Entries - Starting with L

Lamartine (Columbia County)

Lamartine was a small community founded in present-day northwest Columbia County sometime before 1840. Some sources credit it as being the county’s oldest community. During the Civil War, Thomas Pleasant Dockery, son of one of the earliest settlers, rose to the rank of Confederate Brigadier General. Long before white settlers, the area was home to large numbers of Caddo. Due to the Caddo movement and trade, the area was crossed by a number of trails. These trails and eventually roads, including a military road constructed in the 1830s by the federal government, made movement by white settlers into the area easier. These roads also connected the area to the Ouachita and Red rivers. By the 1840s, a white settlement began …

Lamb, Theodore Lafayette

Theodore Lafayette Lamb was a key participant in the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis in 1958–59. He was also a prominent civil rights and labor attorney from 1967 until his death. Ted Lamb was born on April 11, 1927 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Foster Lamb and Theodosia Braswell Lamb. His father was a butcher by trade and moved his family to Arkansas in the early 1930s; the family settled on a farm near Bryant (Saline County). Lamb was educated in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) schools. He was president of the student council at Little Rock High School, now Central High School in 1944. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was posted to …

Lamb’s Plantation, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Helena (August 1, 1864)
  Part of the Confederate campaign to disrupt Union operations in eastern Arkansas in the summer of 1864, the Skirmish at Lamb’s Plantation pitted Southern cavalry against freed slaves and Northern civilians. While this was not a major military engagement, the Confederates were successful in their attack and forced many of the families in the area from their land, while tying up Federal troops. Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby commanded a brigade of Missouri cavalry in eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Shelby was tasked with gathering recruits for the Southern cause, stopping bands of guerrillas from attacking civilians, and wreaking as much havoc as possible on Union outposts in the area. He tried to avoid a major engagement with Federal …

Lambert, Mary Martha

Mary Lambert is a motion picture director who has been at the helm of landmark music videos, television programs, and feature films—the latter mainly in the horror genre (including Pet Sematary, based on the Stephen King novel). Along with directing music videos for Debbie Harry, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Mick Jagger, Alison Krauss, Annie Lennox, Mötley Crüe, Sting, and the Go-Go’s, Lambert directed many well-known videos for her friend Madonna, including “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl,” and the controversial “Like a Prayer,” which was seen by millions in a commercial during the 1989 Super Bowl. Mary Martha Lambert was born in Helena (Phillips County) on October 13, 1951, to Martha Kelly Lambert and Jordan Bennett Lambert, who farmed cotton and …

Lampreys

aka: Jawless Fishes
Lampreys are primitive jawless fishes in the Family Petromyzontidae, Order Petromyzontiformes, Class Petromyzontida, and Superclass Cyclostomata. The common name “lamprey” is almost certainly derived from the Latin lampetra, which likely means “stone licker” (lambere “to lick” + petra “stone”). They are also sometimes called lamprey eels, although they are not eels. Instead, lampreys are the direct descendants of the first armored jawless fishes or ostracoderms, which first appeared over 400 million years ago during the Silurian and Devonian periods. Today, there are only two remaining groups of jawless fishes: the lampreys and the hagfishes (Order Myxiniformes, Class Myxini). Hagfishes, which resemble lampreys, are the sister taxon of lampreys based on DNA evidence. There are about forty-two living lamprey species in …

Landers, Steve

Steve Landers is a businessman and philanthropist from Benton (Saline County) who founded Arkansas’s largest chain of automotive dealerships. In 2004, Landers Auto Sales, Inc., had the highest reported revenue among car dealers in the state according to business analysts Dun & Bradstreet. Steve Landers was born in Benton on September 23, 1953, to Bob and Bonnie Landers. He has two brothers. Reportedly, when Landers was five years old, he would walk to the Benton Courier office to buy newspapers using his allowance; he bought them for three cents each and then sold them on the street for five cents each. As a young man, he attended livestock and automotive auctions with his maternal step-grandfather, who taught him the art …

Landis, Reed Gresham

Reed Gresham Landis was a World War I flying ace who also served in World War II before retiring to Arkansas to run a resort near Hot Springs (Garland County). Reed G. Landis was born on July 17, 1896, in Ottawa, Illinois, the son of Winifred Reed Landis and Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a federal judge and longtime commissioner of major league baseball. Young Landis grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and, in the spring of 1916, enlisted in the First Illinois Cavalry, which was dispatched with other National Guard units to the Mexican border following Francisco “Pancho” Villa’s raid into U.S. territory. The unit returned to Chicago in November without seeing action, though the training the men experienced while deployed would …

Landlord-Tenant Laws

Landlord-tenant law is divided into two types: residential and commercial. Because commercial landlord-tenant law is governed mostly by the law of contracts, this discussion is restricted in scope to residential landlord-tenant law. Landlord-tenant relations are regulated generally by state law as opposed to federal, although a few relevant federal laws, most notably the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968), preempt any conflicting state law. Public and Section 8 housing is also regulated mostly by federal law. About half of the states have enacted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, which was adopted by the Uniform Law Commission in 1972. Since then, the uniform law was repeatedly introduced in Arkansas to no avail, but in …

Landmark (Pulaski County)

Landmark is an unincorporated community on State Highway 367 in southern Pulaski County. It includes the older communities of Parkers and Iron Springs. Union Township was formed in southwestern Pulaski County in 1859. At that time, the township was home to about 400 residents, including residents of East End, which was added to Saline County in 1873. Enoch Davis was the only landowner in the immediate vicinity of what is now Landmark when the township was created; he acquired his land patent in 1843. In 1860, Sampson Brewer also obtained land in the area. Other land patents claimed after the Civil War include those of Eli Cockman (1873), Joel Bunch (1873), William McAlister (1876), William Bunch (1882), Thomas Brewer (1883), …

Laney, Benjamin Travis, Jr.

Benjamin Travis Laney Jr. served two terms as governor of Arkansas. His most notable achievement was the state’s 1945 Revenue Stabilization Law, which prohibited deficit spending. Though he once said, “I am not a politician,” his conservative views put him in the spotlight at a time when the Democratic Party was becoming more liberal. Although he opposed desegregation, the University of Arkansas School of Law became the South’s first all-white public institution to admit black students during his tenure. Ben Laney was born on November 25, 1896, in Jones Chapel (Ouachita County), the son of Benjamin Travis Laney and Martha Ellen Saxon. He was one of eleven children, and his father was a farmer. He entered Hendrix College in Conway …

LaNier, Carlotta Walls

Carlotta Walls LaNier made history as the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957. The oldest of three daughters, Carlotta Walls was born on December 18, 1942, in Little Rock to Juanita and Cartelyou Walls. Her father was a brick mason and a World War II veteran, and her mother was a secretary in the Office of Public Housing. Inspired by Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger sparked the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, as well as the desire to get the best education available, Walls enrolled in Central High School as a sophomore. Some white …

Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge

aka: Standing Knife [Sculpture]
The sculpture Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge by the world-renowned British sculptor Henry Moore (1898–1986) stands in the courtyard of Union National Plaza on Capitol Avenue in the heart of downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). This work was cast in bronze in 1976 and was purchased by Little Rock’s Metrocentre Commission, which placed it, in 1978, at Main Street and Capitol Avenue as the centerpiece of the Metrocentre downtown pedestrian mall project. It is considered among the state’s most noteworthy public sculptures based on its composition, which gives the sense of upward movement if not the suggestion of flight. In February 2018, it was announced that the sculpture would be moved into the Arkansas Arts Center upon the completion of …

Lassis Inn

Lassis Inn is a catfish restaurant located at 518 East 27th Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), founded in about 1905 by Joe and Molassis Watson. Its first known advertising listing was in the Arkansas Gazette in 1931. Originally, Joe Watson sold sandwiches out of the back of the Watson home, and when he later added catfish to the menu, sales rapidly increased. Eventually constructing a separate building for their food business, the Watsons relocated the building in 1931 to its current location, moving it a short distance once in the 1960s to accommodate the construction of Interstate 30 near Roosevelt Road. They had apparently intended to call the establishment the Watson Inn but decided on the derivative of Molassis …

Latinos

aka: Hispanics
The Latino population in Arkansas, which began its rapid growth in the 1980s, has created significant political, economic, and social modifications within the state. Latino food and music, as well as bilingualism, have become common in several regions of the state. Numerous industries and economic ventures have prospered since the mid-1990s due in large part to the contributions of the immigrant workforce. The Latino influence has changed many towns and cities dramatically. In cities such as Rogers (Benton County) and Springdale (Washington County), Latinos make up more than thirty percent of the total population, creating a cultural impact in the area. Latino restaurants and businesses with Spanish signage are now seen in many Arkansas towns and cities. According to the …

Lauck, Chet

aka: Chester Harris Lauck
Chester Harris (Chet) Lauck and his partner, Norris “Tuffy” Goff, created Lum and Abner, a radio program based on life in Pine Ridge (Montgomery County) that was popular nationwide from 1931 to 1955. Lauck portrayed Lum Edwards (pronounced “Eddards”), Grandpappy Spears, and Cedric Wehunt, with Goff doing the voices of the other characters. Chet Lauck was born on October 10, 1902, in Alleene (Little River County) to W. J. and Cora Lauck. The family moved to Mena (Polk County) in 1911. The Lauck and Goff families were prominent in local events in Mena, and as children, the two boys began a lifelong friendship. Lauck was expected to continue his father’s business interests, banking and lumber, but was more interested in …

Lavaca (Sebastian County)

  Located near Arkansas Highways 22 and 96 in Sebastian County, Lavaca can trace its beginnings to the need for a stop for soldiers traveling along the Arkansas River. From its start as a landing in new and undiscovered territory, Lavaca has become a bedroom community of Fort Smith (Sebastian County), the second-largest city in Arkansas. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood In 1817, Fort Smith became the first U.S. military installation in the Southwest. Soldiers would travel from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Fort Smith when they could, but shallow water and jutting bedrock halted boat travel at points, forcing them to travel by land. In 1821, Major Benjamin Moore, a former Virginia resident, and William and Ben Moore Jr. …

Lavacaberry

The Lavacaberry is a hybrid variety of berry that takes its name from the town of Lavaca (Sebastian County), where it was planted extensively in the 1940s. The introduction of the berry to the town helped reinvigorate the local economy at a time when the effects of the Depression were still being felt. In 1937, the Lavaca School District hired Idus H. Fielder as a vocational instructor. In his eagerness to help local growers, Fielder met Ed Girard, a local farmer, to discuss the plight of the farmers. After listening to Girard and others, Fielder remembered a berry from the farm of R. E. Hallett in McRae (White County). The berry was known as a “California Red Raspberry,” and Hallett …

Lavers, Norman

aka: Cecil Norman Lavers
Throughout his career, Norman Lavers has been an award-winning author of several books and short stories, an English and creative writing professor at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), an avid nature instructor/photographer/blogger, and winner of Arkansas’s annual Porter Prize. Cecil Norman Lavers was born in Berkeley, California, on April 21, 1935, to attorney Cecil Lavers and homemaker Mary Parker Lavers. He has two sisters. When Lavers was nine years old, he won first prize from the Young Author’s Club for a story published in the Berkeley Daily Gazette. His major influence for writing came from his grandfather, who was a successful short-story writer. Later in life, Lavers would write Growing Up in Berkeley with the Bomb (Summer …

Lavey, John Thomas “Jack”

John Thomas “Jack” Lavey was one of a handful of Arkansas lawyers who made equality claims for African Americans in courts and defended civil rights activists who were jailed during the turbulent civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. His cases in federal courts established the right of African Americans and women to equal pay and promotions in public and private workplaces. Jack Lavey was born on October 19, 1932, in a northern suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, to Francis Lavey and Theresa Lavey. His mother was Italian, and his father, who was Irish, was a telephone lineman and a union member. Lavey played football and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He received a …

Lavy, Thomas Lewis

Thomas L. Lavy was an accused terrorist who committed suicide, hanging himself in his jail cell in Little Rock (Pulaski County) while awaiting trial in December 1995. While his death ended the ongoing investigation, it also left numerous questions as to what he had done and what he had intended to do. Thomas Lewis Lavy was born on December 18, 1941, in Winfield, Missouri, the second child of Littleton Lavy and Cora Yates Lavy. He was raised in Troy, Missouri, where he received his basic education. Following school, Lavy apparently joined the U.S. Army, although there are questions about the time and nature of his service. While there are reports that he was a military policeman in the Korean War, …

Law

Law develops out of the customs practiced by groups of people. In Arkansas, as in other places, the law has evolved over time with different cultures and interest groups within them. In the early eighteenth century, French colonizers replaced the familial and village-wide chiefdom systems of law developed by the natives with legal rules and regulations developed in France. These new rules appeared more sophisticated and complex than those developed by small groups of native hunter-gatherers. However, in many respects, they reflected a similar hierarchical structure with a hereditary ruler at the top. Given the geographical distance from which these laws were applied, they had to be adapted to fit the circumstances of frontier living. As had the natives, local …

Lawhon, Jay Noal

Jay Noal Lawhon of McCrory (Woodruff County) was a star Razorback football player. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1944 but turned down the offer on doctor’s advice. During World War II, Lawhon served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. After the war, he taught vocational agriculture in Arkansas high schools and was a high school principal. He was the founder of Lawhon Farm Services, the 1988 Arkansas Business of the Year. In 1975, Lawhon and wife Lillian founded a non-denominational charity, the World Christian Relief Fund, Inc. (WCRF). Jay Lawhon was born on July 16, 1919, in Monarch (Marion County), a small hill community near Harrison (Boone County), to Thomas Jefferson and Sarah McPherson Lawhon. He was …

Lawrence County

The “Mother of Counties,” Lawrence County once covered a majority of north Arkansas, an enormous stretch of land ultimately forming thirty-one counties. Present-day Lawrence County straddles the Black River, a natural boundary separating the lowlands of the Mississippi Delta from the foothills of the Ozark Plateau. Long dominated by cotton production, this agricultural county now produces rice, soybeans, corn, and sorghum. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The Osage Indians hunted in what would become Lawrence County, although they had no settlements there. The eastern portion of the county may have been visited in 1541 during a side trip of the expedition of Hernando de Soto. Arkansas became United States territory with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Named for War of …

Lawrence County Courthouse

The Lawrence County Courthouse is located in Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), within the city’s commercial district on Main Street. The building, completed in 1966, stands as one of the newer county seats of justice in Arkansas, with its cohorts erected largely at the end of the nineteenth century or during the New Deal era of the 1930s. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program considers this mid-century building in the New Formalism style as architecturally and historically significant to Lawrence County’s legal history. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2015. In 1870, the Arkansas General Assembly split Lawrence County into two judicial districts to accommodate residents traveling long distances for county business. Legislators designated Walnut …

Lawrence, Marjorie Florence 

Marjorie Florence Lawrence, an Australian native and star soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York City, became an exemplar for endurance when she rebuilt her career after being stricken by poliomyelitis (commonly known as polio). Despite the professional opinion that she would never sing again, she started over, first by singing from a wheelchair or platform, and then by managing to stand and sing. The subject of an Oscar-winning motion picture, Interrupted Melody, she later taught at Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane University and for an extended time at Southern Illinois University (SIU) at Carbondale. Beginning in 1941, Lawrence lived outside of Hot Springs (Garland County) and held summer opera coaching sessions at her ranch, Harmony Hills, which advanced …

Lawrence, Tracy Lee

With rural Arkansas beginnings, Tracy Lee Lawrence took Nashville, Tennessee, by storm in the early 1990s to become one of the most popular country recording artists of that decade. Lawrence quickly gained a fan base with his physical appeal, vocal ability, good-guy image, and succession of hit songs. Tracy Lawrence was born on January 27, 1968, in Atlanta, Texas. Reared by his stay-at-home mother, JoAnn Dickens, and his stepfather, Dwayne Dickens, a banker, Lawrence had two brothers and three sisters. In 1972, the Dickens family moved to Foreman (Little River County), where Lawrence sang in the choir of the local Methodist church and learned to play guitar. While his mother wanted him to become a Methodist minister, Lawrence aspired to …

Lawrence, William M.

William M. Lawrence was a prominent physician in Batesville (Independence County) from 1848 until his death. He was appointed the surgeon general of the state of Arkansas in 1881. William Lawrence was born on November 22, 1826, in Kentucky, the son of James McKinney Lawrence and his first wife, Lucy D. Martin Lawrence, who was from Missouri. He had two brothers (one of them a son to his father’s second wife, Margaret Ann Vaunter Lawrence) and three sisters. Lawrence moved with his family to Fulton, Missouri, when he was a young child. About 1843, he began “reading medicine” under Dr. Robert Blakely in Fulton. He attended medical school at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, studying under Dr. Joseph McDowell. Following …

Lawrenceville, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Green's Farm
This short skirmish appears to have taken place as part of general operations in southeastern Arkansas, with no direct connection to any larger Civil War campaign. At 7:00 a.m. on November 19, 1863, Major William J. Teed led the Eighth Missouri Cavalry (US) in an attack against a Confederate force commanded by Major John B. Cocke, eight miles west of Lawrenceville (Monroe County) on the farmland of a Dr. Green. Teed’s force captured and destroyed cooking utensils and a variety of other material goods and foodstuffs. The estimated casualties amounted to four Confederates killed. A claim made by local citizens that Maj. Cocke and a Lieutenant McBride numbered among the Confederate dead could not be confirmed by Teed. Maj. Cocke, …

Lawyers’ Row Historic District

Lawyers’ Row Historic District is a group of four buildings located on West Second Street in Malvern (Hot Spring County). Sitting to the northeast of the Hot Spring County Courthouse, the buildings are similar to one another in design and construction. Lawyers’ Row Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2015, with three of the buildings listed as contributing structures. The district is located on the northeast side of West Second Street and runs between Locust Street and an unnamed alley parallel to Main Street.   Cooper Funeral Home is located at 118 West Second Street at the corner with the alley. Constructed around 1910, the building was first occupied by an undertaker …

Lay, Henry Champlin

The Right Reverend Henry Champlin Lay was the third missionary bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. The diocese was land the Church defined as also including Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) and what would later become the states of New Mexico and Arizona. Lay was also bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas when it was allied with the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. He again served the original missionary territory when the national church reunited in 1865. Henry Champlin Lay was born on December 6, 1823, in Richmond, Virginia. He was the son of John Olmsted Lay and Lucy May Lay. He was educated in Richmond and New York City. Lay graduated from the University of Virginia …

Leachville (Mississippi County)

Leachville of Mississippi County was once known as “The Cleanest Town on Buffalo Island, Where Agriculture and Industry Meet.” Established about 1896, Leachville is thirty miles east of Jonesboro (Craighead County) and twenty-eight miles west of Blytheville (Mississippi County). Leachville’s founding fathers were James Wiseman Honnoll, Joshua Gilbert Leach, and Sam McNamee of Holly Springs, Mississippi. Leach and Honnoll incorporated the Leach-McNamee Land Development Company on March 15, 1898. Honnoll named the town in honor of Leach. Although founded in 1896, the town was not incorporated until February 2, 1916. The Gilded Age through Early Twentieth CenturyThe late nineteenth century brought business and industry to the settlement. In 1898, the Cannon family, which had moved to Leachville early on, started …

Lead and Zinc Mining

The history of lead and zinc mining in Arkansas is linked because ores of these two metals often occur together. Lead and zinc in Arkansas occur principally along the upper White River and its tributaries in Baxter, Boone, Independence, Lawrence, Marion, Newton, Searcy, Sharp, and Stone counties. Other locations include the Kellogg Mine in Pulaski County and the Ouachita Mountain mineral belt. Lead (Pb) is a soft, highly dense metal recognized for its low melting point and superb resistance to corrosion. Galena (PbS), containing about eighty-six percent lead, is the only lead mineral of commercial importance in Arkansas. Silver is sometimes found as an impurity that, in larger concentrations, can be extracted as a byproduct. Lead was once used to …

Lead Hill (Boone County)

As its name indicates, Lead Hill began as a mining town on the upper White River shortly after the end of the Civil War. In the middle of the twentieth century, the community had to be relocated due to the creation of Bull Shoals Lake. Since that time, the town has relied largely on the tourist industry, especially with the start of the Ozark Medieval Fortress, a twenty-year project that began in 2010. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the area that would become northern Arkansas was hunting ground for the Osage, who lived farther north at the time. The land was ceded to the United States by a series of treaties, but the Ozark Plateau did …

League of Women Voters of Arkansas

aka: Arkansas League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters (LWV), a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed, active participation in government for all citizens. Although it never supports or opposes any party or candidate, it seeks to influence public policy through education and advocacy. The national League of Women Voters Education Fund is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that coordinates elections and educational outreach. The League of Women Voters of Arkansas first formed in 1920. However, it folded and reemerged two times, with the last incarnation forming in 1953, organized by Esther Clark. By 2012, in addition to the state league, there were also five local leagues, in Benton County, Fairfield Bay (Van Buren and Cleburne counties), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Pulaski County, and Washington …

Leavy, Calvin James “Slim”

Calvin James “Slim” Leavy, vocalist and guitarist, recorded “Cummins Prison Farm,” a blues song that debuted on Billboard’s rhythm and blues chart on May 2, 1970, and stayed for five weeks, reaching No. 40. It was also the No. 1 song on the Memphis, Tennessee, station WDIA. Leavy was the first person charged under a 1989 Arkansas “drug kingpin law” targeting crime rings. Calvin Leavy was born on April 20, 1940, in Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties), the youngest son of fifteen children born to the musical family of Johnny Leavy and Cora James Leavy. Both parents sang in the church choir at Mount Lake Baptist Church in Scott, and several family members played musical instruments. Leavy started out singing …

Lebow (Lynching of)

A group of men lynched a white man named Lebow (also spelled as Lebo), described as a “villain, murderer and horse-thief,” in Polk County in August 1877, apparently ending a series of crimes by which he had terrorized the area. The Fort Smith Independent reported on August 8, 1877, that “an old man named Lebow was hung by a party of men last week in Polk County, for foully murdering two men who were travelling in the direction of Hot Springs. Lebow has been a terror to the citizens of Polk County for many years.” He apparently operated from his home on one of the major roads through the county to kill and steal. “Many travelers have lost their horses, …

Ledbetter, Calvin Reville (Cal), Jr.

Calvin Reville (Cal) Ledbetter Jr. was a professor, author, politician, and philanthropist. He taught political science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) from 1960 to 1997, after which he was named Professor Emeritus of Political Science. He also served five consecutive terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives, from 1967 to 1977. Ledbetter is widely remembered for his dedication to higher education as well as his efforts to foster constitutional reform in Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s. Cal Ledbetter was born on April 29, 1929, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Virginia Ledbetter and Cal Ledbetter Sr. (II); his father served as president of the Boyle Realty Company. Ledbetter received his undergraduate degree from the Woodrow Wilson School …

Ledbetter, Mary Brown “Brownie” Williams

Mary Brown “Brownie” Williams Ledbetter was a lifelong political activist who worked in many controversial and crucial campaigns in Arkansas, as well as nationally and internationally. A catalyst in many local grassroots organizations, she exhibited a dedication to fair education and equality across racial, religious, and cultural lines. Born on April 28, 1932, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Mary Brown Williams was the first of four children born to William H. Williams, a businessman and dairy farmer, and Helon Brown Williams. Born with brown eyes, she was nicknamed “Brownie” by her family. After her mother’s death in 1947 and her father’s death in 1950, Williams and her siblings were raised by relatives Grainger and Francis Williams, who moved into the …

Lee County

  Located in the Delta, Lee County is bounded on its east by the Mississippi River. Two navigable rivers, the St. Francis and the L’Anguille, flow through the county. Marianna, the county seat and largest town, sits on the L’Anguille. Though the county’s fertile land and timber resources built its rural agricultural landscape, its emphasis on agriculture translated in a severe population decline as agricultural modernization occurred in the middle of the twentieth century. European Exploration and SettlementHernando de Soto and his men were probably the first Europeans to enter what is now Lee County in August 1541. The expedition likely descended the St. Francis River and entered the chiefdom of Quiguate, which the Spaniards described as the largest of …

Lee County Courthouse

The Lee County Courthouse is located on 15 East Chestnut Street, overlooking downtown Marianna (Lee County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the two-story building as architecturally and historically significant, as it stands as a visible result of the New Deal policies of the 1930s and the best example of the Classical Revival style in the county. The National Park Service added it to the National Register of Historic Places on September 7, 1995. Marianna grew in both size and wealth after the establishment of Lee County in 1873, largely due to the rich agricultural land in the Arkansas Delta and commercial access to the Mississippi River. By the mid-1930s, Lee County needed a larger courthouse than the two-story brick …

Lee Wilson & Company

Lee Wilson & Company, a diversified agribusiness headquartered in Wilson (Mississippi County), was founded by Robert E. Lee Wilson in 1885 and remained family owned and operated for approximately 125 years. Robert E. Lee Wilson was born in 1865 in Mississippi County but moved with his mother to Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of seven after the sudden death of his father. He was orphaned at the age of thirteen when his mother died in a yellow fever epidemic; he was sent to live with an uncle. While attending school in Covington, Tennessee, he was introduced to land surveying and, through this, developed an eye for land. Wilson returned to Arkansas at the age of fifteen and worked as a …

Lee, Burwell

Burwell Lee came to Arkansas Territory from Tennessee in 1830 as a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church and a missionary to the Indians. Because he organized the Methodist Society at Batesville (Independence County) in 1835, which hosted the first session of the new Arkansas Conference of the church the following year, he is referred to as one of the fathers of the Methodist Church in Arkansas. Burwell Lee was born on October 20, 1809, in Davidson County, Tennessee. His father was Braxton Lee, who had come to Davidson County from Virginia around 1796. In Davidson County records, there is a marriage for Braxton Lee to Polly Hunter on May 20, 1808, although it is uncertain if these are Lee’s …

Lee, Clifton Phifer (Cliff)

Arkansas native Cliff Lee is a major league baseball pitcher. He has pitched in both the National and American Leagues, winning All-Star recognition in both circuits. Clifton Phifer Lee was born on August 30, 1978, in Benton (Saline County) to Steve Lee, who was a firefighter and one-time member of the Benton City Council, and his wife, Sharon Lee. Lee grew up in Benton and graduated from Benton High School in 1997. Following graduation, he was drafted by the Florida Marlins but decided to attend Meridian Community College in Meridian, Mississippi. Drafted in 1998 by the Baltimore Orioles, he again deferred, instead attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). The left-handed Lee had one solid season pitching …

Lee, Haeng Ung

Haeng Ung Lee was the founder of the American Taekwondo Association (which later became ATA Martial Arts), headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). ATA has over 300,000 members worldwide, making it the largest organization in North America dedicated to the discipline of taekwondo. Haeng Ung Lee was born on July 20, 1936, in Manchuria in northeastern China. Little is known about his early life, but shortly after World War II, he and his family moved to Korea. He began training in the martial arts in 1953. Lee progressed rapidly, earning his first-degree black belt only a year later. Upon graduating from high school in 1956, Lee joined the Republic of Korea Army, serving as a martial arts instructor for military …

Lee, Lorelei

The fictional character of Lorelei Lee, who calls herself the “little girl from Little Rock,” was created by writer Anita Loos (1889–1981). Lorelei first appeared as a character in short stories, followed by the bestselling novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, several successful Broadway shows, and a hit movie. The Lorelei Lee character is closely identified with her fictitious home of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the state of Arkansas. After emerging in a series of short sketches published in Harper’s Bazaar during the early 1920s, what became known as the “Lorelei” stories were so popular that they tripled the magazine’s circulation. After Loos was encouraged by friends in the publishing business to adapt the stories into a book, her bestselling comedic …

Leeches

Leeches are segmented worms belonging to the Phylum Annelida, Class Clitellata, Subclass Hirudinida. Leech classification is primarily based on the presence or absence of setae (bristles) and the morphology of the mouth, proboscis (feeding organ), jaws, and suckers. Leeches are thought to have evolved from certain oligochaete worms; however, the systematics and taxonomy of leeches are in need of review. Twenty-two species within five families (Erpobdellidae, Glossiphoniidae, Haemopidae, Hirudinidae, Piscicolidae) have been reported from northern Arkansas, but, as of 2018, there are no summaries of leeches from the southern part of the state. Leeches are bilaterally symmetrical, with thick muscular bodies. Usually, they are dorsoventrally flattened and segmented. Some leeches are long and worm-like (ranging in size from about seven …

Leflar, Robert Allen

Robert Allen Leflar was one of Arkansas’s most renowned legal scholars, a champion of racial equality, longtime dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County), and president of two state constitutional conventions. Robert Leflar was born on March 22, 1901, in Siloam Springs (Benton County), the son of Lewis D. Leflar—who was a drayman, former deputy U.S. marshal in “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker’s court, and former Alma (Crawford County) town marshal—and Viva Mae Pilkenton of Siloam Springs. The oldest of eight children, Leflar later said that his mother, a high school graduate, was the chief influence on him and his siblings getting an education. Leflar worked his way through the University of Arkansas (UA), beginning …

Legend of Boggy Creek, The

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) was the first in a series of three Boggy Creek films loosely based on a legendary monster of southwest Arkansas. It was directed by Charles Pierce of Texarkana (Miller County) and written by Earl E. Smith. The film, shot as a faux documentary-style drama, centers on the real town of Fouke (Miller County). Since the 1940s, many sightings of a creature known as the “Fouke Monster” have been reported. The film presents an interesting portrait of Southern swamp culture in the 1970s by juxtaposing interviews with local citizens, ranging from a police officer to hunters, talking about their experiences with the creature with dramatic recreations of some of these purported encounters. According to witnesses, …

LeMaster, Carolyn Gray

Carolyn Gray LeMaster was the leading chronicler of Jewish life in Arkansas, through books, articles, and lectures, especially her book A Corner of the Tapestry: A History of the Jewish Experience in Arkansas, 1820s–1990s. Carolyn Gray was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 17, 1927, to Elisha Columbus Gray, who was a railroad engineer and brakeman, and Erma White Gray, a homemaker. She left high school after the tenth grade to help support her family and care for her widowed mother. She married Robert W. LeMaster, a hospital executive in Little Rock. They had four children. After the children were grown, LeMaster enrolled in 1975 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), where she graduated magna …

Lemke, Walter John

Walter John Lemke established the department of journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1928 and served as the head of the department until his retirement in 1959. The university named the department the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism in his honor in 1988. In addition, he founded several historical and journalistic organizations. Walter Lemke was born on January 6, 1891, in Wausau, Wisconsin, to Carl Lemke and Ulrika Block Lemke. Lemke attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Indiana. He received his AB degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, which is near Cleveland, in 1911. The college later awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1962. He earned …