Entries - Starting with M

Murphy, Sara Alderman

Sara Alderman Murphy was an influential civic activist and educator in Arkansas in the twentieth century. As an adult, the Tennessee native moved with her family to Arkansas at the beginning of the turmoil surrounding the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and became active in the efforts to resolve the city’s often acrimonious school battles. Sara Alderman was born on June 17, 1924, in Wartrace, Tennessee, to David M. Alderman and Sadie Stephens Alderman. She earned a BA in social studies and English from George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in 1945. The following year, she earned an MS in journalism from Columbia University, where she said she developed a social consciousness about race that …

Murray, James (Murder of)

On December 6, 1897, the dead body of Constable James Murray was found by the roadside near Bonanza (Sebastian County). His hands were tied, and he had an injury to his head and bruises around his neck. Lying nearby was the unconscious body of Grant McBroom, whom he had earlier arrested. Both Murray and McBroom were white. The case attracted national attention, with newspapers such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Herald speculating wildly and describing the murder as a “lynching” to showcase the apparent lawlessness of western Arkansas during this post-Reconstruction era. Bonanza and nearby Jenny Lind (Sebastian County) are located south of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and were centers for coal mining in the region. Bonanza enjoyed …

Murray, John Edward

John Edward Murray was a West Point cadet and Confederate officer who is popularly known as the youngest general in the Confederate army, though he was never thus promoted. John Murray was born in March 1843 to John C. Murray and Sarah Ann (Carter) Murray in Fauquier County, Virginia. His parents also had three other sons and one daughter. At the age of six, Murray moved with his family to Arkansas, settling near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where his father became a judge. In 1860, Murray received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point and attended that institution until the next year. With the secession of Arkansas, Murray returned home, where his military skills were put …

Murrell, John Andrews

Among legendary characters associated with nineteenth-century Arkansas, John Andrews Murrell occupies a prominent place. Counterfeiting and thieving along the Mississippi River, Murrell was only a petty outlaw in a time and place with little law enforcement. However, he became a greater figure in legend following his death. John A. Murrell was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, in 1806. His father, Jeffrey Gilliam Murrell, was a respected farmer who, with his wife, Zilpha Murrell, raised eight children. Shortly after John was born, the Murrells and other relations moved to Williamson County, Tennessee. However, Murrell’s father fell on hard times, and his sons, who were wild and errant, began to have trouble with the law. At the age of sixteen, Murrell, along …

Murton, Thomas Orhelius

Tom Murton is best known for his attempts to reform the Arkansas prison system during the governorship of Winthrop Rockefeller. Intelligent and conscientious with a dry sense of humor, Murton could also prove abrasive and uncompromising with others, especially his superiors. His uncovering of three skeletons at Cummins prison farm in early 1968 gained national attention, and his handling of the matter drew the ire of the Rockefeller administration. Murton wrote a bestselling book about his time in Arkansas, Accomplices to the Crime (1969), on which the 1980 movie starring Robert Redford was loosely based. Thomas Orhelius Murton was born in Los Angeles, California, on March 15, 1928, the son of Oregon native Edmund T. Murton and Oklahoma native Bessie Glass Stevens …

Muscadine

aka: Vitus rotundifolia
Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia) are grapes native to Arkansas and other parts of the southeastern United States. The grapes have thick skins, large seeds, and a unique, soft, musky-flavored pulp. Cultivars can vary in color from almost white to nearly black. Common names for dark-fruited muscadines include bullace, bull grape, and Southern Fox. The term “scuppernong” is often used to refer to all bronze-fruited varieties, but it is actually the name of a specific muscadine cultivar. The muscadine cultivars most commonly grown in Arkansas for commercial juice and wine production include Carlos, a bronze cultivar that produces light-colored products and white wine, and Noble, a dark cultivar that makes deep-red products. Consumers who are accustomed to the unique qualities of muscadines, …

Museum of American History

The Museum of American History, formerly known as The Museum/Cabot High, is the only student-founded and -operated museum of history in Arkansas. The award-winning museum, which is owned by the Cabot School District, was founded in 1985 on the campus of Cabot High School and was later moved to a building in downtown Cabot (Lonoke County). The idea for a museum operated by teachers and students originated in 1981 after high school teacher Mike Polston observed how historical artifacts sparked his students’ interest. He and fellow teacher David Howard formed a school history club with the stated goal of collecting, preserving, and displaying objects associated with the history of the United States. Exhibits were initially constructed in the school library; …

Museum of Automobiles

The Museum of Automobiles is located atop Petit Jean Mountain in Conway County. This museum is primarily dedicated to the exhibition of quality antique and vintage automobiles, as well as related items for the cultural and educational benefit of the general public. Additional exhibits include an antique gun collection, a display of Arkansas license plates, and a player piano. When Winthrop Rockefeller made Arkansas his home in 1953, he developed Winrock Farms on Petit Jean Mountain. In 1961, he purchased a collection of fine antique and classic cars from the James Melton museum of Hypoluxo, Florida. He had a building constructed on Petit Jean Mountain to house the cars and named it the Museum of Automobiles. He opened the museum …

Museum of Discovery

The Museum of Discovery, founded in 1927, is the oldest museum in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Its mission as of 2012 is “to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.” The original name of the Museum of Discovery was the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, and it was founded by local author Julia Burnell (Bernie) Smade Babcock. She created the institution in response to the commonly held belief outside the state that Arkansas had no cultural centers and that its citizens were “bumpkins.” The museum’s articles of incorporation emphasized popular education and intellectual subject matter, “encouraging and developing the study of natural science…to the end of furnishing popular instruction and advancing educational standards.” …

Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie

The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie in Stuttgart (Arkansas County)—also known as the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum and the Arkansas County Museum—was formed in 1974 by two lifelong Arkansas County residents, Bennie Burkett and Jack Crum, in order to preserve Arkansas County’s heritage as a center for rice production and duck hunting. The museum is funded partly by quarterly donations from the city but mostly by yearly contributions from “the donor club.” Its board of trustees is appointed by the city council. The construction of the museum began after a nonprofit group of interested citizens raised funds to build a 1,500-square-foot building on the property of the city park. It was finished in 1974. Through the years, four additions have …

Museums

Arkansas’s many museums—most focusing on state and local history, science, and military history—are an important part of Arkansas’s culture, as they promote education and the preservation of valuable artifacts. The University of Arkansas Museum in Fayetteville (Washington County), which was founded in 1873, is most likely the first public museum in Arkansas. (The university maintains the collections of the museum, though there is no dedicated museum space as of 2013.) Another early museum is the Fort Smith Museum of History, originally called the Old Commissary Museum, which was founded in 1910 in a building built in 1838; the present-day museum is located in a different historic building, the Atkinson-Williams Building. The Museum of Natural History and Antiquities (which later became …

Music and Musicians

Arkansas has long been among the most significant contributors to the nation’s musical foundation, serving as fertile ground for the development of multiple genres as well as being native home to some of the best-known and influential musicians, singers, songwriters, and songs that the world has known. Much of this is due to the state’s geography—both its diverse landscape and populace and its proximity to key musical hubs and regions in the nation. Pre-European Exploration through the Nineteenth Century “From the first, music mattered. You can even see it in what the archaeologists find…fragments of cane flutes and whistles older than Columbus,” wrote Robert Cochran in his history of Arkansas music, Our Own Sweet Sounds: A Celebration of Popular Music …

Muslims

Islam is the world’s second-largest religion, with 7 million Muslims living in the United States and more than 2.1 billion all over the globe. The largest concentrations of Muslims can be found in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, with Indonesia being the largest Muslim country. The majority of Muslims began arriving in Arkansas in the 1960s as part of an exchange program with the universities in the state. Most of the students came from the Middle East, India, and Bangladesh. The universities had no formal student organizations at the time, but the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) …

My Life

My Life is the autobiography of William Jefferson Clinton, a former governor of Arkansas and the forty-second president of the United States, and was written during the three years after he left the office of president in 2001. The 957-page book, published in hardcover in 2004 by Alfred A. Knopf of New York, was the most thorough memoir of a presidency ever published and the most financially successful. Knopf ordered a first printing of one and a half million copies, but two million orders were received before its release; the company ordered a second printing of 1,075,000. On the day of its release, booksellers sold more than 400,000 copies. Clinton had received a ten-million-dollar advance to write the book, which …

Myers, Amina Claudine

Arkansas native Amina Claudine Myers is a noted pianist, singer, educator, recording artist, and composer who gained prominence in Chicago, Illinois, and New York City beginning in the 1970s. She has had a long career in jazz, choral/orchestral music, and theater, and is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame. Amina Claudine Myers was born on March 21, 1942, in Blackwell (Conway County). She was raised by her great-aunt, Emma Thomas, and by her uncle, who gave her music lessons early in her life. She studied classical piano at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Morrilton (Conway County). She moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1949 and kept studying piano. She played for …

Myxozoans

Myxozoans are a group of microscopic, oligocellular, obligate endoparasites that belong to the Phylum Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones, box jellies, corals, true jellies, sea pens, and hydrozoans. There are two parasitic classes, the Malacosporea and Myxosporea, and more than 2,200 nominal species of myxozoans classified into sixty-four genera and seventeen families. Myxozoans were, for years, placed within their own phylum (Myxozoa). Similarities to cnidarians had been noted at various times but not firmly until 2007. Although morphological and genetic evidence support placement of the Myxozoa as cnidarians, and this taxonomy has been followed by some authorities, others have not reached the same conclusion; exactly where the Myxozoa fit in this taxonomic scheme is not yet entirely known. Less …