135. Treasurer, J. B. Rainwater (D), 1,369; J. H. Van Hoose (I), 1,257; A. B. Lewis (I), 793. Assessor, J. W. M. Trent (D), 1,705; J. R. Beaman (I), 1,036; William Mitchell (I), 741. Coroner, W. R. Phillips (D), 1,705; George Van Hoose (I), 1,120. Surveyor, Hugh Scott (D), 2,124; Thomas J. Campbell (I), 986. The vote for governor was, for J. H. Berry, 2,296; for R. K. Garland, 506, and for W. D. Slack, 688.

In 1884 the contest lay between Republicans and Democrats in the State and county elections, with the following result:

For governor, S. P. Hughes, 2,692; Thomas Bates, 1,176. Representatives: B. F. Walker, 2,390; E. Webb, 1,115; H. P. Greene, 2,574; C. L. Howell, 1474; R. A. Medearis, 2,484; D. M. Moore, 1,481. County judge, R. J. Wilson, Thomas Mullins. Circuit clerk, J. N. Tillman, 2,318; T. W. Cline, 1,978. County clerk, J. B. Shannon, 2,342; H. B. Collier, 1,832. Sheriff, George F. Drane, 2,196; Pat. Mouldin, 1,937. Treasurer, W. S. Tunstill, 2,425; J. B. Rainwater, 1,849. Assessor, J. W. M. Trent, 2,415; J. C. Fletcher, 1,350; G. H. Cartner, 424. Coroner, W. R. Phillips, 2,473; J. R. Harris, 814. Surveyor, William Mitchell, 2,288; P. R. Bates, 1,964.

The vote at the November election was, for Congressman: S. W. Peel, 2,496; W. R. Keener, 1,275. For President: Cleveland electors, 2,455; Blaine electors, 1,387.

In 1886 the vote for governor was 2,730 for S. P. Hughes and for Lafayette Gregg, and 50 for C. E. Cunningham.

For county officers the vote was as follows:

Representatives: W. M. Davis, 2,881; S. D. Gilbreath, 1851; H. M. Maguire, 2,824; James Oates, 1,850; R. J. Wilson, 2,854; O. D. Slaughter, 1,742. County judge, H. P. Greene, 2,767; Elijah Webb, 2,764. Circuit clerk, J. N. Tillman, 2,764; L. W. Gregg, 1,880. County clerk, J. B. Shannon, 2,550; C. R. Gilbreath, 2,003. Sheriff, George F. Drane, 2,679; Thomas Brooks, 1,932. Treasurer, W. S. Tunstill, 2,679; C. M. Greene, 1,772. Assessor; G. W. Morrow, 2,864; John Pearson, 1,819. Surveyor, William Mitchell, 3,034. Coroner, G. W. Van Hoose, 2,886; Davis, 1,774.

Back to: Washington County, Arkansas History

Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.