1931 January 4
This is a newspaper article that appeared in the January 4th, 1931, issue of the Arkansas Gazette, relating events that transpired in England, Arkansas, where three hundred farmers gathered to demand supplies with which to feed their starving families.
AND RECEIVES FOOD
300 Farmers Gather at Eng-
land, Declaring They Will
Rations Given to 1,500
Merchants Hold Consultation, Com-
ply with Demands and Issue
Special to the Gazette.
England, Jan. 3 - A deplorable eco-
nomic situation reached a climax here
today when 300 farmers, mostly white
men and half of them reported to have
been armed, swarmed into England and
threatened to loot the stores unless
they were provided with food.
The mob was quiet and orderly, but
the spokesmen seemed determined.
England merchants held a conference
and provided food for all who demand-
The march began this morning when
families who have been receiving aid
from the Red Cross reported at the
various precincts, and were told that
the Red Cross blanks were exhausted.
Lacking these blanks, no food could be
People came from all directions to
England, in cars, on horseback, in bug-
gies, and on foot, and when they ar-
rived, they found their neighbors as-
sembled on the streets, milling about,
uncertain what to do next. It is be-
lieved that many feared they would
get no more help from the Red Cross.
Crowd Mills in the Streets
Citizens of the town had flocked on
the streets, which soon were filled. For
the most part, the crowd was orderly.
The merchants decided that since
there appeared no prospect of immedi-
ate assistance from the Red Cross, it
would be better to give the people food
and to ask the Red Cross for reim-
1,500 Persons Fed
This was done and it is estimated
that the families of the 300 men rep-
resented a total of 1,500 persons sup-
plied with food by England merchants
whose business had been poor, because
the farmers have no money.
Red Cross headquarters at St. Louis
was called by telephone and advised of
the situation. The merchants were told
that a supply of blanks would be sent
here, but that distribution of food
could not be authorized except through
regular Red Cross channels, and on
Effort at Pacification Fails
While the excitement was at high
pitch, George E. Morris, attorney, tried
to pacify the farmers, who were, how-
ever, in no mood for a speech.
Mr. Morris told them that the people
of England understood and appreciated
the predicament of the farmers, most
of whom formerly were prosperous and
hard-working citizens, and would work
with them to fee their starving fam-
He was interrupted conditionally by
cries of -'We want food! Our children
are crying for food, and we're going
to get it!'
-'We're not beggars!' men shouted
from the crowd. -'We will work for
any amount if we can get it. We're
not going to let our families starve!'
-'They were too hungry to hear a
speech,' Mr. Morris said. -'I tried to
quiet them, but I didn't get very far.
It was pathetic to hear them demand-
ing food, to hear them declare that
their little children were starving.
-'It was not a wild and disorderly
crowd, considering their desperate
plight. But they were in deadly earn-
est, and it was not until I was able to
tell them that arrangements had been
made to supply them with food, that
they would listen.
-'They quieted down, and soon the
merchants were busy distributing food.
By nightfall, all had received rations
and returned home, but this food will
last only three or four days, and by
the end of that time, they will be hun-
It was pathetic, Mr. Morris said, to
see men in the crowd who were known
to be honest, hard-working and in-
dustrious farmers, men who had been
fairly prosperous with stocked cellars
and barns, but who had been brought
to this plight through the drouth and
consequent business depression.
-'A few of them may have been im-
posters,' he said. -'Albert Walls,
chairman of the Lonoke county Red
Cross chapter, who was here, told me
that he recognized imposters in the
crowd. But most of them were hon-
est and industrious farmers brought
to this sad state through no fault of
England merchants will urge the
Red Cross to pay for the food dis-
tributed today, but there is no assur-
ance this will be done. The merchants
are worried over the future of these
hundreds of hungry people. Winter
has just begun, there is no work for
them, and in three or four days, un-
less the Red Cross comes to their aid,
they will be without food again.
An appeal is being prepared for the
St. Louis office of the Red Cross. The
organization will be told of the dem-
onstrations here today, and the needs
of the farmers. The Red Cross will
be urged to rush food, blanks here and
to continue its assistance.
The rich, alluvial soil surrounding England
is well adapted to growing
cotton and is well drained. The Tuck-
er penitentiary farm is a few miles
away. But the land also is not drouth
resisting. Added to the disasters
brought on by the drouth, many far-
mers found their savings impounded
when the Citizens Bank and Trust
Company here closed, a few days ago.
The merchants are partners in suf-
fering with the farmers. Trade has
fallen off and they were unable to col-
lect for last year's supplies. The
banks suffered likewise.
The crisis here today was predicted
by Mr. Morris in a letter he wrote to
Senator T.H. Caraway about two
weeks ago, which Senator Caraway read
in the Senate and a part of which was
published in the Gazette.
Efforts will be made, it is said, to
obtain work for the starving farmers
through highway construction in this
section, or through federal construc-
tion work. Unless this is done, it is
said, they will face a dark and cheer-
Blanks Caused Trouble At his home last night in Lonoke,
Albert Walls, chairman of the Red
Cross for Lonoke county, said the Eng-
land disturbances resulted from the
fact that the supply of questionnaire
blanks used by the Red Cross workers
became exhausted. No aid will be fur-
nished by the Red Cross until these
blanks are filled out, because of the
multitude of imposters who try to prey
on the relief organization.
-'These questionnaires can be sup-
plied easily,' he said, -'and there
should be no further trouble, because
the Red Cross plans to help these peo-
ple through January and February if
they can't find work to make them
self-supporting. The supply became
exhausted here once or twice but we
had no difficulty.' Mr. Walls said the farmers evidently
feared the Red Cross had abandoned
them to their fate. He said that fully
25 per cent of those in the England
crowd were imposters, people who
have food and hope to obtain more if it
doesn't cost anything, or people who
would live forever on the Red Cross
without working, if they could.
-'The others,' he said, -'were honest
and industrious farmers desperately in
need of food for their families. I be-
lieve by the time the food they have
received is exhausted, the Red Cross
will be providing them with whatever
Food; Food relief; Food supply; Riots; Crowds; Starvation; Poverty
England, Lonoke County (Ark.)
MFILM NEWS 000431
Newspaper microfilm collection
Arkansas State Archives
Crowd threatens and receives food, January 4th, 1931, Newspaper microfilm collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
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United States History
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