Manila history comes to life
Manila history came to life on Thursday, April 21, as four stories of Manila citizens from the past were revealed at the Manila Depot Center and the cemetery.
The Manila Business and Professional Women and members of the Manila Museum Committee gathered at the Depot Thursday morning welcoming students from the fifth grade.
Students were introduced to Hazel McKinnon (portrayed by Iris Poteet); Harold "Trigger" Wall (by Wendall Poteet); E.C. Fleeman (by Ty Presson); and John Lasater (by Josh House).
Fifth grade students heard "first hand" when the four were born, came to Manila and what they did for their community.
Students viewed pictures, met family members and toured the Manila depot museum.
Ironically Thursday was not only Mrs. McKinnon's birthday, it was Mrs. Poteet's birthday. The students sang happy birthday to her.
Mrs. McKinnon came to Manila to teach school. She married Bob McKinnon and made her home in Manila. She later started the Town Crier newspaper for all of the towns on Buffalo Island.
Mr. Poteet talked to the young people about Harold "Trigger" Wall.
"He loved Manila, horse shows, and all kinds of sports," Poteet said. "He was a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals but because of an injury he had to give up playing but became a scout for the Cardinals. When he came back to Manila he coached baseball, basketball, was an umpire and a referee. The kids respected him and he respected them."
E.C. Fleeman was introduced by his character Ty Presson.
"I served nine terms in the House of Representatives," Presson said. "We worked had to get Arkansas College into a university so our young people could get a good education close to home."
Mr. Fleeman was part of the area farming, had a gin, was the president of Merchants & Planters Bank, was a charter member of the Manila Lions Club and a member of the Methodist Church.
He encouraged the children to look around and see what they can do for their town, state and nation.
John C. Lasater, a young soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country, was portrayed by Josh House.
House told the young people that John C. Lasater came from a family of patriotic men and women with his serving in World War I, his brother and sister serving in World War II and his brothers Don and Douglas both serving.
He told of volunteering to serve during the Korean War at the age of 18.
"Korea is a long way from Manila," he said. "I wrote home when I could and I looked forward to getting letters from home. My mother saved all of my letters. The last one I wrote was July 14, 1950. My family received word on Aug. 13, 1950 I was missing in action. One of my buddies who was with me wrote to my family. We had promised each other if one of us did not make it we would contact the family. He told my family I had saved lives. I knew when I went to war I might have to make the ultimate sacrifice."
In the afternoon sixth grade students gathered at the cemetery where they met the four at the gravesites of each of the early pioneers to hear their stories.
Teacher Janet Matheny and local historian Donna Jackson coordinated the second annual Tales from the Cemetery event.
In addition to students, several family members and friends of the four were on hand for the day and answered questions from the students.