Cleburne County Draft War
On the morning of July 7, 1918, Sheriff Jasper Duke and four deputies traveled to a rural area southwest of Heber Springs in search of delinquents who had not registered for the draft, and they arrived at the home of Tom Adkisson, whose son Bliss had been delinquent since October of the previous year. A shootout ensued, and posse member Porter Hazlewood was fatally wounded.
Duke returned to Heber Springs to recruit more deputies. With approximately 25 men, he returned to the Adkisson home, but during the interim Adkisson had also recruited more men, other deserters and delinquents from the area. Another gun battle erupted, this one lasting about 45 minutes, before the resisters fled and set fire to the underbrush to discourage pursuit.
Later that day, sheriffs and deputies from surrounding counties reinforced the Cleburne County posse and bloodhounds were brought in. The next day, thirty members of the National Guard arrived to bolster law enforcement officials. During the next couple of days, the soldiers and posse members raided through the countryside arresting draft resisters and their sympathizers and confiscating goods and ammunition that might otherwise be available to the resisters. A Russellite preacher and his family were put in jail, and another man and his son were arrested for carrying a copy of The Finished Mystery by Charles Taze Russell (founder of the Russellites). The book condemned the federal government for demanding that "peace-loving men" sacrifice themselves to the "butchery of their fellows" in the name of heaven, and it urged resistance to military service. Such revolutionary notions as refusing to kill one's fellow men were, of course, considered subversive.
On July 13, the same day the National Guard returned to Little Rock, a son-in-law of Tom Adkisson surrendered in neighboring White County, and several other resisters, including the Adkissons, turned themselves in during the next few days. Tom and Bliss Adkisson were charged with the murder of Hazlewood. Tom was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, while Bliss was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison.