James Peter Faucette (1867–1956)
James Peter Faucette was a politician, businessman, and the third mayor of Argenta, now North Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was a leader in the separation of Argenta from Little Rock (Pulaski County) after a forced annexation.
Jim Faucette was born on September 28, 1867, in Pope Station, Mississippi, the fifth child and second son of James Beard Faucette and Eliza Jane Hubbard. The Faucette family settled in Texas in 1878 and then in Arkansas in 1880, moving to Searcy (White County), Dover (Pope County), and Russellville (Pope County) within a year. Faucette moved to Argenta, a small settlement on the north shore on the Arkansas River, opposite Little Rock in 1885, following his older brother Will Faucette, who settled there around 1883.
Upon moving to Argenta, Faucette worked as a locomotive fireman with the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad. In 1888, Faucette quit the railroad to enter business with his brother. The brothers leased the Arlington Hotel in Argenta and later operated a boarding house and saloon. On September 28, 1904, Faucette married Emma May Hogins. The couple had two daughters.
After three unsuccessful attempts, the citizens of the small settlement of Argenta voted formally to incorporate. However, the city of Little Rock, which opposed the incorporation, was able to annex Argenta forcibly in an 1890 election. In 1893, Will Faucette was elected to the Little Rock City Council as an alderman from the Eighth Ward, which was how Argenta was then known. While his brother entered politics, Jim Faucette entered into various business ventures, including operating a saloon and restaurant in 1895 and organizing the North Little Rock Ice and Electric Company in 1896 and the Faucette Brothers Bank (later Twin City Bank) in 1901.
Early in 1901, Faucette, his brother, and others still resentful over the 1890 annexation began to make plans for the separation of Argenta from Little Rock. While creating a new special school district north of the river, Faucette and others incorporated the city of North Little Rock north of Argenta. In 1903, after the passage of what was commonly known as the “Hoxie–Walnut Ridge Bill”—which allowed a city, or a portion thereof, to be annexed to another city located within a mile—the citizens of North Little Rock and the Eighth Ward (Argenta) held an election in which the annexation of Argenta by North Little Rock was approved. After many court cases, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the law in a decision in February 1904.
Will Faucette was elected mayor of the newly combined city of North Little Rock in April 1904, serving until 1909 when Edward Ramsey was elected the second mayor. (The city changed its name to Argenta in 1906.) Jim Faucette continued to serve as president of Twin City Bank until 1906. He later held the position of general manager of the Rose City Cotton Oil Company. When Ramsey resigned in 1910, William Faucette returned to his post; he then resigned in January 1911 after being elected to the state House of Representatives. Jim Faucette was selected to fill his brother’s unexpired term as mayor. He was elected to a full term in 1911 and reelected in 1913 and 1915. It was during Faucette’s second term that the North Little Rock City Hall, still in use today, was constructed.
In mid-December 1914, Jim Faucette was partially paralyzed from a stroke. For his health, the Faucettes immediately moved to Hot Springs (Garland County) and later moved to Long Beach, California, for almost two years. Faucette’s Argenta home was bombed in January 1915 while he was recuperating in Hot Springs. The attack was blamed on Faucette’s political enemies, but no one was ever arrested for the crime. Mord Roberts served as acting mayor from October 15, 1915, through July 1917.
Faucette and his family moved to Long Beach, California, in June 1917 and stayed until June 1918, when they returned to central Arkansas, settling in Little Rock. The family lived in Little Rock until 1923, when they moved back to California. Faucette lived there until Emma Faucette’s death in 1936, when he returned to Arkansas.
Faucette is credited with encouraging the Argenta City Council to change the city’s name to North Little Rock. While living in California, Faucette noticed that property values in a city adjacent to Hollywood rose when the city changed its name to West Hollywood. Faucette believed that Argenta would benefit if it was associated with the better-known Little Rock.
After his return to North Little Rock in 1936, Faucette did not reenter politics but remained active in the community. Fondly known as “Big Jim,” he died on January 12, 1956, after a long illness. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Little Rock.
For additional information:
Bradburn, Cary. On the Opposite Shore: The Making of North Little Rock. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Company, 2004.
Faucette Brothers Papers. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Nutt, Tim G. “Floods, Flatcars, and Floozies: Creating the City of North Little Rock, Arkansas.” Pulaski County Historical Review 41 (Summer 1993): 26–38.
Timothy G. Nutt
University of Arkansas Libraries
This entry, originally published in Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives, appears in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture in an altered form. Arkansas Biography is available from the University of Arkansas Press.
Last Updated: 10/24/2012