Entries - Starting with D

Drew County Historical Society

The Drew County Historical Society owns and operates the Drew County Museum, the Drew County Archives, and the Drew County Historical Journal. It also hosts periodic meetings offering presentations about Drew County history. The Drew County Historical Society was founded on June 15, 1959, by a group of people interested in preserving the heritage of Drew County. Eric and Lurene Hardy are credited with providing early leadership for the organization and putting forth significant effort toward developing a museum for the purposes of housing and displaying artifacts that tell the story of Drew County history. The Drew County Historical Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization on March 4, 1969. In 1970, the society purchased the historic Cavaness House from …

Drew County Museum and Archives

aka: Southeast Arkansas Research and Archives Center
The Drew County Museum got its start when the Drew County Historical Society officially incorporated as a nonprofit corporation on March 4, 1969. On February 27, 1970, the Drew County Historical Society purchased the historic Cavaness House from the Hoyle family in order to establish the museum. The Cavaness House is a Southern Colonial Revival Mansion on South Main Street that was built in stages from 1906 until 1916 by Monticello (Drew County) businessman Garvin Cavaness and his wife, Phenton Wells Cavaness. After his wife’s death in 1947, Cavaness sold the house to J. Porter Hoyle and his wife Lillian Hoyle. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. A walnut spool bed owned by Cavaness’s …

Drew, Thomas Stevenson

Thomas Stevenson Drew was a peddler, schoolteacher, farmer, railroad speculator, and governor of Arkansas. He was the first person to be elected governor by a plurality instead of a majority and the only governor to resign his office because of personal financial difficulties. Thomas Drew was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, on August 25, 1802. He was the second of ten children born to Newton Drew and Sarah Maxwell Drew. He was raised on a farm and educated in a Tennessee common school. Drew moved to Arkansas in 1817, where he worked as an itinerant peddler and occasionally taught school. In October 1823, he was appointed clerk of the Clark County Court and, three months later, became justice of the peace of …

Driftwood (Lawrence County)

Driftwood is a historic African-American community located in Morgan Township on Highway 361 about four miles east of Strawberry (Lawrence County) and about two and a half miles south of Lynn (Lawrence County). The Black River and its alluvial bottomland are about two and a half miles to the east. In its early days of settlement, Driftwood was referred to as Morgan Creek; it was also often referred to as “Little Africa,” as it had an estimated fifty farm families, mostly African American, living there at one time in its history. The black farmers in the area, most of whom worked on the Sloan Plantation near Black Rock, were given the proverbial “forty acres and a mule” by James F. …

Driftwood, Jimmy

aka: James Corbett Morris
Jimmy Driftwood was a prolific folk singer/songwriter who wrote over 6,000 songs. He gained national fame in 1959 when Johnny Horton recorded Driftwood’s song, “The Battle of New Orleans.” Even after Driftwood had risen to fame, he continued living in rural Stone County, spending most of his time promoting and preserving the music and heritage of the Ozark Mountains. Jimmy Driftwood was born James Corbett Morris in West Richwoods (Stone County) near Mountain View (Stone County) on June 20, 1907, to Neal and Allie Risner-Morris. He was given the name Driftwood as the result of a joke his grandfather had played on his grandmother. When the two went to visit their new grandson, Driftwood’s grandfather arrived first and wrapped a bundle …

Driver, William “Judge”

William Joshua “Judge” Driver of Mississippi County served as a member of the Arkansas legislature (1897–1899), as circuit judge in the Second Judicial District (1911–1918), and as U.S. representative from Arkansas’s First Congressional District (1921–1939). During his tenure in Washington DC, Driver served as president of the powerful National Rivers and Harbors Congress for many years and became chairman of that group’s board of directors in 1940. Driver used his position in the National Rivers and Harbors Congress to influence federal flood control legislation that greatly benefited Arkansas in the early twentieth century. William Driver was born near Osceola (Mississippi County) on March 2, 1873, the second of John B. Driver and Margaret Ann Bowen Driver’s eight children. His father …

Drought of 1930–1931

Arkansas’s worst drought of the twentieth century took place in 1930–1931. Twenty-three states across the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys and into the mid-Atlantic region were caught in its grip. The severest drought centered upon eight Southern states, with Arkansas sixteen percent worse than the other states based on weather statistics. Agrarian blight became a precursor to corollary social, political, and disaster relief issues, which escalated and attracted national attention. The devastating Flood of 1927, financial upheaval from the 1929 stock market crash, and killer tornadoes preceded the drought that struck Arkansas in the spring of 1930. Rainfall during June and July 1930 was the lowest on record—thirty-five percent below rainfall in 1929. July temperatures, typically in the nineties, reached …

Drug Courts

aka: Adult Drug Courts
Drug courts are a specialty court in the Arkansas judicial system designed to channel those accused of drug infractions into rehabilitation rather than prison. The first drug court in the United States was established in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and the first in Arkansas began in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1994, created by Pulaski County circuit judge Mary Ann McGowan. By 2016, fifty-eight of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties had drug courts. Adult drug courts deal with individuals eighteen years of age and above who have been arrested and charged for some type of infraction involving drugs. A drug court is an alternative to a standard term of probation or a trial, as a trial could result in a prison …

Drummond-Webb, Jonathan

Jonathan Drummond-Webb was the chief pediatric heart surgeon at Arkansas Children’s Hospital from 2001 to 2004. He brought the David Clark Heart Center into national prominence through his high success rate, averaging 600 surgeries per year with only a two percent mortality rate. He also performed the first-ever successful surgery using the DeBakey ventricular assist device (VAD), a miniature heart pump, in 2004. Jonathan Drummond-Webb was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 29, 1959, toErrol Praine Drummond and Anne Drummond-Webb. He was first inspired to become a heart surgeon after Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant, in Cape Town, South Africa. Drummond-Webb stated in an interview that when he learned of this, he was “amazed …

Dryden Pottery

Dryden Pottery was founded in Kansas by A. James Dryden, who relocated his business to Hot Springs (Garland County) in 1956. Dryden Pottery has become collectible and has been listed in Schroeder’s Antique Guide for many years. Dryden, the son of a successful hardware merchant in Ellsworth, Kansas, grew up working in his father’s store. After serving during World War II in the South Pacific, he returned to Ellsworth and needed a job. He had always had an interest in art with a special aptitude for cartooning, but his attempts at cartooning for publication were not going to support his family. A chance meeting on the streets of Ellsworth with nationally known ceramicist Norman Plumber presented Dryden with an idea …

Du Bocage

aka: Judge J. W. Bocage Home
Du Bocage (French for “of the Bocage”), also known as the Judge J. W. Bocage Home, at 1115 West 4th Street in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) is a well-preserved example of late Greek Revival architecture in Arkansas. Completed in 1866, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Joseph William Bocage, born on the island of St. Lucia in 1819, was raised and educated in North Carolina and came to Chicot County, Arkansas, around 1836, intent on training to become a doctor. This proved to be unsuitable, and he moved to Pine Bluff to read law with James Yell, nephew of Governor Archibald Yell. At the time, there were only eight houses in the city. He …

Dual State Monument

aka: Donaghey Monument
aka: Donaghey State Park
The Dual State Monument, also known as the Donaghey Monument, was built in 1931 on the Arkansas-Louisiana state line to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the boundary between the two states. It is also a memorial to the birthplace of George Washington Donaghey, governor of Arkansas between 1909 and 1913, who had the memorial constructed and was born about one mile south of the border. The Dual State Monument straddles the Arkansas-Louisiana border in southeastern Union County, Arkansas, and north-central Union Parish, Louisiana. The rectangular monument features Art Deco-style bas-relief sculptures on its eastern and western faces and inscriptions flanked by stylized, vertical flutes on its northern and southern faces. Though he spent most of his life …

Dubuque (Boone County)

During the early decades of the nineteenth century, the many rivers that coursed through Arkansas attracted settlers. The White River was one such river that saw the rise of many settlements along its banks, including Dubuque, which was one of the first to be founded in present-day Boone County. Growing to some prominence as a river crossing, the town was virtually destroyed during the Civil War and never fully recovered. Today, the town site lies at the bottom of Bull Shoals Lake. Long before white settlers arrived, the Osage claimed the area as a hunting ground. James Coker is believed to be the first white settler in the area. He and his Native American wife settled in 1814, while Arkansas …

Dudley, Robert Hamilton (Bob)

Robert Hamilton Dudley—who followed a lineage of lawyers, politicians, and judges—was a longtime trial judge and justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He retired in 1996. Robert H. (Bob) Dudley was born on November 18, 1933, in Jonesboro (Craighead County), the son of Denver Layton Dudley, who was a lawyer, and Helen Paslay Dudley, a schoolteacher and clinical psychologist. An older brother died as an infant. Dudley’s family had a long history in Arkansas. After fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War, Dudley’s great-grandfather left Kentucky and settled in northeastern Arkansas at Piggott (Clay County). Dudley’s grandfather, Robert H. Dudley, was elected treasurer of Clay County in 1900, to the Arkansas House of Representatives for a single term in …

Dueling

Dueling was a popular means of settling disputes among the well-bred, higher-class population on the Arkansas frontier, and though it was considered part of the code of honor for a Southern gentleman, its popularity added to Arkansas’s reputation for violence that remained until well after the Civil War. An insult, real or imagined, likely would bring a challenge from the injured party. Duels traditionally took place at dawn to avoid interruptions, and the two parties usually met somewhere just outside the territory to get around the laws against dueling that were passed as early as the 1820s. Friends would accompany the combatants, acting as “seconds,” to see that things were carried out fairly. Seconds had to be of equal social …

Duggar Family

aka: 19 and Counting [Television Show]
aka: Counting On [Television Show]
The Duggars are an Arkansas family who became famous on the TLC network show 19 Kids and Counting. The family is known for its strict adherence to the Baptist faith and conservative values, which include restrictions against any birth control methods. However, the Duggars have been criticized by those who believe that such large families are not healthy for children and those who oppose their anti-contraceptive activism. On May 22, 2015, TLC announced that they were pulling all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting after Josh Duggar, the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, admitted publicly that he had engaged in acts of child molestation as a teenager; the show was officially canceled later that year. However, certain …

Duke, Charles Sumner

A trailblazing African-American architect and engineer, Charles Sumner Duke not only designed unique public structures, but he also fought for housing rights and educational opportunities for African Americans. His powerful legacy continues in the buildings he designed, as well as in the organization he formed to facilitate the development of engineering and technological skills in youth of color. Charles Sumner Duke was born in Selma, Alabama, on July 21, 1879. His father, Jesse Duke, was the editorial writer and publisher for a local newspaper, The Herald. His mother, Willie Black Duke, was from a family of established businessmen. It was a financially secure family, allowing Duke and his siblings to take advantage of opportunities that many others in the black …

Dumas (Desha County)

Dumas of Desha County is in the Arkansas Delta, west of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. Dumas has long been a business and agricultural asset to the state of Arkansas and is a welcome oasis to travelers through the delta region. Reconstruction through Early Twentieth Century In 1870, William B. Dumas, a planter, merchant, and railroad surveyor of French descent, migrated to the area and bought acres of farmland from the Abercrombie Holmes family, which had bought it from the state. The settlement eventually was named for this early planter. The town continued to develop, primarily as a result of the extension of the Missouri Pacific Valley Line Railroad, which not only made possible an influx of settlers from other …

Dumas (Lynching of)

On August 5, 1874, an African-American man, identified only as Dumas in newspaper reports, was killed in Greenwood (Sebastian County). His killing was in response to his alleged “murderous assault” on Jacob Greiner and then his escape from jail after his arrest. According to the Weekly New Era of Fort Smith (Sebastian County), several weeks earlier Dumas had allegedly assaulted Greiner in an effort to rob his store. He was arrested and housed in a “stout log-house or pen” with a murderer named Walls or Wall. According to the Era, the prisoners were accessed by a stairway or ladder that ran through a hole with an iron door; it was by this means that food was delivered. On August 12, 1874, …

Dumas, Ernest Clifton (Ernie)

Ernie Dumas was the dean of the Arkansas political press corps for most of the second half of the twentieth century. His days as a journalist extended back to high school, when he worked for the El Dorado Daily News, and he was later an associate editor and a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and a columnist for the Arkansas Times.  Ernest Clifton Dumas was born on December 13, 1937, in El Dorado (Union County), the younger of two sons born to Joseph Clifton Dumas and Berta Canady Dumas. His mother was an educator who stopped teaching when she got married, but she taught Dumas to read before he started school and later taught his son as well. Dumas grew up in El Dorado and graduated from El Dorado High School in 1955.  At the start of his …

Dumas, Henry

Henry Dumas was a critically acclaimed author of poetry and fiction who captured, in some of his finest work, many of his childhood experiences as an African American living in southern Arkansas. Henry Dumas was born on July 20, 1934, in Sweet Home (Pulaski County), sometimes called Sweetwater, and he continued to live there until he moved with his family to Harlem when he was ten years old. Almost no information about Dumas’s childhood is available, yet his life in the deep South and the desolate conditions confronting black Southerners in that era are insightfully depicted in several of his writings, including his widely admired short story, “Goodbye, Sweetwater.” Dumas graduated from Harlem’s Commerce High School in 1953 and then …

DuMond, Wayne Eugene

aka: Wayne Dumond Affair
Wayne Eugene DuMond was a serial rapist and killer whose crimes and efforts to gain his freedom from prison vexed the political careers of three Arkansas governors: Bill Clinton, Jim Guy Tucker, and Mike Huckabee. Suspecting that DuMond might have been framed for the rape of a Forrest City (St. Francis County) woman because DuMond’s accuser was a distant cousin of Clinton, who was by then president of the United States, Governor Huckabee arranged his parole to Missouri in 1999. DuMond was convicted soon thereafter of the rape and murder of a Missouri woman and was suspected of raping and killing another woman. When Huckabee ran for president in 2007–08, DuMond’s parole and subsequent crimes became a major detriment because …

Dunaway, Edwin Eagle

Edwin Eagle Dunaway was a lawyer and politician who was a rare unabashed champion of racial equality in the days of total segregation in Arkansas, before and after the historic desegregation crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957–1959. He served in the Arkansas General Assembly for three terms before and during World War II, was elected prosecuting attorney twice, served more than a year as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, and taught law at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County). He established important civil-liberties laws by taking unconstitutionally coercive acts passed by the Arkansas legislature to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they were nullified. Edwin Dunaway was born …

Duncan, Virginia Maud Dunlap

Virginia Maud Dunlap Duncan was the second woman in Arkansas to secure a registration as a pharmacist. As a young businesswoman and editor of a newspaper, she ran for mayor of Winslow (Washington County) with an all-woman slate for city council. This “petticoat government” was elected to two consecutive terms and gained national attention during its time in office. Maud Dunlap was born on October 22, 1873, in Fayetteville (Washington County) to Dudley Clinton and Catherine Hewitt Dunlap. Her mother died when Dunlap was an infant. She and her brother, Rufus, went to live with her uncle Albert Dunlap and his wife, Virginia, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Other foster parents raised Dunlap’s sister and other two brothers. Dunlap’s foster …

Dunn, Charles DeWitt

Charles DeWitt Dunn served as the president of Henderson State University from 1986 until 2008, making him the longest-serving president in the institution’s history. Charles Dunn was born on December 2, 1945, to Charles E. Dunn and Lucille Dunn in Magnolia (Columbia County). The Dunn family operated a restaurant in McNeil (Columbia County), where Charles graduated from high school in 1963. Attending Southern State College (now Southern Arkansas University), Dunn earned an undergraduate degree in political science in 1967. He earned a graduate degree in government at the University of North Texas in 1970 and a doctoral degree in political science at Southern Illinois University in 1973. Dunn married Donna Jane Parsons in 1966, and the couple had two daughters …

Dunn, Poindexter

Poindexter Dunn was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the First District of Arkansas in the Forty-Sixth through the Fiftieth Congresses, serving from 1879 to 1889. Poindexter Dunn was born on November 3, 1834, near Raleigh, North Carolina, to Grey Dunn and Lydia Baucum Dunn. He and his family moved to Limestone County, Alabama, in 1837. After receiving his early education in local common schools, he graduated from Jackson College in Columbia, Tennessee, in 1854. He studied law for a time before moving to St. Francis County in Arkansas in 1856 and then won election to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1858. He also grew cotton until 1861, when the Civil War broke out. …

Dunn, Ronnie Gene

With a slew of chart-topping singles to his credit as half of the duo Brooks & Dunn, Ronnie Gene Dunn established himself as a member of the most award-winning duo in country music. Though Arkansas is not considered his home state, he has earned a spot in its musical history. Ronnie Dunn was born on June 1, 1953, in Coleman, Texas, to Jesse Eugene Dunn and Gladys Inez Thurmon Dunn. His father was a musician who also worked in the oil fields and drove trucks; his mother was a devout Baptist who, in the 1960s, lived in El Dorado (Union County) and worked as a bookkeeper at the First National Bank and then as a telephone operator at Warner Brown …

Dunnington (Independence County)

The historic community of Dunnington of Independence County was located on Highway 14, about two miles east-southeast of Oil Trough (Independence County). It was about five miles south across the White River bridge from Newark (Independence County) and approximately eight and a half miles from Newport (Jackson County). Being close to the White River, floods were common, at times even devastating. Dunnington was in a two-mile radius of Hulsey Bend (Independence County), Elmo (Independence County), Macks (Jackson County), Meadow Lake (Independence County), and Oil Trough. As early as 1800, French frontiersmen were in the White River bottoms hunting bears and smaller game animals, including deer. Traffic in bear oil was lucrative and proved to be an incentive for settlement, and …

Dunnington, John William

John William Dunnington was a Confederate naval and infantry officer during the Civil War. After serving in the U.S. Navy early in his career, he joined the Confederate navy. He served for approximately nine months in Arkansas and took part in the Engagement at St. Charles and Battle of Arkansas Post. Dunnington was rare in that he held the rank of officer in both the Confederate army and navy during the war and served both east and west of the Mississippi River. John W. Dunnington was born on May 18, 1833, in Christian County, Kentucky, to Francis Dunnington (1798–1835) and Elizabeth Cobey Dunnington (1799–1848), both of whom were natives of Maryland. Dunnington’s brother, Francis C. Dunnington, served on Nathan Bedford …

Dusenbury, Emma Hays

Emma Hays Dusenbury was an outstanding traditional singer; her work is represented by some 116 songs in the nation’s leading folksong archive at the Library of Congress. Emma Hays was born on January 9, 1862, probably in Habersham County or Rabun County, Georgia, to William Jasper Hays and Mary Jane Pitts. She came to Arkansas with her parents and four siblings in 1872, staying first in Crittenden County but eventually settling in Baxter County, near Gassville. Sometime after 1880, she married Ernest Dusenbury, who was from Illinois. Two years later, they had a daughter. In about 1894 or 1895, she suffered a serious illness that left her blind. Before settling near Mena (Polk County) in about 1907, Dusenbury lived an itinerant life; …

DuVal, Elias Rector

In the late nineteenth century, physician Elias Rector DuVal (sometimes rendered Duval) was a leader in the drive to modernize medicine in Arkansas. In the 1870s, he cofounded the Arkansas State Medical Association (ASMA) and the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS). E. R. DuVal was born on August 13, 1836, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to William DuVal, who was a trader, and his wife, Harriet Tabitha Doddridge DuVal. The family included three sisters and two brothers. In 1835, DuVal’s sister Catherine DuVal married Elias Rector. Rector was a U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas and Indian Territory and later served as superintendent of Indian Affairs. Educated in the local schools, DuVal graduated from Arkansas College in Fayetteville (Washington …

Duvall, Leland Blaine

Leland Blaine Duvall was a writer and editor who wrote columns, editorials, and historical articles for the Arkansas Gazette for forty years after World War II. Self-educated and reared on a hardscrabble Ozark Mountain farm, Duvall was an itinerant farm laborer until World War II. His voluminous correspondence from training camps and the war front with family members, friends, and his future wife impelled him to college and a writing career. His commentary on agriculture and economics for the Arkansas Gazette attracted a wide following and won numerous awards. Leland Duvall was born on June 19, 1911, the eldest of four sons of Omer Duvall and Esther Singleton Duvall. His father was a sharecropper, but he acquired forty acres in …

Duwali

aka: Bowl
aka: Bowles
Duwali, also known as The Bowl or Bowles due to the Quapaw meaning of his name, was leader of a group of Cherokee who lived briefly in Arkansas early in the territorial period, from about 1812 to 1818. His life story illustrates the fate of thousands of Native Americans from tribes and nations east of the Mississippi River who moved west to get away from economic and political turmoil long before the official Indian Removal events of the 1830s. These early groups had a significant impact on early territorial residents and on the Caddo, the Osage, and the Quapaw who lived, hunted, and claimed territorial rights in Arkansas when Euro-American settlers first arrived. Duwali was born about 1756 in the …

Dwight Mission

Dwight Mission near Russellville (Pope County) was the first formal Protestant effort directed at the education and conversion of Native Americans in Arkansas and was one of the first Protestant missions established west of the Mississippi. The mission was established in 1820 and operated in Arkansas until 1829. The mission had been requested by Western Cherokee Principal Chief Tahlonteskee in 1818, when he visited Brainerd Mission in Georgia, sponsored by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a Presbyterian organization. The Western Cherokee was a diverse group whose previous generation had migrated into Arkansas while fleeing troubles in the Cherokee homeland at the southern end of the Appalachians, and some of the members thought it useful for their …

Dye, “Aunt Caroline”

aka: Caroline Tracy Dye
Caroline Tracy Dye, better known as “Aunt Caroline,” was a highly respected seer whose name was recognized in Arkansas and the Mid-South in the early years of the twentieth century. The fact that she was an uneducated African American made her popularity at the time all the more unusual. Caroline Tracy’s parents’ names are unknown, and there has been an abundance of conflicting information through the years about her date of birth and early life. A 1918 obituary described her as being eighteen years of age at the start of the Civil War, which would put her born around 1843; however, the 1880 census records age as twenty-seven, which would put her birth year at 1843. Her tombstone records her …

Dyer (Crawford County)

Dyer is a second-class city in Crawford County. It lies on Highway 64 west of Mulberry (Crawford County) and east of Alma (Crawford County); Interstate 40 crosses over the northern end of Dyer. Dyer is most known for being the headquarters for Tony and Susan Alamo, whose religious foundation owned several buildings and businesses in the city beginning in 1975. Highway 64 follows the path of the East-West Military Road, which was authorized by Congress in 1825 and largely completed by 1828, linking Little Rock (Pulaski County) with Fort Gibson in what is now Oklahoma. In the 1840s, Joel Dyer acquired a farm adjacent to the road and began offering water and a rest stop to the west-bound wagon trains …

Dyess (Mississippi County)

aka: Dyess Colony Resettlement Area
One of the most famous “resettlement colonies” for impoverished farmers during the Great Depression was in Dyess (Mississippi County). The Dyess Colony became one of the most well known because one of its early residents was singer Johnny Cash. National attention focused on Arkansas when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the community in 1936. Although smaller now and no longer a government project, Dyess still attracts tourists to northeast Arkansas. While the Roaring Twenties had a euphoric effect on much of the nation, the agricultural economy of Arkansas did not share in the prosperity. By the end of the 1920s, one disaster after another devastated the small independent farmers of the state. The Flood of 1927 was followed by drought. …

Dyess, William Reynolds

William Reynolds Dyess was a politician and government official who headed the Arkansas operations for two New Deal agencies: the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The cooperative farming community known as Dyess (Mississippi County) was named in his honor following his death in a plane crash. William Reynolds Dyess was born in July 1894—the exact date is unknown—near Waynesville, Mississippi, to William Henry Dyess and Martina (Mattie) Eudora Bass Dyess. He had a brother and a sister. He initially worked as both a contractor and a farmer in Mississippi before moving to Arkansas in 1926 to take a job as the superintendent of construction for a company doing levee work on the Mississippi and …