FAYETTEVILLE — The 1940 U.S. Census was recently released to the public, which has caused excitement among historians and genealogists. Beginning in 1790, the United States has conducted a national census every 10 years. The data collected is then used to redraw legislative districts and appropriate money, among many other things. The release of a census is not an everyday occurrence since the detailed data are kept secret for 72 years. This is mainly for privacy purposes — just think what identity thieves could do if they had instant access to all the data collected during the 2010 census?
The census is not just about statistics, it's also a detailed snapshot of America at a specific point in time. For example, the 1930 census inquired if the home had a radio. It's also fun to just see how the state's population has changed. We always hear about the most populous cities in Arkansas, but I am always curious as to which town has the fewest citizens. In 1940, Zinc in Boone County held that honor with 119 people. The total population of Arkansas then was almost 2 million, so tiny Zinc had .07% of the population within its confines. The 2010 census puts the state's population around 2.9 million, but, as in 1940, we still remain a relatively rural state.
This week's quiz focuses on those small towns around the state with a population of under 500, as identified in the 2010 census. The winner will be declared the mayor of this edition of Are You Arkansavvy?
1. In this Randolph County town you always hear about one group of people, but never the “smallers.”
2. This Desha County town has a population of 211. It's "elementary, my dear" as to why I would include it in this quiz.
3. Although no pyramids have been unearthed as yet, this small town, located near the Cache River in northeastern Arkansas, shares its name with a north African country.
4. You might be able to find some steaks in this Boone County town, but you could just as easily go to Nebraska.
5. Living in this Pike County town is a pure joy. One just feels so gratified and contented there.
6. My house is your house in this Perry County town — even if it isn’t properly pronounced.
7. This town may have been named after an apostle, but he probably wasn't on his way to Damascus.
8. Known for its winery and cellar restaurant, this town of 38 in Franklin County was founded by a Swiss family.
9. A former mayor of New York City would probably be happy to live in this small Crawford County town. If he didn't want to move to Arkansas, perhaps we could persuade a short-in-stature Notre Dame football player.
10. If you answered all of these questions correctly, you have truly achieved something. You should move to this Clay County town of 149. You truly could be mayor.
1. Biggers. This town, located in northeastern Arkansas, had a population of 347, as of the last census. One of Biggers’ most notable natives — the WWF wrestler Dennis Knight. You might know him better by his multiple personas: Phineas T. Godwinn, a hillbilly hog farmer from Arkansas; or Mideon, a member of the Ministry of Darkness. For a brief period, Mideon streaked in the wrestling ring, thus earning him the name Naked Mideon. As Godwinn, he held the 1996 Tag Team title with his "cousin" and fellow hog farmer Henry Godwinn (Mark Canterbury). Knight retired in 2006. 2. Watson. Located in northern Desha County in the southeastern part of the state, Watson was formally incorporated in 1907. Originally called Watson Station, it was named for a prominent family active in county and state affairs. The courthouse was briefly relocated to the town in 1874 after the county seat of Napoleon was washed away by the Mississippi River. 3. Egypt. No one knows exactly how this town of 112 was named. One legend states that east coast investors were enticed to the area with promises about the possibilities, hence the name of the township in which Egypt is located — Promised Land. 4. Omaha. This small town, population 169, is located just west of Bull Shoals Lake in northern Arkansas. It is a relatively young town, having been incorporated in 1941. Omaha Steaks are shipped directly to customers. The business was founded in 1917 in the capital of Nebraska and is now one of the world's largest marketers of meat, food seasonings and pet food. 5. Delight. This small Pike County town of 279 is best known as the birthplace of country superstar Glen Campbell (although his home was in nearby Billstown). It's also the home of former Arkansas State Auditor and Treasurer Gus Wingfield and General Hospital actor Scott Reeves. 6. Casa. This small town with a population of 171 is located in northern Perry County. Legend says that a Spanish family settled in the area and named the area casa — their native word for home. If that is true, the pronunciation has been corrupted over time as it is now pronounced cāsa. 7. St. Paul. With a population of 113, St. Paul is the 51st smallest town in the state. It was officially incorporated in 1891, but the settlement goes back to the early years of Arkansas statehood. The first office at St. Paul was established in 1840. Of course, the St. Paul refers to the conversion of Saul on his way to Damascus. 8. Wiederkehr Village. Only incorporated in 1975, Wiederkehr's history goes back to the late 19th century when a large number of German-speaking emigrants moved to Arkansas. Johann Wiederkehr and his family came from Switzerland to Arkansas in 1880 and settled near Altus. One of the first things Wiederkehr did was carve a wine cellar from a hillside. That wine cellar still exists and now houses the Weinkeller Restaurant, serving Swiss-German cuisine and, of course, Wiederkehr wine. 9. Rudy. With a population of 61, Rudy is known these days as an exit on Interstate 540, but it has an interesting history. Originally called Kenton, the name was changed in 1883 in honor of early settler and first postmaster George Rudy. Located on the Frisco line, Rudy was once the hub of the fruit industry in Northwest Arkansas. In 1888, over 900 boxes of strawberries and 1,400 boxes of peaches and other fruits left the Rudy depot en route to larger markets. The former New York City mayor, of course, is Rudolph "Rudy" Giuliani, who served from 1994-2001, and the Notre Dame football star is Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, a defensive end for the Fighting Irish and inspiration for the 1993 movie starring Sean Astin. 10. Success. The town is located in northwestern Clay County and was founded in the early part of the 20th century as a result of the burgeoning timber industry. The town's founders were optimistic about the settlement's future with such a positive name. Unfortunately, as the timber industry declined in Clay County so did the small town of Success.