Entry Category: Arts - Starting with D

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 …

Doughty, Frank Lorenzo

Frank Lorenzo Doughty is an architect who worked with Edward Durrell Stone and E. Fay Jones and who designed several houses across Arkansas that were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Frank Lorenzo Doughty was born on June 21, 1930, in Memphis, Tennessee. Though his family owned a large plantation outside of Tunica, Mississippi, the family was by no means wealthy. During his childhood in Tunica, he first developed an interest in architecture when, in 1942, he watched the Tunica Methodist Church being built. A few years later, his family moved briefly to Robinson, Illinois, but eventually settled in Stuttgart (Arkansas County), where he spent his senior year of high school. There, he met his future wife, Suzanne …

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 LGBTQ+ 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. The wedding …

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; …