Entries - Starting with J

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 including The 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, 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 …

Johnston, Lewis, Jr.

Lewis Johnston Jr. was the first African American ordained as a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the founder (with his wife) of the Richard Allen Institute in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), a school black students. He was also a teacher, writer, and newspaper publisher. He worked with Professor Joseph Carter Corbin and the Reverend Elias Camp Morris during a time of major transformation in the development of education for African Americans. Four of his sons were killed during the Elaine Massacre in 1919. Lewis Johnston Jr. was born free on December 12, 1847, in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, to Lewis Johnston (1805–1881) and Jane Bronson Johnston (1810–1897). His father had been born a slave in Derry, Pennsylvania, and later became …

Joiner (Mississippi County)

The city of Joiner (Mississippi County) is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 61 and State Highway 118, within an area widely recognized for its fertile farmland and its proximity to the Mississippi River and the city of Memphis, Tennessee. There are varying accounts regarding Joiner’s beginnings. One story states that the locale was first associated with a hotel of the same name that was established by Rufus L. Joiner. This account also asserts that the spelling was originally Joyner and somehow evolved into Joiner over the years. However, Rufus L. Joiner’s biography, as published by Goodspeed’s history of the area, makes no mention of his association with a hotel, describing him only as a prominent farmer. On the …

Jolly, John

aka: Ah ludi ski
aka: Ooluntuskee
John Jolly, president of the Arkansas Cherokee, was a key figure in Cherokee affairs during and after their residence along the Arkansas River in west-central Arkansas. Born in Tennessee into an influential mixed-race family, he had a successful trading post on Hiwassee Island in eastern Tennessee, at the confluence of the Hiwassee River and the Tennessee River. Jolly’s brother Tahlonteskee was one of several Cherokee chiefs who voluntarily moved a group of Cherokee from their lands into the area that would become Arkansas shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Following an 1817 treaty that promised an exchange of their lands east of the Mississippi River for an equivalent area in Arkansas, Tolontuskee and his followers moved gradually from northeast …

Jones Bar-B-Q Diner

Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, a nationally known eatery in Marianna (Lee County), is perhaps the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Arkansas, as well as perhaps the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the South owned by a black family. In addition, it is the state’s first recipient of the James Beard Award, which many in the food community consider one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a chef or restaurant. Jones Bar-B-Q Diner has drawn barbecue enthusiasts from around the world while maintaining its important position in this rural Arkansas community. No one is sure when the restaurant first opened, but multiple generations of the Jones family have manned the pits. Some version of the diner has been serving …

Jones Mills (Hot Spring County)

Jones Mills is a northern Hot Spring County community named after an aluminum reduction plant that located there in the 1940s. It is sometimes incorrectly known as Jones Mill. Ancestors of the Caddo Indians inhabited the Jones Mills area between 6000 BC and AD 1450. Archaeological explorations of Jones Mills in 2007 and 2008 provided evidence that helps archaeologists understand how life transitioned from the Archaic through the Mississippian periods. Radiocarbon testing of burned hickory nutshells dates the area back to the Middle Archaic period and also indicates the importance of nuts to the Native American diet. While the archaeological digs have not yet determined whether Indians lived in the area year-round, it does establish that people were in the Jones Mills community …

Jones Truck Lines

Jones Truck Lines was a catalyst for change and growth in Springdale (Washington County). Established in 1918 by businessman Harvey Jones, the company made Springdale a regional center for the transportation of goods. In 1918, Harvey Jones began hauling dry freight for individuals and businesses. Originally, he hauled hardware and groceries from Springdale to Rogers (Benton County) and Fayetteville (Washington County) with two mules and a wagon. Local business owners quickly discovered that they could place an order one day and have it delivered the next. Jones sold his mules and wagon in 1919 and bought his first truck. When the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad (M&NA) went on strike in 1920, Jones began hauling freight between Seligman, Missouri, and …

Jones, Celesta Fern

Celesta Fern Jones was an American gospel singer, songwriter, and musician. Compared by some music writers to Patsy Cline, she is best known for her song “I Was There When It Happened,” which was recorded by Jimmie Davis, Johnny Cash, and others. Despite her talents as a singer and a flare for rockabilly, she recorded only one full album (under the name Fern Jones) and retired from the music business at a relatively young age. Fern Salisbury was born on April 6, 1923, in Oil City, Louisiana. She was the daughter of Tennessee native Charles W. Salisbury, whose father was from England. Charles Salisbury served in the army during World War I as a private. Her mother was Zula Annie …

Jones, Charles (Execution of)

In an event that was described by several newspapers as a lynching, an African-American man named Charles Jones was hanged in Spadra (Johnson County) on October 31, 1881, for allegedly attacking a Mrs. F. J. Jones. Mrs. Jones, a white woman, was not related to Charles Jones, and there is no information in public records for either F. J. Jones or Charles Jones. According to reports, Charles Jones attempted to attack Mrs. Jones on Tuesday, October 25. Her screams attracted the neighbors, who came running, but Charles Jones managed to escape. A search was organized, but Jones was not captured until Sunday, October 30, when the authorities found him in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and arrested him. They took him …

Jones, Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster Jones was the last Civil War veteran to serve as governor of Arkansas. He was a member of the old, aristocratic, land-owning class in the South. Most of the Arkansas governors of his genteel social rank had stood loyally by the interests of the wealthier landowners and businessmen, but Jones, as governor, tended to give more attention to the interests of the poorer farming class. Those who wanted still more radical reform in the interests of the lower classes had formed the Populist Party in the early 1890s. This new party threatened the dominance of the one-party system, and thus white supremacy. To stave off the movement of voters away from the Democratic Party, Jones cautiously moved toward …

Jones, Douglas Clyde

“Slowly, but with infinite grace,” The Washington Post once enthused of Fayetteville (Washington County) author Douglas Clyde Jones, “[he] is creating a masterful fictional history of America.” Over the course of three decades, Jones, a career military officer turned award-winning novelist, wrote more than a dozen books—including his bestselling The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer (1976)—that dealt with everything from the American Revolution and the opening of the Western frontier to the Spanish-American War, assorted Native American conflicts, and the Great Depression. His tales, most of which were either set in Arkansas or featured Arkansan protagonists, were spirited and sprawling, his historical backdrops vividly portrayed, and his characters brutal or benevolent in measures consistent with their times and circumstances. Born …

Jones, Edith Irby

Edith Irby Jones was the first African American to attend and to graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Not only was she a pioneer in the desegregation of higher education in Arkansas and the South, but she also served as a highly successful doctor, educator, and philanthropist in Arkansas, Texas, and overseas. Edith Irby was born on December 23, 1927, near Conway (Faulkner County) to Robert Irby, a sharecropper, and Mattie Buice Irby, a maid. Her father died when she was eight, and the family moved to Hot Springs (Garland County). Irby’s older sister died of typhoid fever at the age of twelve, largely …

Jones, Fay

aka: Euine Fay Jones
aka: E. Fay Jones
Fay Jones was an internationally known architect from Arkansas who won the American Institute of Architects’ highest honor, the AIA Gold Medal, in 1990. From his small studio in Fayetteville (Washington County), he practiced architecture from 1954 to 1998. He designed 218 projects, encompassing residential buildings, educational and commercial buildings, chapels, pavilions, and intricate metal structures. The most acclaimed of Jones’s buildings is Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Of the 218 projects for which records exist, 129 projects were built; eighty-four were built in Arkansas. Euine Fay Jones was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on January 31, 1921, to Euine Fay Jones and Candie Alston Jones. The family moved to El Dorado (Union County), where Jones grew …

Jones, Fred Thomas

Fred Thomas Jones Sr. was a physician and pioneer in providing insurance and medical care to African Americans in Arkansas and Louisiana. Fred T. Jones was born on September 8, 1877, in Homer, Louisiana, the oldest of eleven children born to Fred R. Jones, a farmer, and Harriett E. Jones, a housewife. In 1904, Jones married Hattie McGraw. The couple had a daughter but divorced soon after. Three years later, in 1907, he married Katie Chandler. They had seven children—five daughters and two sons. After attending Claiborne Parish School at Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Jones graduated from Arkansas Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) between 1900 and 1904, …

Jones, Green Hill

Green Hill Jones was an African-American politician and Free Will Baptist minister in Chicot County. Born into slavery, Jones served in the Union army during the Civil War and received an education in the North following his discharge. Upon returning to Chicot County, he became county treasurer and county assessor and served two terms in the Arkansas General Assembly. Throughout his adult life, he was known as G. H. Jones, Greenhill Jones, Green Hill Jones, or Hill Jones. However, in an interview with the U.S. Pension Office, he stated that his true name when he attained his freedom was Green Hill Jones Haywood. Born a slave in Maury County, Tennessee, on December 18, 1842, Green Hill Jones was part of …

Jones, Guy Hamilton “Mutt”

Guy Hamilton “Mutt” Jones was a lawyer and politician who became one of the most influential state lawmakers of the post–World War II era. Jones served nearly twenty-four years in the state Senate representing Faulkner County and, at various times, five other counties in north-central Arkansas. “Mutt” Jones was born on June 29, 1911, in Conway (Faulkner County), the youngest of nine children of Charles C. Jones and Cora Henry Jones. His father was a country schoolteacher and later operated a motel in Conway. Jones was short, barely exceeding five feet when he was grown. His stature made him feel inferior until a teacher told him that he spoke exceedingly well and should try debating. He became a champion debater, …

Jones, Harvey

Harvey Jones founded Jones Truck Lines and made it the largest privately owned and operated truck line in the United States. By 1980, Jones Truck Lines was traveling more than 100,000 miles a day, with forty-one terminals in fifteen states and 2,300 employees. Harvey Jones was born on August 19, 1900, just east of Springdale (Washington County) to farmers Taylor and Jimmie Jones; he was the older of two children. At age sixteen, Jones moved to Springdale, where he set up his first business venture, a mercantile store. Two years later, in 1918, when the railroad went on strike, Jones purchased an old Springfield wagon and two mules and began hauling goods between Rogers (Benton County), Springdale, and Fayetteville (Washington …

Jones, Henry (Lynching of)

On June 23, 1891, an African-American man named Henry Jones, accused of murdering his wife, was hanged by a mob near Hamburg (Ashley County). The victim may have been a thirty-seven-year-old African American named Henry Jones, who in 1880 was twenty-six and living in Ashley County’s De Bastrop Township with his wife, Eliza, age eighteen, and children Jane (age five) and William (age one). Although newspaper accounts indicate that Jones’s wife’s name was Lucy, this may be an error in reporting. On June 18, the Arkansas Democrat published a report on Jones’s alleged crime. According to the Democrat, Jones told authorities that after cooking breakfast on the morning of June 11, his wife went out to get one of their …

Jones, James (Lynching of)

James Jones (some sources refer to him as W. A. Jones) was an African-American choir director lynched near the historic Hinemon University campus on August 22, 1895, in Monticello (Drew County) after being forcibly removed from the Drew County jail by a mob. Jones was accused of murdering Harry Beltshoover of Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) in 1894 but avoided capture by law enforcement for roughly a year while traveling through Arkansas and surrounding states. He was later allegedly involved with the injury of J. R. Bennett of Dermott (Chicot County) during an escape attempt from the Drew County jail on August 17, 1895. Jones was arrested in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on June 20, 1895, by Sheriff M. A. …

Jones, James Kimbrough

James Kimbrough Jones served as a U.S. senator from Arkansas for three full terms after first serving two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his twenty-two years in Washington DC, he became a prominent leader in the Democratic Party and a national advocate for lower tariffs and for the use of silver to back American currency. James Kimbrough Jones was born on September 29, 1839, in Marshall County, Mississippi, to Nat Jones and Caroline Jane Jones (whose maiden name was also Jones, although she was not related to Nat Jones). Jones had a younger brother who died in childhood, and his mother died when he was six. His father remarried after moving to Dallas County, Arkansas. Two daughters …

Jones, Judge (Lynching of)

On March 25, 1910, a twenty-six-year-old African-American man named Judge Jones was hanged from a water tank in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) for allegedly harassing a young white woman. In both 1908 and 1910, the Pine Bluff city directory lists a man named Judge O. Jones living at 603 East 15th Avenue and working as a driver. This agrees with newspaper accounts stating that Jones had formerly worked as a driver for the Marx-Baer Grocery Company. According to the March 26, 1910, Pine Bluff Daily Graphic, Jones was arrested on Friday morning, March 25, for loitering around the home of Mrs. Mueller in the outskirts of Pine Bluff and demanding to see her daughter. He had apparently been in trouble …

Jones, Julia Hughes

Julia Hughes Jones was a Pulaski County circuit clerk and state auditor. She was the first woman to be elected to a statewide constitutional office without having previously been appointed to one. Julia Mae Rumph was born in Camden (Ouachita County) on September 9, 1939, to James Harvey Rumph and Alice Chandler Rumph. Her father served as clerk for Ouachita County, as assessor, and briefly as county judge. Her mother worked in several of the courthouse offices as well as for the Rural Electric Cooperative. The oldest of five children, she had three sisters and one brother. Rumph graduated from Camden High School in 1957. Jones married Charles Hughes in 1960, and they had three children. Divorced in 1978, she …

Jones, Maxine Temple

Maxine Temple Jones was a Hot Springs (Garland County) businesswoman during the period from 1945 to the early 1970s. A well-known madam with numerous political connections, she managed a lucrative brothel operation that catered to politicians, businessmen, and mobsters. She documented her life in an autobiography published in 1983 titled Maxine “Call Me Madam”: The Life and Times of a Hot Springs Madam. Dora Maxine Temple was born on June 15, 1915, in Johnsville (Bradley County) to David F. Temple and Maude Orr Temple. She had five brothers and one sister. Her father was a farmer and logging contractor. When referring to her early youth, Temple described herself as a “tomboy” who preferred spending time with her father in the …

Jones, Myra

Myra Jones was a political activist and governmental official as well as an entrepreneur in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the latter part of the twentieth century. Throughout two decades in elective office, Jones made a substantive impact on the direction of both Little Rock and the state, becoming the first woman elected to the Little Rock Board of Directors and later serving from 1985 through 1998 in the Arkansas General Assembly. Myra Lee Gutsche was born on March 8, 1936, near Belle Fourche, South Dakota, to Ernest and Edith Gutsche. She was raised on a ranch in Belle Fourche, which was north of Rapid City. She learned to drive a tractor at an early age and was active in …

Jones, Oscar Eve (O. E.)

Oscar Eve (O. E.) Jones Sr. was a successful Batesville (Independence County) newspaper publisher and a state senator representing Independence and Jackson counties. O. E. Jones Sr. was born in Newport (Jackson County) on June 20, 1905, to Dr. Oscar Eve Jones and Frances “Fannie” Redman Jones of Newport. He had one brother, Lacy R. Jones. O. E. Jones was educated in the public schools of Newport and received a degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). His mother died when he was in his teens, and his father died about two years later. Jones went to live with his maternal uncle and aunt, Harry Brandenburg and Minnie Redman Brandenburg of Newport. On January …

Jones, Paula

aka: Paula Jones McFadden
Paula Jones is a one-time Arkansas government employee. Her lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by Governor Bill Clinton ultimately led to a landmark Supreme Court decision in Clinton v. Jones and subsequently to Clinton’s impeachment as president in 1998. Paula Rosalee Corbin was born on September 17, 1966, in Lonoke (Lonoke County) to Church of the Nazarene pastor Bobby Gene Corbin and his wife, Delmer Lee; she had two sisters. She was educated in Lonoke before graduating from high school in nearby Carlisle (Lonoke County). She later began working in the Arkansas government. It was while she was working for the state that the incident that would later bring her to national attention allegedly occurred. Jones’s lawsuit alleged that she was …

Jones, Scipio Africanus

Scipio Africanus Jones was a prominent Little Rock (Pulaski County) attorney and one of the city’s leading African-American citizens at the end of the nineteenth century and during the first decades of the twentieth century. Jones is most significantly remembered for his role defending twelve men sentenced to death following the Elaine Massacre of 1919. He is also remembered for his role in the Republican Party at a time when many Arkansas Republicans were trying to restrict membership in the party to whites only. Scipio Jones was born to a slave, Jemmima Jones, in 1863 in the area of Tulip (Dallas County). His father is generally considered to be Dr. Sanford Reamey, a prominent citizen of Tulip and the owner …

Jones, Wiley

aka: Walter Jones
Walter “Wiley” Jones was one of the first wealthy African Americans in the South. Jones, a leading businessman, was an ex-slave who became a barber and a saloon owner. Wiley Jones was born on July 14, 1848, in Madison County, Georgia. He was one of six children of George Jones, a white planter, and Ann, a slave. His mother named him Walter after her doctor, but he got the nickname “Wiley” for being untamed and playful. In 1853, five-year-old Jones moved with his family to Arkansas. They settled on the former acting governor Richard Byrd’s plantation in Jefferson County, twelve miles north of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the Arkansas River. Shortly before George Jones’s death in 1858, he claimed …

Jones, Willa Saunders

Willa Saunders Jones grew up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the first decades of the twentieth century before moving to Chicago, Illinois, where she became a prominent religious and cultural leader. Her crowning achievement was a passion play (a dramatization of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection), which she wrote in the 1920s and produced for more than five decades in churches and eventually prestigious civic theaters. The play featured top musical talent, including Dinah Washington and Jones’s close friend Mahalia Jackson, and drew support from such prominent figures as the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. and Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley. Her success in music as a soloist, accompanist, and choral director and in drama stemmed from early experiences in …

Jonesboro (Craighead County)

Jonesboro is the largest community in northeast Arkansas and the fifth largest in the state. It is the Craighead County seat (though Act 61 of 1883 created the “Eastern District of Craighead County,” providing for the establishment of another county courthouse at Lake City due to early difficulties in travel). Jonesboro is a regional center in education, retail, healthcare, and industry; its largest employers are Arkansas State University (ASU) and St. Bernards Medical Center. Jonesboro is also an agricultural center in processing rice, cotton, and soybeans, and it is a regional hub for the food-processing industry, being home to Riceland Foods and plants for Frito-Lay, ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods/Post Division, and Nestle. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The Jonesboro area is …

Jonesboro Baptist College

Jonesboro Baptist College was a Christian junior college located in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1924 to 1934; after Woodland College, this was the second attempt at establishing a Baptist college in Jonesboro. Ten of the ninety-two acres of the campus were located in the Jonesboro city limits. The college was founded as part of an ongoing Baptist commitment to education. Arkansas Baptists had previously opened multiple schools in the state such as Judson University at Judsonia (White County), Shiloh Institute at Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), Red River Academy near Arkadelphia (Clark County), Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University—OBU) in Arkadelphia, and Buckner College in Witcherville (Sebastian County). Of these early Baptist educational efforts, only what is now OBU, …

Jonesboro Church Wars

The Jonesboro Church Wars were a series of early 1930s religious conflicts within the Baptist community of Jonesboro (Craighead County), comprising attacks on the mayor and the police chief, public gunfights, and the calling of the National Guard to restore order. The conflict attracted national attention and poisoned relations among some townspeople for generations. At the center of the Jonesboro Church Wars was Joe Jeffers, an actor-comedian turned traveling evangelist who, at the invitation of the First Baptist Church and Jonesboro Bible College, began a series of tent revival meetings on June 29, 1930. Jeffers proved to be so popular as he preached through July that, when First Baptist pastor A. W. Reaves resigned in early August, the congregation elected …

Jonesboro Lynching of 1881

aka: Greensboro Lynching of 1881
In March 1881, Martha (Mattie) Ishmael, the teenage daughter of planter Benjamin Russell Ishmael, was brutally murdered in the family’s home near Jonesboro (Craighead County). Four African Americans were accused of the murder and were bound over to the grand jury, but before they could be tried, they were lynched by a mob of masked men. Benjamin Ishmael was born in Tennessee, but by the middle of the 1830s, he and his parents had settled in Arkansas in Greensboro (Craighead County), eleven miles east of Jonesboro. Greensboro, then located in Greene County, was settled around 1835, and was mostly occupied by small farmers. It was not until the late nineteenth century that the lush forests of the area would give rise …

Jonesboro Municipal Airport

The Jonesboro Municipal Airport is located three miles east of the Jonesboro (Craighead County) central business district in the northeastern part of Arkansas. It is a mixed-use airport, with the overwhelming majority of usage coming from general aviation. In 2015, it provided 284 jobs in the Jonesboro area and had a local economic impact of over $40 million. In January 1934, the Civil Works Administration (CWA) granted $13,000 to the city of Jonesboro to build an airport near the community of Nettleton (Craighead County). Originally covering 190 acres, the airport was little more than a dirt runway by 1935, due to disputes over the leasing of the land. The board of City Water and Light voted in April 1935 to …

Jonesboro, Lake City and Eastern Railroad

The Jonesboro, Lake City and Eastern Railroad (JLC&E) was chartered in 1897 and operated in northeastern Arkansas until being sold to the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway Co. (SLSF), better known as the Frisco, in 1925. The company provided a vital service to the people of the region for over twenty-five years and was crucial to the area’s development. Although there were several railroad lines in northeastern Arkansas by the 1880s, they had not ventured into the sunken lands created by the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812. However, the expanding timber business demanded a better way to transport its product to sawmills. In the East Bottoms of northeastern Arkansas before 1895, the logs were conveyed by oxen pulling broad-wheeled wagons along …

Jonesboro, Skirmish at

In 1862, Jonesboro was a small hamlet and the Craighead County seat on Crowley’s Ridge. Captain Mitchell A. Adair, fresh from the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Corinth, was sent home to Jonesboro (Craighead County) with some of the Twenty-third Arkansas Infantry for rest and relaxation. Memphis, Tennessee, fell into Union hands in June 1862, and Adair and his men were not able to rejoin the Twenty-third Arkansas on the east side of the Mississippi River. As there was no local Confederate force to protect local property and citizens, Adair and the men of Craighead County volunteered and helped form Company I of the Thirtieth Arkansas Infantry on July 2, 1862, at Jonesboro. They were assigned to the …

Jonquil Festival

The Jonquil Festival takes place the third weekend of March each year at Historic Washington State Park in Washington (Hempstead County). Along with people from surrounding communities, it attracts visitors from Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma who are eager to see the flowers, the crafts, and a culturally significant historic park covering the period from early settlement to Reconstruction. In 1966, a small tour around town during the March blooming of the jonquils (a type of daffodil) was started. In 1967 or 1968, the tour was established for one weekend and named the Jonquil Trail. What was then called Old Washington Historic State Park was established in 1973, and the park took over what had, by then, become the Jonquil Festival. …

Joplin, Scott

Known as the “King of Ragtime,” Scott Joplin composed more than forty ragtime piano pieces, including “Maple Leaf Rag” (which sold more than a million copies) and “The Entertainer” (which was used in the 1973 film The Sting). He spent his formative years in Texarkana (Miller County), and his major opera, Treemonisha, is set in the plantation area of Rondo (Miller County) north of Texarkana. Scott Joplin was born on November 24, 1867 or 1868, near Marshall, Texas. His father, Giles, was a former slave, and his mother, Florence, was a freed woman from Kentucky. The family moved to Texarkana early in Joplin’s life so that his father could obtain work on the railroad. Joplin showed an early interest in …

Jordan, Bob (Lynching of)

In August 1892, an African-American man named Bob Jordan was shot by members of a mob near Camden (Ouachita County) for allegedly insulting a white woman. According to the Arkansas Gazette, a Constable Wright had arrested Jordan and was en route to Camden with his prisoner on the night of August 8. Along the way, six miles from town, a group of masked men intercepted them. The men told the constable to leave and then shot Jordan. The incident was reported in a number of newspapers across the country, with the Postville, Iowa, Graphic reporting that Jordan had attempted to assault a woman. Historian Kenneth C. Barnes, in his book Journey of Hope, noted that the incident was indicative of …

Jordan, Lena Lowe

Lena Lowe Jordan was an African-American registered nurse and hospital administrator who managed two institutions for African Americans—a hospital for the care of crippled children, which later became a general hospital. In addition, she began a unique training program for young black women who wanted to become practical nurses. Lena Lowe was born on April 6, 1884, in Georgia, to Hollin and Martha Lowe. She spent her childhood in Georgia and then trained as a nurse at the Charity Hospital of Savannah. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) from Cordele, Georgia, in the 1920s and began her career as a registered nurse in Arkansas as head nurse at the Mosaic State Templars Hospital in 1927. In 1920, she became …

Jordan, Louis Thomas

Louis Thomas Jordan—vocalist, bandleader, and saxophonist—ruled the charts, stage, screen, and airwaves of the 1940s and profoundly influenced the creators of rhythm and blues (R&B), rock n’ roll, and post–World War II blues. Louis Jordan was born on July 8, 1908, in Brinkley (Monroe County). His father, Dardanelle (Yell County) native James Aaron Jordan, led the Brinkley Brass Band; his mother, Mississippi native Adell, died when Louis was young. Jordan studied music under his father and showed promise in horn playing, especially clarinet and saxophone. Due to World War I vacancies, young Jordan joined his father’s band himself. Soon, he was good enough to join his father in a professional traveling show—touring Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri by train, instead of …

Jordan, Wilbert Cornelius

Wilbert Cornelius Jordan started the Oasis Clinic in Los Angeles, California, in 1979. This clinic treated some of the first patients who suffered from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), before the disease had even been clinically observed. Over the next two decades, Jordan treated more than 3,000 clinically diagnosed HIV/AIDS patients. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2000. A Los Angeles native, Wilbert C. Jordan was born on September 11, 1944, and grew up in Arkansas. He attended Marian Anderson High School in Brinkley (Monroe County) before entering Horace Mann High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for his final year, graduating in 1961. He graduated from Harvard University in …

Josenberger, Mame Stewart

Businesswoman and activist Mame Stewart Josenberger started her career as an educator but, after her husband’s death, assumed control of a variety of businesses. She also served as president of the Arkansas Association of Colored Women and was on the advisory board of The Crisis, the renowned publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in addition to involvement with a variety of local, state, and national organizations. Mame Stewart was born on August 3, 1872 (although some sources say 1868), in Owego, New York, to Virginia natives Frank Stewart and Mary Elizabeth Turner Stewart. After attending the Owego Free Academy in New York, Stewart earned a BA in education at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, …