Entries - Entry Category: Arts - Starting with D

DaBoll, Raymond Franklin

Raymond Franklin DaBoll, one of the most talented calligraphers in America, moved to Newark (Independence County) in 1952, where he continued producing masterpieces of calligraphy. Raymond DaBoll was born on June 19, 1892, in Clyde, New York. Several generations of his family published the well-known Daboll Almanacks from 1773 until 1969, when it merged with the Old Farmer’s Almanac. When DaBoll was a youngster, because of constant mispronunciation of the family name by others, his father and uncles changed the spelling of the name from “Daboll” to “DaBoll.” While in his third year of high school, DaBoll won first place in an art contest sponsored by the Rochester Training School for Teachers. Encouraged by this accomplishment, he dropped out of …

Dallas County Courthouse

The Dallas County Courthouse in Fordyce was erected in 1911. The building is the most elaborate structure in Dallas County to be built in the Classical Revival style of architecture. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 27, 1984. On January 1, 1845, Dallas County was established, with Princeton being selected as the first seat of county government.The first courts in Princeton were held in the home of Presley Watts. The first Dallas County Courthouse was built in 1846 on the east side of the square in Princeton. In 1852, a second courthouse was built in Princeton at a cost of $6,000.The courthouse remained at Princeton until 1908, when it was officially moved to Fordyce, …

Dallas County Training School High School Building

The High School Building at the Dallas County Training School is located in Fordyce (Dallas County). Constructed in 1931 with assistance from the Rosenwald Foundation, it served African-American students in Dallas, Bradley, Calhoun, and Cleveland counties. Added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004, the building was unoccupied by 2001. A school for African-American students began operating in Fordyce in a wooden building in 1918. Designed to serve four counties, the building was overwhelmed, and local citizens explored options to expand the facility. After securing $2,600 from the Rosenwald Foundation, local African Americans donated $300, and public funds of $9,690 covered the balance, giving the cost of construction of the 1931 section of the building a …

Daniel, Lucy Jane

In the late 1800s, it was so unusual for women to be stone carvers that The Monumental News, a trade journal, was able to locate only three to write about—one of whom was Lucy J. Daniel, formerly of Arkansas. The others were from Kansas and Canada, and all had learned the trade from their fathers. The journal article noted that Daniel had been fully in charge of the family’s marble shop since 1885, doing all the lettering, and some cutting and polishing, of the tombstones. Her only known sculpture is the Goddess of Liberty statue at Pea Ridge National Military Park. Lucy Jane Daniel was born in May 1865 in Carter County, Kentucky. Her mother was Rebecca Jane (Remy) Daniel, …

Daniel, Thase Christine Ferguson

Thase Christine Ferguson Daniel of El Dorado (Union County) was an internationally known nature and wildlife photographer. During a career that spanned the 1950s to the 1980s, her work appeared in major publications and magazines, including Field and Stream, Ranger Rick, and Reader’s Digest. Thase Ferguson was born on December 5, 1907, the daughter of C. Curran Ferguson and Daisy Moore Ferguson of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). She graduated from Ouachita Baptist College, now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU), with a BA in music in 1929. While at Ouachita, Ferguson met fellow student John T. Daniel of Arkadelphia (Clark County). They were married on June 29, 1930. The Daniels lived in El Dorado, where John owned and operated an automobile dealership. …

Dardanelle Agriculture and Post Office

The Dardanelle Agriculture and Post Office is a 1938 U.S. Postal Service structure in Dardanelle (Yell County). A mural there painted by artist Ludwig Mactarian was financed through the U.S. Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture (later renamed the Section of Fine Arts), a Depression-era stimulus project that promoted public art. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1998. U.S. congressman David D. Terry notified the postmaster for the county seat for northern Yell County in June 1936 that $60,000 in federal money was set aside for land acquisition and construction of a new facility for the town. A few months later, Dardanelle’s Post-Dispatch reported that the U.S. Treasury Department was purchasing …

Davis, Ellis CeDell

Ellis CeDell Davis was a blues musician and recording artist who helped bring blues from its rural Southern roots into the twenty-first century. He employed a unique slide guitar style and performed the traditional Delta blues he learned growing up in and around Helena (Phillips County). Although he was a longtime professional musician, recordings of his music were not available until 1983. In the late twentieth century, he recorded several albums and became a favorite with a new generation of blues fans. CeDell Davis was born on June 9, 1926, in Helena, where his mother worked as a cook but was also known as a faith healer. At age four, Davis went to live with relatives on the E. M. …

Davis, William Emmet

Photographer William Emmett Davis distinguished himself as a commercial photographer for forty years and, beginning in 1983, worked as a fine art photographer. Davis had aesthetic connections with photographers on the West Coast and worked almost exclusively in Arkansas. William E. Davis was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 14, 1918, to E. N. Davis and Mayson Wise Davis; he had no siblings. His father was a physician. Davis attended local schools and then the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). There, he took two years of pre-med courses. The course of study was interrupted when Davis enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. From 1941 to 1945, he was a fighter pilot aboard …

De Queen and Eastern Railroad Machine Shop

The De Queen and Eastern Railroad Machine Shop, located in De Queen (Sevier County), was built in 1905 for repairing and maintaining train engines. It is one of the only buildings constructed during the early years of the Eastern Railroad Company and by 2019 was also the only remaining railroad shop in that area of the state. The shop was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 20, 1996. A long, one-story building with brick masonry and tall glass windows on its façade, it is notable for its Italianate architecture, rare for buildings with an industrial use. Its large curved windows remain intact. On top of the building is a monitor roof with small windows for more …

Deckelman, Gene Darrell “Bud”

Gene Darrell “Bud” Deckelman was a country and rockabilly musician who had brief success in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1950s. His most popular recording was “Daydreamin’,” which was issued on the Meteor record label in Memphis. While his output was relatively small, he toured with artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Wanda Jackson. Bud Deckelman was born in Harrisburg (Poinsett County) on April 2, 1927, to Louisiana native George Deckelman (1904–1984) and Arkansas native Lillian Agnes Ellezy Deckelman (1906–1999). He grew up in a poor farming family and with limited education in Scott (Poinsett County). He had four sisters and three brothers. According to the 1940 census, his father owned the family’s house, but it was valued at …

Deckelman, Joseph Dewitt “Sonny”

Joseph Dewitt “Sonny” Deckelman was a musician, songwriter, and record label owner active in the Memphis, Tennessee, and northeastern Arkansas rockabilly scene in the late 1950s and 1960s. While his artistic output was modest, his recordings were well received and have maintained a small but enthusiastic following. He is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Sonny Deckelman was born in Harrisburg (Poinsett County) on September 1, 1933. He was the son of Joe V. Deckelman and Nell Ellzey Deckelman, both natives of Arkansas. His father was a farmer and mechanic, and his mother was a housewife. Deckelman came from a poor family; the census of 1940 shows his father earning no income. He was the youngest of four …

Delray, Martin

aka: Michael Ray Martin
American country music artist Michael Ray Martin (known professionally as Martin Delray) is best known for his 1991 cover of the Johnny Cash song “Get Rhythm.” Michael Ray Martin was born on September 29, 1949, in Texarkana (Miller County). After graduating from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1972 with a BA in English, he served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. After he left military service at the rank of private first class, Martin relocated to North Hollywood, California, and began playing the West Coast club circuit, opening for such acts as Doug Kershaw and Juice Newton. Martin eventually became a staff songwriter at a music publishing company owned by Seals and Crofts. One …

DeMent, Iris 

Arkansas native Iris DeMent has used her distinctive voice to sing folk, country, bluegrass, and gospel music. She has written songs about family, religion, people, places, and political ideas in a time when few were doing so. Iris DeMent was born on January 5, 1961, in Paragould (Greene County), the youngest of fourteen children. Her parents, Patrick Shaw and Flora Mae DeMent, were farmers on an island in the St. Francis River outside Paragould. When Iris was three, her father lost his factory job after a failed attempt to unionize, and the family hit hard times, sold the farm, and moved to Buena Park, California. They lived there until she was seventeen and then moved to Sacramento, California. Eventually, her …

Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company Building

The Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company building, located at 114 East 2nd Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), housed the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company from 1924 to 1999. In the twenty-first century, it is a mixed-use building with space for commercial offices, retail stores, and lofts. On December 17, 1998, the building was added to National Register of Historic Places. The Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company building was built in 1924, in an area then known as the East Markham Warehouse District. Its namesake, the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company, was founded in 1871 as the commercial printing division of the Arkansas Democrat newspaper. The Arkansas Democrat divided its assets in 1906, which separated the printing division from the …

Denton, Ivan

Ivan Denton, a pioneering Ozark woodcarver specializing in wildlife and Western scenes, was one of the most prominent artists in Arkansas. Ivan Denton was born Marlin Ivan Denton in 1927 in Ferrells, North Carolina, to William Denton and Mary Magdalena Massey Denton. Denton never had any formal artistic training but took up carving in the 1930s because he, like most boys in the Great Depression, often made his own toys. Denton whittled wood, pine bark, soap, soft stone, and, occasionally, bone and ivory. He ran away from home in 1945 and worked as a cowboy during a branding season in Texas and New Mexico. Denton spent a year as a first mate aboard a U.S. Army transport vessel, Leapin’ Lena, …

Desha County Courthouse

The Desha County Courthouse in Arkansas City (Desha County) is a two-and-a-half-story brick structure built in 1900 in the Romanesque Revival architectural style. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 12, 1976. After the establishment of Desha County in 1838, the first county seat was located at Napoleon in 1843, a river port at the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. Early courts were held at Wellington, a plantation in the Red Fork Township. In the fall of 1865, the old Marine Hospital building was leased by the county from the federal government for the purpose of conducting county business. By the 1870s, the county seat at Napoleon had been abandoned due to frequent flooding. In 1873, …

Diamond State Chorus

The Diamond State Chorus is the performance group of the Greater Little Rock Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. (SPEBSQSA). The international men’s singing group, also known as the Barbershop Harmony Society, has more than 34,000 members. It was founded on April 11, 1938, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The local chapter is a grandchild of the Memphis, Tennessee, chapter. In 1952, seven barbershoppers from Memphis went to Stuttgart (Arkansas County) to start a chapter. The subsequent Grand Prairie Chorus attracted the attention of a quartet from Little Rock (Pulaski County)—The Four Specs—which made the 120-mile round trip to Stuttgart for a couple of years before deciding to form a chapter …

Dickinson-Moore House

Constructed circa 1915, the Dickinson-Moore House in Arkansas City (Desha County) has experienced the ebb and flow of the city’s history, as well as its floodwaters. Like many buildings in Arkansas City, it was built upon a tall foundation to protect it from the high water that frequently inundated the area. This practical adaptation makes the Dickinson-Moore House a unique example of Craftsman architecture in Arkansas City. It is believed that a member of the Dickinson family had the house built. The Dickinson family patriarch in the town was planter and attorney Colonel J. W. Dickinson, of whom the Goodspeed history of the area speaks rather glowingly: “No name is entitled to a more enviable place in the history of Desha County …

Dillon, Melinda Rose

Melinda Rose Dillon is an American actress who has appeared in dozens of movies, plays, and television shows. She has been nominated for several major awards, including an Academy Award and a Tony Award; in addition, the Screen Actors Guild recognized her for her role in Magnolia (1999). Other memorable films include Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), A Christmas Story (1983), and Harry and the Hendersons (1987). She has also appeared on television in episodes of Bonanza and the TV movie A Painted House (2003). Melinda Dillon was born on October 13, 1939, in Hope (Hempstead County). Information about her early life is sparse, as Dillon remains an intensely private person. She studied acting with both Lee Strasberg …

Disfarmer, Mike

aka: Mike Meyer
A portrait photographer in Heber Springs (Cleburne County), Mike Disfarmer’s invaluable contribution to photography and the documentation of rural America went unnoticed until 1973, fourteen years after his death. This eccentric man’s work, which later garnered national attention, captures with stark realism the people in and around Heber Springs in the early to mid-1900s. The particularities of Disfarmer’s biography are sketchy, largely because of his reclusive lifestyle and meager status during his lifetime. Various sources date his birth to German immigrants as either 1882 or 1884; however, a World War II draft registration card for one “Mike Disfarmer” of Heber Springs lists an August 16, 1882, birth in Daviess, Indiana. Disfarmer’s family later moved to the German community of Stuttgart (Arkansas …

Ditto, Beth

aka: Mary Beth Patterson
White County native Beth Ditto is the singer and songwriter for Gossip, an indie, dance-punk band based in Portland, Oregon. Ditto is also known for being a model and fashion designer who promotes positive body image, as well as for her outspoken support of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights. In 2006, she became the first woman voted “Coolest Person in Rock” by NME, a long-running British music magazine. She also released her first solo album in 2017. Beth Ditto was born Mary Beth Patterson on February 19, 1981. She was raised by a single mother, Velmyra Estel, and grew up in Judsonia (White County), near Searcy (White County); she did not know her father and was given the last name …

Dodd, Bonnie Modena

aka: Little Blossom
Arkansas native Bonnie Dodd (a.k.a. “Little Blossom”) was a musician and songwriter best known as a steel guitar player in Tex Ritter’s country and western band during the 1940s. She also was a prolific composer of traditional country songs such as the genre-spanning recitation “Be Careful of Stones That You Throw,” which was recorded by Hank Williams in 1952 and by many others. The Staple Singers’ version of the song is included on the soundtrack of the film Bastard out of Carolina (1996). Bonnie Modena Dodd was born in rural Saline County on January 9, 1914. She was the fourth and youngest child of Elmer Pemberton Dodd and Louanna Iona Tillery Dodd. At the time of her birth, her family …

Dombek, George David

The visual artist George Dombek is a nationally recognized master of watercolor. His work has been acquired by major museums and corporate collections, including two paintings and a sculpture in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (Benton County). George Dombek was born on June 18, 1944, in Paris (Logan County), an economically depressed mining town of about 3,000 at the time. He always had an extremely strained relationship with his father, Stanley Dombek, a coal miner who lost his job when Dombek was in high school and eventually died of black-lung disease. Any encouragement he received came from his mother, Lillian Shirley Dombek, who supported the family of six after her husband became unable to work by …

Domestic Science Building

The Domestic Science Building is located on the campus of Central Primary School and the central office of the Arkadelphia Public School District in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Known for combining both Prairie and Classical architecture styles, the building was constructed in 1917 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1982. A public school board was formed in Arkadelphia in 1870 and operated schools intermittently for more than a decade. Faced with uncertain finances and several private schools operating as competitors, the public schools had difficulty remaining in operation. A permanent school building was constructed in 1888, and regular sessions began to be offered. The enrollment at Arkadelphia High School grew during the late nineteenth …

Donaldson, Jeffrey Richardson (Jeff)

Jeffrey Richardson Donaldson was an important and influential African-American artist and art educator during the second half of the twentieth century. Working within the context of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and beyond, Donaldson pioneered a distinctively Afrocentric—or, using the term he coined, “TransAfrican”—aesthetic that championed the societal contributions of African Americans and, as an artistic counterpart to the Black Power Movement, challenged white hegemony. Jeff Donaldson was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on December 15, 1932, the youngest of four siblings. His parents were Sidney Frank Donaldson Sr. and Clementine Frances Richardson Donaldson. Donaldson’s father, a laborer and World War I veteran, died early in Donaldson’s youth. His widowed mother supported the family by working first as a …

Dorough, Bob

Robert Lrod Dorough was a composer, lyricist, and musician best known for his jazz compositions and 1970s Schoolhouse Rock! shorts on ABC Saturday morning television. Bob Dorough was born on December 12, 1923, in Cherry Hill (Polk County), the oldest of four children of Robert Lee Dorough, who was an automobile and insurance salesman, and Alma Audrey Lewis, a housewife and Singer sewing machine instructor. Dorough’s unusual middle name was suggested by his aunt. He attended elementary schools in De Queen (Sevier County), Mena (Polk County), and Texarkana (Miller County) and graduated from Plainview High School in Plainview, Texas, where the family moved in 1934. The Plainview High School bandmaster inspired Dorough musically and gave him free lessons in harmony and …

Downs Historic District

The Downs Historic District consists of the main Downs House, eleven small cottages and their associated carports, and a community swimming pool, all of which were built during the latter half of the 1960s and early 1970s in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock (Pulaski County). In addition, the district also encompasses some elements that were retained from the previous estate that stood on the property, including the driveway and stone retaining walls. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2020. The thirteen lots that make up the Downs Historic District were purchased in 1909 by Fred Allsopp, and the site included one of the best views of the valley and the Arkansas River …

Dr. Boaz House

The Dr. Boaz House is a dogtrot house located in western Clark County near the Clear Springs community. Constructed around 1891, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 28, 1992. Clear Springs is located about two miles east of Antoine (Pike County) on the road linking Arkadelphia (Clark County) and Murfreesboro (Pike County), now Arkansas Highway 26. Never a large community, in 1890 Clear Springs included a church, store, school, post office, cotton gin, and grist mill. About fifty people lived in the community. There is a lack of information about Dr. Boaz, although oral tradition suggests that he was a medical doctor. The single reference to Boaz in public records is a marriage record …

Dr. James Wyatt Walton House

The house of Dr. James Wyatt Walton at 301 West Sevier Street in Benton (Saline County) is one of the oldest homes in Saline County. However, the Walton House’s historical importance, unlike the more elaborate and much older Gann House, is tied to both its architect and the family it housed for many years. The Walton House was designed by famous Arkansas architect Charles Thompson of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in early 1902. Construction of the house was finished by Thompson’s contractor John S. Odum in April 1903. Thompson’s firm also designed the Saline County Courthouse just up the street from the Walton House. Dr. James Wyatt Walton is often called the county’s first doctor. In truth, he was the …

Dr. Smith’s Champion Hoss Hair Pullers

During the height of the great string band era of the 1920s, one of the largest and most popular string bands in Arkansas was Dr. Smith’s Champion Hoss Hair Pullers. Originally founded to promote tourism in the area of Izard County, the band went on to achieve a modicum of regional success before succumbing to the Depression. Dr. Smith’s Champion Hoss Hair Pullers was founded by Dr. Henry Harlin Smith, a surgeon for the Missouri Pacific Railroad who lived in the Calico Rock (Izard County) area. On his travels with the railway, he found that he was often working to dispel the backward image that many people outside of Arkansas had of the region. Smith thought that if more people …

Dr. T. E. Buffington House

The home of Dr. T. E. Buffington is located at 312 West South Street in Benton (Saline County), just west of the Benton Commercial Historic District. It was built specifically for Buffington in 1928. His house was designed in the English-Tudor Revival style but with some 1920s Craftsman influences throughout. Its historical significance lies with Buffington himself, an influential figure in the history both of Benton and of Lonsdale (Garland County). Turner Ellis (T. E.) Buffington was born on May 5, 1879, in Benton to William Ellis Buffington and Mary Marceline Miller Buffington. William and Mary moved to Saline County from Georgia in the early 1870s. Buffington was educated in Benton’s rural schools and at the medical school that became …

Drag Shows

Arkansas has a long history of cross dressing, often called dressing in “drag.” Drag shows in the state have their roots in rural folk dramas often used as fundraisers for community institutions. Starting in the latter half of the twentieth century, drag in Arkansas became more professional in nature and is closely linked with gay and lesbian communities across the state. Before World War II, typical drag productions were staged as part of folk plays or farcical beauty contests. These were advertised as “womanless weddings” or “womanless beauty pageants” designed to serve as fundraisers for community institutions such as churches or schools. Of these, the womanless wedding was by far the favorite in many small towns and hamlets across Arkansas. …

Drew County Courthouse

The Drew County Courthouse, located at 210 South Main Street in Monticello (Drew County), is a three-and-a-half-story Classical Moderne–style building that was constructed in 1932. This is the fourth courthouse building that has been constructed for Drew County. The first courthouse in Monticello was built in 1851 and cost less than $5,300. The second building was erected in 1856–57 and was of frame construction, just as the first had been. In 1870–71, the third courthouse (brick this time) was built on the square from local materials, costing $48,620. This courthouse had a 110-foot tower that displayed a four-dial clock. With the completion of the current courthouse, the third courthouse was torn down, and the bell and clock from the tower …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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; …