This year the Commissioner of State Lands Office observes its 150th anniversary, and the current historical exhibit explores some of that history.
Commissioner John Thurston said the display, titled "Yesterday & Today: 150 years of the Commissioner of State Lands Office," is the final historical exhibit of his administration.
“The office was established in 1868, so we’re concluding my term as land commissioner with a display of documents, photographs and a timeline of the office, honoring the sesquicentennial,” he said.
On July 15, 1868, Gov. Powell Clayton signed “An Act to Provide for the Appointment of a Commissioner of Immigration and State Lands, and Defining the Duties of that Officer.”
The office was to provide agricultural, manufacturing and mineral statistics and produce publications promoting those statistics to encourage people to move to Arkansas.
Visitors to the exhibit will see photos and biographical information of many of the state’s lands commissioners, including newly-discovered photos of Dr. John Lewis, the original commissioner. They’ll learn about a past land commissioner who began working in the office when he was only 12 years old.
Other commissioners were colonels in the military, prisoners of war, county-elected officials and one minor league baseball player. And it was a land commissioner who was the first female elected to a statewide office in Arkansas.
“Yesterday & Today” will remain in place through the end of 2018.
Visitors may view the exhibit from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the COSL office, Suite 109 of the Arkansas State Capitol.