Business Leaders

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Entry Category: Business Leaders

Bush, John

John Edward Bush, a chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas, rose from poverty to national prominence when he co-founded the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), an African-American fraternal organization of international scope, spanning twenty-six states and six foreign countries from the 1880s until the 1930s. Headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), MTA became one of the largest and most successful black-owned business enterprises in the nation and the world; it included an insurance company, a building and loan association, a hospital, a business college, a publishing house, and a nursing school. Living most of his early life in the downtown 9th Street district of Little Rock, Bush was widely acknowledged as one of the wealthiest black men in Arkansas …

Carnes, Jack

aka: Samuel Jacob Carnes
Samuel Jacob (Jack) Carnes was the founder and owner of Camark Pottery, one of Arkansas’s premier art pottery companies. Camark pottery has become highly valuable to collectors and is featured in museums such as the Old Statehouse Museum and the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Jack Carnes was born on March 12, 1896, in Zanesville, Ohio, the son of John O. Carnes, a lawyer. His mother’s name is unknown. He had one sister, Hazel, and one brother, Craig. He grew up in Cambridge, Ohio, and graduated from Cambridge High School in 1915. He received his BS degree from Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, on June 4, 1918, and did graduate work in engineering at the Massachusetts …

Cherry, Lewis Williamson

Lewis Williamson Cherry was an important businessman in Little Rock (Pulaski County) who founded several enterprises and served in a leadership role in various banks, as well as managing a robust real estate business. Lewis W. Cherry was born on November 22, 1858, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Calvin Washington Cherry and Sarah Blount Williamson Cherry. His father, a banker, was son of Daniel Cherry, a wealthy North Carolina–born land speculator in early nineteenth-century Tennessee who founded Cherryville in Haywood County. After an initial education in Memphis public schools, Lewis W. Cherry was educated at a number of private schools in Tennessee and Kentucky, completing his education at James Byars’s academy in Covington, Tennessee. Cherry began his career as bookkeeper for …

Clarke, Faye

Faye Clarke co-founded the Educate the Children Foundation, which was created to support rural and impoverished school districts with donations of books and other educational materials. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2002. Faye Wilma Robinson was born on August 6, 1931, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Jerimah and Eariest Robinson. In high school, she was an Arkansas National Merit Scholar and went on to study at Hampton Institute in Virginia. After graduation, she attended a one-year program in businesses at Radcliffe College taught by professors of the Harvard Business School, where women were not yet allowed; she was the first African-American woman in this program. She began working at Aramark, a company that …

Claybrook, John C.

John C. Claybrook was a lumberman, farmer, baseball team owner, and one of the most successful African-American businessmen of his time in the South. He built a town around his farming and logging operation in eastern Arkansas and eventually gained national attention for being among the first African Americans in the South since Reconstruction, if not the first, chosen to sit on a jury trying black men for the rape of a white woman. John Claybrook was born on June 11, 1872, in Florence, Alabama. His parents’ names and occupations are unknown. He ran away to Memphis when he was thirteen to find work, which he soon found as a laborer on riverboats. After renting and working some plantation land …

Coleman, Walter Carpenter (Walt), III

Walt Coleman is a longtime football official who began serving as a National Football League (NFL) referee in 1995. While the 2018 season marked his thirtieth as an NFL official, making him only the seventh NFL official to achieve that milestone, he is best known for his call in the 2002 American Football Conference (AFC) game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders in which he invoked the “Tuck Rule” resulting in an apparent fumble by New England quarterback Tom Brady being ruled an incomplete pass and keeping the Patriots on the road to an eventual Super Bowl victory. Walter Carpenter (Walt) Coleman III was born on January 16, 1952, to W. C. Coleman Jr. and Robbye Cooper …

Cook, Virgil Young (V. Y.)

Virgil Young (V. Y.) Cook was a veteran of two wars—the Civil War and the Spanish-American War—who founded the town of Olyphant (Jackson County) and eventually accumulated thousands of acres of land, running a vast plantation enterprise in northeastern Arkansas. His home in Batesville (Independence County), today known as the Cook-Morrow House, is on the National Register of Historic Places. V. Y. Cook was born on November 14, 1848, in Boydsville, Kentucky, to William Detterline (Bill) Cook and Pernecia Dodds Cook. Cook attended subscription schools in Boydsville, obtaining the equivalent of an elementary education. Kentucky was a divided state in the Civil War, and even though it stayed with the Union, there were many Confederate sympathizers living there. One was …

Cordell, Carl Richey “Cotton”

Few figures were more recognized in the multi-billion dollar sportfishing industry than Arkansas native Carl Richey “Cotton” Cordell Jr., who built a fishing tackle empire based in Hot Springs (Garland County) that grew to be the largest in America. Carl Cordell Jr. was born in Benton (Saline County) on December 9, 1928, the only child of Carl R. and Alice J. (Barnes) Cordell. His father worked for Alcoa but moved the family in November 1945 to Lake Catherine near Hot Springs, where he had purchased a marina and resort. Cordell, nicknamed “Cotton” because of his light hair, spent most of his youth traversing the Arkansas outdoors for fish and game, becoming able to help his father at the marina in …

Couch, Harvey Crowley

Influenced by a teacher’s counsel, Harvey Crowley Couch helped bring Arkansas from an agricultural economy in the early twentieth century to more of a balance between agriculture and industry. His persuasiveness with investors from New York and his ingenuity, initiative, and energy had a positive effect on Arkansas’s national reputation among businessmen. He ultimately owned several railroad lines and a telephone company and was responsible for what became the state’s largest utility, Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L). Harvey Couch was born on August 21, 1877, in Calhoun (Columbia County) to Tom Couch, a farmer turned minister, and Mamie Heard Couch. He had five siblings. Couch attended school in Calhoun two months out of each year, as did many farmers’ children …

Crossett, Edward Savage

Edward Savage Crossett was a pioneer Arkansas lumberman during the late nineteenth century. As the great Southern forest was being developed to meet a growing nation’s need for lumber and wood fiber, Crossett and two associates—all from Davenport, Iowa—came to south Arkansas, acquired land, and began a sawmilling operation that was one of the largest of its kind. The city of Crossett (Ashley County) was named for him and came to be known as “The Forestry Capital of the South.” Edward Crossett was born on February 4, 1828, in West Plattsburgh, New York, one of three children of Mary Gregory and John Savage Crossett, a veteran of the War of 1812. Crossett received his early education in the public schools …

Dalton, Donald

Donald Dalton served as a brigadier general in the Arkansas National Guard. At the end of his career, he was the commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard. Donald Dalton was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 10, 1939, to John and Dora Dalton. His father worked as a baker, and Donald had an older brother and two older sisters at the time of his birth. While he was a child, the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Dalton graduated from Central High School in 1957. Dalton enlisted in the Air National Guard as a weapons mechanic that same year. In 1961, he received a commission as a second lieutenant and entered undergraduate pilot training at Laredo …

Davis, Gregory A.

Gregory A. Davis is the founder of Davis Broadcasting, a regional media company that owns several radio stations in Columbus and Atlanta, Georgia; the stations range from urban contemporary and gospel to sports and Spanish-language formats. Davis serves as the president and CEO of Davis Broadcasting. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016, the same year that marked the thirtieth anniversary of the company he founded. Gregory Davis was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in 1948. His mother was an educator at the local black school, and his father worked in a bakery before opening a shoeshine parlor. He attended twelve years of Catholic school, graduating from St. Anne’s Academy, where he was the …

Davis, William Delford (Willie)

Willie Davis was a millionaire business executive, civic leader, and former football standout who grew up in Miller County. Davis achieved athletic success in football at the high school, college, and professional levels. After retiring from a National Football League (NFL) career of twelve seasons (1958–1969), he moved into the business world, where he attained equal success. Davis was a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. William Delford (Willie) Davis was born on July 24, 1934, in Lisbon, Louisiana, to David and Nodie Davis. After his parents separated when he was eight, his mother moved the family to Texarkana (Miller County). His mother supported the family by working as a cook at the Texarkana Country Club. Willie Davis …

Dierks, Herman

Herman Dierks was the co-founder and two-time president of the Dierks Lumber and Coal Company, supervising its lumberyard in De Queen (Sevier County) and other parts of eastern Oklahoma and northern Louisiana. With the help of his brothers, he helped create and control the Dierks timber empire. Born near Lyons, Iowa, on September 24, 1863, Herman Dierks was the seventh child of Peter Henry Dierks, a German farmer and a banker, and Margaretha Dorothea Tauk, a Danish immigrant. He joined his brother Hans in Nebraska after Hans bought land there along the newly constructed Burlington Railroad. Dierks farmed until he and his brother bought a lumberyard in 1887, which later proved to be the source of Dierks’s fortune. On May …

Dillard, William Thomas

William Thomas Dillard was the founder of Dillard’s, Inc., one of the nation’s largest fashion apparel and home-furnishings retailers. From an $8,000 investment in a single store in Nashville (Howard County), Dillard, an Arkansas native, built a premier retail chain with a national presence of more than 300 stores in twenty-nine states. William T. Dillard was born on September 2, 1914, in Mineral Springs (Howard County), the only son of Thomas Dillard and Hattie Gibson Dillard, who were prominent farmers and merchants in the close-knit Mineral Springs community. Retailing excited Dillard from a very young age, and he spent many hours in his father’s store. Dillard attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he majored in …

Dixon, Martha

Martha Smith Dixon is an internationally recognized clothing designer and entrepreneur. Her designs of couture gowns worn by Hillary Clinton during Clinton’s husband’s 1987 gubernatorial inauguration and 1993 presidential inauguration helped launch her career in fashion design and sales. Dixon is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Martha Smith was born in Clark County on February 2, 1946, the seventeenth of twenty children of James G. Smith and Beatrice Cook Smith, impoverished cotton pickers and sharecroppers in the South Central community in Clark County. She attended public school in Gurdon (Clark County) when work allowed and graduated from Peake High School in Arkadelphia (Clark County) in 1965. The first in her family to attend college, she spent …

Drennen, John

John Drennen was a prominent businessman who is called the father of Van Buren (Crawford County). The home he built in Van Buren, now known as the Drennen-Scott House, serves as a museum interpreting local history and Drennen’s legacy. John Drennen was born to Thomas Drennen and Isabelle Moore Drennen on February 5, 1801, in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. At a young age, he and his family moved to Potosi, Missouri. On March 21, 1826, in Potosi, he married Emily Rosanna Deaderick Stuart, widow of James Stuart; John and Emily Drennen had three daughters, one of whom died in childhood. Later in 1826, he moved to Tennessee and went into business with his brother-in-law David Thompson (the husband of Emily Drennen’s sister, …

Elsken, Conrad

aka: Conrad Ilsken
Conrad Elsken was a prominent figure in Logan County for forty years. In 1883, he moved to Paris (Logan County) after he became land agent for the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad. He started the Citizens Telephone Company in 1900 and served as its general manager until it was sold to Western Electric in 1928. Elsken also helped to establish the Bank of Paris, which became the First National Bank of Paris, and served as Logan County treasurer. He established a series of general stores in several Logan County towns. During World War I, he was the head of the Council of Defense for Logan County. He was on the Arkansas State Charity Board under Governor Jeff Davis and …

England, John Calhoun

John Calhoun England was a prominent lawyer, businessman, and real estate developer in central Arkansas during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Due to his involvement in the development of southwestern Lonoke County, the town of England (Lonoke County) was named in his honor. On January 18, 1850, John C. England was born in Brownsville (Lonoke County) to John William Harrison England and Laurena Boyett England. He received a basic education in the local schools, but the approaching Civil War interrupted his formal education. The death of his father in April 1860 was hard on the family, resulting in the loss of most of their wealth during the next few years. Sometime during the war, England moved to Huntersville, …

Epstein, Sam

Sam Epstein, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, was a merchant, planter, and civic leader in Lake Village (Chicot County) and Chicot County in the early twentieth century. Sam Epstein was born to Menasha Epstein and Malke Epstein on July 25, 1875, on a farm near Riga, Latvia, in the former Russian Empire. He was likely the second of five children. Many Eastern European Jews fled violence and legal restrictions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While Epstein’s parents likely did not immigrate, at least five of their children, including Sam, arrived in the United States between 1891 and 1900. Epstein likely arrived in New York City in May 1896. He traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, and joined an older brother, Nathan, …

Faucette, James Peter

James Peter Faucette was a politician, businessman, and the third mayor of Argenta, now North Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was a leader in the separation of Argenta from Little Rock (Pulaski County) after a forced annexation. Jim Faucette was born on September 28, 1867, in Pope Station, Mississippi, the fifth child and second son of James Beard Faucette and Eliza Jane Hubbard. The Faucette family settled in Texas in 1878 and then in Arkansas in 1880, moving to Searcy (White County), Dover (Pope County), and Russellville (Pope County) within a year. Faucette moved to Argenta, a small settlement on the north shore on the Arkansas River, opposite Little Rock in 1885, following his older brother Will Faucette, who settled …

Faucette, Will

aka: William Chesley Faucette
William Chesley Faucette was a politician, businessman, and the first mayor of Argenta, now North Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was a leader in the decade-long fight to separate Argenta from Little Rock (Pulaski County) after a forced annexation. Will Faucette was born on August 13, 1865, in Pope Station, Mississippi, and was the fourth child of James Beard Faucette and Eliza Jane Hubbard. The Faucette family moved to Texas in 1878, then to Arkansas in 1880, living in Searcy (White County), Dover (Pope County), and Russellville (Pope County) within the space of a year. Around 1883, Faucette moved to the small settlement of Argenta on the north side of the Arkansas River opposite Little Rock. The rest of the …

Fordyce, John Rison

The son of Hot Springs (Garland County) entrepreneur and Cotton Belt Railroad president Samuel Wesley Fordyce, John Rison Fordyce forged his own way into Arkansas history. He was educated as a mining engineer but was also an inventor, manufacturer, leader in commerce, public servant, and amateur archaeologist. John R. Fordyce was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on November 7, 1869. He moved to the health resort of Hot Springs at age five with his father and mother, Susan Chadick, after his father, suffering from malaria contracted during the Civil War, found renewed health in the local thermal springs. The third of five children, Fordyce—along with his three surviving siblings—was educated in Hot Springs schools. His father was instrumental in Hot Springs’ …

Fordyce, Samuel Wesley

Samuel Wesley Fordyce was a businessman who spearheaded efforts to build thousands of miles of railway in the South and Southwest during the late nineteenth century, including the Cotton Belt route that crossed Arkansas. He also was a major force behind the transformation of Hot Springs (Garland County) from a small village to major health resort. The town of Fordyce (Dallas County) is named for him, as is the Fordyce Bath House in Hot Springs. Samuel Fordyce was born on February 7, 1840, in Senecaville, Ohio, the son of John Fordyce and Mary Ann Houseman Fordyce. As a boy, he never liked school, but he attended Madison College in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and North Illinois University in Henry, Illinois, before becoming …

Foster, William Franklin (Bill)

William Franklin (Bill) Foster was a longtime and influential member of the Arkansas House of Representatives. Serving in the state legislature for over three decades beginning in the early 1960s, he was particularly well known for his work on behalf of senior citizens. Bill Foster was born on August 2, 1916, in Lonoke County. He was the oldest of three children born to Joseph R. Foster and Josephine Margaret Crutchfield Foster. Foster grew up in Lonoke County, graduating from Lonoke High School in 1934. In the midst of the Great Depression, he worked for the Arkansas Department of Transportation as a statistician for eight years. In 1943, with World War II raging, he joined the U.S. Army Air Force. Discharged in …

Frauenthal, Max

Max Frauenthal, a German immigrant noted for bravery in the Civil War, established an important mercantile business in Conway (Faulkner County). He was later known as the “Father of Heber Springs and Cleburne County.” Max Frauenthal was born on November 11, 1836, in Marienthal, Bavaria, Germany. No definite records of his parents’ or any siblings’ names are available. According to family history, his grandfather was called simply Meyer until the early nineteenth century, when the enactment of the Napoleonic Code required European Jews to take surnames; Meyer took Frauenthal, the name of a town south of Vienna, Austria. Max Frauenthal was fifteen when he came to the United States, eventually settling in Brookhaven, Mississippi. At Summit, Mississippi, he enlisted in …

Frazier, George Thomas

George Frazier was a well-known business, civic, and political leader in Hope (Hempstead County) for six and a half decades. He served as a close friend and advisor to prominent Arkansas Democrats, most notably two Hope natives: Bill Clinton and Mack McLarty. Frazier was also a key figure in the effort to preserve Clinton’s boyhood home in Hope as a National Historic Site. George Thomas Frazier was born on October 29, 1918, in Anderson, Kentucky, to Leonard Leigh, a machinist, and Faye Thomas, a secretary. Leigh left his family when George was two, and his mother married John Joseph Frazier, a construction worker from St. Louis, Missouri, in 1923. John Frazier adopted George, and the family lived in St. Louis …

Fulbright, Roberta Waugh

Roberta Waugh Fulbright took charge of the inherited, fragmented business holdings originally assembled by her husband and molded them into a multi-enterprise family firm. She emerged as an influential newspaper publisher, columnist, bank president, successful business owner, and civic crusader in Fayetteville (Washington County). Roberta Waugh was born on February 14, 1874, in Rothville, Missouri, to James Waugh, a farmer, and Pattie Stratton, a homemaker. She had three brothers and a sister who died in infancy in 1881. Waugh grew up in north central Missouri, attended the lower grades of public school in Rothville, graduated from high school in Kansas City, and attended the University of Missouri for two years to qualify for a teacher’s certificate. She taught in Chariton …

Fulkerson, Floyd Hurt, Jr.

Floyd Hurt Fulkerson Jr. is a highly honored veteran who served with the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II. The grandson of an Arkansas Civil War commander, he became a businessman and real estate developer in central Arkansas. Floyd Hurt Fulkerson was born on April 6, 1921, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), one of three children of Floyd and Georgia Fulkerson. Fulkerson’s maternal grandfather was Colonel George F. Baucum, commanding officer of the Confederate Eighth Arkansas Regiment during the Civil War. His elder brother, George Baucum Fulkerson, was a Rhodes Scholar from Sewanee University who served as a member of the Nuremberg Military Tribunal and prosecuted Nazi officers for war crimes. Fulkerson attended Little Rock High School, Sewanee …

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 …

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, …

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 …

Gleason, George

At age twenty-five, George Gleason left his new legal career with a prestigious Little Rock (Pulaski County) law firm and purchased control of a bank in Ozark (Franklin County). After forty years of his leadership as chairman and chief executive officer, what is now Bank OZK grew to be the largest bank in Arkansas. Publicly owned, it has been nationally recognized as one of the best-performing banks in the nation. The bank expanded to other states and became a major commercial construction lender in large metropolitan centers. George G. Gleason II was born on November 30, 1953, in Dardanelle (Yell County), the youngest of four children of George G. Gleason and Mildred Stewart Boyce Gleason. He has three sisters, Marcia, …

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 …

Greenway, John Campbell

John Campbell Greenway was well known for his developments in the mining industry and was also one of a handful of soldiers with Arkansas connections to serve with Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, First Volunteer Cavalry, in the Spanish-American War. John Greenway was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on July 6, 1872, to Dr. Gilbert Christian Greenway and Alice White Greenway. He had four brothers and one sister. When he was a young child, his family moved to Hot Springs (Garland County). He lived there long enough to complete grade school in the city’s public school system. At that time, his family moved to Alexandria, Virginia. He continued his education, graduating from Alexandria’s Episcopal High School. He then attended Andover Academy in …

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 …

Gulley, Ransom

Ransom Gulley was an educator, lawyer, entrepreneur, and politician who lived much of his life in Independence and Izard counties. Ransom Gulley was born on a farm near Raleigh, North Carolina, on January 24, 1839, one of at least seven children of John G. Gulley and Mary Gulley. Gulley was educated at home by a private tutor. In 1860, he studied law in Tennessee. In January 1862, Gulley enlisted in the Confederate army at Pocahontas (Randolph County), joining the Seventh Arkansas Infantry Battalion, Company C, also called Desha’s Battalion. When the battalion reorganized as the Eighth Arkansas Infantry in May 1862, Gulley was discharged. According to his service record, he reenlisted in March 1863 at Fort Caswell in North Carolina …

Gurley, Ottawa (O. W.)

Raised in Arkansas, Ottawa (O. W.) Gurley, whose first name appears in some sources as Ottaway, became one of the most prominent Black homesteaders and businessmen in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before leaving that state after the Tulsa Race Riot (also called the Tulsa Race Massacre) of 1921.  Ottawa Gurley was born on December 25, 1868, in Huntsville, Alabama, to John and Rosanna Gurley. His siblings included Calvin, General, John, Millie, and Pat. The family arrived in Arkansas around 1876. The 1880 U. S. Census shows the family living in Vaugine Township, Jefferson County, Arkansas. During this period, Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) began to educate students. Gurley completed courses in 1884 and was a student of Joseph Carter Corbin, a prominent educator in Arkansas.   Ottawa Gurley and Emma Evans married on January 25, 1888. The Arkansas Gazette …