In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, millions of people would tune in weekly to watch Dallas, a night-time soap opera about the tawdry scandals and business dealings of a Texas oil family. At the same time, a family of Texas oil barons transplanted from Arkansas was involved in schemes even more bizarre than those created for television. And among them was Nelson Bunker Hunt.

The patriarch of the Hunt Family was the legendary H.L. Hunt, born in Illinois in 1889. The elder Hunt had settled in the Chicot County area by 1910 and began a cotton plantation. By the 1920s, facing ruin from a series of floods, Hunt gambled his last dollars and ended up winning a fortune in a series of poker games that included a stake in the booming oil fields of El Dorado. In El Dorado, the Hunt fortune would begin as millions of dollars of oil flowed across Union County. He had seven children with wife Lyda Bunker of Lake Village, but carried on torrid affairs with at least two other women, having eight children with them.

Dr. Ken Bridges is a Professor of History at South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado. He is the proud father of six children. He has written seven books and his columns appear in more than 85 papers in two states. Dr. Bridges can be contacted by email at kbridges@southark.edu.

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