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Author Susan Young to discuss new
book on Italian immigrants at Lakeport Plantation Feb. 27
Author Susan Young
will discuss her new book, “So Big, This Little Place: The Founding of
Tontitown, Arkansas, 1898-1917,” at
601 Highway 142, Lake Village, Ark.,
on Saturday, Feb. 27,
beginning at 1 p.m. The day will begin with a tour of the Lakeport
Plantation home and at 2 p.m., Young will begin her talk on the Chicot
County roots of northwest Arkansas’ Italian community, Tontitown. The
event is free and open to the public.
“So Big, This Little Place” tells the story of a group of 100 Italian
families who came from Genoa, Italy, to Chicot County’s Sunnyside
Plantation in 1895. Three years later, 40 families, let by Father Pietro
Bandini, left the harsh conditions of the plantation and moved to
northwest Arkansas to establish Tontitown in the Ozark Mountains.
The book focuses on the first 20 years of Tontitown, focusing Bandini’s
foundation and development of the small community until his death.
Bandini imagined Tontitown as an ideal model for Italian immigration,
although an atypical one, since many Italian immigrants settled in
cities and towns on the east coast of the United States. The book
features a recently compiled genealogical record and more than 100
images from the Tontitown Museum archives.
Young, the outreach coordinator at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in
Springdale, will be accompanied by a group of Tontitown residents who
will visit the plantation their ancestors left behind over 100 years
ago. Her presentation will be followed by a book signing. Books will be
available for purchase at the site for $30 (price includes tax; cash or
check only, please).
The Lakeport Plantation is one of Arkansas's premier historic
structures. The house, constructed circa 1859, is Arkansas’s only
remaining antebellum plantation home along the Mississippi River.
Lakeport’s mission is to research and interpret the individuals and
cultures that shaped plantation life in the Mississippi River Delta,
focusing on the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods.
The plantation was donated to Arkansas State University in 2001 by the
Sam Epstein Angel family. After more than five years of restoration, the
plantation opened as a museum and educational center in September 2007.
Arkansas State University’s Arkansas Heritage SITES Program operates two
other heritage sites: the
Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott and the
Southern Tenant Farmers Museum in
For more information, contact Dr.
Blake Wintory, assistant director and facilities manager at Lakeport
Plantation, Sarah Long, museum
assistant, or call (870) 265-6031. Visit
for maps and driving
tours, and more.
--Molly Carpenter, senior public relations student intern in the
Office of Public Relations, researched and wrote this release.
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