• Gena Seidenschwarz

Great Women of the Grand Prairie: Bennie Frownfelter Burkett



Bennie Alene Frownfelter Burkett was born on August 1, 1918, in Arkansas County. We think of her as an extraordinary historian but she also had a keen interest science. She understood the connection between science and the humanities and graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas, in 1939 with a Bachelors degree in science and taught chemistry and biology in Stuttgart High School.

Our Museum exists because of her. She was one of the founders of the Arkansas County Agricultural Museum, now the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie. She was the first Chairperson of the Board and also served as secretary. She spearheaded the AMICI Federated Women's Club effort to start the Museum and on September 8, 1974, The Museum opened. That same year, she was named Stuttgart's Citizen of the Year.

She was a member of the Arkansas Museum Services Grants Panel and served on the board of directors of the Arkansas Museum Association.

She wrote a full page of local history each week for a local newspaper. Her painstaking research was unassailable. She had several books of local history published and her biography is in "Some Remarkable Women of Arkansas".

After she worked very hard to keep the last remaining 41 acres of virgin prairie in Arkansas pristine, this goal was finally achieved in 1976 when the Roth Prairie was purchased by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. In 1979, she was appointed by then Governor Bill Clinton to serve a 9 year term on the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

She was the first woman in Grand Avenue Methodist Church to chair the Administrative Council as well as being the Church Historian. She was on the Arkansas County Committee to decide the best way to preserve the Arkansas County court records. When she was chairperson of the Health Committee for North Arkansas County, a new Health Center was built.

Ms. Bennie was an Extension Homemakers' Club President, a charter member of Riceland Garden Club. She was a member of DAR and many other sister organizations, holding multiple offices and serving in multiple capacities, including coordinating the collection and records for the Arkansas DAR book Index of Arkansas Wills and Administrations from the Earliest to 1900. She was also part of the Shannon Square Dance Club.

She made good things happen.

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