Business Leaders

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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 …

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 …

Harding, Dexter

Dexter Harding was one of the early citizens of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and owned the first sawmill in town, providing lumber for the homes and businesses from 1850 to 1860. In the 1980s, his pioneer home was converted to a tourist bureau because it was the oldest house in town. He was a brother to Chester Harding, a well-known artist who painted a picture of Daniel Webster and the only painting done from life of Daniel Boone. Dexter Harding was born on July 8, 1796, in Massachusetts. He was the sixth of fourteen children born to Abiel and Olive Smith Harding. When he was ten years old, the family moved to Madison County, New York. They grew up poor. …

Harris, Carey Allen

Carey Allen Harris played vital, though scandal-plagued, roles in the history of early Arkansas banking and Indian Removal between 1837 and 1842. Carey Allen Harris was born in Williamson County, Tennessee, on September 23, 1806. His parents were Edith Perrin Harris of Virginia and Andrew Harris of Rowan, North Carolina. Much like William Woodruff, founder and editor of the Arkansas Gazette, Harris began his professional life as a printer and newspaper owner in Tennessee, when Harris and Abram P. Maury founded the Nashville Republican in 1824. (Harris went on to marry Maury’s daughter, Martha, and they had four children.) In 1826, Harris and Maury sold the paper to state printers Allan A. Hall and John Fitzgerald. In 1830, Congress passed …

Harrison, Marcus LaRue

Marcus LaRue Harrison organized the First Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (Union) and served as its colonel during the Civil War. After the war, he had a hand in a number of Reconstruction projects, including the reestablishment of Arkansas’s postal service, politics, and railroad promotion. The city of Harrison (Boone County) was named for him. M. LaRue Harrison was born on April 1, 1830, in Groton, New York, the son of Marcus Harrison, a Presbyterian minister and anti-slavery activist, and Lydia House. Because his father had to move often, Harrison’s childhood was spent in various locations in New York, Michigan, and Illinois. By 1850, he had settled in Nashville, Illinois, and married Rebecca Axley, the first of his three wives. The couple …

Hartz, Jacob, Sr.

Jacob Hartz Sr. was a pioneer in the soybean industry. His vision of the use of the soybean plant as a rotation crop in the nitrogen-depleted cotton and rice fields of Arkansas County led to the growth of a soybean industry that today is a $500 million cash crop in Arkansas, where 3.2 million acres are grown annually. Jacob Hartz was born to German immigrants George and Susanna Hartz in Racine, Wisconsin, on April 4, 1888. He was the third of eight children. After completing six years of formal education, his first work experience was as a clerk in a general store. In 1909, he married Mary Isabelle Smith, with whom he had eight children, and became an Arkansas sales …

Harvey, “Coin”

aka: William Hope Harvey
William Hope “Coin” Harvey founded both the resort of Monte Ne (Benton County) and the Ozark Trails Association, establishing him as a pioneer in the promotion of Arkansas tourism. Harvey was also the 1932 Liberty Party nominee for the president of the United States. Coin Harvey was born on August 16, 1851, on a farm near Buffalo, Virginia (now West Virginia), to Robert Trigg and Anna Hope Harvey. He attended the country schools and Buffalo Academy in 1865–67, and then briefly taught school. While teaching, he studied law and briefly attended Marshall College in Cabell County, West Virginia, in 1867. In 1870, he was admitted to the bar. Harvey began his law career in West Virginia but soon moved on …

Havis, Ferd

aka: Ferdinand Havis
Ferdinand Havis was born a slave but became an alderman, state representative, assessor, and county clerk, and was called the “Colored Millionaire” of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Ferd Havis was born in Desha County on November 15, 1846, the son of John Havis, a white farmer, and a slave mother. In 1859, Havis’s father moved his operations to Jefferson County. Havis received a little common school education and learned the barbering trade. Later, he owned a profitable barbershop on West Court Street in Pine Bluff. The shop later moved to Barraque Street. Havis married three times. His first wife, Dilsa, died childless in 1870. His second wife, Geneva, died on August 4, 1886; they had one child, Ferda. He married …

Henderson, Charles Christopher

Charles Christopher Henderson was a businessman and philanthropist in southern Arkansas long associated with Arkadelphia Methodist College, which in 1904 was renamed Henderson College in honor of Henderson’s service on the board of trustees and his financial support. The school’s former campus operates as Henderson State University in the twenty-first century. Henderson’s 1906 Queen Anne–style home in Arkadelphia (Clark County) was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, listed as the Captain Charles Christopher Henderson House. Charles Henderson was born in Scott County on March 17, 1850, the third of eight children of John Henderson and Margaret Mahalia Reed Henderson. The family lived in both Scott and Sebastian counties during his childhood. Henderson was fourteen years old …

Houser, Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte Houser was a prominent African-American physician, owner of the Black Diamond Drug Store, and investor in Helena (Phillips County) from 1901 to 1920. He came to Helena from Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Arkansas Delta’s population and opportunities grew, but returned to the place of his birth following the Elaine Massacre. N. B. Houser was born near Gastonia, in Gaston County, North Carolina, on February 14, 1869. He was the son of William H. Houser, a well-to-do brick mason and contractor, and Fannie Houser, a housekeeper and mother. The youngest of six siblings, Houser attended public schools in Charlotte and worked as a farm hand on his father’s farm until the age of fourteen, when he began to …

Huddleston, John Wesley

John Wesley Huddleston is best known as a struggling farmer who found two diamonds on the surface of his field near Murfreesboro (Pike County) in August 1906 and made himself and his state famous. Soon after the discovery, he was recognized as the first person outside South Africa to find diamonds at an original volcanic source. In the process, he also became the controversial subject of numerous folk tales. A native of Pike County, John Huddleston was born in 1862 to David Fielding Huddleston and America White Huddleston. He had seven siblings before his mother’s death in the early 1870s and gained three step-sisters after his father’s remarriage to Francis Carey. In 1886, Huddleston wed Sarah A. Keys, the mother …

Hunt, Johnnie Bryan “J. B.”

One of the most successful entrepreneurs in Arkansas history, Johnnie Bryan “J. B.” Hunt rose from humble beginnings to found one of America’s largest trucking firms, J. B. Hunt Transport Services. Today, his company is one of the largest employers in the state, with nearly 15,000 employees and a fleet of 9,688 trucks. The firm is consistently listed among Forbes magazine’s largest corporations. The son of sharecroppers, J. B. Hunt was born on February 28, 1927, in rural Cleburne County. He left school after the seventh grade to work at his uncle’s sawmill and eventually found other work picking cotton and selling lumber. In 1952, he married Johnelle DeBusk, and the couple went on to have two children. A year after their marriage, …

Hussman, Walter E., Jr.

Walter E. Hussman Jr., who is best known in Arkansas as the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a third-generation newspaperman whose family acquired a chain of newspapers stretching from Tennessee to Missouri. As publisher of the Arkansas Democrat, Hussman went head to head with the larger Arkansas Gazette and won the so-called Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspaper war in October 1991. He purchased the assets of the Gazette from the Gannett Corp. and began publishing the Democrat-Gazette. Walter Edward Hussman Jr. was born in Texarkana (Miller County) on January 5, 1947, to Walter E. Hussman Sr. and Betty Palmer Hussman and raised in Camden (Ouachita County) with his two older sisters. His parents moved to Camden in 1949 when …

Hutto, Terrell Don

Terrell Don Hutto was head of the Arkansas Department of Correction from 1971 to 1976, serving under Governor Dale Bumpers and later Governor David Pryor. Hutto arrived in Arkansas not long after the landmark Holt v. Sarver decision, which declared the entire state prison system unconstitutional. Hutto faced some controversy during his tenure, but he was largely successful in modernizing the state’s penitentiary and bringing it into compliance with federal prison standards. Hutto later worked as an administrator in the Virginia prison system and was one of the founders of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). T. Don Hutto was born on June 8, 1935, in Sinton, Texas, to Terrell Sanford Hutto and Winnie Elvenia Cusler Hutto. Hutto’s father, who …

Jackson, Joseph Walter (Joe)

Joseph Walter (Joe) Jackson was a talent manager best known as the father and manager of his children’s careers, including the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2011. Joseph Walter Jackson was born on July 26, 1928, in Fountain Hill (Ashley County). He was the oldest of five children of Samuel Joseph Jackson and Crystal Lee King. His father was a schoolteacher. Jackson remembered that his father was one of few African Americans in the area to own a car. The elite status earned his father the nickname of “Professor Jackson.” Much of Jackson’s childhood was spent in Arkansas. However, when his parents separated, he left Arkansas at the …

John, Mary

Mary John was born a slave under French colonial occupation, and after obtaining her freedom in 1840, she opened a hotel at Arkansas Post and became a prominent local figure. Mary John was born around the latter part of the 1780s. She may have been Marie Jeanne, whom Etienne de Vaugine bequeathed to his granddaughter, Pelagie, in his will dated September 1, 1794, at New Orleans, Louisiana (although the 1850 federal census lists her as having been born in Arkansas). Little is known about her early life. A bill of sale written in French by notary Andre Fagot at Arkansas Post on July 30, 1806, records that Marie Languedoc transferred ownership of a “creole negress” named Marie Jeanne to Jean …

Johnson, John Harold

John Harold Johnson rose above abject poverty and racial discrimination to build a publishing empire that helped forever change the perception of African Americans in the United States. Johnson Publishing Company became the largest African-American-owned and -operated publishing company in the world and launched Ebony and Jet, two very successful magazines that gave a voice to millions of black Americans. Born Johnny Johnson on January 19, 1918, in Arkansas City (Desha County) to Leroy Johnson and Gertrude Jenkins Johnson, a cook in a Mississippi River levee camp, Johnson was a third-generation descendent of slaves. After the death of Johnson’s father in a sawmill accident when Johnson was eight years old, his mother married James Williams, who helped raise him. During a …

Johnson, Lycurgus Leonidas

Lycurgus Leonidas Johnson was one of the largest cotton planters and slaveowners in antebellum Arkansas. Around 1860, he built an imposing, seventeen-room Greek Revival mansion along the banks of the Mississippi River at his Lakeport Plantation in Chicot County. Lycurgus Johnson was born on March 22, 1818, the eldest of nine children born to Joel Johnson and Verlinda Offutt Johnson of Scott County, Kentucky. The Johnsons were among the most prominent families in early Kentucky. Johnson’s paternal grandfather, Robert Johnson, was a political, educational, and religious leader in the Bluegrass State; he had been instrumental in establishing Transylvania Seminary (later Transylvania University) at Lexington, the Rittenhouse Academy in Scott County, and the Kentucky Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge. One of …

Johnston, David Augustine Elihue

David Augustine Elihue Johnston, also known as D. A. E. Johnston or Elihue Johnston, was an inventor, a successful dentist and businessman, and a member of the National Negro Business Men’s League. He and his brothers were killed under mysterious circumstances during the time of the Elaine Massacre of 1919. D. A. E. Johnston was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), although sources differ as to the year. Johnston’s official date of birth is listed as May 1, 1878, on his application for a draft exemption with the Phillips County Local Exemption Board on September 12, 1918. On the 1900 U.S. Census, he was listed as being born in May 1881, but on his January 1910 marriage license, his age …

Jones, Harvey

Harvey Jones founded Jones Truck Lines and made it the largest privately owned and operated truck line in the United States. By 1980, Jones Truck Lines was traveling more than 100,000 miles a day, with forty-one terminals in fifteen states and 2,300 employees. Harvey Jones was born on August 19, 1900, just east of Springdale (Washington County) to farmers Taylor and Jimmie Jones; he was the older of two children. At age sixteen, Jones moved to Springdale, where he set up his first business venture, a mercantile store. Two years later, in 1918, when the railroad went on strike, Jones purchased an old Springfield wagon and two mules and began hauling goods between Rogers (Benton County), Springdale, and Fayetteville (Washington …

Jones, Maxine Temple

Maxine Temple Jones was a Hot Springs (Garland County) businesswoman during the period from 1945 to the early 1970s. A well-known madam with numerous political connections, she managed a lucrative brothel operation that catered to politicians, businessmen, and mobsters. She documented her life in an autobiography published in 1983 titled Maxine “Call Me Madam”: The Life and Times of a Hot Springs Madam. Dora Maxine Temple was born on June 15, 1915, in Johnsville (Bradley County) to David F. Temple and Maude Orr Temple. She had five brothers and one sister. Her father was a farmer and logging contractor. When referring to her early youth, Temple described herself as a “tomboy” who preferred spending time with her father in the …

Jones, Myra

Myra Jones was a political activist and governmental official as well as an entrepreneur in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the latter part of the twentieth century. Throughout two decades in elective office, Jones made a substantive impact on the direction of both Little Rock and the state, becoming the first woman elected to the Little Rock Board of Directors and later serving from 1985 through 1998 in the Arkansas General Assembly. Myra Lee Gutsche was born on March 8, 1936, near Belle Fourche, South Dakota, to Ernest and Edith Gutsche. She was raised on a ranch in Belle Fourche, which was north of Rapid City. She learned to drive a tractor at an early age and was active in …

Jones, Wiley

aka: Walter Jones
Walter “Wiley” Jones was one of the first wealthy African Americans in the South. Jones, a leading businessman, was an ex-slave who became a barber and a saloon owner. Wiley Jones was born on July 14, 1848, in Madison County, Georgia. He was one of six children of George Jones, a white planter, and Ann, a slave. His mother named him Walter after her doctor, but he got the nickname “Wiley” for being untamed and playful. In 1853, five-year-old Jones moved with his family to Arkansas. They settled on the former acting governor Richard Byrd’s plantation in Jefferson County, twelve miles north of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the Arkansas River. Shortly before George Jones’s death in 1858, he claimed …

Josenberger, Mame Stewart

Businesswoman and activist Mame Stewart Josenberger started her career as an educator but, after her husband’s death, assumed control of a variety of businesses. She also served as president of the Arkansas Association of Colored Women and was on the advisory board of The Crisis, the renowned publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in addition to involvement with a variety of local, state, and national organizations. Mame Stewart was born on August 3, 1872 (although some sources say 1868), in Owego, New York, to Virginia natives Frank Stewart and Mary Elizabeth Turner Stewart. After attending the Owego Free Academy in New York, Stewart earned a BA in education at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, …

Joshua, Ernest Parnell

Ernest Parnell Joshua Sr. was an entrepreneur and founder of J. M. Products, Incorporated, which grew to become the largest black-owned company in Arkansas. The multimillion-dollar manufacturer of ethnic haircare products was one of the largest in the country. Joshua was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. Ernest P. Joshua was born on November 3, 1928, in northern Pulaski County. He was the son of Morris “Mars” Joshua and Mable Byrd Joshua. His mother died during his early teen years, and he was raised by his father. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1946 at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri and was discharged in 1949. He married Thelma Lee Ready, a childhood acquaintance, that same year. …

Landers, Steve

Steve Landers is a businessman and philanthropist from Benton (Saline County) who founded Arkansas’s largest chain of automotive dealerships. In 2004, Landers Auto Sales, Inc., had the highest reported revenue among car dealers in the state according to business analysts Dun & Bradstreet. Steve Landers was born in Benton on September 23, 1953, to Bob and Bonnie Landers. He has two brothers. Reportedly, when Landers was five years old, he would walk to the Benton Courier office to buy newspapers using his allowance; he bought them for three cents each and then sold them on the street for five cents each. As a young man, he attended livestock and automotive auctions with his maternal step-grandfather, who taught him the art …

Lawhon, Jay Noal

Jay Noal Lawhon of McCrory (Woodruff County) was a star Razorback football player. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1944 but turned down the offer on doctor’s advice. During World War II, Lawhon served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. After the war, he taught vocational agriculture in Arkansas high schools and was a high school principal. He was the founder of Lawhon Farm Services, the 1988 Arkansas Business of the Year. In 1975, Lawhon and wife Lillian founded a non-denominational charity, the World Christian Relief Fund, Inc. (WCRF). Jay Lawhon was born on July 16, 1919, in Monarch (Marion County), a small hill community near Harrison (Boone County), to Thomas Jefferson and Sarah McPherson Lawhon. He was …

Linebarger, Clarence A.

Clarence A. Linebarger was the general manager and part-owner of Bella Vista (Benton County), a successful summer resort in northwest Arkansas, from 1917 to 1952. In addition to the day-to-day management, he designed most of the resort’s amenities, including more than 500 summer residents’ cottages, accommodating the owners’ specifications while preserving the natural landscape. C. A. Linebarger was born on August 17, 1889, in West Union, Indiana, to Samuel and Mary Linebarger. He was the third of three children. His family passed through Benton County later that year en route from Indiana to Crowley, Louisiana, where they became rice farmers. After his mother contracted tuberculosis, she asked her husband to take her to Bentonville (Benton County), because she was impressed …

Manning, Henry Grady

Henry Grady Manning was a leader in Arkansas’s hotel industry. The company he founded, Southwest Hotels Inc., continued his work after his death. Several incarnations of Manning’s legacy hotels still exist in the twenty-first century. Manning’s properties included the Albert Pike Hotel, Grady Manning Hotel, and Lafayette Hotel, all in Little Rock (Pulaski County), as well as the Arlington Hotel, Majestic Hotel, and Hot Springs Country Club, all in Hot Springs (Garland County). Manning made many charitable and civic contributions to Arkansas and was a member of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. Grady Manning was born on March 14, 1892, in rural Scott County. His parents were Dr. Henry Manning and Virginia …

Markle, John Lawrence

John Lawrence Markle was the perpetrator of a headline-grabbing crime in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in November 1987. The son of Academy Award–winning actress Mercedes McCambridge, Markle murdered his wife and two daughters before taking his own life on November 16, 1987. John Markle was born on December 25, 1941, in Hollywood, California, to Mercedes McCambridge and William Fifield. McCambridge was a radio actress who eventually moved into films, and Fifield was a writer. They divorced in 1946, and when McCambridge remarried in 1950, her second husband, film and television director Fletcher Markle, adopted the boy. John Markle was eight when his mother, who would become known to a later generation through her role as the voice of the demon …

Massey, Mary Elizabeth Smith

Mary Elizabeth Smith Massey—businesswoman, public official, and civic and political leader—was a woman with an average, middle-class, mountain background, meaning her family neither depended upon subsistence farming, sharecropping, or seasonal labor in the Arkansas River bottoms, nor did they have a big store in the county seat or hundreds of acres let to sharecroppers. She became an early Arkansas female success story in the period from 1920 to 1930, when Arkansas women were just beginning to assume prominence in state and national life. In the 1950s, she reaped the results of her early endeavors by serving as Worthy Grand Matron of the Arkansas Order of the Eastern Star and by being admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. …

Matthews, Justin, Sr.

Justin Matthews Sr. was a prominent Arkansas businessman, real estate developer, and community leader best known for his role in the development of the North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Sherwood (Pulaski County) areas. Justin Matthews was born on a farm near Monticello (Drew County) to Samuel James Matthews and Anna Wilson Matthews on December 23, 1875. The Matthewses were a very wealthy family in Drew County, as Samuel Matthews owned a law firm, a large nursery, and a fruit business. Samuel Matthews also served as Drew County judge and encouraged his son to study law, but Justin Matthews decided to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Matthews married Mary Agnes Somers in 1901; they had three children. Around that …

McAllister, James Thomas (Tom)

James Thomas (Tom) McAllister Sr., a longtime resident of Gurdon (Clark County), was an early twentieth-century southern Arkansas lumberman. In addition to selling lumber, he was a Knight Templar, a 33rd Degree Mason, a Shriner, a member of the Gurdon Chamber of Commerce, president of two Rotary Clubs, and the 1951 winner of the District Scouter Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Tom McAllister was born on May 28, 1899, near Diehlstadt, Missouri, to Alexander Jackson McAllister and Addie Caroline Reynolds McAllister. His mother died shortly after his birth, so he was raised by his grandparents, who were tenant farmers in southeastern Missouri. McAllister attended school through the tenth grade. His first job was working in Arkansas for the …

McCoy, Kerrin Lou Krouse (Kerry)

Kerry McCoy is an Arkansas entrepreneur who founded Arkansas Flag and Banner, Inc. (now FlagandBanner.com) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1975. McCoy is publisher of Brave Magazine and host of the radio show Up in Your Business, and she also drew wide acclaim for overseeing the restoration of the historic Dreamland Ballroom. Kerrin Lou Krouse was born on September 27, 1954, in Little Rock to Edwin Ormond Krouse and Sara Lee Rhea Krouse. Her parents met during World War II while her father was serving in the military and had married in Walla Walla, Washington. After the war, the couple moved to Little Rock and had three children. There, Ed Krouse dabbled in many small businesses. The family moved …

McDonnell, James Smith, Jr.

James Smith McDonnell Jr. was one of the most significant aerospace industrialists of the twentieth century, building McDonnell-Douglas into the second largest military and commercial aviation corporation in the United States. James McDonnell was born on April 9, 1899, in Denver, Colorado, to James Smith McDonnell Sr. and Susie Belle McDonnell. The youngest of four McDonnell children, he was raised in central Arkansas, graduating from Little Rock High School (later Central High School). He spent his childhood in Altheimer (Jefferson County), where his parents had one of their two mercantile stores. Although McDonnell initially leaned toward a career in politics, his father encouraged him to pursue a career more suited to his personality. Completing his BS in physics with honors …

McIntosh, Robert “Say”

Robert “Say” McIntosh is a restaurant owner, political activist, and community organizer distinctly tied to the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area and Arkansas politics. A political gadfly during the 1980s and 1990s, McIntosh was responsible for many political protests that were statewide news during the time. Say McIntosh was born in 1943 in Osceola (Mississippi County), the fifth of eleven children. In 1949, he and his family moved to the Granite Mountain area of Little Rock. McIntosh attended Horace Mann High School but dropped out in the tenth grade. He spent much of his early life learning the restaurant business, which led him to establish his own eatery, serving home-style cooking and his famous sweet potato pie. “The Sweet Potato …

Merrell, Henry

Henry Merrell of New York was both an industrialist and an evangelical who contributed to the development of Arkansas and Georgia. He has been credited with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Arkansas, and he also served the state as a Confederate major and as an effective Presbyterian elder. Henry Merrell was born in Utica, New York, on December 8, 1816, to Andrew Merrell, an influential printer, and Harriet Camp Merrell; he had two brothers and two sisters. Merrell began working at the Oneida textile factory in Whitesboro, New York, when he was fourteen. He participated in the religious movement of “The Second Great Awakening” and attended the abolitionist Oneida Institute in Whitesboro. Concerning his 1856 arrival in Arkansas, …

Miller, Abraham Hugo

The Reverend Abraham Hugo Miller was an African-American businessman, a legislator during Reconstruction, and a church and educational leader in Helena (Phillips County). During Reconstruction, he served in the Arkansas General Assembly as a representative from Phillips County. At the peak of his business operations, he was considered the wealthiest black man in Arkansas. Abraham Miller was born a slave in Colt (St. Francis County) on March 12, 1849. He was the son of Boyer Miller, who was born in Virginia in 1827; the name of his mother is unknown, though his stepmother was Henrietta Miller. During the Civil War, Miller moved with his mother to Helena. Like his father, he became a drayman, which involved hauling cotton, flour, meat, …

Miller, Eliza Ann Ross

Eliza Ann Ross Miller was an African-American businesswoman and educator, as well as the first woman to build and operate a movie theater in Arkansas. She was the wife of prosperous Helena (Phillips County) businessman, state legislator, and church leader Abraham Hugo Miller. After her husband’s death, she continued his business operations while also providing leadership in the Helena school system. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Eliza Ross was born in Arkadelphia (Clark County) on September 6, 1869, to George and Sarah Ross. On June 15, 1887, she married Abraham H. Miller in Arkadelphia. The couple had eight children, five of whom survived into adulthood. Abraham Miller, who had been successful in real …

Mullins, David Wiley, Jr.

David Wiley Mullins Jr. was a prominent economist whose professional experience includes stints working in both the Department of the Treasury and as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, as well as in the private sector. David W. Mullins Jr. was born on April 28, 1946, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was one of three children of David Wiley Mullins, who was a longtime educator, and Eula Elizabeth Harrell Mullins. Mullins’s family lived in Alabama, where his father worked for Auburn University. In 1960, his father became president of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), and David Mullins Jr. attended high school in Fayetteville, graduating from Fayetteville High School in 1964. Mullins earned a BS …

Murphy, Charles H., Jr.

Charles Haywood Murphy Jr. became the leader of his family businesses in 1941 at the age of twenty-one after his father suffered a stroke. Under his leadership, the family ownership of timber land, oil interests, and banking in southern Arkansas eventually became the Murphy Oil Corporation, a company with international operations. Charles H. Murphy Jr. was born in El Dorado (Union County) on March 6, 1920, to Charles Haywood Murphy Sr. and Bertie Wilson Murphy. He had three sisters. In 1904, his father moved to El Dorado (Union County) to operate a bank and, by 1907, owned thirteen banks in Arkansas and the Indian Territory. Subsequently, he built a sawmill at Cargile (Union County), south of El Dorado, and then …

Nash, Bob J.

Bob J. Nash is a businessman and consultant who has assisted political, corporate, and nonprofit organizations. Most notably, he served in the administration of Governor Bill Clinton in the 1980s and then was part of the administration of President Clinton in the 1990s. Bob Nash was born on September 26, 1947, in Texarkana (Miller County). He graduated from Washington High School in Texarkana and then earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1969. Nash went on to receive a master’s degree in urban studies from Howard University in Washington DC in 1972. For the next two years, Nash held jobs in municipal government in Washington and in Fairfax, Virginia. Returning …