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Abraham, Lucien

Lucien Abraham was an Arkansas educator and military officer who rose to the rank of adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard, serving in that position from 1953 to 1955. Lucien Abraham was born on February 1, 1902, in Arkadelphia (Clark County), the youngest of seven children of longtime Clark County sheriff James Howard Abraham and Lucinda Virginia Golden; he had the distinction of being born in the Clark County Jail. He graduated from Arkadelphia High School and entered what is now Ouachita Baptist University in 1918, where he earned letters playing football, baseball, and track, and served as a cadet major in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. He graduated in 1922. The U.S. Army denied him a commission …

Adams, Charles William

Charles William Adams served as a Confederate general in Arkansas. A planter and lawyer from Helena (Phillips County), Adams served at the Battle of Prairie Grove and later as the commander of the Northern Sub-District of the Confederate Department of Arkansas. Adams is sometimes cited as a Confederate general from Arkansas, but he never officially reached that rank. Adams is the maternal grandfather of Helen Keller. Charles Adams was born on August 16, 1817, to Benjamin and Susannah Adams in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved with his family to New Albany, Indiana, in 1819. Growing up in that city, Adams worked in a mercantile house before moving to Helena in 1835. He later became a cashier at the Real Estate Bank …

Adjutants General, Arkansas National Guard

The adjutant general is appointed by the governor of Arkansas to a state cabinet-level position as the director of the Arkansas Military Department. As the executive head of the Arkansas Military Department, the adjutant general is responsible for the command, control, and supervision of more than 10,000 soldiers and airmen assigned to the Arkansas Air and Army National Guard. The adjutant general is responsible for all military administration transactions between the United States and the State of Arkansas, including personnel, finance, logistics, and unit readiness. The adjutant general is responsible for training personnel and units to accomplish both the state and federal missions of the National Guard and performs all other duties pertaining to the office as prescribed by law. …

Alexander, John Hanks

John Hanks Alexander was the second African American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, following Henry O. Flipper. John Alexander was born on January 6, 1864, the son of James Milo Alexander and Fannie Miller Alexander, both of whom were born slaves. Supported and protected by prominent white families in Helena (Phillips County),  Alexander’s father prospered as a barber and dealer in toiletries, acquired property, and purchased his own freedom, as well as that of most of his family. Alexander’s parents were determined that their seven children would be educated. All seven graduated from high school, and three attended Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1879, Alexander graduated from high school in Helena at the head of …

Andrews, Christopher Columbus

As a Union brigadier general, Christopher Columbus Andrews distinguished himself in numerous military campaigns in Arkansas. After the Civil War, he had a successful career as an author and diplomat. Born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, on October 27, 1829, to Luther Andrews and Nabby Beard Andrews, Christopher Columbus Andrews attended Francestown Academy and studied law both privately and at Harvard University. Andrews passed the Massachusetts bar examination in 1850 and, soon thereafter, migrated to Kansas Territory, where he advocated for Kansas’s admission as a free state. Andrews moved to Minnesota in 1856, where he established a law practice and published a series of letters based on his travels throughout the territory. He discussed the area’s Native American culture and championed …

Antrim, Richard Nott

Richard Nott Antrim was a career U.S. Navy officer who received a Medal of Honor for saving the life of a fellow prisoner of war held by the Japanese during World War II. He moved to Mountain Home (Baxter County) after retiring and lived there the rest of his life. Richard Nott Antrim was born in Peru, Indiana, on December 17, 1907, the eldest of two sons and a daughter of the farming family of Nott W. Antrim and Mary Antrim. Richard Antrim entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1927, graduating on June 4, 1931. He married Jean Packard in Chicago on June 16, 1931, and they had a son and two daughters. Antrim served on U.S. …

Arbor, Jesse Walter

Serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Arkansas native Jesse Walter Arbor became one of the first thirteen African Americans commissioned as naval officers, known as the Golden Thirteen. Arbor served as a supply officer in various locations during the war. Born in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on December 26, 1914, Jesse Arbor was the fifth of twelve children of Alexander and Lenora Arbor. His father worked as a carpenter and appeared in the federal census as a farmer, taking on multiple jobs to provide for the family. Arbor attended Cotton Plant Academy while living in Arkansas, but the family moved to Chicago around 1929, and the children attended Catholic school. Arbor returned to Arkansas upon graduation from …

Asboth, Alexander

Born in Hungary, Alexander Sandor Asboth served in the Hungarian army and then in the Union army during the Civil War, commanding troops at the Battle of Pea Ridge. After the war, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Argentina. Asboth was born on December 18, 1811, in Keszthely, Hungary. He trained at the Academy of Selmecbánya to become an engineer. Asboth participated in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, serving as an officer in the effort to break away from the Austrian Empire and create an independent country. The revolution was ultimately unsuccessful, and Asboth first fled to Turkey and then immigrated to the United States in 1851. Asboth worked as an engineer and became a U.S. citizen in 1852. …

Bacon, Nick Daniel (Nicky)

Nick Daniel Bacon stands as one of three people connected to Arkansas to have received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Vietnam War. In addition, Bacon served for more than a decade as the director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, championing many programs for Arkansas’s veterans and playing an instrumental part in the erection of a memorial honoring all of Arkansas’s Medal of Honor recipients. Nicky Bacon was born on November 25, 1945, in Caraway (Craighead County), one of eight children. In the early 1950s, his financially struggling family moved to Arizona. Bacon dropped out of high school after the ninth grade to work but was inspired to do something else by his uncle’s tales of World …

Bacon, William Corinth

William Corinth Bacon was a decorated career U.S. Air Force officer who flew bombers in World War II and later led strategic bombing groups and nuclear missile wings during the Cold War. William Corinth Bacon was born on April 17, 1919, in Booneville (Logan County), the son of dentist William T. Bacon and Sallie Maxie Bacon. Growing up in Booneville, Bacon proved to be a promising athlete, but as war loomed in 1940 he turned down an opportunity to play baseball professionally—as well as an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York—to enlist in the U.S. Army as an air cadet. He trained at Kelly Field in Texas. Bacon married Doris Fox of San Antonio on …

Baker, Cullen Montgomery

Cullen Baker was one of the most notorious outlaws in the United States in the period following the Civil War. Following the end of his service, the former Confederate soldier along with a variety of followers preyed upon people of all ages with indiscriminate fury. Some termed Baker a psychopath, but whatever the label, he terrorized Arkansas and the neighboring western Tennessee and eastern Texas regions, claiming numerous helpless victims. His reign of terror only came to an end when he was killed in January 1869. Cullen Montgomery Baker was born in Weakley County, Tennessee, on June 22, 1835, to John and Elizabeth Baker. The family moved to Texas in 1839, ultimately settling in Cass County after Baker’s father received …

Bass, Raymond Henry

Raymond Henry Bass was an Olympic gold medalist, Gymnastics Hall of Fame honoree, and decorated World War II hero who rose to the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. Raymond Henry Bass was born on January 15, 1910, in Chambersville (Calhoun County) to Henry L. Bass and Maude Wise Bass. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1927 and was recruited for the gymnastics team. He was coached by Lou Mang, who had developed an innovative rope-climbing technique stressing rhythm and balance. According to an Olympics biography of Bass, he was a boxer and wrestler at the Naval Academy before joining the gymnastics team and was nicknamed “Benny” by his classmates due to a resemblance …

Baucum, George Franklin

George F. Baucum was a Confederate officer and a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman. He served in many major battles of the Civil War’s western theater, including at Murfreesboro in Tennessee and Chickamauga and Atlanta in Georgia. After the war, he became a prominent grocer, cotton broker, and banker who owned plantations in central Arkansas. George Franklin Baucum was born on February 1, 1837, in St. Charles, Missouri. He was the son of Daniel Baucum and Kathryn Baucum, both of whom were natives of Mississippi. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1851. Two years later, the Baucums settled in Searcy (White County). At the outbreak of the Civil War, Baucum was working as a grocer in Searcy. He joined …

Beall, William Nelson Rector

William Nelson Rector Beall served as a Confederate brigadier general from Arkansas during the Civil War. He most notably served as an agent for the Confederate government to raise funds to purchase supplies for Confederate troops held in Federal prisons. William Beall was born on March 20, 1825, in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Samuel Beall and Sally Rector Beall. Sally Beall was a member of the Rector family, which was prominent in Arkansas politics. The Bealls moved to Arkansas in 1840, settling in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Both of Beall’s parents died soon thereafter, orphaning him and his four siblings. Beall graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1848, ranking thirtieth in a class of …

Bennett, Harold George

Perry County native Harold George Bennett was a Green Beret serving in Vietnam in 1964 when he was captured in South Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war. He was executed on June 25, 1965—the first American prisoner of war to be executed during the Vietnam War. He was honored with a posthumous Silver Star in 2010. Harold George Bennett was born on October 16, 1940, in Thornburg (Perry County), one of nine children of Pauline Bennett and World War I veteran Garland Bennett. He was set on a military career from a young age, and on his seventeenth birthday in 1957 he quit school and went to Little Rock (Pulaski County) to enlist in the U.S. Army. Bennett …

Billingsley, Edward Baxter

Rear Admiral Edward Baxter Billingsley was a decorated naval officer and veteran of World War II who went on to a second career as a professional historian and expert in the history of the U.S. Navy’s role in South American affairs. Edward Baxter Billingsley was born on June 18, 1910, in Melbourne (Izard County). He was the younger of the two children of Edmund Billingsley and Hattie Baxter Billingsley and a great-grandson of former Arkansas governor Elisha Baxter. His father spent most of his life as a merchant in Melbourne, though he maintained a store in Batesville (Independence County) for a time as well. Edward Billingsley was educated in the schools of both towns, graduating from Melbourne High School in …

Black, John Charles

A Medal of Honor recipient for valor during the Battle of Prairie Grove and brevet brigadier general of volunteers, John Charles (Charlie) Black later served as a U.S. congressman and as the national commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Born on January 27, 1839, in Lexington, Mississippi, to the Reverend John Black and Josephine Culbertson Black, Charlie Black was the eldest of their four children. After Rev. Black died in 1847, Josephine Black moved her family to Danville, Illinois, to be near her brother James Culbertson. Soon thereafter, she married Dr. William Fithian. Fithian served in the Illinois state legislature with Abraham Lincoln in 1834, and Lincoln successfully represented Fithian in a lawsuit in 1850. …

Black, William Perkins

A Medal of Honor recipient for valor during the Battle of Pea Ridge, William Perkins Black later served as an attorney and gained national prominence as lead counsel for the legal team that defended the accused bombers in Chicago’s Haymarket Square Riot case. Born on November 11, 1842, in Woodford County, Kentucky, to the Reverend John Black and Josephine Culbertson Black, William Black was the second son of their four children. After Rev. Black died in 1847, Josephine Black moved her family to Danville, Illinois, to be near her brother James Culbertson. Soon thereafter, she married Dr. William Fithian. Fithian served in the Illinois state legislature with Abraham Lincoln in 1834, and Lincoln successfully represented Fithian in a lawsuit in …

Blagg, Thomas Elwood

Tom Blagg was a career soldier and intellectual with diverse talents. In two stints in the Vietnam War, he displayed courage and leadership that were especially evident in 1964, when he led his troops to victory in fierce fighting against a larger enemy force. As a professor at the U.S. Military Academy, Blagg taught cadets to write clear, coherent sentences and to appreciate literary masterpieces like Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. When the Pentagon needed a detail-savvy officer to organize a presidential inauguration parade, Blagg got the call. Along the way, Blagg befriended Colin Powell, who wrote fondly about their association in his memoir. They served together in the 1970s as colonels commanding brigades of the 101st Airborne Division. Later, …

Blunt, James G.

aka: James Gilpatrick Blunt
James Gilpatrick Blunt had several careers and titles during his lifetime, including doctor, ship’s captain, and major general of volunteers in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Blunt’s command saw fighting principally in the border region of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). In Arkansas, he led his troops to victory at the battles of Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Devil’s Backbone, Boston Mountains, and Van Buren. In 1864, Blunt’s troops were a part of the Union forces that repulsed General Sterling Price’s raid into Missouri. James G. Blunt was born in Trenton, Maine, on July 21, 1826. He was the son of John Blunt, a local farmer, and Sally Gilpatrick Blunt. The young Blunt satisfied his wanderlust …

Bolling, Raynal Cawthorne

Raynal Cawthorne Bolling was a lawyer as well as a pioneering aviator who led a mission to Europe during World War I to determine how the United States should pursue wartime aircraft production. Raynal Cawthorne Bolling was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on September 1, 1877, the son of Sanford C. Bolling and Ada Lenora Hart Bolling. His father was a businessman, and the family apparently moved frequently, with census records showing Sanford Bolling working as a superintendent of an Illinois life insurance agency in 1900 and as a real estate salesman in New York in 1910. The younger Bolling followed a more successful career path, graduating from Harvard University in 1900 and earning a degree from Harvard Law …

Bookout, Jerry

Jerry Bookout was a long-time member of the Arkansas General Assembly, where he represented northeastern Arkansas as both a three-term state representative beginning in 1967 and a state senator beginning in 1973. In a legislative career that spanned three decades, his emphasis was on far-reaching issues involving education, healthcare, and the military. Jerry Bookout was born on November 2, 1933, in Rector (Clay County) to Mary Mobley Bookout and Paul Otis Bookout. After attending Rector public schools, he enrolled at what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County), graduating in 1955 with a BA in history and political science. He was that year’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Distinguished Military Graduate, and, after being commissioned as an armor …

Borland, Solon

Solon Borland was a physician, editor, United States senator, diplomat, and military officer. He was the first Arkansas politician to be given a major diplomatic assignment, which eventually resulted in the destruction of a town in Central America, one of the earliest examples of U.S. gunboat diplomacy. According to an article in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Solon Borland was born in Suffolk, Nansemond County, Virginia, the youngest of three sons born to Thomas Wood Borland, a physician, and Harriet Godwin. Additional sources have his date of birth as August 8, 1811. His family moved to North Carolina by 1823. In 1831, he married Hildah (or Huldah) Wright of Virginia; they had two sons, Harold and Thomas. He …

Bradford, William

William Bradford was a major in the U.S. Army, a veteran of the War of 1812, an explorer, a Kentucky legislator, and one of the first brigadier generals in the Arkansas militia. He was the builder and the first commander of Camp Smith, later named Fort Smith, located at Belle Point at the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau rivers located in present-day Sebastian County. The old fort’s foundation can be visited today and is a part of the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Not much is known about Bradford’s early life. He was born in Virginia in 1771 and later moved to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where he held many county offices, including deputy sheriff. He was commissioned a captain …

Bradford, William Claude

William Claude Bradford served as assistant adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard and an officer of the 142nd Field Artillery in World War I. His service in the pre-war period was recognized with promotions and command assignments, and he played an active role in mobilizing the Arkansas National Guard for both the Mexican Border Campaign in the absence of the adjutant general and for service in France during World War I. Claude Bradford was born on June 3, 1885, in Lonoke County to Judge Henry Taylor Bradford and Martha Jane Wilson Bradford. The family had come to Prairie (later Lonoke) County about 1854 from Georgia. He attended Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) from 1901 to 1902 and …

Bradley, Thomas H.

Thomas H. Bradley was a planter, state legislator, and brigadier general of the Arkansas State Militia. Given his initial opposition to secession, however, he was unsuccessful with his command during the Civil War. Thomas Bradley was born on July 25, 1808, in Williamson County, Tennessee; records show he had perhaps five siblings. The son of farmers Thomas Bradley and Margaret Bradley, he became a merchant in Franklin, Tennessee. In 1835, Bradley joined the First Tennessee Volunteers to serve in the Second Seminole War. While in the military, he served as both a major and the regimental adjutant. In 1836, he moved to Crittenden County and became a planter. His holdings were located roughly eighteen miles upriver from Memphis, Tennessee. He …

Britt, “Footsie”

aka: Maurice Lee Britt
aka: Morris Britt
Maurice Lee “Footsie” Britt was an Arkansas native who rose to fame as an athlete, soldier, businessman, and state politician. He played football and basketball at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and then advanced to professional football, until the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the country into World War II. Britt became an exemplary soldier as the first person in American history to earn all the army’s top awards, including the Medal of Honor, while fighting in a single war. After suffering numerous wounds, including one that caused his right arm to have to be amputated, Britt returned to Arkansas and undertook a career in business management. Later in life, he served two terms as the …