Farrar Claudius Newberry (1887–1968)

Farrar Claudius Newberry—historian, businessman, philanthropist, and writer—was nationally known for his association with the Woodmen of the World (WOW). He authored several books and dozens of articles on Arkansas history topics. Newberry is also responsible for many markers placed at historical sites throughout Clark County.

Farrar Newberry was born on July 30, 1887, in Gurdon (Clark County) to Lawrence Clinton and Mattie Harris Newberry. The family moved to Arkadelphia (Clark County) in 1894.

In 1906, Newberry graduated from Arkadelphia Methodist College (which later became Henderson-Brown College) and, in 1908, received a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Newberry married Lillie Lee Thomasson on June 22, 1911, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and the couple had two sons.

Newberry was admitted to the bar and served in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1915–1916. While in the legislature, he introduced a prohibition bill now known as the Newberry Act. Passed by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1915, the law banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the state.

In 1915, Newberry began work as a field agent for Woodmen of the World, one of the nation’s largest fraternal benefit societies, based in Omaha, Nebraska. He served in key positions with that organization before becoming president in 1943. He continued as president until his retirement in 1955.

After retiring to Arkadelphia, Newberry devoted much of his time to research and writing. He composed dozens of articles on Arkansas history topics and was responsible for placing markers at many historical sites around Clark County. In particular, Newberry’s numerous newspaper columns brought local history to the attention of area residents. Active in many civic organizations, Newberry also served as president of the Arkansas Historical Association.

Newberry Hall, on the campus of what is now Henderson State University (HSU), was named in his honor. Newberry donated his colonial-style home at 11th and Henderson streets in Arkadelphia to HSU, and the university utilized the structure for a number of years, first as the president’s residence, and later for special events and meetings. Since June 2008, Newberry House, also known as Homeplace, is again the official presidential residence.

Newberry died on July 31, 1968, and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Arkadelphia.

For additional information:
Farrar Newberry Collection. Huie Library. Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Newberry Subject File. Clark County Historical Association. Riley-Hickingbotham Library Special Collections. Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Richter, Wendy, ed. Clark County, Arkansas: Past and Present. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 1992.

Syler, Allen B., et al., comps. Through the Eyes of Farrar Newberry: Clark County, Arkansas. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 2002.

Wendy Richter
Arkansas History Commission


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