Entries - Starting with M

Menifee High School Gymnasium

The Menifee High School Gymnasium, located on the northwestern corner of North Park and East Mustang streets in Menifee (Conway County), was built in 1938 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 6, 2002. Schools for African Americans in the Menifee area were available since at least 1919, and when the Great Depression struck these students were centered in East Side School District No. 5’s Conway County Training School, located on five acres about a mile south of Menifee. In 1938, the district succeeded in getting WPA funding to construct a gymnasium for the complex. Construction started in the spring of 1938, …

Menifee, Nimrod P.

Nimrod P. Menifee (spelled “Menefee” in some records) helped to found and settle Conway County, donating the land that was used for the seat of government in Lewisburg in 1831. He also was involved in some of the bitter disputes and duels that were the outgrowth of the early political tensions in the Arkansas Territory. He developed significant land holdings and was instrumental in the formation of several early settlements in central Arkansas including Lewisburg (later Morrilton), Point Remove, Oppelo, and the town that bears his name, Menifee—all in Conway County. Nimrod Menifee was born in 1800. The Menifee family first came to this area from Kentucky, beginning in 1818, when the oldest son, Jonas, bought a one-quarter interest in …

Mental Health

Prior to the opening of the Arkansas Lunatic Asylum (now the Arkansas State Hospital) in 1883, mentally ill Arkansans were cared for by their families or housed in jails, prisons, or poor farms. Since 1883, the Arkansas State Hospital (ASH) has been responsible for the treatment of thousands of Arkansans with a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses such as depression and schizophrenia. In the 1950s, the hospital’s census peaked at 5,086 patients. Since that time, the deinstitutionalization movement and advances in psychotropic medications have resulted in dramatically lower inpatient numbers. The current (as of 2010) ASH capacity of 234 beds represents a deinstitutionalization rate of 97.5% for the state. Most patients are admitted through a screening process conducted by the …

Mental Health Council of Arkansas

The Mental Health Council of Arkansas (MHCA) is a nonprofit organization that has been working to improve the overall health and well-being of citizens in Arkansas since 1972. It was originally founded under the Federal Community Mental Health Construction Grant. The MHCA is composed of fifty psychiatrists and approximately 2,000 healthcare professionals and is governed by a board of directors. Its members provide comprehensive mental health services to Arkansans through the fourteen community mental health centers in Arkansas. The centers provide a variety of mental health services, such as individual and group psychotherapy and medication management; psychological, personality, forensic, and intellectual evaluations; emergency/crisis treatment; consultation/education programs; and partial hospitalization programs. The MHCA is a member of the National Council for …

Mercer, Christopher Columbus, Jr.

Christopher Columbus Mercer Jr. was an advisor to Daisy Bates during the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. As field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), his legal background helped Bates understand and respond to the flood of litigation against the NAACP. Christopher Mercer was born Castor Mercer Jr. on March 27, 1924, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), to Castor C. and Tarvell Linda Mercer; his mother soon changed his name. His father worked as a mechanic for the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) Railroad. His mother owned a dry-cleaning business. He has one brother and one half-brother. Mercer received his AB in social services from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College …

Merci Train

aka: Gratitude Train
aka: Train de Reconnaissance
Also known as the “Thank You” Train, the Merci Train was the response of the people of France to food shipments sent by Arkansas and other American states to post–World War II western Europe. In 1947, radio commentator and syndicated columnist Drew Pearson launched the effort to send food to Europe. Local efforts were organized through the Chamber of Commerce of North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Thanks to rice growers and farmers throughout the state, three and a half train boxcar loads of rice and half a boxcar load of wheat were collected, plus one boxcar load of canned goods gathered by Lions Clubs in northwestern Arkansas. These five boxcars of food were shipped, free of charge, by Rock Island …

Mercury Mining

Mercury, which was first mined in Arkansas in 1931, is in most rock types in trace amounts, generally occurring at higher levels in shale and clay-rich sediments and organic materials like coal than in sandstone, limestone, or dolostone. Although mercury was widely used in the past for several applications, the market for products containing mercury steadily declined in the 1980s because it was recognized to be toxic. It still has important uses, however, in the chemical and electrical industries as well as in dental applications and measuring and control devices. The mercury-bearing district in southwest Arkansas occupies an area six miles wide by thirty miles long, extending from eastern Howard County through Pike County and into western Clark County. Surface …

Meriwether, John Thompson (Jack)

John Thompson (Jack) Meriwether was a city administrator whose later career in higher education channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to Arkansas colleges and universities. Meriwether was city manager—the city’s chief administrator—of Texarkana (Miller County) and then Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was an officer at a bank in his hometown of Paragould (Greene County) and was general manager of the Arkansas Gazette for several years. He also served as vice president for governmental relations for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Jack Meriwether was born on November 23, 1933, to Ray Meriwether and Marie Thompson Meriwether in Paragould. His father and his uncle, Bill Meriwether, ran a hardware store started by his grandfather in 1883. Meriwether and his …

Merrell, Henry

Henry Merrell of New York was both an industrialist and an evangelical who contributed to the development of Arkansas and Georgia. He has been credited with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Arkansas, and he also served the state as a Confederate major and as an effective Presbyterian elder. Henry Merrell was born in Utica, New York, on December 8, 1816, to Andrew Merrell, an influential printer, and Harriet Camp Merrell; he had two brothers and two sisters. Merrell began working at the Oneida textile factory in Whitesboro, New York, when he was fourteen. He participated in the religious movement of “The Second Great Awakening” and attended the abolitionist Oneida Institute in Whitesboro. Concerning his 1856 arrival in Arkansas, …

Merrill, Joseph

Joseph Merrill was a successful philanthropist who made a difference for the lives of young people in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), primarily through his support of African-American schools in Pine Bluff. He was also the founder of the Merrill Institute. Joseph Merrill, the youngest child of William and Mary Merrill, was born in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, around 1810. He had two brothers and one sister. He started his trade of shoemaking at the age of eleven years old and worked until he was twenty-one years old in Boston, Massachusetts. Then he moved to Sidney, Ohio, and worked there for a few years. His health turned bad, and in December 1835, he moved south to Little Rock (Pulaski County) to …

Merryman, James Harold

James Harold Merryman was a pilot and three-star general in the U.S. Army who aided in the restoration of aviation as an army branch of service for the first time since the Army Air Corps ceased to exist in 1948. General Merryman’s military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, twenty-five Air Medals, and three Army Commendation Medals. James Merryman was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on April 3, 1929, to Jim Merryman and Edith Agnes Dyer Merryman. His father was a mechanic and thirty-third-degree Mason, and his mother was a homemaker. He had one younger brother. As a youth, Merryman sold …

Meteorites

Meteorites are fragments of rock or metal that fall from space. Except for a few that have come from the moon or Mars, meteorites represent fragments of small non-planetary bodies within the solar system, such as the objects that make up the asteroid belt. Most meteorites are remnants from the formation of the solar system that have drifted in orbits between the primary planets for over 4.5 billion years. Meteorites are some of the most scientifically significant materials on earth. Sample return missions to find and recover these objects from their orbits in space are, in most cases, prohibitively expensive or impossible. It is extraordinarily good fortune for scientists when a new meteorite falls to earth, since each one offers …

Methodist Children’s Home

The Methodist Children’s Home, located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), began as a movement to create an orphanage in the denomination’s Little Rock Conference in 1897. The institution was incorporated on May 3, 1899, in Pulaski County and called the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The trustees were Colonel George Thornburgh, Dr. James Thomas, Reverend J. A. Cason, and George Culberhouse. Soon afterward, the stockholders of the Women’s Industrial Home at Fifteenth and Commerce Streets offered their property, consisting of three lots and a two-story building, to the orphanage incorporators. Mrs. L. R. Tabor and Mrs. Logan H. Roots were the property’s largest stockholders. Orphanage officials accepted the property, and the home began receiving children. The …

Methodists

Methodism came into what is now Arkansas at least two decades before statehood, just as it had been brought to North America at least two decades before the American Revolution. Led by John Wesley, an Anglican priest; his brother Charles; and a few others, Methodism had begun as a movement within the Church of England in the 1720s. Wesley never considered himself anything but an Anglican priest, but after the Americans had won their independence, his followers here demanded a new and separate church. Structure of the Church Wesley’s followers studied and worshiped as small independent classes or societies until the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church in America was officially organized in Baltimore in 1784. At that time, the church had …

Metroplan

Metroplan is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for central Arkansas. Metroplan’s core responsibilities are to determine long-term transportation needs and priorities for federal funding for the region. It does so through a council of local governments, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, and local transit agencies. From its inception in 1955, Metroplan evolved from an organization focused on planning needs in Pulaski County to a multi-county association with a federal mandate. Metroplan is supported by member dues and federal and state grants. Membership is open to local governments and covers five counties: Pulaski, Saline, Faulkner, Lonoke, and Grant (non-voting). Its office is housed in the Pulaski County Regional Building in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Originally named the Metropolitan Area …

Mexican War

aka: U.S.-Mexican War
aka: Mexican-American War
The Mexican War was triggered by American expansionism and President James K. Polk’s desire to annex the Republic of Texas as a state. As a frontier state, Arkansas was called upon early to supply troops after war against Mexico had been declared on May 13, 1846. By war’s end, about 1,500 Arkansans had served, and Senator Ambrose Sevier of Arkansas had helped settle the peace. With Texas’s victory over Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s troops in 1836, the former Mexican territory became an independent republic. For a decade, U.S. leaders had seen Texas’s independence as a first step to it joining the United States, part of a broader American view of “Manifest Destiny.” Mexico, however, never recognized Texas’s …

Meyer, Rhena Salome Miller

aka: Goat Woman of Smackover
Rhena Salome Miller Meyer—better known as “the Goat Woman”—lived in Smackover (Union County) for over fifty years. Her sometimes reclusive nature, numerous pet goats, and considerable musical talents as a “one-woman band” all contributed to her folk-figure status in the region. Rhena (sometimes spelled Rhene) Miller was born in Orwin, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1905. Her father, John R. Miller, was a Quaker who worked on a dairy farm and had a traveling medicine show that promoted the Seven Sisters Hair Tonic. He is said to have used young Rhena as a model in advertising the hair-growth tonic; however, as with much of her life story, no evidence has been found for this. Her mother, Katie Kessler, was an opera …

Meyer, Ronald Edward (Ron)

Ron Meyer was a graphic artist, journalist, satirist, newspaperman, and political cartoonist from Little Rock (Pulaski County). In the early 1960s, Meyer went to work for Sam Hodges at the Benton Courier, first in advertising and later as general manager. During his tenure, Meyer helped the paper achieve both state and nationwide recognition. He also worked as a freelance artist for several Little Rock firms before opening his own advertising agency. Ronald Edward Meyer was born on October 18, 1938, in Little Rock to Velma Irene Maghar Meyer and Raymond Edward Meyer, who was originally from Hazen (Prairie County). He had one brother, Gerald, and two sisters: Patricia and Betty. Meyer’s parents divorced when he was ten years old, leaving …

Miami [Steamboat]

The Miami was a steamboat destroyed by fire on the Arkansas River in 1866 with a loss of as many as 200 passengers and crewmen. The Miami was a 175-ton sternwheel packet built in 1863 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The vessel initially operated between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Louisville, Kentucky, on the Ohio River but was sent to Memphis, Tennessee, in August 1865 to make runs between that town and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Captain E. A. Levy was in command when the steamboat left Memphis at 9:00 p.m. on January 27, 1866, with a full load of cargo and as many as 300 passengers, including Gen. Ashley’s Band, an African-American musical group from Little Rock, and ninety-five men of Company E …

Mickel, Lillian Estes Eichenberger

Lillian Estes Eichenberger Mickel pioneered women’s roles in multiple fields. She served as a professional photographer, founded a nursing home, established a unique facility for handicapped children, was an accomplished portrait painter, and served as Johnson County’s historian. Lillian Eichenberger was born in Clarksville (Johnson County) on June 14, 1909, to Lafayette Eichenberger and Martha Louisa Black Eichenberger. She had seven siblings. Her father, a house painter, died in 1912. Her mother was an extremely talented seamstress. At the age of twelve, Eichenberger went to work in M. E. Anderson’s photography studio in order to give financial help to her widowed mother. She learned the photography business, becoming the first woman photographer in the state to make and distribute colored …

Mid-America Science Museum

Mid-America Science Museum’s mission is to stimulate interest in science, to promote public understanding of the sciences, and to encourage lifelong science education through interactive exhibits and programs. Located near National Park College (NPC) in Hot Springs (Garland County), the museum is a major tourist attraction in Arkansas, with an estimated 100,000 visitors annually. In the mid-1960s, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller conceptualized the Mid-America Science Museum as Arkansas’s first interactive, informal learning environment. Rockefeller held an exploratory symposium with various state leaders and engaged one of the nation’s foremost museum consultants to determine the feasibility of such a project. Eventually, Hot Springs was deemed the ideal location for such a museum. Governor Dale Bumpers continued the support of the idea, and …

Mid-Southern Watercolorists

Mid-Southern Watercolorists (MSW) was founded and incorporated in 1970 as a nonprofit organization by five artists: Doris Williamson Mapes, Bruce R. Anderson, Josephine Graham, Edwin C. Brewer, and Catherine Tharp Altvater. The purpose of MSW, which has its headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is to elevate the stature of watercolor and educate the public about the significance of watercolor as an important creative, permanent painting medium; to promote the highest aesthetic standards; and to further the interest of painters in watercolor by its programs and competitive exhibits. At the group’s first organizational meeting, nearly forty people, responding to a newspaper advertisement, met in the Sears Community Room at University Mall in Little Rock. MSW’s articles of incorporation and by-laws, …

Midland (Sebastian County)

Midland is a town in southern Sebastian County; in a journal article in the 1970s, it was described as “a small place in the middle of the road.” In the early years of the twentieth century, however, Midland was a prosperous community of coal miners and supporting industries. The area that would become Midland was sparsely settled in the early history of Arkansas. William Moore obtained a land grant in the vicinity in 1848. He was joined by Francis Daniels in 1855, and Edward Moore and John Moore became their neighbors in 1860. (These Moores are not sons of William; they may have been brothers or cousins.) A school was built in the area in 1866. In 1878, it was …

Midland Holm

Midland Holm was a 5,000-acre plantation situated in the Oil Trough Bottoms on the White River in Independence County. It was established by Virgil Young (V. Y.) Cook. Described by his contemporaries as a young man “with keen foresight and ability, coupled with indomitable energy,” Cook, at age eighteen, began life in Arkansas as a merchant in Grand Glaise (Jackson County) in 1866. Showing an early interest in the Oil Trough Bottoms, he bought his first eighty acres there in 1873 for $500. He would eventually own a plantation of 5,000 acres of the fertile bottomland, making him the largest landowner in the county. After being appointed receiving agent for the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, Cook moved with the railroad …

Midway (Hot Spring County)

Midway is a town in southern Hot Spring County. Situated on U.S. Highway 67, it lies between Interstate 30 and the Ouachita River. Although several other communities in Arkansas are also called Midway, the town in Hot Spring County is the only incorporated community in Arkansas with that name. Caddo Indians inhabited the Hot Spring County area until 1700. In a treaty in 1818, the Quapaw ceded control of the area to the U.S. government. Over the following years, a network of routes known as the Southwest Trail extended across the state from Jackson (Randolph County) through Little Rock (Pulaski County) and south to Fulton (Hempstead County) on the Red River. One of those highways passed through the Midway area, …

Midwives

Midwives have filled a clear, important role in Arkansas history by caring for populations of women who were medically underserved. Their role was almost supplanted by physicians in the early twentieth century, but they remain a viable option for women seeking an alternative model of birth care. Midwives in the hill country of Arkansas were well-respected members of the community who performed their duties as a service to their neighbors. Most were older women whose own children were grown and who had learned their trade from another midwife. They carried a midwife’s book and bag with them to assist during complicated deliveries when no doctor was available. Midwives were very knowledgeable on the subject of childbirth and the many uses …

Mike Meyer Disfarmer Gravesite

Mike Disfarmer was a Heber Springs (Cleburne County) mid-twentieth-century portrait photographer whose work gained fame and popularity some years after his death. His Cleburne County gravesite was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2009. Disfarmer is believed to have been born in Indiana in the early 1880s and to have moved to Stuttgart (Arkansas County) at an early age. After his father’s death, he and his mother then moved to Heber Springs. By 1926, he had built his own photography studio, where he lived and worked, earning a simple living for over forty years by photographing rural people for a few cents a sitting. Many believe that he changed his fame from Mike Meyer to …

Mikel, Elmer Wayne

Elmer Wayne Mikel was a bootlegger during Prohibition and later became a self-published author who wrote books and essays about his criminal life and his experiences at the notorious Tucker State Prison Farm (now the Tucker Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction) in Jefferson County in the 1930s. Mikel was also a songwriter who wrote about Arkansas subjects, including the deadly Greenwood (Sebastian County) tornado of 1968. Elmer Mikel was born on October 8, 1905, in Jenny Lind (Sebastian County), one of ten children of George Elmer Mikel and Amanda Featherston Mikel. George Mikel, a Missouri native, was active in the United Mine Workers of America and ran as a socialist candidate for governor of Arkansas in 1912. Elmer Mikel attended high school but …

Milam, Carl Max

Carl Max Milam was a printing plant superintendent, a university professor and department chairman, the director of a major Arkansas state government agency under two governors, the financial manager for Winthrop Rockefeller, a university president, and a business executive. A branch library of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) and a scholarship at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) were named in his honor. Max Milam was born on July 13, 1930, in Cecil (Franklin County) to Carl J. Milam and Letha Staton Milam. He graduated from high school in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). After high school and in between college enrollments, he worked as a printer and plant superintendent. He received a bachelor’s degree in …

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

aka: Cooper Chapel
The Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, commonly called the Cooper Chapel, is a non-denominational chapel in Bella Vista (Benton County) designed by architects E. Fay Jones, who also designed Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs (Carroll County), and Maurice Jennings, Jones’s business partner for twenty-five years. John Cooper Sr. built three retirement/recreation villages in Arkansas from the 1950s to the 1970s, including Bella Vista Village in northwestern Arkansas, which he opened in 1965. His wife, Mildred Borum Cooper, was his partner throughout these and other ventures. She, too, was successful in business, serving as postmistress in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and Cherokee Village (Sharp and Fulton counties) and owning gift shops in Cherokee Village and Bella Vista. She was also active …

Miles, Ann

Ann (Annie) Miles is a former actress, stuntwoman, Playboy bunny, Broadway hairstylist, and model from Malvern (Hot Spring County). Miles began her career as a stuntwoman riding the famous diving horses on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier. Among other stunts on television and film, she performed the “spiderwalk” in director William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist, a scene that was cut from the film’s original release and for which she was initially uncredited. Miles worked as a hair and wig stylist on and off Broadway in Manhattan, where she spent the bulk of her career. Ann Miles was born in Malvern in 1940. Her father, Hubert Eastham, later became executive vice president at Pine Bluff National Bank. Miles had a talent …

Military

Arkansas’s military history began sometime after the first Paleoindian hunter-gatherers arrived. Territorial conflicts doubtless occurred at intervals during prehistoric times. The attempt to establish European dominance led to more conflicts, and Arkansas has played a role in all the wars involving the United States. Although physical violence has always been rooted in the state’s popular culture, militarism was slow to take root. In the absence of military schools, Arkansas’s support for the military often reflected a rural economy that lacked economic opportunities for young males, as well as the diligence of service recruiters. Prehistoric and Territorial Aggression No evidence documents the first hostile encounters between Arkansas tribes, but excavation at the Late Archaic Crenshaw site in southwest Arkansas unearthed a …

Military Board (Civil War)

The Military Board was a three-man committee formed by the Secession Convention to raise troops in Arkansas after President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers to fight for the United States following the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. It served with varying measures of success throughout the Civil War. The Secession Convention passed an ordinance creating the Military Board on May 15, 1861, giving it the authority to call out volunteer troops and militia companies to defend Arkansas and to control forts and armaments in the state, though acting as an auxiliary to the Confederate government. The board would consist of Governor Henry Rector and two advisory members. The first advisory member, appointed on May 16, was Benjamin …

Military Farm Colonies (Arkansas Delta)

As the Federal army moved across Arkansas during the Civil War, thousands of newly freed slaves attached themselves to military units and eventually began to amass in Union strongholds. Helena (Phillips County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) were just two of the towns where Union commanders struggled to provide for this massive influx of refugees. As more freedmen arrived at Helena after it fell to Union forces in 1862, military officers worked to alleviate the strain these civilians put on the supply lines. Eventually, a program that saw some success in Tennessee and Mississippi was adopted by the commanders at Helena. Realizing that the freedmen were an untapped source of labor, Union officers east of the Mississippi River leased abandoned …

Military Farm Colonies (Northwestern Arkansas)

During the Civil War, thousands of Arkansas civilians became displaced and relied on either the Federal or Confederate governments to provide basic necessities. These non-combatants strained military resources, and commanders searched for ways to make these refugees self-sufficient. With many Unionist families in northwestern Arkansas, Federal commanders created a program that allowed groups to grow subsistence crops and work together to provide mutual self-defense from enemy units. The colonies in northwestern Arkansas were established around the families of white Unionists, while other colonies in central and eastern Arkansas were populated by freedmen and their families. By the spring of 1864, years of war had taken a toll on the agricultural output of northwestern Arkansas, and thousands of people were forced …

Military Land Grants

aka: Military Bounty Warrants
The system of granting free land in the public domain to men who served the United States during military conflicts—or, in the case of their death, to their heirs—was implemented in 1788. Following the Revolutionary War, this system of issuing military bounty warrants served as a way for the cash-poor United States to use large tracts of land to meet its obligations to soldiers. Warrants for Revolutionary War service were issued under acts of 1788, 1803, and 1806. The first series of warrants for the War of 1812 were issued under acts of 1811, 1812, and 1814. Some of the land set aside for these warrants was located in what would become Arkansas. Before any warrants could be issued, the …

Militia Wars of 1868–1869

A series of conflicts fought across the state in the aftermath of the Civil War, the Militia Wars were a response to the wave of violence that swept Arkansas after the adoption of the Constitution of 1868. With the capture of Little Rock (Pulaski County) by Federal forces in 1863, Isaac Murphy was selected as the provisional governor of the state, taking office in March 1864. With little influence beyond the capital and other isolated Union outposts, Murphy was unable to consolidate his power before the end of the war. In 1866, almost the entire Unionist state government was defeated for reelection. However, Murphy and the secretary of state, who were serving four-year terms that expired in 1868, survived. The …

Millar, Alexander Copeland

Alexander Copeland Millar was a prominent Methodist minister, educator (elected one of the nation’s youngest college presidents), and publisher. Alexander Millar was born May 17, 1861, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, to William John Millar and Ellen Caven. His father engaged in the drug business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, until the great fire of April 10, 1845, destroyed at least one third of the city, including his drug business and his family’s home. Later, William Millar tried his hand at being an inventor. In 1867, he moved his family to Missouri, where he bought a farm near Brookfield in Linn County. In 1885, Alexander Millar graduated from the Methodist-affiliated Central College in Fayette, Missouri. Four years later, he earned an MA from Central …

Miller County

  Miller County’s location in southwest Arkansas made it the “Gateway to the Southwestern United States” through its rivers, stagecoach roads, and Native American trails. It is an area of flat plains and gentle hills with an abundance of pine and hardwood forests. The northern and eastern border is marked by the meandering Red River, and the climate is moderate with a growing season of 254 days. The rich soil grows cotton, sorghum, rice, corn, and other crops. Pre-European Exploration through European Exploration and Settlement People have lived in the Miller County area for at least 10,000 years. Over 400 archaeological sites known in the county attest to Native American settlement and use. Early records suggest that the remnants of …

Miller County Courthouse

The Miller County Courthouse, dedicated in 1939, is located at 400 Laurel Street in downtown Texarkana (Miller County) in an area with a number of residences. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the four-story building as architecturally and historically significant for its standing as a visible result of the New Deal and as an impressive example of Art Deco architecture in Miller County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 1998. On September 19, 1938, Miller County determined that the courthouse built in 1888 was no longer capable of housing county business. The county needed a new, modern courthouse, as Texarkana had grown substantially since the late nineteenth century. In addition, the U.S. District …

Miller, Abraham Hugo

The Reverend Abraham Hugo Miller was an African-American businessman, a legislator during Reconstruction, and a church and educational leader in Helena (Phillips County). During Reconstruction, he served in the Arkansas General Assembly as a representative from Phillips County. At the peak of his business operations, he was considered the wealthiest black man in Arkansas. Abraham Miller was born a slave in Colt (St. Francis County) on March 12, 1849. He was the son of Boyer Miller, who was born in Virginia in 1827; the name of his mother is unknown, though his stepmother was Henrietta Miller. During the Civil War, Miller moved with his mother to Helena. Like his father, he became a drayman, which involved hauling cotton, flour, meat, …

Miller, Asbury Mansfield

Asbury Mansfield (A. M.) Miller was an African American who served for many years as an educator in Batesville (Independence County). A. M. Miller, the son of Randal and Pollie Miller, was born on February 4, 1893, in Perla (Hot Spring County). His father, a native of Mississippi, worked in a sawmill there. Miller graduated from Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and he later did graduate work at what is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). During World War I, he worked as a waiter at Fort Logan H. Roots in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). On May 25, 1921, he married Ethel O. Walter in Clark County. At around this time, he worked …

Miller, David

David Freeland Miller, who maintains a broadcasting studio in his Little Rock (Pulaski County) home, is producer and host of Swingin’ Down the Lane, a one-hour program that is broadcast weekly on more than forty National Public Radio (NPR) affiliates and independent commercial stations. The program is also heard on stations in Perth, Australia, and Hamburg, Germany. David Miller was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on April 6, 1928, the third of four children of Alan and Margaret Miller. He received his secondary education at the Pingry School in Elizabeth. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton University and master’s and PhD degrees, also in psychology, from the University of Michigan. While still pursuing his doctorate, Miller was …

Miller, Eliza Ann Ross

Eliza Ann Ross Miller was an African-American businesswoman and educator, as well as the first woman to build and operate a movie theater in Arkansas. She was the wife of prosperous Helena (Phillips County) businessman, state legislator, and church leader Abraham Hugo Miller. After her husband’s death, she continued his business operations while also providing leadership in the Helena school system. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Eliza Ross was born in Arkadelphia (Clark County) on September 6, 1869, to George and Sarah Ross. On June 15, 1887, she married Abraham H. Miller in Arkadelphia. The couple had eight children, five of whom survived into adulthood. Abraham Miller, who had been successful in real …

Miller, Harry Lewis

Harry Lewis Miller was a photographer active in Arkansas at the turn of the twentieth century. His White River landscapes and scenes of daily life throughout the north-central region of the state form an important aesthetic and social history legacy. While some of Miller’s images were familiar, they were generally unattributed until staff at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Old Independence Regional Museum in Batesville (Independence County) researched his work and mounted exhibits in 1998 and 2003, respectively. The oldest of nine children, Harry Miller was born on April 1, 1870, in Dodge County, Minnesota, to Anton and Mary (Lewis) Miller, who were farmers. By 1880, they had moved their growing family to North Dakota, …

Miller, James

James Miller, who served as a brigadier general during the War of 1812, was the first governor of the Arkansas Territory and served as superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Arkansas Territory. James Miller was born in Peterborough, New Hampshire, on April 25, 1776, to James Miller and Catharine Gregg Miller. Evidence suggests that Miller’s father was a farmer. Miller attended an academy at Amherst, Massachusetts, and Williams College. He married Martha Ferguson, with whom he had one son, James Ferguson Miller, a noted naval officer. After Martha’s death, he married Ruth Flint. Prior to entering the military, Miller practiced law in Greenfield, New Hampshire, from 1803 to 1808. Due to his experience with the state militia, he received a …

Miller, James Brown (Jim)

James Brown (Jim) Miller was an Arkansas native but spent much of his life in Texas and Oklahoma, where he earned the reputation of a professional assassin, manipulating the court system to avoid prison. From his early years in Van Buren (Crawford County) to his death in Ada, Oklahoma, Miller proved to be a man to be feared. Jim Miller, the eighth of nine children of Jacob and Cynthia Miller, was born near Van Buren on October 25, 1861. His father was a miller and, at times, a stone mason by trade. Miller received the typical education of the times, and nothing stands out in his life until the family relocated to Coryell County, Texas. The exact year of this …

Miller, John Eldon

John Miller of Izard County was a longtime Arkansas state legislator. Starting his tenure in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1959, he became renowned for his budgetary expertise. Only when term limits prohibited him from running after his twentieth term did Miller step aside in 1998. John Eldon Miller was born on March 2, 1929, in Melbourne (Izard County). One of ten children of Green H. Miller and Annie Gray Miller, he lived in Izard County for all but one year of his life. Majoring in chemistry, Miller graduated from what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County) in 1949. On November 5, 1949, he married Roby Lenora Robertson; they had three children: a son and two …

Miller, John Elvis

John Elvis Miller, the son of a Confederate veteran, had a distinguished career in the law, sandwiched around a political career that took him to the U.S. Senate in one of the most startling Arkansas elections of the twentieth century. He was a prosecuting attorney, a congressman, and a senator, resigning the last position in 1941 when President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him U.S. judge for the Western District of Arkansas. John E. Miller was born on May 15, 1888, in Stoddard County, Missouri, the son of John A. and Mary Harper Miller. As a child, he helped his parents and seven siblings raise cotton and corn on their Missouri bootheel farm. When he finished the ninth grade, he took an …

Miller, Nick

The artistry of stone carver Nick Miller is found in cemeteries throughout northwest Arkansas. The tombstones he made—crisp and legible well over a century later—employ the mourning symbols of his time: clasping hands, weeping willows, lambs, doves. Yet Miller’s bas-relief motifs and deeply incised lettering exhibit a level of skill and detail not generally found among contemporary carvers. All that is known about Nick Miller’s origins is that he was born in Germany. He never married, had no relatives in America, and is listed on the 1880 census as an “old batch” at age thirty-six. In addition to his distinctive carvings, Miller’s tablet-style tombstones are recognizable by his “Nick Miller,” “N. Miller,” or “N. M.” signature at the base. He …