photo of the week

In Honor of Caregivers

Though you initially may believe the statuary on this monument is a memorial is to a wounded soldier, just the opposite is true.  The sculpture honors the caregivers who saved the life of the soldier.

The Tale of James and Felicity

Sunday, March 16, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Author’s Note:

Back in October of 2011, after several suggestions for a subject matter from my longtime friend, high-school classmate, former college roommate and unindicted co-conspirator, Richard “Dick” Estes, I proceeded to Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the city of my birth.  There I met Dick and a few other odd and assorted FSHS ’56 classmates and we set eyes on the monument.  I will have to give it to Estes:  He was right.  It was a great photo-op.  After I started the research on the name, the story developed into a very interesting piece.  So, we are taking a trip back to re-discover a story worth telling again.

And as always, there’s more. See a really cool restored trolley at the Fort Smith Trolley museum at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.


Joe Dempsey 

at Oak Cemetary a

Saved by an Officer's Daughters.

First Published on Sunday, October 16, 2011
Pine Buff, Arkansas

At the suggestion of my friend and high school and college classmate, Dick Estes, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, I shot this image at Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Dick as my tour guide was there for the shoot along with Ed Jeter and John Paul North, also classmates.  We (Jeter, Estes and Dempsey) were in Fort Smith to attend a reunion of the classes of 1954, '55, and '56 of Fort Smith Senior High School, now known as North Side High School.  John Paul lives in Fort Smith.

In his childhood and teenage years, Dick lived close to the cemetery, which was squarely in the shortest path to Creekmore Park, a veritable honey-hole of opportunities for adventurous youngsters.  It was during Dick's many trips from his home to the park that he became enamored with this monument.  After we shot it, he did some research and it turns out James E. Reynolds was a notable character with a story that reads like a novel.

He fought in the War Between the States in the Army commanded by General Stonewall Jackson.  According to his late granddaughter, Elizabeth Calloway, he was the "original male chauvinist."  All of this came to a screeching halt when he was seriously wounded and would have died had it not been for the daughters of his commanding officer, who nursed him back to health.  That experience changed his attitude, and from that time forward, he always showed women unconditional respect and courtesy.

At the war's end, rather than surrender, he went to Mexico with a group of his comrades, preferring to live apart from the jurisdiction of the United States of America.  It did not take long for Reynolds to rethink his position and he returned to home soil in Mississippi.  In 1866, he married Felicity Long Turnbull of Lexington, Mississippi, a member of the Choctaw Indian tribe.

at Oak Cemetary b

Marshalls, Outlaws, and Grandaddy.

Eventually, they moved to Indian Territory (currently known as Oklahoma) and settled in an area near what is now known as the Arkhoma community west of Fort Smith.  He prospered in business and never forgot the two teenage girls who saved his life.  He commissioned the monument for himself and Felicity to commemorate their unselfish actions.

Oak Cemetery is a historic resting place.  One hundred or so U.S. Marshalls and other lawmen are interred there along with thirty or so outlaws, many of whom met their fate after being sentenced by Isaac Parker, the "Hanging Judge."  It is also the final resting place of John Crittenden "Jack" Dempsey, my grandfather.  His main claim to fame was that he was a neat grandaddy.

Photo Notes

Nikon D300, tripod mounted, ISO 200. Top picture, AF-S VR Nikkor 18-200 G ED, 1/400@10; Second picture, Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6, EX DC HSM, 1/400@f9; Third picture, AF-S VR Nikkor 18-200 G ED, 1/400@10.


see more
See more pictures from this trip, totally unrelated to Captain Reynolds, including a restored trolley, a neat old steam locomotive, a barn, and an environmental picture featuring a huge truck tooling along at 70 mph or so at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

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