Entries - Starting with D

Davis, Ellis CeDell

Ellis CeDell Davis was a blues musician and recording artist who helped bring blues from its rural Southern roots into the twenty-first century. He employed a unique slide guitar style and performed the traditional Delta blues he learned growing up in and around Helena (Phillips County). Although he was a longtime professional musician, recordings of his music were not available until 1983. In the late twentieth century, he recorded several albums and became a favorite with a new generation of blues fans. CeDell Davis was born on June 9, 1926, in Helena, where his mother worked as a cook but was also known as a faith healer. At age four, Davis went to live with relatives on the E. M. …

Davis, Erma Lee Glasco

Erma Lee Glasco Davis is a historian, civic leader, and educator. She is best known for preserving and communicating the legacy of her alma mater, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Junior College (the building is in use in the twenty-first century as Dunbar Magnet Middle School), and highlighting the impact this historically black institution had in Arkansas. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Erma Lee Glasco was born on December 31, 1928, in Eagle Township of Pulaski County, near Keo (Lonoke County), to Anderson Glasco and Rodelia Glasco. Her father was a stone and masonry contractor, a deacon at Mount Zion Baptist Church, a member of the Arkansas Minority Contractors Association, and a former …

Davis, Gail

aka: Betty Jeanne Grayson
Gail Davis was an Arkansas-born actress who starred as the legendary sharpshooter in the groundbreaking TV Western series Annie Oakley, which ran from 1954 through 1956. She appeared in thirty-two feature films, was guest on a number of TV shows, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and was a role model for young women. Gail Davis was born Betty Jeanne Grayson on October 5, 1925. Her mother was a homemaker and her father, W. B. Grayson, was a physician in McGehee (Desha County), which did not have a hospital, so her birth took place in Little Rock (Pulaski County). When her father became the state health officer, the …

Davis, Gregory A.

Gregory A. Davis is the founder of Davis Broadcasting, a regional media company that owns several radio stations in Columbus and Atlanta, Georgia; the stations range from urban contemporary and gospel to sports and Spanish-language formats. Davis serves as the president and CEO of Davis Broadcasting. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016, the same year that marked the thirtieth anniversary of the company he founded. Gregory Davis was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in 1948. His mother was an educator at the local black school, and his father worked in a bakery before opening a shoeshine parlor. He attended twelve years of Catholic school, graduating from St. Anne’s Academy, where he was the …

Davis, Herman

Herman Davis was an outstanding marksman who distinguished himself in the U.S. Army during World War I. General John J. Pershing listed Davis fourth on a list of the greatest heroes of World War I. Herman Davis was born on January 3, 1888, at Big Lake Island, which later became Manila (Mississippi County), the son of Jeff and Mary Ann Vance Davis. The family operated a country store and supplemented its meager income with hunting, fishing, and farming. Davis quit school after the fourth grade to help support the family. He grew up in the woods and became a hunting guide at an early age, thought to be in his teens. Davis was an accurate shot and in the period …

Davis, Howard (Lynching of)

On October 25, 1914, a mob in Newport (Jackson County) took an African-American man named Howard Davis from county authorities and hanged him for allegedly murdering Marshal James S. Payne. Davis was supposedly assisted in the murder by an accomplice, John Woodard. Some national reporting indicates that there may have been at least one more accomplice. While there is no information available on Davis or Woodard, or on Bob Griffin, to whose house Davis fled after the shooting, Payne was apparently a popular resident of Newport. He was forty-three years old at the time of these events and had a wife and five children. Born in Missouri in 1871, he married Parlee Belford in 1892, and by 1900 they were …

Davis, Jeff

Jeff Davis was a populist governor who railed against corporations and often resorted to race baiting in his campaigns. His tenure in office proved extremely divisive, creating for him many enemies. However, Davis dominated Democratic politics in the state in the early years of the twentieth century, being elected to the office of governor three times and going on to become a U.S. senator. Jeff Davis was born on May 6, 1862, near Rocky Comfort (Little River County) to Lewis W. Davis, a Baptist preacher, lawyer, and county judge, and Elizabeth Phillips Scott. Named for the president of the Confederacy, Davis enjoyed a relatively privileged childhood. In 1869, his family moved to Dover (Pope County) and then, in 1873, moved …

Davis, L. Clifford

L. Clifford Davis is an attorney whose active participation in the legal challenges of the civil rights movement began when he first sought admission to the all-white University of Arkansas School of Law. That effort was the precursor to a distinguished career in the legal profession, one that included two decades of service as a judge in the Texas court system. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2007. L. Clifford Davis was born on October 12, 1924, in Wilton (Little River County). The youngest of seven children of Augustus Davis and Dora Duckett Davis, he was raised on the family farm and received his early education in the Wilton schools. As the town’s educational offerings …

Davis, Lawrence Arnette, Sr.

Lawrence A. Davis Sr. served as president of Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N) from 1943 until his resignation in 1973. During his tenure, he oversaw the school’s 1972 transition from college to university status as part of the University of Arkansas System. The merger entailed a name change to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), and Davis served one year as UAPB’s first chancellor. During his long tenure, Davis, whom Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) residents and students at AM&N affectionately called “Prexy,” was among the most prominent heads of a historically black college (HBC) in the country. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1996. Lawrence Arnette Davis was born on July …

Davis, William Delford (Willie)

Willie Davis was a millionaire business executive, civic leader, and former football standout who grew up in Miller County. Davis achieved athletic success in football at the high school, college, and professional levels. After retiring from a National Football League (NFL) career of twelve seasons (1958–1969), he moved into the business world, where he attained equal success. Davis was a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. William Delford (Willie) Davis was born on July 24, 1934, in Lisbon, Louisiana, to David and Nodie Davis. After his parents separated when he was eight, his mother moved the family to Texarkana (Miller County). His mother supported the family by working as a cook at the Texarkana Country Club. Willie Davis …

Davis, William Emmet

Photographer William Emmett Davis distinguished himself as a commercial photographer for forty years and, beginning in 1983, worked as a fine art photographer. Davis had aesthetic connections with photographers on the West Coast and worked almost exclusively in Arkansas. William E. Davis was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 14, 1918, to E. N. Davis and Mayson Wise Davis; he had no siblings. His father was a physician. Davis attended local schools and then the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). There, he took two years of pre-med courses. The course of study was interrupted when Davis enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. From 1941 to 1945, he was a fighter pilot aboard …

Davis, William Henry (Willie)

William Henry (Willie) Davis was a professional baseball player who spent eighteen years in the major leagues before retiring at the end of the 1979 season. Spending most of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Davis played a key role on the franchise’s 1963 and 1965 World Series championship teams, and, while he finished his career with the California Angels, Davis held a number of Los Angeles Dodgers batting records at the time of his retirement. Willie Davis was born on April 15, 1940, in Mineral Springs (Howard County), but he grew up in Los Angeles, California. A multi-sport athletic star at Theodore Roosevelt High School, Davis was a world-class performer in track and field, specializing in the 100-yard dash …

Day It Came to Earth, The

The Day It Came to Earth is a 1977 horror/science fiction feature film directed by Arkansan Harry Thomason. It was filmed in and around Little Rock (Pulaski County). Running at eighty-eight minutes and rated PG (for violence), the movie features a number of local Arkansas actors, such as Little Rock advertising executive Robert (Bob) Ginnaven (1937–2008) in addition to comedian George Gobel near the end of his career and actress Rita Wilson at the beginning of hers. The story, written by Paul Fisk, begins with a glowing meteorite falling into a secluded pond. Gangsters have dumped the body of one of their victims into the pond. The water takes on rejuvenating powers from the meteorite, causing the dead body to …

Day, Clyde “Pea Ridge”

Known as the “hog-calling pitcher” in a baseball career spanning the 1920s and early 1930s, Clyde Henry “Pea Ridge” Day transported his considerable talents, his hometown’s name, and a slice of the lively culture of the Arkansas hills onto the national scene. Day’s fun-loving showmanship and competitive spirit brought rare publicity to his hometown and home state. Clyde Henry Day was born on August 25, 1899, the second child of James (Jim) and Elizabeth Day. Day’s family lived on a farm and operated a steam-powered sawmill three miles north of Pea Ridge (Benton County), near the Missouri state line. His birthplace is taken to be Pea Ridge, although family members think the actual birth may have taken place in McDonald …

Day, Patrick Alan (Pat)

Patrick Alan Day is a retired thoroughbred jockey with 8,803 victories, many of which came at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County). Born on October 13, 1953, in Brush, Colorado, Pat Day wrestled in high school, once winning the state championship for his weight class. After graduating, he participated briefly in professional rodeo bull riding before turning his attention to thoroughbred horse racing. Standing four feet eleven inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, Day adapted quickly to the sport, riding Foreblunged to his first career victory on July 29, 1973, at the Prescott Downs Racetrack in Prescott, Arizona. Day dominated thoroughbred racing throughout the Midwest in the 1970s and secured his first major win on the East …

De Ann Cemetery Historic Section

The De Ann Cemetery Historic Section is part of the Prescott City Cemetery located in Prescott (Nevada County). The original cemetery, the De Ann section, was created in the 1870s and officially opened in 1880. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 1, 2005. The cemetery is located on U.S. Highway 371/Greenlawn Street to the west of downtown Prescott. The original section is located south of the highway, and an addition is located to the north. Only the original section was added to the National Register. It is named for Prairie D’Ane (or De Ann), on which it rests. The earliest dated grave in the cemetery is for an infant who died on December 18, …

De Queen (Sevier County)

De Queen, a railroad town founded just a few years before the start of the twentieth century, is the county seat of Sevier County and also the county’s largest city. De Queen is located at the intersection of two major U.S. highways: U.S. 71, which runs north to south, and U.S. 70, which runs east to west. Post Reconstruction through the Gilded Age De Queen owes its existence to the arrival of what eventually became the Kansas City Southern Railroad, which connects Kansas City, Missouri, with Gulf Coast ports at Port Arthur, Texas. The railroad was the vision of Arthur E. Stilwell, a Kansas City businessman who wanted to build a line from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico …

De Queen and Eastern Railroad Machine Shop

The De Queen and Eastern Railroad Machine Shop, located in De Queen (Sevier County), was built in 1905 for repairing and maintaining train engines. It is one of the only buildings constructed during the early years of the Eastern Railroad Company and by 2019 was also the only remaining railroad shop in that area of the state. The shop was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 20, 1996. A long, one-story building with brick masonry and tall glass windows on its façade, it is notable for its Italianate architecture, rare for buildings with an industrial use. Its large curved windows remain intact. On top of the building is a monitor roof with small windows for more …

De Queen Bee

The De Queen Bee was established by printer Walter A. Boyd and lawyer J. W. Bishop of Nashville (Howard County). The newspaper has been serving De Queen (Sevier County) and the surrounding areas since June 4, 1897. Some sources report that the partnership began when Boyd and Bishop were sitting on the courthouse steps in Nashville discussing the future of the developing railroad town of De Queen. Seeing the new town as an opportunity, they decided to start a newspaper, naming it the De Queen Bee. A subscription was one dollar a year, with the paper being published every Friday. The partnership lasted for only three issues before the paper was sold to E. C. Winford. Leadership of the paper …

De Queen Commercial Historic District

The downtown buildings of what is now the De Queen Commercial Historic District were built from 1900 to 1961. The district is locally significant under Criterion A on the National Register of Historic Places as the original commercial center supporting the city of De Queen (Sevier County). The district was listed on the National Register on January 26, 2012. The district boundaries encircle thirty-five buildings. Contributing buildings retain many of their historic features, with the historic integrity of this community at fifty-five percent intact. The identity of the area is defined through its proximity to the courthouse and its remaining historic structures. Historically, the buildings in this district were related to commerce, healthcare, recreation and culture, and government. There were …

De Soto Expedition, Route of the

When the Spanish expedition of Hernando de Soto crossed the Mississippi River on June 28, 1541 (June 18 on the Julian calendar, which was used at the time), it entered what is now Arkansas. It spent the next eleven months roaming around the state until de Soto’s death on May 31, 1542 (May 21 on the Julian calendar). After his death, the survivors made their way to Mexico. There have been many attempts to identify the expedition’s route through Arkansas, using information from the four written accounts of the expedition. Three of these were written by men who had accompanied the expedition, and the fourth was authored forty or fifty years later, based on interviews with survivors. The route reconstructions …

de Soto, Hernando

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who led an expedition into the southern United States. He and his soldiers were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Arkansas. Four written accounts of the expedition provide details about his trek through the state. De Soto was born in the Extremadura region of western Spain around 1500, but the exact date is uncertain. He probably was born in the town of Jerez de los Caballeros. The second son of Francisco Méndez de Soto and Leonor Arias Tinoco, he had at least two younger sisters and an older brother. Although the family was of noble heritage, de Soto was poor and borrowed money to travel to the New World …

de Tonti, Henri

aka: Henry de Tonty
Henri de Tonti helped establish the first permanent European settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley in 1686. It was called the Poste aux Arkansas, or Arkansas Post (Arkansas County). As a result, de Tonti is often called the “father of Arkansas.” Although Italian by birth, de Tonti is associated with French exploration. He received notoriety as an explorer in the Great Lakes Region and Mississippi River Valley with his friend, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, at a time when the French were establishing trade monopolies in parts of North America to compete with the English and Spanish. Henri de Tonti was born around 1649 near Gaeta, Italy, to Lorenzo de Tonti and Isabelle di Lietto. The family moved …

Dean, “Dizzy”

aka: Jay Hanna Dean
Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean was a professional baseball player and radio and television baseball broadcaster who was later inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Dean and his younger brother, Paul, pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals during the team’s “Gashouse Gang” era of the 1930s. Along with the aging Babe Ruth, “Dizzy” Dean was considered baseball’s major drawing card during the Depression years of the 1930s. Born in Lucas (Logan County) on January 16, 1910, Jay Dean was the son of Albert Monroe “Ab” Dean, a tenant farmer and sawmill worker, and Alma Nelson Dean. His Arkansas childhood was not an easy one. His mother died in 1918 from tuberculosis, and …

Dean, Arthur (Lynching of)

On September 9, 1911, a twenty-three-year-old African-American man named Arthur Dean was lynched in Augusta (Woodruff County) for a crime spree that ended in the alleged murder of a white woman named Mrs. Albert Vaughan. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Dean had earlier been convicted of assault and had been released from the penitentiary two weeks before the crime spree. On the morning of September 8, he went to the home of Tom Ligon, an African-American farmer who lived five miles east of Augusta. This was perhaps Thomas Ligon, listed on the 1920 census as a tenant farmer living in Augusta with his wife, Mary, and six children aged thirteen and under. While at Ligon’s home, Arthur Dean encountered an …

Dean, Paul

aka: Paul Dee "Daffy" Dean
Like his brother, Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, Paul Dee “Daffy” Dean was a baseball player who enjoyed his greatest success as a teammate with his brother on the St. Louis Cardinals. Due to injuries, Paul Dean had only two truly successful years in the major leagues, though he attempted numerous comebacks. However, the Dean brothers’ 1934 and 1935 seasons are well remembered by baseball historians. Paul Dean was born on August 14, 1913, in Lucas (Logan County) to sharecroppers Albert Monroe Dean and Alma Nelson Dean. He became a professional baseball player in 1932 by signing with Houston of the Texas League. In 1934, he joined his brother on the pitching staff of the St. Louis Cardinals, prompting Dizzy’s famous …

Deane, Ernie

aka: Ernest Cecil Deane
Ernest Cecil (Ernie) Deane—journalist, teacher, historian, and folklorist—was best known for his newspaper columns, “The Arkansas Traveler” and “Ozarks Country.” He taught journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington Couny) and was a proponent to restore Old Main to its historical character at the UA campus. Ernie Deane was born on October 29, 1911, in Lewisville (Lafayette County) to Ernest Deane, a railroad engineer, and Mabel Drew Deane. He attended public schools in Lewisville and Texarkana (Miller County). He received a bachelor’s in journalism in 1934 from UA, having served as editor of the Arkansas Traveler, the UA newspaper, and studied under the founder of the journalism department, Walter Lemke, whom Deane considered his mentor. Deane earned …

Dearmore, Thomas Lee (Tom)

Thomas Lee Dearmore was a nationally recognized journalist and newspaper editor. A native of the Ozarks, Dearmore focused on politics and music in his writing. He worked at newspapers in Washington DC and San Francisco, California, and was an editor at the Arkansas Gazette for two years in the 1970s. Like his contemporary Harry Ashmore, Dearmore was a new breed of southern journalist who sought to distance Arkansas and the South from a segregationist past. Tom Dearmore was born in Mountain Home (Baxter County) on September 11, 1927. He was the son of Benjamin Dearmore and Ethel Shiras Dearmore, both of whom were natives of Arkansas. During World War II, he was stationed in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he …

Decatur (Benton County)

Decatur is a second-class city in Benton County, not far from the northwestern corner of Arkansas. About fifteen miles west of Rogers (Benton County), Decatur is in the Ozark hills about halfway between Sulphur Springs (Benton County) and Siloam Springs (Benton County) on State Highway 59. The first known white settler on the land that would become Decatur was William F. Burrow, who was farming in the area before Arkansas became a state in 1836. Burrow chose the land because of its proximity to a fresh-water spring, later given the name St. Elmo Spring. He received a formal deed to his forty acres of land from the U.S. government in 1854. Burrow and his neighbors grew various crops, including tobacco …

Deckelman, Gene Darrell “Bud”

Gene Darrell “Bud” Deckelman was a country and rockabilly musician who had brief success in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1950s. His most popular recording was “Daydreamin’,” which was issued on the Meteor record label in Memphis. While his output was relatively small, he toured with artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Wanda Jackson. Bud Deckelman was born in Harrisburg (Poinsett County) on April 2, 1927, to Louisiana native George Deckelman (1904–1984) and Arkansas native Lillian Agnes Ellezy Deckelman (1906–1999). He grew up in a poor farming family and with limited education in Scott (Poinsett County). He had four sisters and three brothers. According to the 1940 census, his father owned the family’s house, but it was valued at …

Deckelman, Joseph Dewitt “Sonny”

Joseph Dewitt “Sonny” Deckelman was a musician, songwriter, and record label owner active in the Memphis, Tennessee, and northeastern Arkansas rockabilly scene in the late 1950s and 1960s. While his artistic output was modest, his recordings were well received and have maintained a small but enthusiastic following. He is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Sonny Deckelman was born in Harrisburg (Poinsett County) on September 1, 1933. He was the son of Joe V. Deckelman and Nell Ellzey Deckelman, both natives of Arkansas. His father was a farmer and mechanic, and his mother was a housewife. Deckelman came from a poor family; the census of 1940 shows his father earning no income. He was the youngest of four …

Deforestation

Deforestation is the conversion of timbered lands into one or more non-forest uses. A classical example of deforestation in Arkansas is the clearing of the forests of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain to plant fields of rice, cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat, and other crops. According to this technical definition, the logging of forests (even the clearcutting of native, natural-origin forests and their subsequent replacement with pine plantations) is not deforestation since the land is still in some kind of forested state. In most cases, deforestation is a human-mediated process. The two primary reasons behind deforestation—agricultural conversion and urbanization—are not new to Arkansas. Native Americans cleared forests to build their communities and sow crops at least as early as the Late Archaic …

DeGray Creek Bridge

DeGray Creek Bridge is a pin-connected Pratt pony-truss bridge located near Arkadelphia (Clark County). Constructed in 1915, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2010. It is the only known surviving bridge of its type in the state. The bridge consists of two steel trusses, seven feet tall and twelve feet apart. A steel deck substructure is attached to the trusses, and pins hold the sections together. The deck is covered by wooden planks. This bridge is connected to the banks of the creek by concrete and is a single lane wide. The bridge and similar bridges were prefabricated to be constructed in a manner that would allow them to be quickly and easily …

DeGray Dam and Lake

DeGray Dam, located about eight miles northwest of Arkadelphia (Clark County), impounds the 13,400-acre DeGray Lake on the Caddo River. It was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for purposes of electricity generation and flood control, as well as establishing a drinking water supply for Arkadelphia, and is the first “pump back capable impoundment” in the Corps’s history. A reregulation dam forms a 400-acre impoundment below the main lake, providing a supply of water that can be pumped back into DeGray Lake during times of drought and used again for hydropower generation and to provide a steady flow of water on the Caddo River. The site where DeGray Dam stands had been considered for a dam since …

DeGray Lake Resort State Park

DeGray Lake Resort State Park, located in southwest Arkansas, features a ninety-four-room lodge, an eighteen-hole championship golf course, a full service marina, a convention center, tennis courts, and a pool. It is the state’s only resort state park. While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was constructing DeGray Lake (1963–1972) by damming the Caddo River, support grew within the State Parks Division and surrounding communities for developing along the 13,400-acre lake a state park to rival resort state parks in neighboring Oklahoma and Texas. The Corps and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism reached an agreement in November 1971 for the construction and management of a resort and recreation area on the lake’s north shore. Effective May 1, 1972, …

Dehahuit

Dehahuit, hereditary chief of the Kadohadacho Caddo community of Native Americans at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, is remembered as an effective, respected leader of the Caddo during turbulent times. The Kadohadacho (kado-ha-dach’-o) were the most prominent of several Caddo groups that lived in villages along the Great Bend of the Red River in southwest Arkansas. These Caddo are believed to have lived on the Great Bend for more than 500 years before the Europeans arrived. They remained in this homeland until just before 1800, when disease and Osage raids forced them downstream into northwest Louisiana. Other Caddo viewed the Kadohadacho as descendants of the tribe’s most ancient and prominent ancestral community. Dehahuit was recognized as the …

Delaplaine (Greene County)

Delaplaine is a town in the northwestern corner of Greene County. State Highways 34, 90, and 304 intersect in Delaplaine, and several drainage ditches flow through the town to empty into the nearby Cache River. Delaplaine was formed by the railroad and the lumber industry, but agriculture, hunting, and fishing are the mainstays of the town’s economy in the twenty-first century. The area had been inhabited for centuries before Euro-American settlement, with nearby Indian mounds containing artifacts such as stone tools, pottery pieces, bones, and charcoal from campfires. The Osage hunted and camped in the region prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and some local historians believe that a French trading post and mission were established where Delaplaine stands …

Delaware

Members of many tribes displaced from homelands east of the Mississippi River temporarily resided in Arkansas up until the early nineteenth century. Among these were the Delaware, who had settlements in Arkansas until around the late 1820s. The Delaware (known also as the Lenape) speak Eastern Algonquian and live today in southern Ontario, western New York, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century European explorers met their ancestors living in and around the Delaware River valley in contiguous parts of the modern states of Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. In their Northeastern homelands, the Delaware maintained an agricultural economy supplemented by hunting, fishing, and seasonally collecting nuts and other edible plant foods. They lived in multifamily …

Delight (Pike County)

  Delight is located in the southeast corner of Pike County. It was a center for the timber industry in the early twentieth century. White settlers began moving into the area near the end of the eighteenth century, settling along Wolf Creek, which flows from northwest of Delight in a southeasterly direction. The settlement became known as Wolf Creek and was granted a post office on January 18, 1832, and became a mail stop between Little Rock (Pulaski County) and the Hempstead County Courthouse, then at Washington. Samuel Hasley purchased about forty-three acres of land from the United States for $1.25 an acre. This acreage is now the town of Delight. Hasley later sold the property to Abner Hancock for …

Dell (Mississippi County)

Dell is a town in Mississippi County, a few miles southwest of Blytheville (Mississippi County). State Highways 18 and 181 pass through Dell. When Arkansas became a state, the region around Dell was swampy and forested. Pemiscot Bayou runs into the Little River near Dell, so travelers passed through the area by flatboat and by steamboat. The first landowner in what would become Dell was Thomas J. Blackmore, who acquired about 160 acres of swampland in 1855 through the Swamp Land Act of 1850. Blackmore may not have even visited the land before he sold it, as the land went through several absentee owners until it was purchased by W. B. Sizemore in 1878. During the Civil War, a skirmish …

Dellinger, Samuel Claudius

Samuel Claudius Dellinger was curator of the University of Arkansas Museum in Fayetteville (Washington County) and head of the Department of Zoology for over thirty years. As curator, he built the museum’s archaeology collection into one of the best in the nation. In Dellinger’s view, the museum was, first and foremost, an educational resource for the people of Arkansas, and he worked to generate interest in it from the university community and the general public. Samuel Dellinger was born on January 14, 1892, in Iron Station (later Lincolntown), North Carolina, to Robert H. and Laura Loftin Dellinger. After graduating from high school, Dellinger attended Trinity College (later Duke University), where he was a varsity wrestler and swimmer. Dellinger earned his …

Delray, Martin

aka: Michael Ray Martin
American country music artist Michael Ray Martin (known professionally as Martin Delray) is best known for his 1991 cover of the Johnny Cash song “Get Rhythm.” Michael Ray Martin was born on September 29, 1949, in Texarkana (Miller County). After graduating from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1972 with a BA in English, he served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. After he left military service at the rank of private first class, Martin relocated to North Hollywood, California, and began playing the West Coast club circuit, opening for such acts as Doug Kershaw and Juice Newton. Martin eventually became a staff songwriter at a music publishing company owned by Seals and Crofts. One …

Delta Cultural Center

The Delta Cultural Center in historic downtown Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) is a museum dedicated to the history of the Arkansas Delta. The center, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, opened in 1990 with the mission of preserving, interpreting, and presenting the cultural heritage of a twenty-seven-county region. The Delta Cultural Center was created by the Arkansas legislature via Act 109 of 1989, which specified that the Delta Cultural Center would be an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. At the time, no facility existed to interpret the agricultural, ethnic, and cultural history of the Delta region. The stated goals were to preserve the region’s history and to promote tourism there. The center features two museum locations—the …

Delta Gateway Museum

aka: Kress Building
Delta Gateway Museum (DGM) in Blytheville (Mississippi County) aims to tell the story of Blytheville and the surrounding area by interpreting the land and its impact on the people. The museum collects and exhibits historical materials that relate to the region encompassing northeastern Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, and the Arkansas Delta, emphasizing cultural development. DGM is housed in the historic Kress Building in the heart of the Blytheville Commercial Historic District. Constructed in 1938 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 13, 1997, the Kress Building is widely acknowledged as the best example of Art Deco architecture in the area. S. H. Kress & Co. operated a chain of five-and-dime department stores across the United States, with …

Delta Heritage Trail State Park

The Delta Heritage Trail State Park is being developed in phases along seventy-three miles of abandoned Union Pacific Railroad right of way through Phillips, Arkansas, and Desha counties in eastern Arkansas. The trail project starts one mile south of Lexa (Phillips County) and goes to Arkansas City (Desha County). In early 1991, as part of the “rails-to-trails” provision of the National Trails System Act, which preserves rail corridors by reclaiming land along abandoned railroads for recreational use, the Union Pacific Railroad notified the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism of the potential track abandonment. Under the act, which is funded by the Department of the Interior, railroad companies can transfer all rights and liabilities connected to a rail corridor to …

Delta Symposium

The Delta Symposium is an annual conference sponsored by the Department of English, Philosophy, and World Languages at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). The symposium welcomes multidisciplinary submissions and presentations dealing with the Mississippi Delta region; of particular interest are submissions that engage the question of the Delta’s culture, arts, and lifestyles, and their effect upon the blues. The Delta Symposium was created in 1994 as a conference that would appeal to both the general public and the academic community. First organized under the name of the Delta Studies Symposium, this changed when it became evident that the genre of the blues offered the most wide-ranging and multidisciplinary topic for exploration. A committee composed of faculty members of …

DeMent, Iris 

Arkansas native Iris DeMent has used her distinctive voice to sing folk, country, bluegrass, and gospel music. She has written songs about family, religion, people, places, and political ideas in a time when few were doing so. Iris DeMent was born on January 5, 1961, in Paragould (Greene County), the youngest of fourteen children. Her parents, Patrick Shaw and Flora Mae DeMent, were farmers on an island in the St. Francis River outside Paragould. When Iris was three, her father lost his factory job after a failed attempt to unionize, and the family hit hard times, sold the farm, and moved to Buena Park, California. They lived there until she was seventeen and then moved to Sacramento, California. Eventually, her …

Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company

Founded in 1871, the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company, located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is a family-owned operation specializing in catalog and magazine printing. The company grew out of a newspaper department to its own industrial facility employing up to 200. The Arkansas Democrat established the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company as part of the newspaper’s printing division in 1871. In 1906, Democrat Printing separated from the Arkansas Democrat when the newspaper divided its assets. For the next forty years, the company primarily offered printing services using a sheet-fed printer. By 1924, the company needed its own building for its growing business. Hiring the Sanders and Ginocchio architectural firm, the company built a three-story building, totaling 61,436 square feet, …

Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company Building

The Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company building, located at 114 East 2nd Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), housed the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company from 1924 to 1999. In the twenty-first century, it is a mixed-use building with space for commercial offices, retail stores, and lofts. On December 17, 1998, the building was added to National Register of Historic Places. The Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company building was built in 1924, in an area then known as the East Markham Warehouse District. Its namesake, the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company, was founded in 1871 as the commercial printing division of the Arkansas Democrat newspaper. The Arkansas Democrat divided its assets in 1906, which separated the printing division from the …

Democratic Party

Even for the historically one-party Democratic South, the Democratic Party’s control of Arkansas politics was solid—until the end of the twentieth century. Indeed, from the end of Reconstruction, Republican presidential candidates were denied Electoral College votes every four years until Richard Nixon’s 1972 victory. The Democratic Party’s dominance of state and local elections (outside northwestern Arkansas, which had housed Republicans since the Civil War era) was just as impressive. Still, while Democrats long fended off any sustained Republican development, recent trends–especially the historic results in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 election cycles–indicate that the change that has come to other Southern states with the rise of a competitive Republican Party has taken root in Arkansas. Before statehood, Arkansas politics was …