Entries - Starting with J

Jennette (Crittenden County)

Jennette is a largely African-American town in western Crittenden County, located north of the Shearerville (Crittenden County) exit on Interstate 40. Jennette is variously spelled Jeanette, Jennettee, and Jenette. The location of what is now Jennette was swampy hardwood forest until early in the twentieth century, when the Edwards Fair Lumber Company, based in Crawfordsville (Crittenden County), cleared the land. Various drainage ditches were dug to make the cleared land suitable for farming. The origin of the name Jennette is unknown. Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church was established in Jennette around 1900. A post office opened in Jennette in February 1904 and continued operating until May 1927. A school was organized on the Baptist church property in 1908. The school …

Jennings, Roscoe Greene

Roscoe Greene Jennings was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Roscoe Jennings was born in Leeds, Maine, on June 11, 1833, the fourth son and fifth child of Perez Smith Jennings and Johanna (Lane) Jennings. His great grandfather, Samuel Jennings of Salem, Massachusetts, had held an important office under King George III of Great Britain but, after the Revolutionary War, had lost his property and moved to Maine to farm. Young Roscoe grew up working on a farm there in the summer and attended school during the winter. He later traveled and taught school to support himself and his continuing education. Jennings apprenticed in medicine …

Jericho (Crittenden County)

Jericho is a town in Crittenden County. It is located on State Highway 77 a few miles north of Marion (Crittenden County) between Interstate 55 and the Mississippi River. Jericho’s population is largely African American. Jericho was settled in the 1840s by riverboat captain Stephen Stonewall James and his brother John C. James, who built the first gin and sawmill in Jericho. They named the settlement for the city mentioned several times in the Bible. Other settlers joined the James brothers, establishing sawmills and planting orchards on their farms. One settler reportedly also operated a wine press. During the 1880s, the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (often called the Frisco) built rail lines through Crittenden County toward West Memphis (Crittenden County) …

Jerome (Drew County)

The town of Jerome is located in southeastern Drew County, although its residents are more tied to Dermott (Chicot County) than to any city in Drew County. The location of a Japanese American relocation camp during World War II, the town of Jerome has been a transportation crossroads for most of its history. Jerome is located near Bayou Bartholomew, which was the main route used by travelers during the territorial time of Arkansas. In 1835, Moses Upshard Payne of New Orleans, Louisiana, purchased several tracts of land near the bayou as an investment; some cotton was grown on the clearer patches of land, but much of the land was swampland filled with hardwood trees. The land was frequently rented or …

Jerome Relocation Center

The Japanese American relocation site at Jerome (in Drew County and partially in Chicot County) was listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places on August 4, 2010. This Japanese American incarceration camp, along with a similar one built in Desha County, eventually housed some 16,000 Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II. The Japanese American population, of which sixty-four percent were American citizens, had been forcibly removed from the West Coast under the doctrine of “military necessity” and incarcerated in ten relocation camps dispersed throughout the inner mountain states and Arkansas. This was the largest influx and incarceration of any racial or ethnic group in Arkansas’s history. The Jerome Relocation Center was in operation …

Jess Norman Post 166 American Legion Hut

The Jess Norman Post 166 American Legion Hut, the best example in Augusta (Woodruff County) of a vernacular log meeting hall, was constructed in 1934 through local efforts with the assistance of the Depression-era Civil Works Administration (CWA). The post was named for Jess Norman, the first man from Augusta to be killed during World War I. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 14, 2001. On January 5, 1933, the Augusta Advocate announced that the Jess Norman Post planned to construct a hut on the banks of the White River for “a minimum amount of money” and with “all labor…contributed by the Legionnaires.” The Legionnaires planned a boxing match as a fundraising event. …

Jesson, Bradley Dean

Bradley Dean Jesson was a lawyer and political activist who became chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. In the historic school-funding case Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee, Jesson played a pivotal role in settling the long legal battle to reform the funding and supervision of Arkansas public schools so that they served all children equally and adequately. Jesson, who practiced law at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and who was known for his dignified and courteous manner as well as for his legal scholarship, first came to prominence as a confidant and adviser for Governor Dale Bumpers. Bradley D. Jesson was born on January 26, 1932, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the son of Dean Abraham Jesson, who was …

Jetton, White (Lynching of)

In late December 1904, an African-American teenager named White Jetton was hanged near Spring Hill (Hempstead County) for allegedly attacking a white farmer named Nobbs. A search of public records revealed no information about either Jetton or Nobbs. A report in the Arkansas Gazette on January 3, 1905, said only that the lynching occurred “several days ago.” The report indicates that two African Americans, one of whom was Jetton, attacked a farmer named Nobbs near Spring Hill, ten miles south of Hope (Hempstead County), in a dispute over money they maintained Nobbs owed them. Jetton was described as being “less than 18 years of age.” According to the Gazette, Nobbs was wounded in the face and head, but not seriously. …

Jewell, Buddy

Buddy Jewell is a country musician best known for having won the top prize in the first season of the reality television show Nashville Star, which landed him a recording contract with Columbia Records. His first major-label album, Buddy Jewell, reached gold-record status after being released in July 2003. Later projects have not been as successful as his debut, but he continues to make music and record in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2015, Jewell was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. Buddy Jewell was born on April 2, 1961, in Lepanto (Poinsett County), the second of three children born to Leslie L. “Buddy” Jewell, a native of Louisiana, and Eva Lorene Harris, a native of Arkansas. For a time, the …

Jewell, Jerry Donal

Jerry Donal Jewell was the first African American to serve in the Arkansas Senate in the twentieth century. He was also Arkansas’s first ever African-American acting governor, albeit for only a temporary four-day period during Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration in 1993. Jewell moved his dental practice from North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1978, where he continued to work during his political career and up until his death in 2002. Jerry Jewell was born on September 16, 1930, in Chatfield (Crittenden County). His parents James M. Jewell and Ruth Lee Taylor Jewell, who were both sharecroppers, came from Mississippi. He had four sisters, only two of whom survived past infancy. Around 1936, Jewell and his …

Jewish Federation of Arkansas (JFAR)

The Jewish Federation of Arkansas (JFAR) is one the 157 members of the Jewish Federations of North America and is the only one located in Arkansas. JFAR is a resource for Jews throughout the state and a means for educating non-Jews about Jewish religion and culture. Efforts at consolidating the Jewish organizations of Arkansas began in the early 1930s. On April 24, 1932, approximately 300 Jews from around the state held a convention in Hot Springs (Garland County). There, the first association of Jewish congregations in Arkansas was formally created. It was called the Arkansas Jewish Assembly. The assembly was meant to promote the preservation of Jewish identity in Arkansas, holding yearly conventions at different sites throughout the state. Its …

Jews

Jews have always been a tiny minority of Arkansas’s population, yet their history in the state is long and deeply rooted. In the mid-nineteenth century, Jewish immigrants from Europe established communities and congregations throughout Arkansas. Despite their small numbers, Arkansas Jews have been committed to preserving their religious traditions even as they assimilated into the culture of their town and state. In the process, Jews became an active part of the state’s civic and economic life. As in many other Southern states and rural regions, the Jewish population has experienced significant decline over the past several decades, especially in small towns, though Jewish life and culture continues to flourish in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and the growing community of Bentonville …

Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow laws were statutes passed in most of the Southern states between the 1880s and 1960s that separated the races and created a segregated society. Exactly why these laws were implemented at this time is unclear, although scholars believe that they may have been a response to the breakdown of traditional barriers between black and white people in the post-Reconstruction era. This breakdown was made possible by expansion of the South’s railroads, development of urban areas and industrial workplaces, and the progress African Americans made economically during this period. Whatever the reason for the timing of their passage, these laws reflected prevalent anti-black racism and the views of contemporary whites, who asserted that African Americans represented an inferior and …

Jim DuPree v. Alma School District No. 30

Jim DuPree et al. v. Alma School District No. 30 et al. was a lawsuit that triggered twenty-five years of litigation and legislation to raise the quality of and increase funding for public education in Arkansas. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on the suit on May 31, 1983, concluding that the state government had consistently failed to provide the money and programs that would guarantee a suitable education for all children in Arkansas regardless of where they lived. The decision was the springboard that Governor Bill Clinton used that fall to push a raft of education reforms—including higher taxes—through the Arkansas General Assembly and the state Board of Education. A decade later, the issues were revived by a succession of …

Jimerson, Aaron (Lynching of)

On August 8, 1917, an African-American man named Aaron Jimerson was lynched at Foreman (Little River County) for an alleged attack on a local constable. Jimerson, who was born in 1887, married eighteen-year-old Virginia Hooks at Foreman in 1914. According to the Arkansas Democrat, Constable Sam Anderson arrested Jimerson on August 8 for shooting at another African American. As Anderson was opening the jail door to put Jimerson into a cell, Jimerson grabbed him and stole his pistol. Anderson retrieved the gun, but before he could use it, Jimerson hit him with a wooden stick. Jimerson then escaped but was soon recaptured by a posse led by Sheriff W. D. Waldron. He was placed in jail, but a mob broke …

Joan (Clark County)

aka: Bethlehem (Clark County)
Joan, pronounced Jo-Ann, is a community located in Clark County about six miles east of Arkadelphia at the intersection of State Highways 51 and 128. The community was originally known as Bethlehem. The earliest settlers to the area arrived in 1834, and Bethlehem Methodist Church was organized between 1837 and 1848. The land for the church and cemetery was donated in 1855, and the church would serve as the center of the community for decades to come. The church still operates in the twenty-first century. Pleasant Hill African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in the community in 1867 and continues to operate. With the formation of Dallas County in 1845, the portion of Clark County east of the Ouachita River …

Jobe, John R.

John Russell Jobe worked as a newspaperman and then for state government, serving as Arkansas state auditor from 1909 to 1913. John Russell (John R. or J. R.) Jobe was born on August 24, 1855, in Ringgold, Georgia, to David Jobe and Sarah J. Harden (or Hardin) Jobe. He had seven sisters, as well as a brother, Benjamin F. (B. F.) Jobe, who also later worked in media and government. The family moved to Arkansas in early 1858 and settled near Searcy (White County), though Jobe had at least one cousin living in Marion County. The family seems to have had strong ties to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church: two of Jobe’s sisters married Cumberland Presbyterian ministers, and his brother married …

Joe Hogan Fish Hatchery

Since 1928, the Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery near Lonoke (Lonoke County) has produced fish for stocking Arkansas lakes and streams. It is the oldest and largest of the four warm-water hatcheries run by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) and is the largest and one of the oldest state-owned warm-water pond hatcheries in the United States. Early in 1928, AGFC chairman Lee Miles instructed AGFC secretary Guy Amsler to look for available land near Lonoke for the construction of a fish hatchery. The site purchased for the hatchery was a half mile south of Lonoke and consisted of two adjacent rice farms totaling 266 acres and located along present-day U.S. Highway 70. The commission earmarked $17,544 for purchasing …

John Brown University (JBU)

Founded in 1919 in Siloam Springs (Benton County), John Brown University (JBU) is a private comprehensive university known for its Christian identity, academic emphasis, and professionally oriented programs. The university began as a high school and junior college that emphasized vocational training for poor young people. It evolved into a four-year liberal arts university and later developed graduate programs in business and counseling. Throughout its history, the university has forged close ties with the churches and industries of northwest Arkansas and business leaders such as Sam Walton and John Tyson. JBU was founded by John Elward Brown, a self-educated evangelist, publisher, and radio entrepreneur who grew up in rural poverty in late-nineteenth-century Iowa. In July 1919, Brown, at that time …

John D. Perry

The side-wheel steamer John D. Perry joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron, serving under charter on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including expeditions on the White River during the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department. Built by the Howard Shipyard of Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 1858 and initially home-ported at Louisville, Kentucky, the John D. Perry displaced 382 tons. Its exact date of transfer to Federal service is not known, but John S. Nanson owned and piloted it as a river transport in Missouri in the late 1850s. In the first month of the Civil War, Confederate sympathizers briefly used the Perry in an unsuccessful attempt to transport ammunition southward down the Mississippi …

John F. Weinmann House

Located in the Central High School Neighborhood Historic District in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the John F. Weinmann House was built in 1917. The house was designed in the Tudor Revival style with Craftsman influences. It expands the boundary of the Central High School Neighborhood Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The district was amended in 1997 and 2004 to include contiguous historic development on the east side of the present district, which comprised the Wright Avenue Neighborhood Association. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 4, 2012, as part of the second boundary increase of the Central High district. The 160-acre parcel of land on …

John Huddleston Day

Since 1984, Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro (Pike County) has been sponsoring John Huddleston Day to honor the discoverer of the first diamonds found in the area, John Huddleston. Hundreds of hopeful diamond hunters show up to take part in the activities and to try their luck at diamond mining. There were 1,322 paid admissions to the festival on June 16 and 17, 2006, along with 400 to 500 visitors taking part in the free activities and/or observing the festivities. In 1906, John Huddleston discovered diamonds in Pike County on his 160-acre farm located two and a half miles south of Murfreesboro. This is now the site of the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Beginning in 1984, the …

John Law’s Concession

aka: John Law's Colony
aka: Mississippi Bubble
John Law’s concession was established in August 1721 and was located at Little Prairie, just over twenty-six miles from the mouth of the Arkansas River, in present-day Arkansas County. The colony was located near the Quapaw city of Kappa. Its failure slowed the growth of Arkansas as a European colony, although settlers continued to live at Arkansas Post throughout the eighteenth century. By the summer of 1686, Arkansas Post was already an important French trading post between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Illinois, but no serious efforts were made to settle the land. The French government realized that, to compete with colonial Great Britain, it would need to establish profitable colonies. John Law, a Scotsman, was an economist and banker who …

John Wilson Martin House

aka: Bradley County Historical Museum
The John Wilson Martin House in Warren (Bradley County), the oldest surviving residence in the town, was the home of a notable Civil War doctor. Now housing the Bradley County Historical Museum, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 27, 1990. John Wilson Martin was born on June 8, 1819, in Harrison County, Virginia, and went to New Orleans, Louisiana, around 1843 to attend lectures at Tulane University. He was settled in Warren by 1848, when he married Mary Elizabeth Franklin and established what became a flourishing medical practice. It was said that Martin would ride by “horseback all day to reach the frequently remote residences” of the sick. Martin’s medical practice was especially active, …

John, “Little Willie”

aka: William Edgar John
William Edgar “Little Willie” John was a powerful rhythm and blues vocalist and songwriter who recorded several hit songs, including the original version of “Fever” at age eighteen. Little Willie John was born on November 15, 1937, in Cullendale (Ouachita County). He was one of ten children. His father, Mertis, was a logger in northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas; his mother, Lillie, played guitar and sang gospel songs, teaching them to her children. His sister Mable, also raised in Ouachita County, recorded as a Raelette for Ray Charles and solo for Stax Records. In 1942, the Johns moved to Detroit, Michigan, so Mertis could pursue factory work. The eldest children, including Willie, formed a gospel quintet in the 1940s. A …

John, Mary

Mary John was born a slave under French colonial occupation, and after obtaining her freedom in 1840, she opened a hotel at Arkansas Post and became a prominent local figure. Mary John was born around the latter part of the 1780s. She may have been Marie Jeanne, whom Etienne de Vaugine bequeathed to his granddaughter, Pelagie, in his will dated September 1, 1794, at New Orleans, Louisiana (although the 1850 federal census lists her as having been born in Arkansas). Little is known about her early life. A bill of sale written in French by notary Andre Fagot at Arkansas Post on July 30, 1806, records that Marie Languedoc transferred ownership of a “creole negress” named Marie Jeanne to Jean …

Johnny Cash Heritage Festival

The Johnny Cash Heritage Festival is an annual event held in Dyess (Mississippi County), the small town where Johnny Cash lived until he was eighteen years old. The festival, begun in October 2017, features several days of music, arts and crafts, scholarly lectures, and appearances by Cash family members and nationally known performers. The event is sponsored by the Cultural Heritage Program at Arkansas State University (ASU), headed by Dr. Ruth Hawkins. The festival is held in October, traditionally a month of good weather in northeastern Arkansas as well as the period when farmers are harvesting cotton. From 2011 to 2014, ASU held the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Jonesboro (Craighead County), featuring concerts by such country music luminaries as Rosanne …

Johns, Riley “Doc”

Riley “Doc” Johns was an African-American athletic trainer at Little Rock High School (now Little Rock Central High) from 1930 to 1950. He was also the groundskeeper and equipment manager for the school’s sports teams until his death seven years before the Central High Crisis of 1957. Riley Johns was born on September 14, 1895, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to Joseph Johns and Nettie Flynn Johns. He was the youngest of three sons that included Clarence (born 1891) and Percy Legette Johns (born 1892). His parents had lived in several northwestern Arkansas counties before settling in Fort Smith. During World War I, he was drafted into the military from Fort Smith and entered service on August 1, 1918. At …

Johnson (Washington County)

Johnson is a bedroom community situated between Fayetteville (Washington County) and Springdale (Washington County). Though Johnson was incorporated in 1961, its history spans a much longer time. The known history of Johnson begins in 1830–1834 when John Trusdale purchased a mill site west of present-day Johnson from a “widow Sutton.” In 1835, he built a gristmill utilizing the water flow from a number of springs north of the property. The mill was burned during the Civil War in 1864. Following the Civil War, Jacob Queener (J. Q.) Johnson and William Mays purchased the site and rebuilt the mill in 1865. In about 1884, Mayes sold his share of the mill to B. F. Johnson, brother of J. Q. Johnson. The …

Johnson County

Johnson County has been the location of much of the state’s coal mining as well as one of the centers of the state’s peach industry. The northern section of Johnson County is located within the Boston Mountains, which consists of the entire southern boundary of the Arkansas Ozarks, and within the boundaries of the Ozark National Forest. It is characterized by mountains, thickly forested landscape, and streams and rivers. The southern region of the county is located in the Arkansas River Valley and consists of lowland bottom lands. Johnson County has five creeks/rivers: Horsehead, Little Piney, Mulberry, Spadra, and Big Piney. The county is also home to the University of the Ozarks. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Native American rock …

Johnson County Courthouse

The Johnson County Courthouse, built in the 1930s, is located on the corner of Fulton and Main streets in downtown Clarksville (Johnson County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the three-story building as architecturally and historically significant as a courthouse built in the Depression era and for its impressive elegance. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 14, 1991. In 1934, the Great Depression had its grip on the United States, and northwestern Arkansas was not immune. The wave of public works construction brought about by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal provided jobs for many Americans, with new federal appropriations bringing wages and stabilizing unemployment. The people of Johnson County took advantage …

Johnson County Historical Society

The Johnson County Historical Society is an organization with a mission “to promote individual and general interest in the history of Johnson County by locating, collecting, and preserving pertinent information, either by written records, photography, or other permanent media.” The society operates the Heritage Center and Museum at 131 West Main Street in Clarksville (Johnson County). Nine people gathered in 1974 to form the Johnson County Historical Society, and Dr. Robert Basham served as the first president (1974–1975). Membership has since grown to approximately 200 members—from Johnson County and around the United States. As of 2011, the president is Mark Hodge, who has served in that role since 2009. Other officers include a vice president, a recording secretary, a corresponding …

Johnson County Peach Festival

The Johnson County Peach Festival arose from the area’s successful peach industry, which got its start in the 1890s. In 1893, James R. Tolbert and Johnson J. Taylor decided to purchase and grow Elberta peaches in Johnson County. Their success spread throughout the region into other states. In 1897, the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company became interested in this rising industry and, after negotiations, created a partnership including the peach farmers, the county, and the railroad. Despite financial and environmental setbacks over the years, the industry thrived and became an integral part of the county. Plans for a peach festival were discussed as early as 1937, but no festival was held until the summer of 1938. The first festival was held at …

Johnson, Benjamin

Benjamin Johnson was a judge of the Superior Court of the Arkansas Territory and later the first federal district judge for the state of Arkansas. He was a part of the early Arkansas political dynasty known as “The Family.” Johnson County in northwest Arkansas is named for him. Benjamin Johnson was born on January 22, 1784, in Scott County, Kentucky, to Robert and Jemima Johnson. The Johnsons were leaders in political, educational, and religious affairs in early Kentucky and one of the most prominent families in the state. Five of Johnson’s eight brothers served in the War of 1812, and one, Richard Mentor Johnson, gained fame as the man who killed the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh at the Battle of …

Johnson, Billy Farrel (Bill)

Billy Farrel Johnson of Conway (Faulkner County) is a well-known banker, broadcaster, and civic leader in Faulkner County. He has served as president of three financial institutions, broadcast athletic events on the radio since 1961, served as a justice of the peace, and sat on numerous local and state boards. Johnson is also a development associate for the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) athletic department and raises money for the Purple Circle Club, the primary source of outside funding for UCA athletics. Bill F. Johnson was born on May 15, 1939, in Conway, one of two children of Hulon Johnson and Norma Warbritton Johnson. Johnson attended Conway public schools from elementary through high school and graduated in 1957. He then …

Johnson, George T. F.

aka: George Taylor
George Taylor F. Johnson received the Medal of Honor for valor while serving as an armorer onboard the USS Lackawanna during the Union navy’s operations against Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Following the Civil War, he was a resident of Paragould (Greene County). Details of George Taylor F. Johnson’s life are largely unknown; even his name is listed in multiple variations, including George Taylor F. Johnson, George F. Taylor Johnson, and George Taylor (the medal was awarded under the name George Taylor). Sources say he was born on November 15, 1830, but they vary on the location of his birth. Some sources claim Redditch, in Worcestershire, England, while other sources claim Watertown, New York. Johnson enlisted in the U.S. …

Johnson, Glenn T.

Glenn T. Johnson was a trailblazing judge in the latter half of the twentieth century. Born in Arkansas, he spent most of his professional life in Illinois, serving in a number of public positions in a career dedicated to public service. Johnson was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Glenn T. Johnson was born in Washington (Hempstead County) on July 19, 1917, to Floyd Johnson and Reola Thompson Johnson. As the family moved around the state, he received his early education Washington, then Hope (Hempstead County), and finally Hot Springs (Garland County), where he graduated from Langston High School. Johnson earned a BS from Wilberforce University in Ohio, graduating in 1941. After college, he served in …

Johnson, James Douglas “Justice Jim”

James Douglas “Justice Jim” Johnson served as an Arkansas state senator and an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court in the 1950s and 1960s. He was an outspoken segregationist and ran unsuccessfully against Orval Faubus for governor in 1956. In the 1966 race for Arkansas governor, he became the first Democrat since Reconstruction to lose to a Republican. Johnson helped to make school desegregation a major political issue in the state by protesting the integration of the Hoxie School District in Hoxie (Lawrence County), as well as by working to get an anti-federalist amendment added to the state constitution. Jim Johnson was born on August 20, 1924, in Crossett (Ashley County) to T. W. Johnson and Myrtle Long Johnson, …

Johnson, James Madison

James Madison Johnson migrated to Arkansas shortly after statehood in 1836. He rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general in the Union army during the Civil War, was twice elected to the U.S. Congress (though he was never seated), and served as the state’s second Reconstruction-era lieutenant governor. James Madison Johnson was born in Warren County, Tennessee. The year of his birth is uncertain, with sources listing 1829, 1832, or 1833; however, 1833 is recorded on the headstone marking his grave, and December 8 is the agreed-upon day. He was the son of James Martin Johnson and Elizabeth Dunagin Johnson. In about 1836, Johnson and his family moved to Arkansas, settling in Madison County. He attended Arkansas College and …

Johnson, James William (Jimmy)

James William (Jimmy) Johnson was a defensive end for the University of Arkansas (UA) Razorback football team and served as the head coach for Oklahoma State University and the University of Miami before going on to become head coach for the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. Jimmy Johnson was born on July 16, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, now known as Memorial High School, in 1961. A defensive end on the high school football team, Johnson continued in that position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (Washington County). An All-Southwest Conference player, he belonged to the 1964 team recognized by the Football Writers Association as the national champion. After graduating from UA …

Johnson, Joe Marcus

Joe Marcus Johnson is a professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets. In the 2012–13 season, Johnson averaged 16.3 points per game, third best on a team that entered the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference. With about 16,000 points and counting, Johnson is the second-most prolific NBA scorer from Arkansas, as of 2013; Scottie Pippen of Hamburg (Ashley County) scored 18,940 points in seventeen seasons. Johnson, a six-time All Star, was a member of the U.S. national team in the FIBA World Championship in 2006. Joe Johnson was born on June 29, 1981, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the only child of Sara Dianne Johnson. For most of his childhood, he was raised in a …

Johnson, John Harold

John Harold Johnson rose above abject poverty and racial discrimination to build a publishing empire that helped forever change the perception of African Americans in the United States. Johnson Publishing Company became the largest African-American-owned and -operated publishing company in the world and launched Ebony and Jet, two very successful magazines that gave a voice to millions of black Americans. Born Johnny Johnson on January 19, 1918, in Arkansas City (Desha County) to Leroy Johnson and Gertrude Jenkins Johnson, a cook in a Mississippi River levee camp, Johnson was a third-generation descendent of slaves. After the death of Johnson’s father in a sawmill accident when Johnson was eight years old, his mother married James Williams, who helped raise him. During a …

Johnson, Kenneth Culver (Kenny)

Kenneth (Kenny) Culver Johnson Jr. is a television writer, producer, and director. He is the creator of numerous Emmy-winning projects includingThe Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk, the original miniseries V, and Alien Nation. Kenny Johnson was born on October 26, 1942, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Kenneth Culver Johnson Sr. and Helene Maye Brown Johnson. His father was an electrical engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who helped build the Pine Bluff Arsenal. Johnson and his family left Pine Bluff after his father was transferred to the Pentagon near the end of World War II, and he was raised in Washington DC. His parents divorced in 1946, and his father moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Johnson …

Johnson, Lycurgus Leonidas

Lycurgus Leonidas Johnson was one of the largest cotton planters and slaveowners in antebellum Arkansas. Around 1860, he built an imposing, seventeen-room Greek Revival mansion along the banks of the Mississippi River at his Lakeport Plantation in Chicot County. Lycurgus Johnson was born on March 22, 1818, the eldest of nine children born to Joel Johnson and Verlinda Offutt Johnson of Scott County, Kentucky. The Johnsons were among the most prominent families in early Kentucky. Johnson’s paternal grandfather, Robert Johnson, was a political, educational, and religious leader in the Bluegrass State; he had been instrumental in establishing Transylvania Seminary (later Transylvania University) at Lexington, the Rittenhouse Academy in Scott County, and the Kentucky Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge. One of …

Johnson, Robert Ward

Robert Ward Johnson was an Arkansas political leader who represented the state in both chambers of the U.S. Congress and as a congressman and senator in the Confederate Congress. Born in Scott County, Kentucky, to Benjamin and Matilda Williams Johnson, he belonged to a powerful political family, as two of his uncles represented Kentucky in the U.S. House of Representatives, and another uncle, Richard Mentor Johnson, eventually became vice president of the United States. His father was appointed Superior Judge for Arkansas Territory in 1821, and President Andrew Jackson later appointed him in 1836 as the first Federal District Judge for the new state of Arkansas. One of his daughters married Ambrose H. Sevier, head of the state Democratic Party …

Johnson, Virginia Lillian Morris

Virginia Lillian Morris Johnson was the first woman to run for the office of governor in Arkansas. Running as a conservative Democrat, Johnson campaigned against six other Democrats, all male, vying to be the candidate to run against the Republican incumbent, Winthrop Rockefeller, in the gubernatorial race of 1968. Virginia Lillian Morris was born on January 21, 1928, in Conway (Faulkner County) to Jesse Lyman Morris Sr. and Frances Morgan Morris. Her family later moved to El Paso (White County). Upon the death of her mother when she was fourteen, Morris moved to Bee Branch (Van Buren County) to live with relatives while her father served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following her graduation from Southside High School in Bee …

Johnson, William J.

William J. Johnson became the first African-American general in the history of the Arkansas National Guard. Johnson served in the Arkansas National Guard for thirty-six years before his 2012 retirement. Brigadier General Leodis Jennings said of Johnson’s 2008 promotion to deputy adjutant general that it was “significant on three levels—he is the first African American General in Arkansas, the first African American Deputy Adjutant General in Arkansas and the highest ranking African American in the Arkansas National Guard. He routinely sets the standard of excellence.” In 2010, Johnson was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, and three years later became a member of the Arkansas National Guard Officer Candidate School (OCS) Hall of Fame. William J. Johnson was …

Johnston, David Augustine Elihue

David Augustine Elihue Johnston, also known as D. A. E. Johnston or Elihue Johnston, was an inventor, a successful dentist and businessman, and a member of the National Negro Business Men’s League. He and his brothers were killed under mysterious circumstances during the time of the Elaine Massacre of 1919. D. A. E. Johnston was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), although sources differ as to the year. Johnston’s official date of birth is listed as May 1, 1878, on his application for a draft exemption with the Phillips County Local Exemption Board on September 12, 1918. On the 1900 U.S. Census, he was listed as being born in May 1881, but on his January 1910 marriage license, his age …

Johnston, Leroy Alfred

Leroy Alfred Johnston was a World War I veteran who received the Croix de Guerre and who posthumously received the Purple Heart in 2018 after it was discovered that his service records had been deliberately altered. He and his three brothers were murdered during the Elaine Massacre of 1919. Leroy Alfred Johnston was born on April 2, 1893 or 1894, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). In the 1900 federal census, Johnston’s date of birth was listed as April 1893, but on his military records, his date of birth was listed as April 2, 1894. Johnston was the son of the Reverend Lewis Johnston Jr. (1847–1903), who was a native of Pennsylvania, and Mercy Ann Taborn Johnston (1848–1927), a native of …

Johnston, Lewis Harrison (L. H.)

Lewis Harrison Johnston was a physician, surgeon, and wealthy businessman. He was a member of the Negro Business League and the State Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association of Oklahoma. He and his three brothers were killed by a posse in 1919 during the Elaine Massacre. Lewis Harrison Johnston, known as L. H., was born on July 4, probably in 1880, in either Arkansas or Ruston, Louisiana, to Lewis Johnston Jr. and Mercy Ann Taborn Johnston. In the 1880 census, Johnston was living in Vaugine Township in Jefferson County with his parents and siblings. His place of birth was listed as Arkansas, and his age was listed as one. In 1900, Johnston was listed as living in Ward 3 in Pine …