Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
“We shall never be the same”
Unprepared, Anxious and Alone
Women who had never performed the most basic tasks found themselves faced with cooking, cleaning, laundry and child care. A Virginia woman wrote, "I find myself, every day, doing something I never did before." It was no different in Phillips County. Mary Sale Edmondson, who lived near Helena, wrote a friend, "I have never in all my life been obliged to wait on myself before, and I am now forty-seven years of age." Though their problems may seem trivial, many women felt almost crippled by their unpreparedness for the changes war brought.
Struggling to Survive
Women raised to depend on men for economic and emotional security now had no one. Some had to find jobs. Those on small farms worked in the fields. Mary Edmondson struggled to keep the family plantation afloat. Like most women, she knew little about agriculture. More daunting was managing the slaves she was dependent upon, many of whom were now openly asserting their
Confrontations with Union Soldiers
The Union occupation of Helena in July 1862 increased anxiety. Union patrols (scouts) scoured the countryside. Sue Cook confided to her diary, "The first thing I saw when I got to the road this morning was a scout had passed in the direction of our house. I feared they had caught brother, but they did not." Lucretia Roberts and her daughter, Matilda—loyal Unionists—watched helplessly as soldiers seized thirty wagon loads of provisions from their plantation. One Southern woman wrote, "I think sometimes that my trials are more than I can bear." She was not alone.
Middle bottom: Currency issued by Helena Insurance Company in 1862, before the Union Army occupied the city.
Helena Museum of Phillips County
Bottom right: Manufactured goods became almost impossible to obtain in the Confederate states. By 1864, cloth cost ten times what it had in 1861. Women like Sue Cook, above, recycled curtains and linens; many took up knitting.
Sue Cook, courtesy of the Phillips County Historical Society
Erected 2013 by Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
Location. 34° 31.74′ N, 90° 35.228′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is at the intersection of Walnut Street and Perry Street, on the right when traveling north on Walnut Street. Touch for map. Located in Court Square Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 617 Walnut Street, Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Answering a Call for Help (here, next to this marker); Judge Jacob Trieber (within shouting distance of this marker); Loyal to the Old Flag (within shouting distance of this marker); West Helena, Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); Phillips County, Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); Helena, Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); Helena's Doughboy (within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War Comes to Arkansas (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
More about this marker. An Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial site and a part of the Arkansas Civil War Discovery Trail.
Categories. • War, US Civil • Women •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 5, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 5, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 129 times since then and 65 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 5, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.