J. Dickson Black, a Bentonville Original

Some of you may remember J. Dickson Black. I reference him many times in my blogs because for many years he was the unofficial historian of Benton County and wrote several small books about the communities and one rather large book about the history of Benton County, which can be purchased here :http://www.amazon.com/History-Benton-County-Dickson-Black/dp/B0006CJT4K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346125586&sr=8-1&keywords=history+of+benton+county

Mr. Black was born February 16, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois to James and Edna Leach Black. He was an Army veteran of World War II, serving in the CB 631 Tank Infantry and division of Patton's Infantry. He graduated from photography school in Seattle, Wash. He married Wilma Rhoades on June 28, 1952. He moved to Bentonville in 1952 and opened Black's Studio. He was the author of many local history books, including "History of Benton County." In 1978, he started the Bentonville Square Farmers' Market. He also refinished furniture after retiring from photography.

His photography hobby led to a career as a writer of local columns in the Benton County Democrat, as the paper was known then. It was through this column that he interviewed many individuals over the course of his life and translated these stories into columns and eventually into his book. This manner of writing caused the book to have a marked lack of footnotes, as most of the interviews he collected himself or found in back issues of the newspaper. But the information is still largely correct, as remembered by the folks he interviewed.

He took over the mantle of historian for the county after Alvin Seamster, retired postman, lawyer, judge, and expert historian, especially of the Battle of Pea Ridge, got tired of being the unofficial historian. Seamster passed away about the same year the book came out.

He was slightly eccentric (aren't we all) and could be seen around the square at the farmer's market wearing a tall top hat.

Mr. Black passed away on August 14, 2004. I think it is important for us to all remember the contributions he made to the documentation of the history of our county. He has passed forward many interviews and anecdotes that would have been lost if it weren't for his passion for history.

I tip my hat to him and I borrow liberally from his work. I will always try to cite him when possible but I wanted everyone to know the part he played.