Arkansas Properties on the National Register of Historic Places: Wingmead, Roe vic., Prairie County

Arkansas Historic Preservation Program - Monday, June 15, 2020

Wingmead near Roe in Prairie County was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 23, 2011. 


Wingmead, located south of DeValls Bluff on AR 33 in Prairie County, was constructed c.1939, as the hunting and farming estate of Edgar Monsanto Queeny, president and chairman of the board of the Monsanto Chemical Company. Although Queeny is often best known for his work with Monsanto Chemical Company, he was also a noted conservationist. During the 1940s, after the construction of the estate’s Peckerwood Lake in 1942, Wingmead was the location of Queeny’s work and study of duck flight. Queeny’s work at Wingmead led to the publication of Prairie Wings in 1946, which was written at Wingmead and is recognized as a “classic study of American wildfowl in flight.” In addition, the photographs and drawings in the book were completed at Wingmead where Queeny had a darkroom and studio for photography.

In addition to Prairie Wings, Queeny also wrote the nature-related book Cheechako: The Story of an Alaskan Bear Hunt (1941) and produced many nature documentaries filmed in the United States and in Africa, some under the sponsorship of the American Museum of Natural History. (The documentaries produced under the museum’s sponsorship now comprise the museum’s Edgar Monsanto Queeny Collection.) His interest in animals and their habitats led him to become a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History. Due to its associations with the history of conservation in Arkansas, Wingmead is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with statewide significance under Criterion A.

Wingmead is also being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with statewide significance under Criterion B for its associations with the work of Edgar Monsanto Queeny related to Arkansas conservation. Wingmead is the place in Arkansas that is most representative of Queeny’s work with respect to Arkansas conservation. Much of his nature photography, especially related to ducks, was carried out at Wingmead, and it was also the location where he wrote his best-known book, Prairie Wings.

The period of significance for the nomination of Wingmead ends in 1968 to reflect the year of Queeny’s death and the end of his work at Wingmead. Since Wingmead continued to achieve significance into a period less than fifty years before the nomination, it is also being nominated to the National Register under Criteria Consideration G: Properties that have Achieved Significance Within the Past Fifty Years.


Settlement began in Prairie County in the early part of the nineteenth century with the arrival of two men named Watts and East who settled near the current location of Des Arc. By the mid-nineteenth century settlement began in the area of De Valls Bluff with the arrival of C. S. De Vall from Georgia and Captain Patrick H. Wheat. In 1846, there were enough people in the area to warrant the creation of Prairie County by an act of the legislature on November 25. Initially, Prairie County included nearly all of the land that encompasses Lonoke County, but it was separated off in 1873.

De Valls Bluff, which was named after C. S. De Vall, was a small community at the beginning of the Civil War, containing a “store and dwelling house and a ‘boat landing.’” However, in 1863, the community was taken by Federal troops and made their supply base for Little Rock and other points to the west. When the White River was navigable, supplies were shipped to De Valls Bluff and then shipped to Little Rock on the railroad.

After the Union troops took possession of De Valls Bluff, the town was inundated with refugees seeking protection. Houses were built for them and as a result, by the end of the war, De Valls Bluff’s population had increased significantly. Although many of the refugees went back to their original homes at the end of the war, it remained an important community. In 1873, it was designated the county seat for Prairie County’s Southern District, and by the 1880s it had “a postoffice [sic.], two general, two drug, three grocery and one millinery store, a livery stable, two hotels, a boat oar factory, a large saw-mill, a Methodist Church, white, and a Baptist Church, colored, a school-house each for the whites and blacks, two title abstract offices, a lodge each of Masons, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Honor, Good Templars and Iron Hall.”

Further settlement occurred in the vicinity of Wingmead with the construction of the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad line (Cotton Belt Route) through the area in the late nineteenth century. The small community of Roe, approximately five miles southeast of Wingmead had a post office established in 1880, likely after the construction of the railroad line. However, the community never got very big, and has only served the residents in the immediate area.

As with much of eastern Arkansas, the economy of the area around Wingmead was heavily based on farming during the nineteenth century. According to the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas, with respect to Monroe County, which lies adjacent to Prairie County, “In 1880 the census showed Monroe County to have 952 farms and 51,238 acres of improved lands. The value of the farm products for the year 1879 amounted to $783,470, the yield of certain products having been as follows: Cotton, 14,106 bales; Indian corn, 208,667 bushels; oats, 13,995 bushels; wheat, 200 bushels; orchard products $50.20; hay 511 tons; Irish potatoes, 6,193 bushels; sweet potatoes, 14,128 bushels; tobacco, 2,590 pounds.”

The reason that farming was so productive in Monroe County was due to the area’s excellent soil, which was described generally as “a dark loam composed of sand, vegetable mold, etc., [with] a substratum of clay, at a depth of from two to three feet. It is very rich and productive, and is especially well adapted to the raising of cotton, corn, oats, clover, timothy, other tame grasses and all kinds of root crops.”

The importance of farming in Prairie County was also noted in the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas. The book stated that, “According to the United States census of 1880, there were in Prairie County 1,127 farms, with 37,032 acres of improved lands, and the value of the farm products of the county for 1879 was $462,902, the following being the amount of the several products raised: Indian corn, 135,462 bushels; oats, 31,944 bushels; wheat, 2,214 bushels; orchard products, $9,465; hay, 263 tons; cotton, 6,977 bales: Irish potatoes, 2,100 bushels; sweet potatoes, 9,359 bushels; tobacco, 4,860 pounds.”

As in Monroe County, the rich, productive soils of the Prairie County area were the key to the success of farming. Prairie County was described as having “a diversity of soil, the productiveness of which is exceedingly good. White River bottoms and the Surrounded Hills have both a dark brown and alluvial soil, very rich and fertile. The creek and branch bottoms are a dark loam, next in productiveness to the river bottoms. The ridges or uplands not covered by creek or branch bottoms are of a light brown, often dark in color and very productive. The soil of the prairie is of a dark brownish color, possessed of chemical combinations peculiar to itself.”

The natural environment of Prairie and Monroe counties also meant that there was a wealth of wildlife in the area, as in the rest of Arkansas. Of course, the counties had squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and other common types of wildlife, but other species also inhabited the area. In Prairie County, for example, the Des Arc Citizen reported on December 4, 1858, that John E. Ellis had killed an eagle near Hickory Plains. The bird had a wingspread of seven feet and its spread foot measured eight inches across. In Monroe County in the fall of 1838 a widow McBride was told by her children about a panther that had been treed within a half mile of their house by their dogs. “Mrs. McBride obtained powder and lead from a neighbor, molded bullets, and shot and killed the panther. The sound of the gun started up another panther nearby. It ran up a tree within a half mile of the other, and she killed it, too.”

However, the Monroe and Prairie County vicinity was best known for the ducks that inhabited or migrated through the area. As Sutton writes in his book, Arkansas Wildlife: A History, “In the 1700s, a French explorer complained that ducks were so thick on the Arkansas River he could not stir the water with his paddle. Two hundred years later, market hunters were taking as many as twenty-five thousand ducks a day from Big Lake in Mississippi County for meat markets in St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and Chicago.” Although several duck hunting clubs existed in western Arkansas by 1900, most had closed by the 1940s, and the focus of duck hunting set its sights on eastern Arkansas. Today, it is estimated that during the sixty-day long duck season, approximately $1 million in revenue is generated in Stuttgart alone.

Although “the region around Stuttgart…is in the heart of the Mississippi flyway at what is perhaps its narrowest place, along a route, followed by more migratory birds than any other in the world,” there were other factors that made eastern Arkansas a popular place with flocks of ducks. The drying of rice in shocks in the fields historically provided a ready-made food supply for ducks, as did the acorns in the White River bottoms. In addition, in 1925 when rice farmer Arthur Tindall conceived of impounding water in fields to lessen the need for irrigation, it caused the ducks to flock in. It led, in 1933, to Frank Freudenberg to build artificial lakes specifically for duck hunting. (Others “trace the beginning of the ‘big-time’ duck hunting to the building, in 1923 on Jacob’s Lake, or a rough-hewn camp with mess hall, bunkhouse, and ‘outdoor facilities.’ The owner charged $5 a day for lodging and ‘shooting rights.’” )

In the early years of duck hunting in Arkansas, private duck hunting clubs were the center of the action and one of the most prevalent ways to hunt. In fact, by 1956, Arkansas had 1,820,921 acres in private hunting areas that were not available to the general public. The amount of acreage in private clubs in Arkansas ranked second in the nation, only being surpassed by the 3,500,000 acres in Louisiana clubs.

Since many of the best duck hunting grounds were privately owned, it was often considered a sport for the rich, and a November 26, 1935, article in the Arkansas Gazette illustrated the fact that Arkansas drew the wealthy for duck hunting.

Herbert Pulitzer of New York and Joseph Pulitzer of St. Louis, sons of the famous New York publisher, have gone in for duck hunting in a big way.
They have rented the ground floor of the Riceland Hotel [in Stuttgart], also two houses in Stuttgart and leased a 1,500-acre tract, including a large reservoir on the rice plantation of Frank Freudenberg, six miles east of Stuttgart.
It is reported that the brothers have installed a retinue of attendants, including a hairdresser, in the hotel while they and their wives and guests are occupying the homes that they have rented.

However, Joseph Pulitzer was not the only wealthy person from St. Louis who made the trek to Arkansas to take part in duck hunting in the 1930s. Edgar Monsanto Queeny, president of the Monsanto Chemical Company, also came to Arkansas beginning in the 1930s and would play an important role in the Arkansas conservation movement.

Edgar Monsanto Queeny was born on September 29, 1897, to John Francis and Olga Monsanto Queeny. When Queeny was four years old, his father founded the Monsanto Chemical Company, where Edgar would eventually work. After serving in the navy during World War I, Queeny returned to Cornell University where he earned a degree in chemistry in 1919. After graduating from Cornell, Queeny married Ethel Schneider and began working at Monsanto Chemical Company the same year.

Once Queeny started working at Monsanto, he quickly rose up through the ranks. After a five year apprenticeship that allowed him to demonstrate his financial talents, Queeny became vice president in 1924 and was promoted to president in 1928. Although his father was concerned that Queeny was “going to ruin Monsanto” because he “wants to change everything,” the opposite was the case. By the time Queeny retired from Monsanto in 1960, it had become the third-largest chemical company in the United States and the fifth largest in the world. It had forty-four plants in the United States that manufactured chemicals, plastics, petroleum products, and man-made fibers.

After Queeny retired from Monsanto, he spent much of his time involved in civic projects in the St. Louis area. Queeny served as a director for the United Fund of St. Louis, chairman of the board of trustees of Barnes Hospital, where he and his wife also donated funds for the construction of the Queeny Tower, and as a member of the St. Louis Symphony Society. Queeny died in St. Louis on July 7, 1968.

Queeny’s success at Monsanto allowed him to indulge in duck hunting beginning in the 1930s. Queeny would drive a trailer down to Arkansas where he would join up with Tippy LaCotts to duck hunt on Mill Bayou near De Witt. It was also through LaCotts that Queeny was introduced to Jess Wilson, one of the state’s best duck callers and hunting guides. Queeny’s first meeting of Jess Wilson made an impression on him, and he later wrote about it in Prairie Wings:

I met Jess for the first time about ten years ago, when he was guiding near DeWitt on Elmer LaCott’s Mill Bayou flats. The moment he stepped out of his tent to greet me, and before he had spoken a word, I knew I would like him, for there are silent voices between men also. A man’s face is a chart of his soul. One look at Jess’ face and I decided instantly that we would get along well together. I have shot with him ever since.

Queeny’s traveling to Arkansas for duck hunting in the years between World War I and World War II was also a reflection of a larger phenomenon with regard to recreation in nature. As Paul Sutter writes in his book, Driven Wild: How the Fight Against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement, “To many Americans, nature, once a raw material to be transformed by ceaseless labor, became a place of relaxation, therapeutic recreation, and moral regeneration. For many, nature, offered psychic accommodation to a changing world.” Not only that, duck hunting was not cheap, and Sutter also writes that,

“…outdoor recreation became more intimately connected with consumerism during the interwar years. Certainly Americans had more leisure time, and with the automobile they were more likely to head out into nature to enjoy it. More strikingly, outdoor recreation became a decidedly commercial phenomenon after World War I. American expenditures on recreation during the decade increased by 300 percent. Among other effects, this created anxiety among those who saw nature as a bulwark against commercialism. Finally, with the growth of both a car culture and a consumer culture, Americans turned to recreational nature with a new set of acquisitive habits in mind.”

Queeny lived in the trailer for several years when he made his trips to Arkansas, but Mrs. Queeny finally gave him the ultimatum that if she was going to continue coming on the trips to Arkansas that he was going to have to find better accommodations than the trailer.

In 1939, in order to satisfy his wife’s wishes, Queeny consulted with Stuttgart businessman Roger Crowe to find some land that might be available in order to establish a camp. Crowe located some land on LaGrue Bayou northwest of Roe and south of De Vall’s Bluff that would be suitable for Queeny’s needs. To obtain the land, Queeny formed an irrigation company and then acquired 11,000 acres for his camp through eminent domain.

Construction on Wingmead took place shortly after the land was acquired, and the complex that Queeny built was unlike any other duck-hunting camp in the state. Designed in the Colonial Revival style, the main house encompassed approximately 10,000 square feet. In addition to the main house, the estate included several farm buildings, a kennel, and a small cabin located approximately one mile south of the main house that Queeny used as his personal retreat where he did much of his writing. Queeny named the estate “Wingmead,” a word of Scottish origin that means “meadow of wings.”

Although Wingmead was not built until c.1939, Queeny had been planning the estate for at least a couple of years beforehand. Plans for the “Queeny Plantation, Roe, Ark.” were drawn up in 1937 by St. Louis architect Frederick Wallace Dunn. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on December 15, 1905, Dunn was a fairly prominent architect in the St. Louis area. Dunn had studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology from 1924 until 1926 before moving on to Yale University where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1930. He completed his studies for his Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale in 1932 and 1933. Dunn had initially been a partner in the firm of Nagel & Dunn, Architects, with Charles Nagel, Jr., before organizing his own firm in 1946. In addition to being an architect, Dunn was also a Senior Visiting Critic at Washington University (St. Louis) in 1952 where he taught architectural design, and he served as the treasurer of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1950-1951 and the chapter’s director in 1952-1953. Dunn died in 1984.

The 1956 American Architects Directory listed Wingmead as one of Dunn’s principal works. In addition, Dunn’s other principal works included the Edgewood Children’s Center in St. Louis, the Wachenheim Residence in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Faith-Salem Church in St. Louis.

Interestingly, Queeny apparently used at least some Monsanto products in the house. When constructed, the house was sided in what the current owner calls “plastic” siding, likely a Monsanto product. Unfortunately, deterioration and hail damage necessitated the replacement of the siding approximately twenty years ago.

Duck hunting at Wingmead was not a typical experience. As Hunter Gray writes in his book, Private Tour: At Home in Arkansas:

Not many things have changed over the years at Wingmead. Hunters are still helped out of their muddy boots by the staff. A “Model 12” shotgun might be handed to you as if by a golf caddy. This is hunting with all the finery – the spirit of the hunt is alive and well at Wingmead. At the end of the day, the table is set with fine china embellished with the recognizable Wingmead logo.

The Queenys came to Wingmead in October and stayed through March, which encompassed the height of the duck-hunting season. Guests to the estate, which included outdoor writer Nash Buckingham and Walt Disney, were always weekend guests, and the routine never changed. The routine, as described in the Arkansas Duck Hunter’s Almanac, was “Arrive on Friday in time for cocktails and a formal dinner; hunt ducks Saturday and Sunday mornings, with a quail hunt possibly on Saturday afternoon; depart Sunday.”

When Queeny was having Wingmead designed, he incorporated knowledge of duck flight into the design. In fact, Queeny hired aeronautical engineers and biologists to study the duck flyways. Their findings helped Queeny to employ sound conservation methods at Wingmead, methods that were later used along the entire Delta flyway.

Queeny’s knowledge of the Mississippi flyway was also conveyed in Prairie Wings, where he wrote:

The great Mississippi flyway is shaped like a funnel. Along the Grand Prairie it narrows into the tube. Officials of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service estimate that forty to fifty per cent of all North America’s wildfowl use the Mississippi flyway and pass through this tube. Most of this great number pour out of its mouth upon the Mississippi delta and spread over the marshes of the Gulf Coast. The remainder winter in Arkansas.
Because all watercourses within the mountain ranges of our continent’s east and west coasts have beckoned them to the Mississippi, geese from bleak and far-eastern Baffin Land and mallards, greenwings, and pintails from the barren wastes of the upper Yukon join their relatives from the Prairie provinces in Arkansas. Ducks from Hudson Bay’s eastern shores pass over Lake St. Clair, then trace the Ohio River to its junction with the Mississippi; those from Manitoba follow the Illinois, the Sangamon, and the Wabash to the Mississippi; those from Western Arctic tundras, lured by promises of sheltered backwaters and bountiful food, follow the courses of the Missouri, the Platte, the White, the Arkansas, and the great Father of Waters itself. During migrations all these flights meet and linger in the flats of Arkansas’ Grand Prairie, composing the world’s greatest concentration of wildfowl.
In number, mallards dwarf all other species of the flyway. But all North American river ducks, or Anatinae, are represented, as well as a few diving ducks with lobed hind toes, such as ringnecks, lesser scaups, and an occasional redhead.

In 1942, Queeny added a levee to the property forming Peckerwood Lake, a 4,000-acre located to the west of the estate’s buildings. The lake’s name came from the thousands of woodpeckers that tapped on the acres of standing dead timber created when the lake was impounded. Although Queeny used Peckerwood Lake for irrigation of Wingmead’s farmland, it also provided a great rest area for ducks and other waterfowl. Also, because of the location of Peckerwood Lake in the Mississippi flyway, there were plenty of ducks to hunt. As Queeny wrote, “Whoever is unfamiliar with this region may consider words picturing prolonged swarms of ducks to be extravagant language. However, Fish and Wildlife Service officials counted 135,000 ducks on one flat of 300 acres, 500,000 on another of 640 acres, and more than 1,000,000 on a third of 1,600 acres.”

In addition to Peckerwood Lake, Queeny built three-green tree reservoirs (forested bottomland that is shallowly flooded in the fall and winter) on the property – Wingmead, Greenwood, and Paddlefoot – but he did not allow outboard motors on the reservoirs, only wooden boats and canoes that were paddled or pushed through the shallow lakes. Carl Hunter, who became manager at Wingmead, believed that Wingmead was the first green-tree reservoir on the Grand Prairie, and it was at least one of the first in which wooded areas were temporarily flooded to attract ducks.

The thought and care that Queeny put into the siting and construction of Wingmead and Peckerwood Lake with respect to the Mississippi flyway illustrates the interest that Queeny had in nature and in conservation. Queeny always had a lifelong passion for nature, and he was “a recognized authority on wildlife.”

Queeny’s love of ducks and their flight dated back to 1937 when he saw an ultra-slow-motion film of ducks in flight. “Then and there he began to regard the duck not as a mere target but as a marvelously delicate and complex flying machine whose wing motions he was determined to record in still pictures.” The photographs he took were called by Life magazine as being “among the world’s finest.”

Although Queeny took incredible photographs of ducks in flight, it was not an easy task to accomplish. Life described what he had to go through to accomplish his goal.

Queeny quickly discovered that the wild duck is about as satisfactory a subject for natural photography as an untamed gnat. In fact ducks are so wary and stay so far from the camera that they look no bigger than gnats on most film, which becomes coarse and blurred when enlarged. So Queeny bought a 60- pound Graflex with a 20-inch telephoto lens, only to find that his quarry flew so fast that he almost never got the camera on it. In addition the light was bad, the birds flying mostly at sunrise and sunset. To offset this Queeny tried stroboscopic lighting and lugged huge generators and condensers down into the Arkansas swamps with him. Next he tried a Leica mounted on a gunstock. Finally, he got a “Magic Eye” movie camera adapted to take strips of still pictures. By hanging this from a tree he was able to train it on any duck which appeared in range and, with luck, get a couple of clear frames out of a thousand exposures. In nine years he has made nearly 100,000 exposures, [but only] has 256 really fine photographs.

The use of the Magic Eye camera for wildlife photography was apparently unique. Queeny wrote in Prairie Wings, which was written at Wingmead, published in 1946, and contained the best of Queeny’s photographs,
that, “…Mr. Thomas J. Walsh, senior partner of the National Cine Laboratories, manufacturers of Magic Eye cameras, informs me that he knows of no other instances in which his cameras have been used for wildlife photography.”

Queeny’s writing of Prairie Wings also cemented his friendship with the wildlife artist Richard Bishop. Bishop did all of the sketches for the book, and Queeny wanted Bishop to be listed as co-author, but Bishop declined. Bishop was also the only person who Queeny let vary from the guest schedule at Wingmead; Bishop could stay at Wingmead as long as he pleased.

Bishop was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1887, and, like Queeny, graduated from Cornell, but with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1909. Bishop began drawing in 1920 while working at a Philadelphia manufacturing plant. However, by 1933, Bishop was able to quit and become a full-time artist, and his sketch of Canada geese appeared on the 1936 federal duck stamp. That year was also when Bishop’s first book, Bishop’s Birds, was published.

Queeny and Bishop also got along so well since they were both interested in wildlife photography. Bishop shot movies of ducks that “documented the uncanny movements of flying ducks that had previously been only rumors.” As the outdoor writer Nash Buckingham once wrote, “Thanks to the painstaking Bishop curiosity and his searching slow-motion cameras, we have the waterfowl and their ways not as we suppose them to be, but as God made them.”

The sketches for Prairie Wings that Bishop did was not the only collaboration that Bishop and Queeny undertook. For more than two decades, Edgar and Ethel Queeny also commissioned Bishop to sketch an annual Christmas card. Bishop continued his creative pursuits almost up until the time of his death in 1975, with his last book, The Ways of Wildfowl, being published in 1971. In addition, Bishop and his wife, Helen, accompanied the Queenys on their trip to Alaska that became the basis for the book Cheechako.

Although Queeny probably devoted more time to duck study than any other aspect of conservation, it was by no means the only conservation-related activity that he engaged in while he had Wingmead. His publication of Prairie Wings was actually the second nature-related book that Queeny had published. His first book, Cheechako: The Story of an Alaskan Bear Hunt, was published in 1941. (Queeny also wrote a third book, The Spirit of Enterprise [1943], which defended private enterprise and spent a few weeks on the non-fiction bestseller list.)

Queeny’s reputation as a naturalist enabled him to become a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in 1949, a post that he would continue to hold until his death in 1968. (He also served as a trustee of Ducks Unlimited for a time in the mid-1940s.) Shortly after joining the trustees, Queeny approached friend and museum president F. Trubee Davison about traveling to East Africa to make films with the museum’s support. Queeny and a film crew traveled to Kenya and Sudan for three months and when they returned they were able to produce six films on various aspects of African culture and nature. The films included Baganda Music, The Pagan Sudan, Wandorobo, and Latuko and Wakamba, both of which had theater releases. In addition, Wandorobo was the first film to successfully film the mutually-beneficial relationship between the Wandorobo people and the honey-guide bird. Queeny would make a sixth film, Masailand, on a later trip to Kenya and Tanganyika, and would also make additional films in the United States, including Silver Lightning about Atlantic Salmon and The Great Country about Alaskan wildlife.

Queeny’s safari to Africa was led by guide Donald Ker, and the party arrived in Africa on their own plane, a DC3 nicknamed Flagship Nairobi. In addition to filming the relationship of the honeyguide bird, Queeny’s trip was significant in other ways as well. Queeny also recorded the sound of lions chewing as they fed. When the recordings were replayed that evening during dinner, lions that were around their camp in the bush began grunting in response to what they thought were real lions. Ker believed that it was the first time that recordings had been played back to wild lions. Because of concerns on how recordings could be misused in hunting, Ker went to the Game Department in Nairobi to have the laws changed to outlaw the use of recordings. On the trip, Queeny was also able to obtain the first underwater footage of hippos by using a diving bell when the party was at Mzima Springs.

Throughout his time at Wingmead, Queeny took conservation and sound wildlife management practices very seriously. In 1957, for example, prominent Arkansas conservationist and wildlife writer Carl G. Hunter took a leave of absence from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to do specialized wildlife management at Wingmead. Ultimately, Hunter would manage not only the wildlife component of Wingmead, but the agricultural component as well and he would stay at Wingmead until Queeny’s death before returning to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Hunter was pessimistic about the return of the days when large flocks of ducks would be seen over the Arkansas Prairie. As he explained in a 1959 article in the Arkansas Democrat:

Since the days of shocked rice and winter long harvesting (only about 15 years ago) newer combines have cut losses of rice in the field to less than 5 percent even under adverse harvesting conditions. The end of September finds only a rare field of uncut grain. Modern machinery moves in, turning under the stubble, and with it much of this small percentage of shattered grain.
Our vast natural feeding ground, the bottom-land timber, is flooded only irregularly. Straightening and channeling of the rivers, construction of the large dams, ditches and levees has reduced the needed overflow and made it more erratic which discourages feeding in these flat lands. Much of this area is being cleared.

Although Hunter was pessimistic about the decline in ducks that was being seen in Arkansas, a program with geese that he was carrying out at Wingmead during the 1960s was showing some positive signs. Keith Sutton explains the program in Arkansas Wildlife: A History:

Hunter obtained live-trapped birds that had been hatched the previous spring, were on the wintering grounds for the first time, and had not been imprinted to any wintering area. He clipped the primary flight feathers of the birds…but
Hunter kept them clipped for three years, until the birds had reached sexual maturity. Then he allowed the birds to become free fliers. Most of the geese migrated north, and many returned, bringing their broods with them. He eventually built a flock of two thousand geese that annually used Wingmead.

In addition, Hunter also built up a population of thirty quail coveys at Wingmead. However, Queeny was always willing to invest money to try something new, whether it involved geese, quail, or crops. Interestingly, Hunter’s programs with geese and quail at Wingmead were not the first bird-related conservation program undertaken in the Roe/De Vall’s Bluff area. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission started a three-year quail habitat demonstration project on 960 acres near Roe during the Depression in the 1930s.

Conservation work at Wingmead continued up until Queeny’s death on July 7, 1968. After Queeny’s death, Wingmead remained the property of Ethel until her death in 1975. After her death, Wingmead became the property of Barnes Hospital, which announced that the estate would be sold by sealed bids on January 8, 1976. Rumors quickly started to spread about who might be interested in purchasing Wingmead, and they ranged from Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to Anheuser-Busch. However, Wingmead was ultimately purchased by the Lyon Family and it is still owned by Frank Lyon, Jr., and his wife, Laura Jane. In the time since the Lyons purchased Wingmead, they have continued to use the property as a farm and hunting retreat. Today, Wingmead remains the premier farming and hunting estate in eastern Arkansas, and a monument to the work and legacy of Edgar Monsanto Queeny.


Beginning in the early twentieth century, duck hunting became the premier recreational activity in eastern Arkansas, particularly during the winter months. The area’s location on the Mississippi Flyway plus the presence of reservoirs and rice farming made it the ideal location for ducks to come to during the winter. Hunters learned this and quickly flocked to the area to take advantage of the ideal conditions that existed in the area.

The amount of gear needed for duck hunting meant that it was a sport mainly engaged in by the wealthy during the early years, and Queeny’s construction of Wingmead as a farm and duck hunting retreat reflects the trend. Rex Nelson, in his article “Duck Hunter’s Mecca,” indicated that Queeny had turned Wingmead into “one of the world’s most famous hunting clubs,” and that the estate “played host to some of the nation’s top business leaders and political figures.” In addition, as Steve Wright and Steve Bowman write in the Arkansas Duck Hunter’s Almanac, “After Queeny purchased the land [for Wingmead] in 1939, the reputation of Arkansas’ Grand Prairie duck hunting began a steady rise.”

Although hunting could be very destructive to wildlife populations, work that was done at Wingmead ensured that the populations were maintained. In addition, some of the natural features constructed at Wingmead to aid in hunting were pioneering in Arkansas. For example, Carl G. Hunter, who began wildlife management at Wingmead in 1957, wrote that Wingmead had “one of the very oldest of the green tree reservoirs, constructed in the ‘30s.” Green-tree reservoirs, which were forested bottomland that was shallowly flooded in the fall and winter to attract ducks, were an important feature in attracting ducks to be hunted. Wingmead ultimately had three reservoirs built by Queeny – Wingmead, Greenwood, and Paddlefoot.

However, it was not just Wingmead’s green-tree reservoirs that were an important conservation feature of the estate. Peckerwood Lake was also a significant component. As Hunter wrote, “Two of the most famous of these [dead tree reservoirs] are Peckerwood Lake and the Claypool Reservoir [Poinsett County] in East Arkansas which together have held a population of a half million ducks.”

Conservation work at Wingmead, particularly with respect to waterfowl and other birds, was also significant for the period. Queeny and Hunter’s work with geese, in which they were able to develop “a flock of two thousand geese that annually used Wingmead” was significant as was Hunter’s ability to build up a population of thirty quail coveys.

Although the conservation work completed at Wingmead from the 1930s until the late 1960s was important, one of the key reasons for its success was the knowledge and involvement of Queeny. His work and knowledge of waterfowl, particularly, was especially noteworthy in Arkansas. The noted nature writer Nash Buckingham even recognized Queeny’s importance early on. In the introduction to Queeny’s book Cheechako, Buckingham wrote, “It is good to have gunned with Edgar Queeny the man, and to have watched his steady trend toward a sportsmanship bent upon contributions of high value.”

In addition, Queeny’s significance to the conservation movement is still recognized today just as it was by Nash Buckingham in the 1940s. As Lawrence Christensen wrote in his Dictionary of Missouri Biography, “Queeny maintained a lifelong passion for nature and its creatures” and he was considered a “recognized authority on wildlife.” In addition, Queeny’s book Prairie Wings, which was written at Wingmead and utilized his photography completed at the estate, is “recognized as a classic study of American wildfowl in flight.” The significance of Prairie Wings is further lauded by Dan J. Forrestal in his book Faith, Hope, and $5,000: The Story of Monsanto when he writes, “It [Prairie Wings] was, and is, a classic. The photographs, many taken at extremely high speed, were by Queeny himself; the writing likewise; the drawings were by a close friend, Richard D. Bishop. Published by J. B. Lippincott in 1947, it was imposing in size and was almost instantly recognized by outdoorsmen as the most definitive treatment of the subject ever to come onto the market.”

However, Queeny’s significance in the conservation movement was not just limited to his writing. His photography for Prairie Wings, which was the first use of the Magic Eye camera for wildlife photography, was referred to by Life magazine as “among the world’s finest.” In addition to his still photography, his conservation movies contributed knowledge to our understanding of wildlife. Specifically, Wandorobo was the first film to successfully film the mutually-beneficial relationship between the Wandorobo people and the honey-guide bird.

Queeny’s knowledge of wildlife and his conservation work was also recognized by organizations outside of Arkansas and Missouri. Beginning in the 1940s, Queeny served as a Trustee of Ducks Unlimited and from 1949 until his death in 1968, he also served as a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The American Museum of Natural History also recognized his skills in documenting wildlife, sponsoring his safaris to Africa in 1949 and 1952 that led to many of his wildlife documentaries.

The influence of Edgar Monsanto Queeny and his work at Wingmead on Arkansas’s conservation history is unmistakable. Carl Hunter, former wildlife manager at Wingmead, summed it up best when he said, with respect to the conservation work at Wingmead that “Everybody looked to Wingmead to see what we were doing.” Due to the importance of the conservation work that was carried out at Wingmead from the 1930s until Edgar Queeny’s death in 1968, Wingmead is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A with statewide significance.

In addition, because Wingmead is the property in Arkansas that is most related to the conservation work of Edgar Monsanto Queeny, most notably his work with waterfowl, it is also being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with statewide significance under Criterion B.

Finally, Wingmead is being nominated under Criteria Consideration G: Properties that have Achieved Significance Within the Past Fifty Years since it continued to achieve significance into a period less than fifty years before the nomination. The period of significance for the nomination of Wingmead ends in 1968 to reflect the year of Queeny’s death and the end of his conservation work at Wingmead.


Baker, Russell Pierce. From Memdag to Norsk: A Historical Directory of Arkansas Post Offices, 1832-1971. Hot Springs, AR: Arkansas Genealogical Society, 1988.

Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas. Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1890.

Bowman, Steve, and Steve Wright. Arkansas Duck Hunter’s Almanac. Fayetteville, AR: Ozark Delta Press, Inc., 1998.

Capooth, Wayne. “Gift of Memory Brings Long-Ago Hunts to Life.” Delta Farm Press 13 January 2006. Found at:

Christensen, Lawrence O. Dictionary of Missouri Biography. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1999.

Forrestal, Dan J. Faith, Hope, and $5,000: The Story of Monsanto. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977.

Gray, Hunter W. Private Tour: At Home in Arkansas. Little Rock, AR: Junior League of Little Rock, Inc., 1990.

Griffee, Carol. The History of Duck Hunting in and Around Stuttgart, Arkansas. Pamphlet published by the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum and in the collection of the Arkansas Studies Institute, no date.

Herne, Brian. White Hunters: The Golden Age of African Safaris. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999.

Hunter, Carl G. “Managing Green Tree Reservoirs for Waterfowl.” Paper presented at the Third International Waterfowl Symposium, New Orleans, Louisiana, 29 January 1978. In the Carl G. Hunter Collection (M89-16) at the University of Central Arkansas Archives, Box 1, File 6.

Information on the Carl G. Hunter Collection at the University of Central Arkansas from

Information on Frederick Wallace Dunn found at

Information on Frederick Wallace Dunn found at
Information on Peckerwood Lake from:

Information on the Edgar Monsanto Queeny Collection of the American Museum of Natural History. Found at:

Nelson, Rex. “Duck Hunter’s Mecca,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2 January 2010.

Queeny, Edgar Monsanto. Cheechako. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1941.

Queeny, Edgar Monsanto. Prairie Wings. Exton, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. 1946.

“Report on the Inventory of Refuges, Public Shooting Grounds and Private Duck Clubs – Mississippi Flyway.” Reported by Mississippi Flyway Wildlife Biologists and compiled by Hunter-Donaldson of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, June 1956. In the Carl G. Hunter Collection (M89-16) at the University of Central Arkansas Archives, Box 1, File 5.

“Speaking of Pictures…Chemical Tycoon Excels at Wild-Duck Photography.” Life Volume 21, No. 11, 9 September 1946, pp. 12-14.

Sutter, Paul S. Driven Wild: How the Fight Against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002.

Sutton, Keith, ed. Arkansas Wildlife: A History. Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press, 1998.

Thompson, Prentice (long-time Wingmead employee). Interview with Rick Shutt, Wingmead Chief Operating Officer. 26 January 2011.

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