In 1910, the keel was laid for the U.S. Navy’s newest battleship, the Wyoming-class USS Arkansas. Early in 1912, with the Arkansas’s scheduled commissioning just nine months away, the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) resolved to present a “stand of colors” (a national flag, a naval battalion ensign, and a state flag) to the new ship. The chapter contacted Arkansas secretary of state Earle W. Hodges requesting information on obtaining the state’s flag. Hodges informed the chapter that in fact no state flag existed. The DAR chapter thereupon launched a statewide design contest to create one. Hodges agreed to chair a committee for selecting the winning design.
Ultimately, some sixty-five designs—including crayon drawings, watercolor sketches, and even miniature silk flags—were submitted. ... The apple blossom, Arkansas’s state flower, appeared in one entry centered on a field scattered with stars representing the United States, with thirteen rays recalling the original states. On another, the flower was repeated four times within colorful blocks. Another design combined the state’s outline with its great seal. One entrant memorialized territorial governor James Miller, a hero of the War of 1812, emblazoning “I’ll try, sir,” his famous battlefield utterance, upon a blue field.
The committee decreed that the flag ought to bear the state’s name. Hocker assented and suggested that the three blue stars be rearranged, one above the name and two below. On February 26, 1913, the General Assembly adopted this design as the state’s official flag. The design remained unchanged until 1923, when the General Assembly added a fourth star to the central diamond to represent Arkansas’s membership in the Confederate States of America.