I discovered the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture soon after moving to Little Rock, Arkansas. I was doing research for a playwright and my task was to find out what the black experience was like in Little Rock circa 1905. The encyclopedia was and continues to be a great resource. One of the unique things about this encyclopedia is that its exclusively online. Anyone can can submit a query to write an entry. I submitted a query to write an entry on Christian Science in Arkansas. It was accepted and published October 20, 2011. What a great experience. Here’s an excerpt of the published entry.
The Christian Science movement entered Arkansas in the 1880s by way of its northwest corridor. Informal groups, societies, and churches were holding Christian Science services in Springdale (Washington County), Eureka Springs, and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) by about 1896.
A prayer-based system of healing physical and mental maladies, along with its adherence to the Bible, helped the denomination take root. Many of the early pioneers of the Christian Science movement were Christian Science practitioners, or healers. These individuals, such as Mrs. H. W. Hewitt, Lou Aldridge, and Clara Davis (who helped to establish Christian Science in Springdale, Eureka Springs and Fort Smith, respectively), had a public practice of providing prayer-based treatment as explained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Former Arkansas state representative and attorney Herbert M. Beck, known for his work in promoting the building of good roads throughout the state, was instrumental in organizing the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Fort Smith in 1899. Soon after the completion of the church, Beck retired from public service to become a Christian Science practitioner.