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

Pankey, Josephine Irvin Harris

Josephine Irvin Harris Pankey was a real estate developer, educator, philanthropist, and leader in the African-American community of Little Rock (Pulaski County) for the first half of the twentieth century. Josephine Irvin was born on November 17, 1869, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents were William R. Irvin and Katherine Harris Irvin. She was the oldest of their five children. Her father was a self-employed whitewasher, her mother a homemaker. Irvin attended elementary school in Cleveland, including at Oberlin College’s Academy, a preparatory school connected with the college. After graduation, she enrolled in Oberlin College but withdrew because of an illness. She was musically talented and studied at the conservatory that was connected with the academy and the college. By 1892, …

Park Hotel

The Park Hotel is a seven-story hotel located at 211 Fountain Street in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) near Bathhouse Row. Built by the renowned architectural firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio, the hotel and restaurant in its lobby are still in operation in the twenty-first century. The Park Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 22, 1982. The tan brick building is located at the upper entrance to the Hot Springs National Park Grand Promenade, which is a brick pathway through the wooded hills behind Bathhouse Row. The Park Hotel is about a block northeast of the dining, entertainment, and shopping establishments of the Central Avenue Historic District. The Park Hotel was completed in …

Park-O-Meter

Park-O-Meter is a parking meter production company headquartered in Russellville (Pope County). The predecessor company to the current Park-O-Meter, Inc. (or POM) was co-founded by Carl Magee, designer of the world’s first parking meter. Carl Magee was an attorney and newspaper editor who joined the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce traffic committee in 1933 and, shortly thereafter, was charged with lessening the escalating traffic congestion in the city’s downtown. Local merchants complained that their sales were hurt by low traffic turnover, since parking spaces adjacent to downtown businesses were occupied by the same cars all day. Magee conceived the idea of a coin-operated timer that could be used to increase traffic turnover in busy commercial thoroughfares, and he sponsored a …

Parkway Courts Historic District

The Parkway Courts Historic District is a motel and apartment complex located at 815 Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) originally constructed in 1943. Part of the district was rebuilt in the early 1950s after a fire, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. Businesses began to appear along Park Avenue in the 1930s to serve the tourists who visited Hot Springs. Construction of motels, restaurants, and similar enterprises continued in the area until the 1950s. The Parkway Courts were constructed by Florence Franklin Newell in 1943. She sold the property to Otto Baker in 1950, and the name of the business was changed to Parkway Apartments. Two years later, the …

Peach Industry

Peaches are grown throughout the state of Arkansas with the highest concentrations being in central Arkansas  (Pope and Faulkner counties), western Arkansas (Johnson and Franklin counties), southwest Arkansas (Howard and Clark counties), northern Arkansas (Boone, Benton, and Washington counties), and Crowley’s Ridge in eastern Arkansas (Cross and St. Francis counties). Peaches are most successfully produced on light, sandy soils with at least thirty-six inches of soil depth. Orchards are usually placed on locations with raised elevations to avoid or lessen the impact of incidents of low temperature such as frosts. Peaches were introduced as a crop in Arkansas after the Civil War, as were many other fruits and vegetables, during the New South Diversification movement in agriculture. This movement was …

Pearl Rush

The rivers of northeast Arkansas once teemed with freshwater mollusks capable of producing pearls, which led to a huge “pearl rush” in the region in the late 1800s. The mussels had not been harvested on a large scale since Native Americans dwelled along these rivers, giving the animals—and the pearls within—time to grow. In an era before cultured pearls, these gems only occurred naturally, growing inside a freshwater mollusk or saltwater oyster, and the rarity of this occurrence made them precious. Native Americans used pearls to indicate elite status through adornment and burial practices. Burial sites in Campbell, Missouri, and Spiro, Oklahoma, revealed large quantities of freshwater pearls heaped in baskets or large shell vessels. A grave near present-day Helena-West …

Pearson, John

John Pearson was a renowned gunsmith noted for his early work with Samuel Colt in developing the first working revolver. He later worked as a gunsmith in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). John Pearson was born in England around 1811 and, by the 1830s, had immigrated to the United States, where he established himself as a tradesman and gunsmith in Baltimore, Maryland. He was operating there when Samuel Colt began developing his design for a revolving pistol that could fire multiple rounds before being reloaded. Colt worked with several contractors, but Pearson was his favored gunsmith and consultant, and Colt would bring him designs to build with hand tools and early machinery. As one biographer noted, …

Penzel, Charles Ferdinand

Charles Ferdinand Penzel emigrated from Austria to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1857 and, after the Civil War, became a leading merchant, pioneering banker, and prolific investor who rose to the first rank of capitalists in the city. He was also active, often as an officer, in numerous city economic development, religious, civic, and charitable organizations. At the time of his death, he was perhaps the richest German American in Arkansas. Born on October 8, 1840, to Johann Christof Penzel and Maria Elizabeth Penzel, Charles Penzel was one of twenty-eight emigrants from Asch, a Bohemian city of about 9,000 and a district of about 20,000 people, who settled in Pulaski County between 1848 and 1857. When he arrived in Pulaski …

Peonage

The term “peonage” refers to a debt labor system whereby workers are tied to a landowner due to debts owed the landowner by the worker. Peonage is considered a form of slavery since the worker is essentially prohibited from leaving the control of the landowner. Peonage was declared illegal by Congress in 1867, and two of the most famous peonage investigations occurred in Arkansas during the first decades of the twentieth century. Potential for peonage came about following the Civil War when the South’s agricultural economy shifted from use of a slavery-based workforce to a farming environment that relied on a mixture of hired labor and tenant farming or sharecropping. The sharecropping system encouraged indebtedness to the landowner since supplies …

Perry Plaza Court Historic District

The Perry Plaza Court Historic District consists of a former motel (or “tourist court,” as it was known at the time) on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County). Constructed in the International Style, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004, due to its architectural significance and condition. In the 1970s, the building was converted into an apartment complex. Construction of the motel began in 1947 and was completed the next year. Designed by Hot Springs architect Irven McDaniel, the motel had nineteen units. The International Style, in which the building was constructed, is noted for its horizontal design elements and minimal adornment. The motel was built with steel joist construction, fire walls, …

Person, Charline Woodford Beasley

Charline Woodford Beasley Person ran a 5,000-acre cotton plantation in Miller County, Arkansas, after the death of her husband. Person was an active community and church leader, helping build the community church in Garland (Miller County) and steering her hometown through the Great Depression. She was also the only woman chosen to represent Arkansas at the St. Louis Exposition of 1926. Charline Woodford Beasley was born on December 2, 1876, in Lewisville (Lafayette County), the daughter of Charles Hunter Beasley and Lucy Lungren Beasley. Beasley attended Lewisville School, and she was not quite seventeen when she married Levin King Person Jr. (1862–1911) in “Old Lewisville” in 1893. They had three children. In January 1911, Levin Person died suddenly from a …

Petit Jean Meats

Petit Jean Meats is a pork processor and retailer located in Morrilton (Conway County). Family owned since its origins in the late 1920s, the company is the only privately owned red-meat processor still operating in Arkansas. It is also an official sponsor of the Dallas Cowboys football team. In 1922, Felix Schlosser left his native Germany to practice the butchering trade in Arkansas, where some of his relatives had already established themselves. After working at the Little Rock Packing Company and Becker Packing Company, he settled in Morrilton near his cousin, Mary Ruff. He opened a retail meat market with his partner, Ellis Bentley, who sold his share to Schlosser after two years. The small market burned but was reopened …

Philanthropy

Nonprofit and volunteer organizations in Arkansas, from religious groups in the territorial period to the charitable foundations of today, have contributed greatly to the economic wellbeing of the state. Charitable giving by private groups to benefit persons outside their own membership—the definition of philanthropy used here—has been an essential feature of the economic landscape of Arkansas. This has been the case because of the state’s long-term experience with poverty and with a reluctance, until fairly recently, to use government programs to alleviate human suffering and expand educational opportunities for the people of Arkansas. Rise of Organized PhilanthropyOrganized charitable giving first grew out of church, women’s, and fraternal groups. In the absence of state-sponsored educational institutions, churches in pre–Civil War Arkansas …

Phillips, Charles E., Jr

Charles Phillips Jr. is the CEO of Infor, a company that specializes in industry-specific software. His long career on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley include high-level positions in financial services corporation Morgan Stanley and the computer technology corporation Oracle. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2012. Charles Phillips was born in 1959 in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father was stationed at the nearby Little Rock Air Force Base, and the family moved frequently during his youth, including stints in Germany and Spain. Aiming to follow in his father’s footsteps, Phillips enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although he graduated with a degree in computer science in 1981, worsening …

Pillstrom Tongs

Pillstrom Tongs were invented by Lawrence G. Pillstrom MD for the safe capture of snakes for scientific research. The company eventually began shipping these unique, safe herpetological tools all over the world. They are used by zoos, animal control agencies, specialty animal handlers, collectors, and others. The company expanded upon the line of original snake tongs and modified them to be used for hunting frogs, pruning trees, cooking outdoors, picking up aluminum cans, and more. In 1953, as a young student at what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Pillstrom began some early studies and medical research of snake venom and its effects. As a key part of his doctoral work, …

Planters Bank Building

The Planters Bank Building is a historical commercial structure located at 200 East Hale Avenue, at its intersection with Pecan Avenue, in Osceola (Mississippi County). Designed in 1920 by Missouri architect Uzell Singleton Branson, the building was originally constructed for the Citizens Bank. Upon the bank’s closure in 1928, the building became the home of First State Bank, which closed in 1930. For a number of years, the building was used by a large mercantile store. In 1943, the City of Osceola leased the building to house its city hall. In May 1944, a citizens’ group that included Congressman William J. Driver of Osceola chartered a financial institution known as the Planters Bank. The new depository took over the former …

Plum Point Energy Station

The Plum Point Energy Station (PPES) is a 665-megawatt (MW) energy facility located approximately five miles east of Osceola (Mississippi County). The station began commercial production of electricity on September 1, 2010, serving members of the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC) in the Arkansas communities of North Little Rock (Pulaski County), Osceola, and Piggott (Clay County), along with the Missouri communities of Carthage, Kennett, Malden, and Poplar Bluff, plus all thirty-five members of the Missouri Public Energy Pool No. 1 (MoPEP). The Empire District Electric Company, East Texas Electric Cooperative, and Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi own smaller shares of the company. Development and ConstructionSpurred by recent economic setbacks in the community and surrounding areas, the city of …

Pomeroy, Leslie Klett (Les)

Although Sierra Club founder John Muir championed forest conservation by setting aside large acreages, it was Leslie Klett Pomeroy who devised a conservation plan for growing and harvesting timber that both conserved it and turned it into a renewable resource. His science-based management plans regenerated timberlands across the South after cut-out-and-get-out practices had decimated its forests. Pomeroy’s groundbreaking work carried out in Arkansas ultimately affected forestry in the South and across America. Leslie Pomeroy was born on December 12, 1896, in Hub City, Wisconsin. He was the only child of William Justis Pomeroy and Anna Barbara Klett Pomeroy. His mother was a housewife, and his father began his employment with Madison Bus Company in 1922 as a motorman on streetcars, …

Post Familie Vineyards and Winery

Post Familie Vineyards and Winery is located on state Highway 186 in the town of Altus (Franklin County), on the old farm of Professor Joseph Bachman, a noted creator of new grape varieties. Post Familie Winery has its origins in the immigration into the area of German and Swiss Catholics in the 1880s—which made Altus one of the leading wine communities in the state by the turn of the century—and is today one of the 100 largest wineries in the nation. The great-grandfather of this branch of the Post family was Jacob Post, who made wine along with his wife, Anna. Originally, the family made wine from wild grapes as well as other fruits and berries before acquiring grape cuttings …

Pottsville Citizens Bank

In 1913, some sixteen years after the incorporation of Pottsville (Pope County), the town’s first bank—the Pottsville Citizens Bank—was chartered. On March 28, 2002, the bank, located at 156 East Ash Street, was added to the National Register of Historic places based on its contribution to the development of town commerce and the commercial architecture style of the building. The town of Pottsville slowly developed in the immediate area surrounding the house of the area’s first settler, John Kirkbride Potts, who arrived in the 1820s. As the town grew, town leaders determined that there was a need for a bank. A bank was chartered, and a one-story brick building was constructed across from Potts’s home. On September 2, 1913, the …

Poultry Industry

A staple of the state’s economy, the Arkansas poultry industry first emerged in the 1890s. A century later, Tyson Foods, based in Springdale (Washington County), had become one of the largest agribusiness firms in the United States. Northwest Arkansas, particularly Washington and Benton counties, produces the majority of poultry in Arkansas. The topography of the Ozark highlands—in contrast to the relatively flat eastern half of the state—is well suited to raising chickens. The hilly terrain has historically prevented the widespread cultivation of rice and cotton, which led northwest Arkansas farmers to pursue interests in timber, fruit orchards, and especially poultry. In 1893, Millard Berry of Springdale acquired an incubator with the intent of raising chickens on a large scale. By …

Poverty

In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the national average of individuals living in poverty was 13.2 percent. At 17.3 percent, Arkansas tied for second among states with the highest poverty rates. The two states with the highest poverty rates are adjacent to Arkansas: Mississippi was the highest with 21.2 percent, and Louisiana second highest at 17.3 percent. They were followed by West Virginia at 17 percent and Kentucky, which tied Arkansas with 17.3 percent. Seven of the top ten impoverished states were in the South. Historical BackgroundThe story of poverty in the South is the story of economic development and social changes over time. Patterns of poverty in Arkansas have developed and fluctuated over time in relation to …

Prairie Grove Telephone Company

aka: PGTelco
Owned and operated by four generations of the McCormick and Parks families since the late nineteenth century, the Prairie Grove Telephone Company (PGTelco) is one of the oldest family-owned telephone companies in Arkansas. The company established exchanges in five western Washington County communities: Farmington, Lincoln, Morrow, Prairie Grove, and Strickler. Physician E. G. McCormick and his brother, Will McCormick, were co-owners of the McCormick Bros. drugstore that opened on Prairie Grove’s main street in 1884. Dr. McCormick’s clinic was located across the street from the drugstore, and in 1888 the brothers installed a telephone line between the two businesses. When some local residents expressed an interest in using the new technology, the brothers began to offer phone service to others …

Price Produce and Filling Station

The Price Produce and Filling Station is a complex of one-story Art Deco–style buildings at 413, 415, and 417 East Emma Avenue in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties). It was built in 1934 by Veaze Price. Price moved to Springdale from Missouri in 1923 and worked for several years with the Springdale Produce Company before deciding to open his own business. In the early 1930s, Springdale was a shipping hub for a thriving fruit and produce industry in northwestern Arkansas. Apples were a leading crop from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. By 1930, the area also had the highest concentration of vineyards in the state. Welch’s Grape Juice factory and Nelson Wine and Distillery, both located at Springdale, …

Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America (PFHUA)

Robert L. Hill of Drew County, along with physician V. E. Powell, incorporated the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America (PFHUA) in Winchester (Drew County) in 1918. Hill, an African American, referred to himself as a “U.S. Detective” because he had taken a St. Louis, Missouri, correspondence course in detective training, but some people identified him as a farmer or farm hand. According to the articles of the constitution of the PFHUA, the group’s objective was “to advance the interests of the Negro, morally and intellectually, and to make him a better citizen and a better farmer.” The organization had characteristics of a fraternal order, such as passwords, handshakes, and signs for members, and it also resembled a union. …

Pyramid Place

aka: Southern Trust Building
The ten-story Southern Trust Building in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) opened in 1907 as the first skyscraper in Little Rock. Later called Pyramid Place, it began housing retail spaces, restaurants, and offices. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 26, 2013. In the early twentieth century, Little Rock was transitioning from a river town to a major city, thanks in part to its rapid population growth. According to the U.S. Census, Little Rock’s population more than tripled during this time, from 13,138 in 1880 to 45,941 in 1910. A 1906 Arkansas Gazette editorial complained that despite Little Rock’s growth, the city did not have a single skyscraper. Plans for a skyscraper had been under …