Andrew Jackson (A. J.) Walls (1862–1950)
Andrew Jackson (A. J.) Walls was a Lonoke County pioneer, planter, and elected public official in the early days of the county. He was a state representative, chairman of the State Democratic Committee, and father and grandfather of many prominent Lonoke County lawyers and politicians.
A. J. Walls was born on April 2, 1862, in the Pleasant Hills community in northern Lonoke County (about ten miles north of Lonoke, the county seat). He was the son of Jackson Walls, a native of North Carolina, and Catherine Dickerson Cook, who was a native of Tennessee. Tax records reveal that the elder Jackson owned real estate in Pleasant Hills in 1852. He married Catherine Dickerson Cook, his second wife, in 1860.
Walls began life at Pleasant Hills in a log cabin with two half brothers, one half sister, and one stepbrother. He attended schools of the community and finished high school at Lonoke.
On March 2, 1882, Walls married Mary Ann (Mollie) Robinson, sister of Joe T. Robinson, at the home of the bride’s father. This began a long relationship with Senator Joe T. Robinson, one of the state’s political legends.
Walls attended the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and, in 1885, completed the course of instruction there. He began his practice of medicine in Pleasant Hills. In 1887, he attended a medical course at the Memphis Medical College, and he moved to an apartment there with his wife and three children. He obtained a teacher’s license, and in November 1886, he taught school for one term at the local school. In addition, he maintained a small retail store in the community.
In 1898, Walls’s life took a new direction. Because of dissatisfaction with the nominee for sheriff of Lonoke County, he ran as an independent candidate for sheriff and was elected. He served as sheriff and collector for six years (1898–1904) and then as county judge from 1904 to 1914. At this time, many changes were taking place in transportation. Automobiles appeared and, with them, the demand for improved roads. During his administration, the first macadam-type roads in Lonoke County were relocated and built to accommodate automobiles.
A year or two after moving to Lonoke, Walls sold his farm of about 300 acres in the northern part of the county and purchased 560 acres in the Tomberlin community of southern Lonoke county. In 1907, he constructed a house on the property and, upon its completion, moved his family there in September 1908. This house is listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places because of its affiliation with Walls, his children, and his grandchildren who became noteworthy lawyers, judges, and politicians in Lonoke County.
In 1912, Walls’s brother-in-law, Joseph T. Robinson, who was then serving in the U.S. Congress, decided to run for governor of Arkansas. Walls was active in Robinson’s campaign, serving as his campaign chairman. Robinson was, the following year, successful in his race for the U.S. Senate. At that time, Walls was chairman of the State Democratic Committee, and he served in that position for a number of years. He was appointed as United States marshal for the eastern district of Arkansas in 1914 and remained in the office until the Republicans won in 1922. At that time, he tendered his resignation. He was an unsuccessful candidate for secretary of state in 1922 and returned to his farm in December of that year. He was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives from Lonoke County in 1933. This term ended a distinguished twenty-five-year career as a public servant in Lonoke County and the state of Arkansas.
In 1928, Walls organized a stock company and built a second cotton gin in Coy (Lonoke County), thus allowing for the mechanization of cotton processing in the area and encouraging the production of cotton as the major crop. In the 1930s, he and his two youngest sons, Edward and Francis, became more active in the farm operations. In 1945, at the age of eighty-one, he retired from farming.
He was active and of a sound mind until 1950, when he became ill with an undetermined ailment. He died at home on August 15, 1950, at the age of eighty-eight, and he was buried at the Walls-Howell Cemetery in northern Lonoke County. He was survived by his wife, Eugenia, nine children, twenty-one grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren.
For additional information:
“A. J. Walls, 88, Lonoke County Pioneer Dies.” Arkansas Gazette, August 16, 1950, p. 21.
“Former Official Dies.” Arkansas Democrat. August 16, 1950, p. 22.
Weller, Cecil Edward, Jr. Joe T. Robinson: Always a Loyal Democrat. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1998.
Edwina Walls Mann
Little Rock, Arkansas
Joseph Edward Walls
Last Updated: 08/17/2020