Entries - Starting with T

Texarkana (Miller County)

Texarkana is in the southwest corner of Arkansas at the junction of Interstate 30 and U.S. 59, 67, 71, and 82. Its two separate municipalities—Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas—sometimes function as one city. The name is a composite of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana (though Louisiana is thirty miles away). Texarkana is the Miller County seat, and is home to the only Federal Building and post office situated in two states. The city’s motto is “Twice as Nice.” Pre-European Exploration The area around Texarkana was inhabited at least 12,000 years ago. Several villages stood near the Red River, both upstream and downstream from contemporary Texarkana. The Red River Caddo were one of several regional Caddo groups (a Mississippian culture) who farmed …

Texarkana Baptist Orphanage

The Texarkana Baptist Orphanage, founded in 1906 and chartered in 1907, is a charitable ministry of the churches of the State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas. During its almost a century of operation, it has assisted several thousand needy boys and girls. It is administered by a board of five directors appointed annually and is supported by offerings from Missionary Baptist churches of the American Baptist Association across the country. It also enjoys widespread support within the Texarkana (Miller County) business and professional community. Although children of Baptist parents are given first priority, the home is open to all “orphaned, dependent, and neglected” children. Originally, children who met these criteria were referred to the home by Arkansas Missionary …

Texarkana Moonlight Murders

An unidentified assailant often known as the Texarkana Phantom Killer committed a number of murders and assaults in Texarkana (Miller County, Arkansas, and Bowie County, Texas) through the spring of 1946. Five people were killed, and three were wounded. While there was one major suspect, he was never convicted of these crimes. The attacks served partially as the basis for a motion picture, The Town that Dreaded Sundown. On February 22, 1946, two young people, Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey, were parked on a secluded Bowie County road outside Texarkana. They were forced out of the car by an armed man, his face hidden by a burlap sack with two slits for eyes. The assailant beat Hollis with the …

Texarkana Regional Airport

aka: Texarkana Air Force Station
The Texarkana Regional Airport is located three miles northeast of Texarkana (Miller County). The airport is a mixed-used facility with the primary focus being general aviation; it also offers limited commercial aviation. In 2015, the total economic impact to the Texarkana area included 420 jobs and more than $32.5 million to the local economy. In 2015, there were sixty-eight aircraft based at the airport, and the airport conducted just under of 48,500 flight operations. The early history of the airport dates back to 1928 when the City of Texarkana acquired 190 acres of land from two local families, the Lathrop and Wheeler families. The following year, the first runways were constructed. Both were made of sod, with one measuring 3,500 …

Texas Tick Fever Eradication

aka: Tick Eradication
aka: Dipping Vats
From 1907 to circa 1943, Arkansas was a participant in the federal tick eradication program for the prevention of Texas tick fever among the state’s cattle herds. Arkansas’s climate and traditional agricultural practices among stockmen in the early twentieth century were perfect for the spread and sustenance of Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus (also known as the cattle tick), one-host arachnids that completed their life cycle on a single animal. These ticks would acquire protozoan parasites by ingesting the blood of an animal infected with pathogens that destroyed red blood cells. After the engorged tick dropped off the host and laid eggs, the newly hatched ticks would pass the pathogens on by attaching to another host, thus conveying parasitic blood diseases babesiosis …

Thach, John Smith

John Smith Thach was one of the most influential naval aviators of the mid-twentieth century and is credited with the creation of the Thach Weave, one of the most significant tactical advances in the history of aerial combat. He was awarded the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Medal for developing this tactical maneuver, which remains a standard of military aviation. Jimmie Thach was born on April 19, 1905, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to schoolteachers James H. Thach and Jo Bocage Thach. Thach followed in the footsteps of his brother James, Jr. (who also rose to the rank of admiral) and attended the United States Naval Academy. After his graduation in 1927, he took the traditional career path of the …

Thaden, Louise McPhetridge

Louise McPhetridge Thaden was an aviation pioneer and holder of numerous flight records during the late 1920s and 1930s. At one point, she was the most famous female American aviator only after Amelia Earhart. Louise McPhetridge was born in Bentonville (Benton County) on November 12, 1905, to Roy McPhetridge, a travelling Mentholatum salesman who taught Louise to hunt, fish, and fix a car, and Edna McPhetridge, a housewife. She had one sister. Raised on the family farm, McPhetridge discovered an early interest in aviation long before learning to fly. A ride in a plane with a barnstormer fuelled her desire to fly. After attending local public schools, McPhetridge attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1922 …

Thanet, Octave

aka: Alice French
Alice French was a leading writer of local color stories and journalistic essays under the pseudonym Octave Thanet. Some of her best work is based on the years she spent at her winter home in Clover Bend (Lawrence County) in the Black River swamp country. French also published stories and essays in such national periodicals as the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Scribner’s Magazine, and Century Magazine. She prided herself on the accurate depiction not only of the physical setting of her stories but also of the customs and dialect of the characters in them. Alice French was born on March 19, 1850, in Andover, Massachusetts, to George Henry French and Frances Morton. The French family also included sons George, Morton, Nathaniel, and …

Tharpe, “Sister Rosetta”

aka: Rosetta Nubin Tharpe
Arkansas native Rosetta Nubin Tharpe was one of gospel music’s first superstars, the first gospel performer to record for a major record label (Decca), and an early crossover from gospel to secular music. Tharpe has been cited as an influence by numerous musicians, including Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Arkansan Johnny Cash. Rosetta Tharpe was born in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on March 20, 1915, to Katie Bell Nubin Atkins—an evangelist, singer, and mandolin player for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC)—and Willis Atkins. She went by the first names Rosa, Rosie Etta, and Rosabell, and used both her father’s last name and her mother’s maiden name, Nubin. She began performing at age four, playing guitar and singing …

That Bookstore in Blytheville

In the early 1970s, Mary Gay Shipley, then a schoolteacher, saw a void in her hometown and opened a paperback exchange store affiliated with a Memphis, Tennessee, group called The Book Rack. Ultimately, she found a space in a former jewelry store in downtown Blytheville (Mississippi County). The bookstore has remained at 316 W. Main Street since 1976. Though locals called it “that bookstore” for years, the store did not become officially known as That Bookstore in Blytheville until 1994. The store’s varied selections of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature occupy over 2,400 square feet. That Bookstore in Blytheville specialized in Southern writers and books on Southern culture, with emphasis on the work of Arkansas writers. A champion of literacy, …

Thayer, John Milton

John Milton Thayer was a lawyer and politician. During the Civil War, he was a major general in the Union army who served extensively in Arkansas. A native of Massachusetts, Thayer is most associated with Nebraska, where he served as both a senator and governor and commanded troops from that state during the war. Thayer was born in Bellingham, Massachusetts, on January 24, 1820; he was the youngest of nine children. Thayer’s parents, Captain Elias Thayer and Ruthe Staples Thayer, owned a farm. Thayer worked as a school teacher before entering Brown University, from which he graduated in 1841. He married Mary Torrey Allen in 1842; they had six children. Joining the bar in Massachusetts the same year he graduated …

The Pines (Scott County)

The Pines is an unincorporated community in central Scott County located along Business Highway 71, just south of the town of Waldron (Scott County). The agricultural and timber industries have been important in the surrounding area for many years. The area’s first inhabitants included natives from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Archaeological evidence suggests that natives of the Caddo Nation made their homes along the Poteau River and other prominent waterways in the area. Thousands of archaeological sites can be found along the Fourche La Fave and Poteau River valleys nearby. The people of the Choctaw Nation were present in various areas of Scott County from 1820 to 1830, as a result of the Treaty of Doak’s Stand, which exchanged some Mississippi land for a large portion of …

Thea Foundation

Paul and Linda Leopoulos founded the Thea Foundation in 2001, six months after their seventeen-year-old daughter Thea Kay Leopoulos died in a car accident. The nonprofit foundation’s mission is based on the idea that young people achieve confidence and personal success due to involvement with the arts. The Leopouloses found this to be true of their daughter, and they wanted other young people to benefit from the arts as Thea had. The Thea Foundation’s scholarship program awards Arkansas high school seniors based on their hard work and artistic talents. The twenty-eight scholarships in the categories of visual and performing arts, short film, creative writing, and poetry slam are not based on test scores or GPAs, nor do the students have …

Theater

Although Arkansas was often considered wild and uncultured in its early history, the state has a consistent theatrical tradition of professional touring troupes, local companies, and community theater—all providing Arkansas theater-goers with entertainment from slapstick to the classics. The first recorded attempt at a permanent theater in the state was in Little Rock (Pulaski County) barely two years after statehood, when the capital city’s population was about 1,400. In July 1838, a meeting was organized to establish a theater. After unsuccessful attempts to sell shares for the construction of a permanent building, the first theatrical production recorded in Arkansas was mounted on December 3, 1838. It was presented in a downtown warehouse and was a comedy called The Young Widow. …

Thebom, Blanche

Blanche Thebom was a world-renowned operatic soprano, opera director, and educator. With her trademark six-foot-long hair, she was among the first American opera singers to have a highly successful international career, spending more than twenty years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She also appeared in Hollywood feature films. Thebom conducted a groundbreaking tour of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. After retirement from the Met, she brought her talents to Arkansas when she taught and directed opera productions at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) for almost a decade. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, Blanche Thebom was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 1915. She was raised in Canton, …

Thibault, David

David Thibault was an agricultural agent and writer whose short stories appeared in popular national magazines. His early death cut short his career before he could accumulate a large body of significant work. Some of his best fiction draws characters, settings, and themes from plantation life in Arkansas in the early twentieth century. David Thibault was born on May 23, 1892, at Walnut Grove plantation east of Little Rock (Pulaski County). His parents were James Keatts Thibault, a farmer, and Corinne Laurie Gibson Thibault. He was the youngest of nine chlidren and was educated in the public schools of Little Rock. In 1915, Thibault married Irene Graeme Stockton, a high school English teacher. In 1917, they had a son, David …

Thida (Independence County)

Thida of Independence County is located about four miles from Oil Trough (Independence County), where Thida Road intersects with Departee Lane. Union Hill (Independence County) is three miles southwest of Thida, which was originally known as Liberty Hill. As early as 1800, French frontiersmen were in the White River bottoms hunting bear and smaller game, including deer. The lucrative trade in bear oil proved to be an incentive for settlement. Pioneer Hardin Hulsey arrived in 1817, and others soon followed. One of the bear hunters, John Jenkins Wyatt, gained a larger-than-life reputation in Thida folklore. Wyatt would make a commotion to lure a bear out of its den and then lie down and let the bear run over him as …

Third Arkansas Cavalry (CS)

The Third Arkansas Cavalry Regiment was a Confederate unit that served in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. Serving under commanders Major General Joseph Wheeler and Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, it fought with the Army of Tennessee in all its major engagements until surrender at Greensboro, North Carolina, on April 26, 1865. The regiment was organized on June 10, 1861, as the First (Borland’s) Battalion Arkansas Cavalry and mustered into Confederate service on July 27 as the First Regiment Arkansas Volunteers. Led by Colonel Solon Borland, it consisted of companies from Conway, Crittenden, Dallas, Hot Springs, Ouachita, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, White, and Yell counties. On January 15, 1862, it was re-designated as the Third Arkansas Cavalry …

Third Arkansas Cavalry (US)

The Third Arkansas Cavalry organized in October 1863 at Little Rock (Pulaski County). It became one of four Union cavalry regiments raised in Arkansas during the Civil War. In total, 8,289 white Arkansans joined the Federal service to struggle against their neighbors and the Confederacy. Abraham H. Ryan was promoted from captain of the Seventeenth Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers to the colonel of the Third Arkansas, which mustered into service on February 10, 1864. On April 5, 1864, Special Order No. 6 commanded Colonel Ryan to take charge of all the troops at Lewisburg (Conway County), Dardanelle (Yell County), and the vicinity. Lewisburg, a small town located on the north bank of the Arkansas River, became the station for …

Third Arkansas Light Artillery (CS)

aka: Jackson Light Artillery
The Third Arkansas Light Artillery was a Confederate unit that served in the Western Theater in a variety of roles throughout the Civil War. The battery that would come to be known as the Third Arkansas was organized at Jacksonport (Jackson County) on June 15, 1861, under the command of Captain George McCown. The unit was known as McCown’s Battery during its early existence. The battery joined two other Arkansas artillery units in a battalion under the command of Major Francis Shoup, and this unit transferred to Confederate service on July 25, 1861. McCown resigned his commission on July 17, and Second Lieutenant George Hubbard was elected to lead the battery.   The battalion moved to the east bank of …

Third Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment (CS)

The Third Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment originated from two companies that Hamburg (Ashley County) lawyer Van H. Manning and Dr. William H. Tebbs raised in Ashley County shortly after Arkansas seceded from the Union. The two companies traveled to Vicksburg, Mississippi, to join the Confederate army but were refused admittance. This led Manning to travel to Montgomery, Alabama, which was then the Confederate capital, to seek the aid of Senator Albert Rust of Arkansas. Rust not only helped the two orphan companies get into the army but also enlisted and returned to Arkansas to raise eight more companies and form a regiment. Rust was successful in recruiting companies in Union, Drew, Ashley, and Hot Spring counties, and they traveled to …

Third Confederate Infantry (CS)

The Third Confederate Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. The unit of seven companies was primarily made up of men from Greene, Jefferson, Mississippi, Pulaski, St. Francis, and Searcy counties. One Searcy County company was former Arkansas Peace Society men who had been arrested and offered the choice of enlistment or jail. These companies, originally part of Hindman’s Legion, were organized into the First Arkansas Infantry Battalion when Confederate authorities refused to accept the twenty-two-company legion. With the addition of three companies from Tennessee and Mississippi, it officially became the Eighteenth Arkansas Infantry with John S. Marmaduke as colonel, J. B. Johnson as lieutenant colonel, and H. V. Keep as …

Thirteenth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirteenth Arkansas Infantry was a regiment that served in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. Spending most of its service in the Western Theater, the regiment served for the duration of the war. The regiment organized on July 29, 1861, in Greene County with companies from Phillips, St. Francis, Poinsett, Lawrence, Greene, Crittenden, and Craighead counties. One company in the regiment was from Missouri. James Tappan was selected as the first colonel of the regiment. The regiment moved to Belmont, Missouri, and camped on the banks of the Mississippi River across from Columbus, Kentucky. The unit saw its first action at the Battle of Belmont on November 7, 1861, when Brigadier General Ulysses Grant attacked the camp. …

Thirtieth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

aka: Rogan's Arkansas Cavalry (CS)
The Thirtieth Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was primarily composed of men from Craighead, Cross, Clay, Greene, Jackson, Poinsett, Pulaski, and St. Francis counties. The regiment was organized on June 18, 1862, with field officers Colonel Archibald McNeill, Lieutenant Colonel Robert A. Hart, and Major James W. Rogan. Initially referred to as the Fifth Trans-Mississippi Infantry Regiment or McNeill’s Regiment, it was officially designated the Thirtieth Arkansas Infantry by the Confederate War Department. Often incorrectly referred to as the Thirty-Ninth Arkansas Infantry, it is also known as Hart and Rogan’s Arkansas Infantry. During summer and fall 1862, the regiment operated in the vicinity of the White …

Thirty-Eighth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-Eighth Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was composed of men primarily from Craighead, Independence, Izard, Lawrence, and Randolph counties. The regiment began organization in June 1862 as a mounted infantry unit but was dismounted in August 1862 and mustered into Confederate service with ten companies on September 21, 1862, at Jacksonport (Jackson County). The elected field officers of the unit were Colonel Robert G. Shaver, Lieutenant Colonel William. C. Adams, and Major Milton Baber. The Thirty-Eighth Arkansas experienced its first combat on December 7, 1862, at the Battle of Prairie Grove. Assigned to a brigade commanded by Shaver of Frost’s Division, the Thirty-Eighth, under Adams, …

Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was composed of men primarily from Conway, Independence, Jackson, Pope, Van Buren, and Yell counties. Organized originally as a four-company battalion under the command of Major Thomas H. McCray in January 1862, it reorganized on May 25, 1862, as the Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry with ten companies. The original field officers were Colonel Thomas H. McCray, Lieutenant Colonel James F. Johnson, and Major James W. Clark. After initial assignment to the brigade of Brigadier General J. L. Hogg in Major General John P. McCown’s division at Corinth, Mississippi, it was ordered to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and transferred to the division of …

Thirty-Fourth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-Fourth Arkansas Infantry regiment was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. Organized in the summer of 1862, most of the companies were raised prior to—but in direct response to—the 1862 Confederate Conscript Law, making it a volunteer regiment. It was composed primarily of men from Benton, Crawford, Franklin, Sebastian, and Washington counties. The original command staff consisted of Colonel William H. Brooks, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gunter, and Major James Woolsey. Initially referred to as the Second Regiment, Northwest Division by the state military board, the Confederate War Department re-designated it as the Thirty-Fourth Arkansas Infantry. During the summer and fall of 1862, the regiment trained in northwestern Arkansas before moving south …

Thirty-Second Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-Second Arkansas Infantry Regiment was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the Civil War. Organized on June 16, 1862, as Matlock’s Arkansas Cavalry Battalion, it was later converted to infantry. More than fifty percent of the regiment was composed of men from Independence, Jackson, Searcy, St. Francis, and White counties, with the remainder being conscripts. Appointed officers were Colonel Charles Matlock, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Young, and Major Lucien Gause. While serving as independent companies and Matlock’s Battalion, the troops fought in numerous small skirmishes in northeastern Arkansas at Smithville in Lawrence County, Searcy Landing on the Little Red River, Whitney’s Lane, Cache River near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County), and Groves Glades on the White River. …

Thirty-Seventh (Bell’s) Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-seventh Arkansas Infantry Regiment was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. It was a volunteer regiment, as it was organized in March 1862, prior to the enactment of the 1862 Confederate Conscript Law. It was composed primarily of men from Ashley, White, Woodruff, Union, Dallas, Clark, and Benton counties. The original command staff consisted of Colonel Joseph C. Pleasants, Lieutenant Colonel John A. Geoghegan, and Major Samuel S. Bell. Initially referred to as the First Trans-Mississippi Infantry Regiment and designated as the Twenty-ninth Arkansas Infantry by the Confederate War Department, it was most commonly referred to as Pleasant’s [sic] Arkansas Infantry. After the Battle of Prairie Grove and reorganization of the …

This Scorched Earth

This Scorched Earth is a 2018 work of historical fiction by William Gear set in the Arkansas Ozarks during the Civil War. While the Civil War has been fertile ground for historical fiction, novelists have rarely ventured west of the Mississippi River to the often-ignored Trans-Mississippi Theater. This Scorched Earth is an exception. Gear avoids the stereotypical image of Arkansas Ozarkers as benighted hillbillies. The story centers around the experiences of the Hancock family—mother, father, three sons, and one daughter—who live in the highlands of northwestern Arkansas not far from Elkhorn Tavern. The eldest son is a doctor, a recent graduate of medical school in Boston, Massachusetts. The middle son spent time as a student in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he …

Thomas C. McRae Memorial Sanatorium

aka: Alexander Human Development Center
The Thomas C. McRae Memorial Sanatorium in Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties) was established in 1931, in the midst of the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, to treat African-American victims of tuberculosis (often called “consumption” at the time). It was the first facility of its kind in Arkansas. It was opened twenty-two years after the Arkansas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Booneville (Logan County), which treated only white patients. In 1968, following the integration of the state’s sanatoriums, the Alexander site became the Alexander Human Development Center. In 2011, the facility was closed. The bill that created the McRae Sanatorium was introduced in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1923. It had strong support from the Arkansas Tuberculosis Association, particularly from …

Thomas R. McGuire House

The Thomas R. McGuire House at 114 Rice Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), built in the Colonial Revival style, was rendered in hand-crafted or locally manufactured materials by Thomas R. McGuire, a master machinist with the Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad. It is the finest example of this particular architectural style in the turn-of-the-century Capitol View neighborhood and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 19, 1991. The house has been owned by the McGuire family ever since its construction. The house is a one-and-one-half story, cast-concrete block residence on a continuous poured-concrete foundation. It was built on a rectangular plan in a vernacular design with Colonial Revival details. The hipped roof and ridge of …

Thomas, David Yancey

David Yancey Thomas was one of the most influential academic historians in the field of Arkansas history. He was a driving force in the re-establishment of the Arkansas Historical Association in 1941, was the first editor of theArkansas Historical Quarterly, was the chair of the Department of History at the University of Arkansas (UA)in Fayetteville (Washington County) for twenty-eight years, and was known nationally for his scholarly books and articles. David Thomas was born on January 19, 1872, to James Fuller and Eliza Ann (Ratliff) Thomas. He grew up on a farm in southwest Kentucky, near Hickman in Fulton County. He was the youngest of nine children. Thomas was a student at Marvin Training School in Clinton, Kentucky, from 1888 to 1890. …

Thomas, Henry Andrew “Heck”

Henry Andrew “Heck” Thomas became one of the best-known officers of the law in Arkansas and Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). His reputation as a fearless crime fighter stemmed from a determination to bring felons to justice and from the notorious characters he encountered. Tall and lean, with dark eyes and a mustache, Thomas was the image of the frontier lawman, usually attired in knee-high boots, corduroy trousers, and a flannel shirt. Thomas, and others like him, helped combat frontier criminals in order to make the region safe for settlers. Heck Thomas was born on January 6, 1850, in Oxford, Georgia, the last child of twelve of Martha Ann Fullwood Bedell Thomas and Lovick Pierce Thomas. He acquired the nickname “Heck” …

Thomas, Jefferson Allison

Jefferson Allison Thomas made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high school. Jefferson Thomas was born the youngest of seven children on September 19, 1942, in Little Rock to Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Thomas. Thomas was a track athlete at all-black Horace Mann High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he chose to volunteer to integrate all-white Central High School for the 1957–58 school year as a sophomore. The Nine were harassed daily by some white students, and Thomas’s quiet demeanor made him a …

Thomas, John Orval

John Orval Thomas was a teacher, mentor, and role model for many television and film industry professionals in Arkansas. He worked as a sound engineer on major motion pictures, produced political campaign commercials, and had a variety of jobs in the television industry. Orval Thomas Jr. was born in Slocomb (Saline County) on November 25, 1919, to John Quincy Thomas Sr., who was a traveling preacher, and Eliza Eldridge Thomas. When Thomas was four, his parents started taking him on various “speaking engagements” of the revival circuit, where they would play one-reel silent movies in between his father’s sermons. When he was fourteen, Thomas took a job at a photography studio, the Deluxe Studio in Hot Springs (Garland County). There, …

Thomas, Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris Thomas was a highly regarded amateur ornithologist whose column on birding in Arkansas was published by the Arkansas Gazette for about forty years. Her column not only documented area birds, but it also contributed to a growing appreciation for birds, birding, and habitat conservation. Ruth Harris was born in Kentucky on August 25, 1900, to Charles O. Harris and Columbia B. Cox Harris. She had two brothers. Majoring in English and journalism, Harris graduated from Louisiana State University in 1923, where she also edited the student newspaper. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the autumn of 1923 to work as a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette newspaper. In 1927, she married Maine native Stanley Powers Rowland …

Thomas, Wade (Lynching of)

On December 26, 1920, a gambler and petty thief named Wade Thomas was lynched in Jonesboro (Craighead County) for the alleged shooting of Elmer “Snookums” Ragland, a white police officer. Thomas, also known as “Boll Weevil,” was a Jonesboro native but had recently returned from “up North.” According to the Arkansas Gazette, he was known as a “‘bad’ and impudent negro,” who had formerly served time in the Arkansas penitentiary for highway robbery. According to Jonesboro historian Lee A. Dew, Thomas made his living by playing craps and engaging in petty thievery. Dew recounts that Ragland had arrived in Jonesboro from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) not long before he was killed. The Gazette reported that he was an “efficient and …

Thomas, William

William H. Thomas, a native of Wynne (Cross County), was an American soldier in World War II who was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in battle against the Japanese in the Philippines. William H. Thomas was born in Wynne on January 13, 1923, to lumber mill worker John Thomas and Jessie Thomas. The Thomas family, which included two daughters and four other sons, apparently moved around the Arkansas Delta, as the family lived in Trumann (Poinsett County) in 1930 and in Brinkley (Monroe County) by the mid-1940s. William Thomas, who had worked as a farmer and timber worker, attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1943 but was turned away because of a heart condition. He succeeded …

Thomason, Harry Z.

Harry Z. Thomason is a film and television producer best known for the television series Designing Women and for his friendship with Bill Clinton. Thomason made the casting of people of Southern heritage more popular, replacing the ignorant hillbilly type with a more wry, witty, sophisticated Southerner. Thomason was born in 1940 in Hampton (Calhoun County). After moving to Little Rock (Pulaski County), he became a high-school speech teacher and football coach. Beginning with Encounter with the Unknown (1973), he wrote, produced, and/or directed the movies The Great Lester Boggs (1974), So Sad about Gloria (1975), The Day It Came to Earth (1979), and Revenge of Bigfoot (1979). He then moved to television, where he produced the television movies A Shining Season …

Thompson-Robbins Air Field

aka: Helena Aero Tech
In about 1940, the United States was planning a build-up in the Army Air Force (AAF) strength. The number of airplanes produced was to be increased to around 50,000, but the AAF’s flying school in Texas could only graduate 500 pilots a year, and most of the current AAF pilots did not have enough flying hours to be instructors. To produce more pilots, the commanding general of the AAF, Henry Arnold, devised a plan for primary contract flying schools located in local communities.   Three primary contract flying schools were located in Arkansas: the first at Grider Field in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the second at Thompson-Robbins Airfield in West Helena (Phillips County), and the third at Harrell Field in …

Thompson, Alex (Lynching of)

On April 23, 1903, a young African-American man named Alex Thompson was hanged in Gurdon (Clark County) for allegedly attacking a local doctor (named Cuffman) with a knife. There is no record of a man named Alex Thompson living in Clark County during this period. The 1900 census, however, does list a doctor named Cuffman who was living there. He is listed in the census as George A. Cuffman, but subsequent marriage and census records indicate that he was probably John Henry Cuffman. At the time of the census, he was thirty-six, single, and living in a boarding house. Later that year, on June 28, he married Mary Euella Littlejohn in Gurdon. The Arkansas Gazette reported that trouble had been …

Thompson, Charles Louis

Charles Louis Thompson was a highly prolific architect who created one of the most successful architectural practices in Arkansas during the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. His firm designed more than two thousand buildings, of which hundreds still exist today. Charles Thompson was born in November 1868 in Danville, Illinois, to James C. and Henrietta Lightner Thompson. He and his six siblings were orphaned when he was fourteen, and they moved to Indiana to live with relatives. He quit school at the age of fourteen and went to work in a mill to help support his brothers and sisters. During his extra hours, he worked for an architect named Hunt, who taught him drafting and exposed …

Thompson, David Aiken

David Aiken Thompson came to Arkansas as the Arkansas Territory was beginning to show rapid growth, attracting settlers from eastern states and offering opportunities for business and land speculation. Thompson became one of the largest land speculators in Arkansas. At the height of his operations, he reportedly either owned outright or had an interest in 150,000 acres of land in sixteen Arkansas counties. David Thompson was born on April 4, 1796, at New Castle, Delaware, to Dr. David Thompson and his second wife, Frances Aiken Thompson. His father died two months before he was born. His mother soon moved to Jonesboro, Tennessee. There, she met John McAlister, and they married on December 25, 1800. Thompson grew up in Jonesboro and …

Thompson, Green Walter

Green Walter Thompson was a major African-American political leader and businessman in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from the end of the Civil War until his death. Green Thompson was born Green Elliott, a slave on the Robert Elliottt farm in Ouachita County. Nothing is known of his early life, though his tombstone lists a birth date of August 15, 1847. A birth year of 1848 is estimated from documents accumulated later in his life. The 1880 census records him as a “mulatto,” so it is likely a white man fathered him. His mother eventually married a slave named Thompson, and Green Elliott took his stepfather’s name. While a teenager, he married a slave named Dora Hildreth; they soon had a …

Thompson, M. Jeff

Meriwether “Jeff” Thompson was a brigadier general in the Missouri State Guard who served and led troops in Arkansas during the Civil War, ultimately surrendering the troops in the northeastern part of the state in 1865 after earning a reputation as a wily commander. Meriwether Thompson was born on January 22, 1826, in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, the son of U.S. Army paymaster Captain Meriwether Thompson and Nancy Slaughter Broadus Thompson. As a youth, Thompson would skip school to accompany a black deliveryman named Jeff on his rounds, which led his family to begin calling him by that name. His friends soon followed suit, and after moving to Missouri in 1847 he had his name legally changed to M. Jeff Thompson. …

Thompson, Roosevelt Levander

Roosevelt Levander Thompson was a very accomplished Arkansan who achieved many things during his short lifetime and is recognized as one of the most gifted people to have attended Yale University. Roosevelt Thompson was born on January 28, 1962, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Reverend C. R. Thompson and Dorothy L. Thompson. He attended Little Rock Central High School and participated in many of Central’s activities. During his freshman year, he decided he wanted to pursue a career in public service. By his junior year, his teachers were already talking to him about becoming a Rhodes Scholar. He was involved in school plays, the school newspaper, and various academic groups, and he was named the All-Star player on …

Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel, designed by architect E. Fay Jones, is the most celebrated piece of architecture built in Arkansas. It won five design awards and was named by American Institute of Architects (AIA) as the fourth–best building of the twentieth century. Its uniqueness was recognized almost immediately. Within a year of its July 10, 1980, opening in Eureka Springs (Carroll County), it had been featured in many major architecture journals worldwide and had received an AIA Honor Award for design; in December of 2005, it received the 2006 AIA Twenty-five year Award for architectural design that has stood the test of time for twenty-five years. The chapel draws more than 100,000 visitors a year, and more than four million people have …

Thornton (Calhoun County)

The city of Thornton developed on the St. Louis and Southwestern Railway (often called the Cotton Belt) four miles southwest of Fordyce (Dallas County) in 1883. A center of the timber industry, it became, for a time, the largest city in Calhoun County. Evidence of prehistoric activity in the region that would become Calhoun County is seen in several Native American mounds located in the county. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the area was understood to belong to the Caddo, but their dwellings tended to be in river valleys to the south of the heavy pine forests of south-central Arkansas. White settlers did not make a permanent home in the pine forests until after the Civil War, when …

Thornton, Billy Bob

Billy Bob Thornton is an actor, director, screenwriter, and musician who began his film career in the late 1980s and has since starred in a number of popular and critically acclaimed films. He received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Sling Blade (1996). Billy Bob Thornton was born on August 4, 1955, in Hot Springs (Garland County), the oldest son of high school basketball coach Billy Ray Thornton and Virginia Faulkner, a psychic. At seven months of age, he set the Clark County record for heaviest infant, at thirty pounds. He has two younger brothers, Jimmy Don and John David. Residing with over a dozen relatives in a shack with no electricity or plumbing, the Thorntons subsisted on …