Artifact of the Month

Mary Van Winkle Steele's Wedding Dress Collar
Donated by Marilyn Hicks

Wedding dress collar

Mary Van Winkle Steele
Mary Van Winkle Steele, circa 1868.
Marilyn Hicks Collection (S-90-10-49)

Mary Van Winkle, the daughter of Peter and Temperance Van Winkle, was born near Fayetteville in 1844.  The Van Winkle family moved to Benton County around 1850, where Peter Van Winkle established a saw mill near War Eagle.

According to family historian Marilyn Hicks, during the Civil War, Mary "confronted Union soldiers who came to [the Van Winkle] home and demanded to know where the men folks were. She shook her hair brush in their faces and sent them off in the wrong direction."

John Bell Steele General StoreJohn Bell Steele General Store

On January 28, 1868, Mary married John Bell "Captain Jack" Steele, who had been an apprentice at the Van Winkle sawmill until the Civil War, when he enlisted in the First Arkansas Cavalry. Mary and John settled in Springdale, where he operated a general store for several years. Today, Steele's general store survives as one of the historic buildings on the Shiloh Museum campus.

Mary and John Steele had three sons: Guy, Richard, and Harry. John Bell Steele went on to become a prominent businessman and civic leader in Rogers. After his death in 1903, Mary, along with her eldest son Guy and his wife Lutie, moved to Oklahoma Territory, where Mary lived the rest of her life.  She died in 1921.


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