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story.lead_photo.caption Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist

ROOTS ARE REVEALED Forrest City and the tiny north Monroe County town of Fargo play a role in the latest episode of PBS' Finding Your Roots.

In a segment from Tuesday, host Henry Louis Gates Jr. traces the roots of comedian Sasheer Zamata, a former Saturday Night Live cast member.

Zamata's mother, Ivory, was one of the first students to desegregate Sam Smith Junior High School in Forrest City in 1965.

Zamata knew that story, but Gates and his researchers dug deeper and found her great-grandfather, Leroy Washington Mahon.

Mahon was likely born into slavery in South Carolina as Leroy Stenhouse, according to the program. A farmer, he left South Carolina for Arkansas around 1888. In 1911 "he established the town of Fargo," according to a document Zamata reads on the show.

"What? I did not know he made a town," she says.

Fargo is perhaps best known as the home of Fargo Agricultural School, a school for black students that opened in 1919 and operated for 30 years.

The Fargo entry at the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas had no reference to Mahon, but since seeing documents from Finding Your Roots producers, editor Guy Lancaster has updated it to read: "The town was platted in 1911 on land owned by Leroy Washington Mahon, an African American man who had migrated to Arkansas from South Carolina and started a farm in the area that became Fargo."

In an email, Lancaster says: "More research should be done on Mahon and his family. It's a case where the Fargo Agricultural School, being more well known, kind of absorbed all the attention of later historians."

FLAGS FOR ROWER Brenda Leger of North Little Rock wanted to fly the flag on Dec. 30.

That's when U.S. rower and Olympic hopeful Emily Schmieg of Philadelphia, who was driving to a training camp in Austin, Texas, was to stop for the night at Leger's home.

Leger, a friend of Schmieg's mother, wanted to fill her yard with American flags to show support for Schmieg, a member of the 2019 Senior National Rowing team.

The little flags were hard to find on such short notice, so Leger posted a request to her Lakewood area neighbors on the Nextdoor app.

The response was swift.

"I had a yard full of flags," Leger says. "Neighbors dropped some off on my porch, and I looked out one time and saw people putting flags in my yard."

Schmieg "loved it," Leger says. "It couldn't have been better."

sclancy@arkansasonline.com

SundayMonday on 01/12/2020

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