Surridge, when running for Commissioner of Mines, Manufacturers, and Agriculture.

The badge on his lapel is likely from  the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), one of many fraternal organizations to which he belonged. 

(Photo Credit: Daily Arkansas Gazette. November 26, 1911)




"Linnie" Surridge (1868-1910); his wife.

(Photo Credit:




W.K. Surridge (1868-1923) was a county clerk, sheriff, politician, businessman, and soldier from Lawrence County.


Early Life

Nothing is yet known about his early life. 


Military Service

When America declared war on Spain in April 1898, Surridge joined the army. He was part of Company I from Walnut Ridge.[1] The War Department had requested two regiments from Arkansas, each one thousand strong. They were mustered into federal service in May, and christened the First and Second Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiments. Surridge’s company was then renamed Company C, Keller’s Rifles.[2] By the end of the month, they’d made it as far as Camp George H. Thomas at Chickamauga Park, Georgia, but the war ended only days later, on August 13, rendering their service unnecessary.[3] During their time at Camp Thomas, rumors began to circulate that Company C’s commander, Captain Medearis, used harsh discipline and neglected the sick (fever was sweeping the camp and had already killed sixteen soldiers). A letter appeared in the Arkansas Democrat signed by the men, including Surridge, denouncing these rumors as false, created by certain malcontents because they had been rightly punished for breaking regulations.[4]

On August 27, Surridge married Lindsay Anna "Linnie" Rhea.[5] They had one daughter and divorced in 1904.5a He was appointed county coroner in 1899.[6] He was nominated for county clerk in 1902.[7]

He stayed in the National Guard for the next several years and quickly climbed the ranks. He was a second lieutenant in 1898,[8] a major by 1903,[9] a lieutenant colonel in 1904,[10] and finally was promoted to brigadier general and head of the guard in 1907.[11] Whilst in the Guard, a yellow fever epidemic swept several towns in neighboring states. A scheme was hatched to profit from the tragedy, and certain border guards charged refugees who were trying to enter the state and escape the illness. Once Surridge became aware of this, he wrote a report the governor and took measures to stop it.[12]

In 1914, the War Department ordered that any state with less than three regiments could not have a brigadier general in their Guard, which forced Surridge to resign.[13]



Surridge was nominated for sheriff in 1906 and won the election.[14] During his four-year term, he was involved in many high-profile criminal cases:

  • Perry Hoover: shot and killed Ed Birchfield on October 20, 1908 over a dispute involving a cigarette; captured four miles north of Walnut Ridge.[15]
  • Albert Ary: wanted for forgery; captured in Fort Smith by Pinkerton detectives and extradited to Lawrence County.[16]
  • Charley Wade: accused of stealing $1000 from an express company office; captured at Chaffee, Missouri; allegedly involved with two other robbery suspects, Arch Weston and Harry Johnson.[17]
  • Henry”: described as a Negro who stole several changes of clothes, three pairs of shoes, and a suitcase; found by one of Surridge’s deputies, McCuistion, at Fee Crayton Mill in Newport.[18]
  •  J.C. Langston: prime suspect in the murder of Arthur Shirey; captured at his farm near Cologne, South Dakota after a ten-day pursuit.[19]
  •  Charles Ludwig and John Smith: farmers from Black Rock who forged the name of one W.S. Nowlin on a check for $200 and then used the money to buy liquor in Newport.[20]
  •  W.A. Smith: a fugitive who escaped from prison in Little Rock; captured by Surridge in Pocahontas three weeks after getting married.[21]
  •  Young Gregory: prime suspect in the robbery and assault of Casper Bicker, a Russian immigrant who fought in the Union Army and lived near Mammoth Spring. He was targeted because of rumors which said he had a fortune buried somewhere on his property.[22]


In addition to these arrests, Surridge enforced local liquor laws. On April 4, 1908, he destroyed sixteen cases of beer and a large quantity of whiskey he had confiscated from blind tigers in Hoxie.[23] In 1907, he became suspicious that liquor was being sold on the Harvey café car, part of the Frisco line that ran from Mammoth Springs to Black Rock. He busted one of the waiters in a sting operation.[24]

In 1908, he issued a “stop and search” order to deter people from carrying concealed firearms.[25][26]


Later Life

Surridge ran for railroad commissioner of the state’s Northeastern District in 1909.[27] During the campaign he promised to curb the “discourteous” behavior of railroad employees, and fight to get baggage fairs lowered. He received a glowing endorsement from Clay Sloan.[28]  This particular election was heated due to the policies of Governor George Washington Donaghey, who took a hard line against the use of convict labor for railroad construction. The Iron Mountain Railroad was particularly irked by this stance, and it seems Surridge was considered one of their enemies. In 1911, a man named E.A. Smith was acquitted of embezzling. In his testimony, he said he was paid by the Rock Island Railroad to swing the election against Surridge, regardless of who won.28a He lost to George W. Belamy, 335 votes to 1251.[29] He announced his intention to run again, but it appears he withdrew from that race and instead made a bid for the Democratic nomination for Commissioner of Mines, Manufacturing, and Agriculture.[30] He lost to John H. Page.[31][32]

In September 1915, William’s brother, James, was appointed to head the State Control Board on Charitable Institutions by Governor Hays. He was accused of selling liquor and running several blind tigers, but they were dismissed.[33] Only  a few weeks later, on October 25, he was killed in a car accident in Little Rock.[34]



Surridge bought a ten acre fruit farm from C.M. Lehman one mile west of Black Rock in 1902.[35]

In 1910, he hired one Mr. Finch to help build a concrete structure in Black Rock, which was largest of its kind in the county, though its purpose is unclear.[36][37]



William Surridge died in St. Louis on June 2, 1923, after undergoing surgery for an unspecified illness.[38] He was buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Pocahontas, Arkansas. 


[1] Arkansas Democrat. March 31, 1898. P.6.

[2] Arkansas Democrat. May 28, 1898. P.6.

[3] “Spanish American War.” <>

[4] “Medearis All Right.” Arkansas Democrat. August 11, 1898. P.6.

[5] “Military Notes.” Arkansas Democrat. August 30, 1898. P.6.

5A. Surridge v Surridge. MSNE.0075, Walnut Ridge Court Records, Box 162, Folder 11, Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives. Powhatan, Arkansas. Surridge's daughter is called "Rheamona" (an homage to the Rhea family who owned the Rhea hotel in Walnut Ridge and Lindsay's maiden name) in most other sources. However, a document in the divorce file refers to "the only child of the plaintiff and defendant" as Elizabeth. There is no explanation given for this discrepancy. Neither William or Lindsay remarried.

[6] Arkansas Democrat. May 4, 1899. P.4.

[7] Arkansas Democrat. April 17, 1902. P.8.

[8] “Companies Coming.” Arkansas Democrat. May 7, 1898. P.8.

[9] “State Guards at Corning.” Arkansas Democrat. December 15, 1903. P.1.

[10] “Board of Survey Yesterday Condemned Old Equipment.” Arkansas Democrat. July 30, 1904. P.5.

[11] “W.K. Surridge Heads Guard.” Arkansas Democrat. August 26, 1907. P.7.

[12] “Report Made on Grafting.” Pine Bluff Daily Graphic. September 8. 1905. P.1.

[13] “Surridge Resigns as Brigadier General.” Daily Arkansas Gazette. January 23, 1914. P.1.

[14] Historical Report of the Secretary of State. University of Arkansas Press. 2008. p. 445. Historical Report of Arkansas.pdf

[15] “Perry Hoover is Captured.” Daily Arkansas Gazette. October 22, 1908. P.2.

[16] “Ary is Returned.” Arkansas Democrat. August 25, 1910. P.5.

[17] “Boy is Charged with Theft.” Daily Arkansas Gazette. January 7, 1909. P.1-2.

[18] “Captures Negro and Goods.” Daily Arkansas Gazette. September 21, 1910. P.2.

[19] “Shirey Assassin Reported Caught.” Daily Arkansas Gazette. June 10, 1910. P.1.

[20] “On a Charge of Forgery.” Arkansas Democrat. July 13, 1909. P.1;6.

[21] “Newlywed Again in Prison.” The Southern Standard. August 19, 1909. P.3.

[22] “Clearing Mystery.” Arkansas Democrat. January 21, 1909. P.2.

[23] The Osceola Times. April 9, 1908. P.4.

[24] “For Selling Liquor on a Rail Car.” Arkansas Democrat. September 12, 1907. P.3.

[25] Ibid. December 10, 1908. P.2.

[26] At the time, it was against the law to carry concealed firearms in Arkansas. The penalty for this misdemeanor was a fine between $50-$200, or thirty days to three months in the county jail, or both. The law made provisions to allow the citizen to carry weapons “uncovered and in the hand” as well as “…when upon a journey or upon his premises,” though multiple amendments were introduced by various politicians at one time or another. (Supplement to Kirby’s Digest of the Statutes of Arkansas. Bobs-Merrill Company. 1911. p.154.)

[27] Arkansas Democrat. September 11, 1909. P.4.

28a. "Smith Acquitted of Embezzlement." February 24, 1911. p.3.

[28] “A Few Words for W.K. Surridge…” The Mountain Echo. February 18, 1910. P.2.

[29] “Railroad Commissioner.” April 7, 1910. P.1.

[30] Daily Arkansas Gazette. July 28, 1911. P.4.

[31] “Moose Spent $2,003 in Political Race.” Arkansas Democrat. April 15, 1912. P.10.

[32] Daily Arkansas Gazette. April 27, 1912. P.5.

[33] “Surridge is Vindicated.” Batesville Guard. March 12, 1915. P.4.

[34] “James Surridge Killed in Wreck.” Batesville Daily Guard. October 25, 1915. P.1.

[35] Fort Smith Times. July 6, 1902. P.2.

[36] The Batesville Daily Guard. December 8, 1910. P.3.

[37] “Largest Concrete Structure.” Arkansas Democrat. November 29, 1910. P.5.

[38] “W.K. Surridge Dead.” The Mountain Echo. June 14, 1923. P.2.