John E. Little (1858–1928)

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, John E. Little was a wealthy cotton planter and banker whose Lollie Plantation (a.k.a. Little Plantation or Lollie Bottoms) located on the Arkansas River near Mayflower (Faulkner County) was one of the largest and most successful plantations in central Arkansas. The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County), Hendrix College in Conway, and the Conway Regional Health System benefited from his financial support. Built in 1919, his Neoclassical-style home in Conway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 26, 1999.

John Elijah Little was born on February 24, 1858, near the community of Rocky Point in Attala County, Mississippi. He was the youngest of eight children born to William B. Little, who was a planter, and Abigail Massey Little. In 1880, after receiving his education locally, he began farming near Kosciusko, Mississippi.

In 1883, he moved to Arkansas to work as an overseer on Lee B. Atkeison’s plantation, which was located on the Arkansas River near Conway. From 1885 to 1887, Little leased farmland in Yell County.

In 1885, he married Laura David “Lollie” Trundle, who was a sister-in-law of L. B. Atkeison. The couple had one daughter. In 1897, after his first wife’s death in 1893, he married Sammie Ann Glenn of Benton (Saline County). The couple had four children.

In 1887, Little began purchasing the land that became Lollie Plantation, eventually acquiring 3,200 acres. On his plantation, which he named after his first wife, white and African American tenant farmers grew cotton and alfalfa hay and raised beef cattle, hogs, and more. His cattle and hogs were shipped to the markets in St. Louis, Missouri, via the railroad in Mayflower. A plantation store, a cotton gin, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, a school, a levee, and a post office were built on the premises. Little served as the postmaster from 1888 until postal services ended in 1911.

In 1905, Little sold land near his plantation to future governor George Washington Donaghey of Conway. Like Donaghey, Little committed his time and financial resources to support higher education. In 1907, he served with Donaghey on the committee that successfully brought Arkansas State Normal School (now UCA) to Conway. In 1917, after Little donated land to Hendrix College in 1914, he served alongside Donaghey on the college’s board of trustees.

In 1917, Little served with Donaghey on the board of directors of the Faulkner County Bank and Trust Company in Conway and later became vice president of the institution.

In the early 1920s, Little donated the land for the construction of the Faulkner County Hospital, which evolved into the Conway Regional Health System.

Little died on October 4, 1928, of heart failure at his home in Conway. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Conway.

The Flood of 1927 had severely damaged Lollie Plantation, signaling the beginning of its decline. During the next twenty-five years, the Great Depression, drought, loss of farm tenant labor, use of synthetic fibers instead of cotton, and other developments hastened the plantation’s deterioration. In 1953, the estate was divided among Little’s surviving heirs.

In 2014, Conway opened its relocated municipal airport, the Conway Regional Airport at Cantrell Field, on land that was formerly part of Lollie Plantation.

For additional information:
Buchanan, Bob. “Lollie Plantation: A Mixed Memory.” Log Cabin Democrat, March 21, 1993, pp. 3–4, 21.

“Hendrix Trustees Receive Reports.” Log Cabin Democrat, March 27, 1917, p. 1.

“J. E. Little Dead at Conway Home.” Arkansas Gazette, October 5, 1928, p. 10.

“J. E. Little House.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at (accessed August 16, 2023).

Ledbetter, Calvin R. Carpenter from Conway: George Washington Donaghey as Governor of Arkansas, 1909–1913. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.

“Lollie Plantation: Looking Back.” Faulkner County Historical Society. (accessed August 16, 2023).

“The Meeting in Little Rock: Conway Citizens Assemble at Marion Hotel.” Log Cabin Democrat, June 27, 1907, p. 1.

“Three Banks End Prosperous Year.” Log Cabin Democrat, January 10, 1917, p. 1.

Walter, Paulette H., and Alan C. Paulson. Images of America: Historic Faulkner County. Charleston, SC: Acadia Publishing, 1999.

Melanie K. Welch
Mayflower, Arkansas


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