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James Black legacy on display at Washington

By submitted, 04/8/22 2:51 PM

WASHINGTON – “James Black: Life and Legacy” Exhibit, will be displayed at Historic Washington State Park in Washington, Arkansas from April 10 – January 28 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the 1874 Courthouse Visitor Center, except Mondays when the park is closed.

A program and reception for the opening of the exhibit will take place on Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m. in at the 1874 Courthouse Visitor Center. Assistant Superintendent Billy Nations will provide a program on the life of James Black and his impact. The program is free to the public and refreshments will be provided.

James Black (1800-1872) was one of the early settlers to Washington, Arkansas, moving to the Hempstead County area by the early 1820s. Black is famous for forging the legendary Bowie Knife for James Bowie. His life includes many successes including a successful career as a bladesmith, and public servant in the early years of Hempstead County, Arkansas. By the middle part of his life, he faced many tragedies, losing his family, career, and becoming a pauper. He later was known in the community of Washington as “Uncle Jimmy Black.” He went blind in his later years and was known for his ability to recount stories of early Hempstead County.

In this exhibit, learn more about the man behind the legend and stories of the Bowie Knife. Like many during his time, James Black moved west to Arkansas for new possibilities. He had successes and tragedies. Though he is best known for his blade making skills, there is more to his life that reflects the struggles of many on the frontier. His name continues to be mentioned as part of the history of Washington, Arkansas, and America.