Dirty South

Again, I have been absent from the blogging world for too too long. But with good cause. A week ago, I head down to Arkansas to celebrate the wedding of my uncle!

For those of you who have never made the trip, driving from VA to Arkansas is no easy feat, 17hours from Fort Smith to Richmond (Lucky for Me I am only 14 hours away from the good Ole Fort)

I now have greater appreciation for my uncle who makes that drive up to 2 times a year to visit. WOW!

Let’s take a look at some geography…

So As you can see…. I drove the entire length of Tennessee, all the way to the part of Arkansas that is near Texas and Oklahoma. Yikes!

But what is Fort Smith?

Aside from the home of some family members, it has a very interesting history….Scorpions and Armadillos…

From Wikipedia (And the tour I took had the same info)

“The fort was occupied by the Confederate Army during the early years of the U.S. Civil War. Union troops under General Steele took control of Fort Smith on September 1, 1863. A small fight occurred there on July 31, 1864, but the Union army maintained command in the area until the war ended in 1865. The town became a haven for runaway slaves, orphans, Southern Unionists, and other victims of the ferocious guerrilla warfare then raging in the Border States. Federal troops abandoned the post of Fort Smith for the last time in 1871. The town continued to thrive despite the absence of federal troops.

Two of Fort Smith’s most notable historic figures were Judge Isaac Parker and William Henry Harrison Clayton. In 1874, William Henry Harrison Clayton was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas by President Ulysses S. Grant. Fort Smith was a bustling community full of brothels, saloons and outlaws, just across the river from Indian Territory. William Clayton realized a strong judge would be necessary to bring law and order to the region. He knew of a strong judge in Isaac Parker. But there was a problem. Judge Parker had been appointed Chief Justice of Utah Territory and confirmed by the US Senate. With the help of President Grant and US Senator Powell Clayton, former governor of Arkansas, William Clayton was able to undo that appointment and redirect Judge Parker to Fort Smith.

Judge Isaac ParkerHanging Judge

Gallows Ft. Smith Arkansas

Judge Isaac Parker served as U.S. District Judge 1875–1896. He was nicknamed the “Hanging Judge” because in his first term after assuming his post he tried eighteen people for murder, convicted fifteen of them, sentenced eight of those to die, and hanged six of them on one day. Over the course of his career in Fort Smith, Parker sentenced 160 people to hang. Of those, 79 actually were executed on the gallows. Judge Parker represented the only real law in the rough-and-tumble frontier border town. His courthouse is now a National Historic Site where “More men were put to death by the U.S. Government… than in any other place in American history.”[4]

William Clayton was appointed US Attorney by four different presidents and later served as Chief Justice of Indian Territory. He was instrumental in achieving statehood for Oklahoma and together with Territorial Governor Frank Frantz, carried the Oklahoma Constitution to President Teddy Roosevelt after that state was admitted in 1907. Governor Frantz and Judge Clayton both lost their territorial positions when Oklahoma was admitted to the Union. Fort Smith foresaw an economic boom in World War I and the 1920s when the US Armed Forces established the Fort Chaffee Military Reservation east of the city.”

Very very interesting history, mildly violent, and yet the small town (Although it is one of the 2 major cities in Arkansas) has a quiet southern feel to it.  This roadtrip also took me to the boarders of Oklahoma.

As far as scorpions go, I saw two and assisted in killing one of them…..I did not feel guilty,  I was told if stung, it would be similar to a bee sting (Which I am allergic too) and thought I didn’t want to risk being stung….

The Scorpions of Arkansas are typically called Striped Bark Scorpions…….here is some more info:

“The front body region, which bears the yellowish-brown pedipalps (pincers) and legs below, has a somewhat triangular median dark spot on top pointing backward and extending beyond the eyes. The wide body region that follows has a distinctive pair of broad, dark, longitudinal bands on top. The slender tail-like postabdomen is uniformly yellowish brown, except for the tip of the stinger, which is dark brown or black. A distinctive small tooth is present at the base of the slender, curved stinger. Adults grow to about 2½” long.

Striped bark scorpions live in a wide variety of microhabitats in deciduous and pine forests, grasslands, and deserts. They rest under loose bark, rocks, or logs, as well as in wood piles, crumbling foundations, and similar sheltered places during the day. Because they do not burrow, they are exposed to freezing temperatures during winter, but many, if not most, recover after having been frozen. Scorpions emerge from their shelters after sunset, frequently climbing trees, shrubs, and even walls of houses at night. Arkansas scorpions tend to roam considerably during April, May, and early June, and they commonly enter houses, where they are often found in attics.

Striped bark scorpions prey primarily on spiders and insects. They capture prey with their pedipalps and subdue it with venom from their stingers. Cannibalism is common, at least in food-stressed populations. An elaborate mating ritual occurs in fall, spring, and early summer. A litter of some thirty live young appears in about eight months, clinging to their mother’s back until they molt for the first time, in about five to fifteen days. They mature in three to four years.

Scorpion stings often occur when people turn over wood or rocks with bare hands. The venom of the striped bark scorpion is of low toxicity to humans, and most stings are of minor medical importance, although reactions vary with the sensitivity of the person stung. The usual symptoms are immediate sharp pain and local swelling. The pain soon subsides, but it may be followed by numbness or tingling caused by nerve irritation. Nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and tightness of the chest may occur. Severe allergic reactions and death are not likely outcomes of striped bark scorpion stings.”

That’s what they look like.

I guess with what they eat, they are useful to have around….but recovering after being frozen!!!! and having a sting like a bee… I’ll keep my distance.

And then in case anyone missed it…. I’LL HAVE ANOTHER  took the win at the Preakness on Saturday in a photo finish!!!! This means we have a potential Triple Crown winner!!!!! WHOOO!

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