Entries - Entry Category: Business and Economics - Starting with G

Garvan, Verna Cook

Verna Mary Cook Garvan was one of the first women in Arkansas to own a construction/manufacturing business and was the benefactor of what is now Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs (Garland County). Verna Cook was born on January 22, 1911, in Groveton, Texas, to Arthur Bacillius Cook and Essie Louise Bordis Cook. Verna Cook and her sister, Dorothy, were raised to be “proper ladies,” but Verna often accompanied her father to work and absorbed his business acumen. In 1916, her father moved the family to Malvern (Hot Spring County) to manage the Wisconsin and Arkansas Lumber Company, an enterprise producing oak and pine flooring. Malvern Brick and Tile was also purchased by Verna’s father, who later served as a …

Gaston, James Albert (Jim)

Jim Gaston was a renowned Arkansas businessman, sportsman, and philanthropist whose legacy includes operating Gaston’s White River Resort, being an advocate for tourism and conservation in the state, and acting as a champion of education. His generosity contributed to significant growth at Arkansas State University–Mountain Home (ASUMH). James (Jim) Albert Gaston was born on December 18, 1941, to Albert (Al) Gaston and Iola Cosey Gaston in Herrin, Illinois. After moving to Arkansas, Al Gaston created Gaston’s White River Resort at Lakeview (Baxter County) in 1958. In 1961, at age twenty, Jim Gaston inherited the property, which at the time consisted of twenty acres, six small cottages, and six boats. Gaston expanded the operation significantly, until it covered 400 acres of land with …

George Klein Tourist Court Historic District

aka: Klein Center
aka: Racheau Center
aka: Green Elf Court
The George Klein Tourist Court Historic District at 501 Morrison Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) is a well-preserved example of Craftsman-style roadside lodging. Built by 1939 as a tourist court and apartments consisting of seven bungalows around an octagonal two-story office building, it later became the Green Elf Court Apartments. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 8, 1993. Hot Springs was an established resort town before the Civil War because of the widespread belief that the hot springs had medicinal qualities. The first bathhouses predated the federal government reserving the land around the springs in 1832. Access to the area increased over time, first via a narrow-gauge railway from Malvern (Hot Spring …

German National Bank

From its opening in 1875 to its closing in 1930, the German National Bank (under a variety of names) was considered a financial pillar of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and central Arkansas. Saluted by the Arkansas Gazette as the “leading bank of the state” in 1876, it grew to become the largest bank in the state, largely through bank consolidations in the first quarter of the twentieth century. In early 1875, the German Savings Bank was organized by Charles Penzel. A prominent financier, Penzel came to the United States from Bohemia in 1857 and served as the bank’s first president. The business and fixtures of the bank were purchased from George Brodie and Sons, which had gone out of business …

Gibbs, Mifflin Wistar

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman, a politician, and the first elected African-American municipal judge in the United States. Mifflin Gibbs was born on April 17, 1823, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eldest of four children born to Jonathan and Maria Gibbs. His father, a Methodist minister, died when Mifflin was a child, and his mother worked as a laundress. Gibbs learned carpentry through an apprenticeship. He read widely and attended debates at the Philadelphia Library Company of Colored Persons. He had a chance to practice his own oratory in the 1840s when Frederick Douglass invited him to help conduct an abolitionist lecture tour. Journeying to California soon after the gold rush of 1849, he became a …

Gibson, Herbert Richard (H. R.)

Herbert Richard (H. R.) Gibson Sr. was the founder of Gibson Products Company, parent company of the once prominent discount retail store chain Gibson’s Discount Centers. At its peak in the mid-1970s, Gibson Products Company—founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the 1930s—and its franchisees operated almost 700 stores located throughout much of the United States. H. R. Gibson was a modern discount retailing pioneer, entering the field in 1958, four years ahead of Kmart, Target, and Walmart Inc. As an early business rival of Sam Walton, Gibson influenced discounting and management practices that Walton later used to surpass Gibson and make Walmart Inc. the world’s largest retailer. H. R. Gibson was born near Berryville (Carroll County) on September 16, …

Giles, Albert

Albert Giles was one of twelve African-American men accused of murder following the Elaine Massacre of 1919. After brief trials, the so-called Elaine Twelve—six who became known as the Moore defendants and six (including Giles) who became known as the Ware defendants—were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Ultimately, the Ware defendants were freed by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1923; after numerous legal efforts, the Moore defendants were released in 1925. Albert Giles was born in Louisiana on November 22, 1898, to Sallie T. Giles and an unidentified father. He moved to Phillips County, Arkansas, sometime in the early 1900s and was residing in Elaine (Phillips County) when he was drafted into the U.S. military on September …

Glascock, Darrell

Darrell Glascock was a well-known political consultant who was an active force in Arkansas politics in the 1980s and 1990s. He also ran for U.S. Congress and sought the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Arkansas. Darrell Glascock was born in Tullos, Louisiana, in 1946 to Ray and Louise Glascock. He was interested in politics at an early age, and friends recalled him campaigning on behalf of state Senator Speedy Long when he was fourteen. He graduated from Georgetown High School in nearby Georgetown; he attended Northeast Louisiana University, Northwestern State University, and Louisiana State University, but he did not earn a degree. Glascock married Kitty Lou Rambo in the 1960s, and the couple had two children, a son and …

Global Ties Arkansas

aka: Arkansas Council for International Visitors
Global Ties Arkansas—formerly the Arkansas Council for International Visitors (ACIV)—is part of the national organization Global Ties U.S., which is based in Washington DC. Global Ties U.S. consists of more than ninety nonprofit organizations around the country. Both Global Ties U.S. and all the ninety-plus organizations are private nonprofits, but they receive international visitors sent to them by the U.S. Department of State. Most of the local organizations are citywide, and a few, such as Global Ties Arkansas, are statewide in coverage. The visitors brought to the United States have been identified as individuals in a position—now or in the future—likely to influence issues related to American foreign policy. Global Ties Arkansas receives international officials and leaders in the areas …

Goodwill Industries of Arkansas

Goodwill Industries of Arkansas is a not-for-profit enterprise agency that brings work to low-income individuals who otherwise face significant barriers to employment, including generational poverty and dependence on public aid, physical or mental disabilities, homelessness, periods of incarceration, substance abuse, or long-term unemployment. Goodwill Industries serves Arkansans with a host of rehabilitation services, career services centers, retail stores, and attended donation stations throughout the state. Goodwill Industries was founded in 1902 in the South End of Boston, Massachusetts, by Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, who believed that all people should have the opportunity to work without regard to race, disability, or criminal history. Helms’s philosophy, summarized in the phrase “Not charity, but a chance,” expanded into a worldwide network …

Grapette International, Inc.

Grapette soda was developed by Benjamin Tyndle Fooks in Camden (Ouachita County) in 1939. Once one of the bestselling non-cola soft drinks in the United States, Grapette virtually disappeared from the marketplace for most of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s after being bought by a leading competitor. As the twenty-first century began, Grapette International in Malvern (Hot Spring County), the last remaining subsidiary of Fooks’s Grapette Company, re-acquired the Grapette and Orangette trademarks, reuniting the original flavors with the brand names. Currently Grapette, Orangette, and two other flavors made by Grapette International are distributed nationwide exclusively in Walmart Inc. stores as part of their store brand line of soft drinks. Fooks bought a soft-drink bottling plant in Camden in 1926 …

Great Migration

Between the 1920s and the 1970s, more than 14 million Americans left their rural homes in search of jobs and new opportunities. Known as the Great Migration, this exodus represents one of the largest internal resettlements in American history. Arkansas played a leading role in this development, as the state lost more people than any other; more than 1.2 million left during this period. In fact, Arkansas had witnessed steady population decline since the 1890s, and, according to U.S. census records, lost people in every decade of the twentieth century until 1970. Migration out of Arkansas was largely caused by two factors: the lack of high-paying jobs (which tended to drive out educated Arkansans) and the lack of available arable …

Great Southern Hotel

The Great Southern Hotel, also known as the Rusher Hotel or Hotel Rusher, is a historic hotel building at 127 West Cedar Street near the town square in Brinkley (Monroe County), about seventy miles west of Memphis, Tennessee. Brinkley was an important railroad town in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The three-story brick building was constructed in 1915 to serve as Brinkley’s Union Station. Its main entrance originally faced the railway tracks but was reoriented to a street façade after the decline of the railroad. The Great Southern Hotel building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 18, 1986. The building is part of Brinkley’s Lick Skillet Railroad Work Station Historic District, which itself …

Great Southwestern Strike

At its height, the Great Southwestern Strike of 1886 shut down railway lines in five states (Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, and Missouri), threatened to upset commerce nationally, and, with its promise of union recognition, attracted support from a wide spectrum of unskilled and semi-skilled railroaders. Instead of winning union recognition, the strikers met with a terrible defeat that divested hundreds of their jobs, confirmed the power of the state and federal governments to repress labor unrest on the railways, and dealt a severe blow to the Knights of Labor, the nation’s largest labor union. Defeat was not total, however; strikers’ grassroots, cross-racial activism on the railroads contributed to the broader Populist movement in Texas and Arkansas. The Great Southwestern Strike …

Green, Benjamin William

Benjamin William Green was a soldier, planter, mill operator, real estate agent, and advocate for Confederate veterans. Raised in South Carolina, he fought in a Georgia unit during the Civil War. He moved to Arkansas after the war and later served as commander of the Arkansas Division of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV). Benjamin Green was born on September 7, 1846, in Darlington County, South Carolina, to Judge James Green and Sarah Ann Green. He was a descendant of John James, an officer of the American Revolution. Green’s father was a planter, who, according to the 1860 census, owned twenty slaves ranging from age three to eighty years of age. His father was too old to fight in the Civil …

Greeson, Martin White

Martin White Greeson was an attorney and civic activist who spent most of his adult life advocating for the construction of a dam on the Little Missouri River. He believed that such a structure was critical both to flood prevention and economic development. While he did not live to see his dream come to fruition, the dam was completed not long after his death. The resulting Lake Greeson was named in his honor. Martin W. Greeson was born on November 7, 1866, in Clinton (Van Buren County). He was one of two children of Hartwell and Louisa Greeson, and he had two half-sisters from his father’s previous marriage. He received his early education in the local schools, and he himself …

Griffin Auto Company Building

The Griffin Auto Company building was considered the finest car dealership building in the city of El Dorado (Union County) when it opened in 1928. The building exemplifies the architectural transition from the traditional storefront showrooms to super service stations. The Murphy Arts District (MAD) purchased the Griffin building in 2012, restoring and converting it into a farm-to-table restaurant and music venue. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 25, 2001, and included in the El Dorado Commercial Historic District on August 21, 2003, the Griffin Auto Company Building is located at 117 E. Locust, two blocks from El Dorado’s courthouse square. Its boxy, symmetrical massing was originally divided into three sections: a filling station, a showroom, …

Group, The

The Group, Inc., is an intentional community (or commune) that was established at two locations in rural Arkansas before relocating to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the mid-1970s. In Little Rock, they established a number of successful businesses, including the Internet service provider Aristotle, Inc. In 1964, a group of high school students from Odessa, Texas, formed a musical group named after their leader, Dixon Bowles. They grew in popularity, practicing and playing around Texas. Later, in Hollywood, they met with Dan Blocker, the actor who played Hoss in the television show Bonanza. In 1966, Blocker, who was originally from Odessa and knew of the group, let them use his name. Living in Hollywood, the Dan Blocker Singers became popular …

Guthridge, Amis Robert

Amis Robert Guthridge was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) attorney and businessman best known for his role in organizing resistance to school desegregation in Hoxie (Lawrence County) in 1955 and at Little Rock Central High in 1957. Though he first gained national notoriety as the lead spokesman for these anti-integration campaigns, Guthridge’s activist career began in the late 1940s when he held prominent positions in the “Dixiecrat” Party and the anti-union Arkansas Free Enterprise Association. Indeed, Guthridge’s passion for rolling back what he saw as the “socialistic” takeover unleashed by the New Deal was equal to and integral to his passion for maintaining racial segregation. Amis Guthridge was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) in 1908 to Arthur and Myrtle …

Gypsum Mining

Gypsum is a mineral (CaSO4·2H2O) that occurs in nature as both a mineral and, when in massive form, a rock. Massive deposits are present as sedimentary beds of varying thickness in the subsurface within the Trinity Group in southwest Arkansas. Gypsum beds dip gently to the south, being part of the Early Cretaceous Gulf Coast series of sedimentary deposits. The gypsum-bearing De Queen limestone member of the Trinity Group is exposed in a narrow belt extending from the Little Missouri River in Pike County westward through Howard and Sevier counties, and dips gently to the south. The thickest single gypsum bed (at twelve feet) is at Plaster Bluff (Pike County). A significant operation near Briar (Howard County) mines five beds …