• Dennis McCaslin

Our Arklahoma Heritage: There is just something about having Arkansas blood in your veins...

Native Americans first inhabited present-day Yell County and the Arkansas River Valley for centuries prior to European colonization, using the open, fertile floodplain of the Arkansas River for hunting grounds and farming settlements.

During the Thomas Jefferson and Indian Removal era, many Cherokee were voluntarily relocating from Georgia along the Arkansas River, including in Yell County, between 1775 and 1786.

A large Cherokee reservation across the Arkansas River from Yell County was established in 1815 to encourage further voluntary relocation from Georgia.

Archibald Yell

Yell County was created by the act of December 5, 1840, out of territory taken from Pope and Scott counties, and was named for Archibald Yell, who had been inaugurated governor a month before the county was established.

The reconfigured county had an area of 955 square miles with the he southern parti being rough and mountainous. Today the area includes the Arkansas National Forest. and north of the forest reserve the valleys of the Fourche la Fave, Dutch and Petit Jean creeks offered inducements to the industrious farmers who made their way into he region.

Stick with me here.

Among the families that made Yell County their home were the Creighton and Jones clans, who settled in the Belleville and Chickalah area. Both families had a presence in the pastoral and fertile valley prior to 1853.

William Creighton, of old Irish stock that had emigrated to the United States after 1836 and settled in Pennsylvania, was born in Illinois and made his way to Arkansas sometime before 1853.

The Jones family traced their lineage back to Virginia.

Historic Danville scene

Several years before the Civil War, Ferdinand Castille “F.C.” Jones had established himself in the mercantile business in Danville and also owned extensive timberland and several farms.

Jones married Mary Jane Darby sometime prior to 1879. The couple had four children, including Mae Eudora Jones, born in 1885.

Mae married the aforementioned William Creighton in 1904.

To that union two children were born: Mary (1907) and Ina (1911).

Ina would marry Joseph Thomas Burnett in 1832, and that couple eventually moved to San Antonio, where a daughter was born

But alcoholism and other marital problems would plague the relationship, and the couple was divorced in the late 1930's. The child came back to Belleville to love with her maternal grandmother Mae.

Ina then moved to Hollywood, California and eventually her mother and the little girl would follow moving to a one-room apartment near Ina's home.

The precocious and talented little girl thrived in the California sun. Both her mother and grandmother were musical and she had an active and vivid imagination.

Mae would take her to the movies and by the age of eighteen she was working as an usherette at the Warner Brothers Theater at 6439 Hollywood Boulevard.

The now-not-so-little-girl graduated from Hollywood High School in 1951 and someone dropped off an envelope anonymously at her home containing $50. She would use that money to help pay for a first semester at UCLA, where she would switch her focus that same year to the arts and drama department.

The rest, as they say, is history. A $1000 loan by a mysterious donor allowed her to moved to New York in 1954. She landed her first part on the The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show, which led to a role on the situation comedy Stanley starring Buddy Hackett.

Cabaret and nightclub work led to appearances on the The Tonight Show, hosted by Jack Paar, and The Ed Sullivan Show. She conquered Broadway in the 1959 musical Once Upon a Mattress, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award.

The same year, she became a regular player on The Garry Moore Show, a job that lasted until 1962. She won an Emmy Award[29] that year for her "Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series" on the show.

Another Emmy followed for a 1962 special with her new friend Julie Andrews. Reoccurring roles on television and bigger and better parts on Broadway followed and in 1967, CBS would offer her her own musical variety show on which she would solidify her place in the world of entertainment.

By now you know who I'm talking about. Carol Creighton Burnett.

That Carol Burnett.

And at the end of the show each week when she tugged on her left earlobe she was saying "I love you" to her Nanny, the Arkansas-born Mae Eudora Jones.

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