News & Events


Capt. William Friesner Gun

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AR Proclamation

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Local Artist

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SHPS Announces Capital Campaign Planning

The Sultana Historical Preservation Society, Inc. (SHPS) announced this week that it has unofficially begun planning a capital campaign for creation of the new Sultana Disaster Museum.  The firm C J & A Associates has been retained to lead the multi-million dollar fund-raising campaign.  To initiate the planning stage, the Board members have made a collective pledge contribution exceeding $150,000.00.  Anyone interested in assisting in creating the new museum should contact the museum director at, or join the museum through this website.

Hollywood Producers Visit the Sultana Museum

Mark and Mike Marshall, owners of River Rock Entertainment, LLC, and producers of the documentary Remember the Sultana, returned to Marion, Arkansas this week to meet with the Sultana Historical Preservation Society.  Mark is seen here, holding an original painting commissioned to honor the Sultana disaster, and several of the passengers aboard the Sultana at the time of its destruction.

The Marshall brothers directed the production which starred and was narrated by Sean Astin, star of the movie "Rudy" and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (as Sam). Mark lives near Hollywood, CA and has worked on many films including "The Color Purple," "Free Willy," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Mike Marshall lives in Oklahoma and manages the day-to-day operations of River Rock Entertainment and solicits and manages specific projects for the company.

New Museum Site Aquired

The City of Marion, Arkansas has announced that it has officially obtained title to the original Marion Public School Gymnasium located on Military Road in Marion, Arkansas.  Future plans for the WPA-Era, 17,700 square foot building are to house the Sultana Disaster Museum under a lease agreement with the Sultana Historical Preservation Society, Inc.

SHPS Announces New Board of Directors

The Sultana Historical Preservation Society, Inc. (SHPS), has reconstituted the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization.  Officers elected are: Judge John Fogleman, President; Dr. Scott Ferguson, Vice-President, and Mr. Frank Barton, Secretary/Treasurer.  Other members of the Board are Tracy Brick, Jana Della Rosa, Dr. Glen Fenter, Frank Fogleman, Dr. Louis Intres, Jerry Potter, Gene Salecker."

Sultana Historical Preservation Society (SHPS) Announces Board of Directors

Sultana Historical Preservation Society (SHPS) recently announced the reconstitution of it's Board of Directors in preparation for the planned new museum in Marion, Arkansas.  The board will be responsible for the creation of the museum and administration of the museum and Society activities thereafter.  We are pleased to announce the following board members.


John Fogleman, President
Judge, Arkansas 2nd Circuit Court, retired

Glen Fenter, PhD
Superintendent, Marion Public Schools

Dr. Scott Ferguson, Vice President
Outpatient Radiology Clinic, West Memphis

Frank Fogleman
Mayor, City of Marion, Arkansas

Frank Barton, Sec.-Treasurer
Barton Power Sports

Louis Intres, PhD
Director, Sultana Disaster Museum

Tracy Brick
Marion Economic Development Director

Gene Eric Salecker
Author, Sultana Historian

Jana Della Rosa
Arkansas House of Representatives

Jerry Potter
Attorney, Author and Sultana Historian

2021 Sultana Descendants and Friends conference has been announced

The 33rd Annual reunion of the Association of Sultana Descendants and Friends has been announced for the weekend of  April 23 through April 25, 2021. The gathering, which is open to anybody and everybody having an interest in the Sultana will be held at Springfield, Illinois, home of President Abraham Lincoln. The event will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn at Springfield.

Friday night will be a casual experience with meet-and-greets and exciting lectures on newly researched Sultana and Civil War topics.  The Saturday tour locations include Lincoln’s home (the only house he ever owned), the Old State Capitol (where Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech and where his body laid in state after being brought home after his assassination), the Lincoln Presidential Museum, and Lincoln’s tomb. Lunch will be taken at the Subway restaurant inside the Presidential Museum, and the Saturday buffet-style banquet will be at the Hilton Garden Inn. This conference is decidedly one of the best ever in its long history.  All are welcome. For further information, contact Norman Shaw at 865-705-1127, or

Harpers Weekly Volumes-Preservation Completed

Preservation and conservation work on the set of five complete volumes of Harpers Weekly magazines has been completed by Bryan and Devan Conservation of Little Rock, Arkansas.  Volumes V-IX contain every issue of Harpers Weekly published from January, 1981 through December, 1865.  The collection, donated in 2018 by John and Susan Prentice, of West Memphis, Arkansas chronicle the entire Civil War and every major event of American history and culture in that pivotal era in our nation’s history.  Preservation work on the rare set of volumes has been sponsored by The Marion Advertising and Promotions Committee, Premier Bank of Arkansas, Louis and Shirley Intres, Partners Bank, and by a grant from the National Park Service.  The collection will be placed on public exhibit in the near future, along with the conserved personal, first edition copy of Chester Berry's Loss of the Sultana and Reminisces of the Survivors.

Performing Arts Center Hosts 2019 Civil War Lecture Series

The Marion Performing Arts Center hosted the first annual Sultana Civil War lecture series on April 27th.  Speakers devoted their attention to a debate over the cause of the Sultana's destruction.  Was it sabotage or a tragic accident? 

Other topics included:  the status of civil war medicine, the history of the Mississippi River and the use of steamboats during the war, and the preservation of American war history through a collection of letters, documents, and the conservation of historic sites and memorials. 


Speakers in the MPAC auditorium Andrew Carrol David Price Pat Jennings


The Sultana docked at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library

February 9th through March 8th, 2019

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library located in Little Rock, AR recently included an exhibit of the Sultana disaster in their exhibit entitled “The Mighty Mississippi: A mosaic of the growth of America.” The Marion, AR museum temporarily committed several of it’s Sultana artifacts to the Presidential Library for its use.

Images taken from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library exhibit  Mighty Mississippi:  A Mosaic of America's Growth and Development

Educational Outreach

In 2019, the Sultana Disaster Museum and the administering organization, the Sultana Historical Preservation Society, Inc. intends to expand its outreach to educate and enlighten the next generation of historians and ordinary citizens alike to the remarkable story of the Sultana Disaster and further establish its place in American history.  Partnerships will be established between the museum and local and regional schools and educational systems, and civic organizations.  Watch for future announcements.

The Sultana Disaster Museum is pleased to announce its first such partnership with the sponsorship of the 2019 Civil War Conference and Lecture series by the Marion District School system.

Recent Aquisitions

Museum Receives Rare Magazine Collection

John and Susan Prentice of West Memphis, Arkansas recently donated a rare collection of Harpers Weekly magazines to the Sultana Disaster Museum archive. The collection consists of nearly 250 issues, bound in annual Volumes V through IX, and represents the complete set covering the years 1861-1865. The issues chronicle the history of America and the Civil War over the five year period. Much of the original artwork in these issues has been reproduced in textbooks and histories throughout the past 150 years. Included among the historic original artwork of Lincoln's two inaugurations and assassination, famous Civil War battles, and the changes in a divided nation, is the first picture of the Sultana on fire, found in the May 20, 1865 issue. The five volumes will eventually be available to the public for professional historical research.

Sultana Museum Acquires Original Berry Book of Reminiscences

Mrs. Dorothy Gouzoules and Dorothy Kennedy, of East Northport, New York, the great-great-grand nieces of Pvt. Chester Berry, have recently donated Berry's original copy of survivor reminiscences to the Sultana Disaster Museum. Berry bequeathed the original copy of his book to his niece, Harriet Berry Kennedy, who passed it along her son William Lester Kennedy, then to sisters Dorothy and Jeanne Kennedy. Dorothy Kennedy Gouzoules has donated the book on behalf of herself ,and her sister Jeanne Kennedy Cummings. Preservation work on the rare book has been recently completed by Bryan and Devan Conservationists in Little Rock, Arkansas. The book will be on permanent display in the museum in Marion, Arkansas.

Descendants and Friends News

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