Artifact of the Month
White River Red's Wheel of Chance Game
Donated by James McNally
Born in Louisiana in 1891, Forrestina Bradley was destined to become one of Northwest Arkansas's most colorful residents. According to local historian Phillip Steele, Forrestina ran away from home at the age of 15 and became a performer in a circus troupe. She married a Kansas farmer named Jack Campbell, and the two began working the regional carnival circuit. That brought them to Northwest Arkansas, and in 1931, Jack and Forrestina bought a small farm on the banks of the White River east of Springdale. Forrestina had fiery red hair; that, combined with the location of her home on the river, led to her nickname of "White River Red."
Jack Campbell was murdered in 1935. Forrestina kept traveling on the regional carnival circuit until poor health forced her to retire in 1970. Soon after she was placed in a Fayetteville nursing home. To help pay for medical bills, a court-ordered auction was held on October 14, 1971 to sell off Forrestina's property and personal possessions. Springdale resident James McNally attended the auction, and bought the wheel of chance pictured here. When placed on its stand, the wheel is about six feet tall.
Forrestina Campbell died August 19, 1973, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Friendship Cemetery east of Springdale. In 1980, Phillip Steele raised over $1800 to have a tombstone placed on Forrestina's grave.
James McNally moved to Florida, taking the wheel of chance with him. He took care of it for many years, until sending it "back home" it to the Shiloh Museum in June 2011.