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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 his …

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. …

Bacon, Nick Daniel (Nicky)

Nick Daniel Bacon stands as Arkansas’s only Medal of Honor recipient 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 War II. Despite being too young, he joined …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Brown, Jacob

Jacob Brown was an important but often overlooked figure in Arkansas’s territorial and early statehood period. He served as the chief disbursement agent for the Office of Removal and Subsistence and was the first president of the Arkansas State Bank. After Brown fought and was killed in the Siege of Fort Texas during the Mexican War, Fort Texas was renamed Fort Brown in his honor; the city of Brownsville, Texas, also bears his name, as does Brownsville (Lonoke County). Jacob Brown was born in Charlton, Massachusetts, on July 19, 1789. Brown’s father, also called Jacob, had served during the Revolutionary War against Great Britain, and his mother was Mary Wells Brown, also from Charlton. Brown served with distinction in the …

Burke, Lloyd Leslie “Scooter”

Lloyd Leslie “Scooter” Burke is among the most-decorated Arkansans to have served in the military. He served in the U.S. Army for more than thirty years and fought in three wars. He was wounded several times during his career and, in addition to receiving the Bronze Star three times and the Purple Heart five times, he received both the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s two highest military honors. Lloyd Burke was born in Tichnor (Arkansas County) on September 29, 1924, one of five children of A. D. and Betty Burke. In 1930, A. D. Burke was working as a foreman at a lumber mill in Clarendon (Monroe County). Lloyd Burke graduated from Stuttgart High …

Cabell, William Lewis

A talented and respected Confederate brigadier general, William Lewis Cabell performed most of his Civil War service in the Trans-Mississippi Department in Arkansas. He served several terms as mayor of Dallas, Texas, between the mid-1870s and mid-1880s. The exact meaning of his nickname “Old Tige” is not clear, but it may refer to his tenacity and stern discipline. William Lewis Cabell was born in Danville, Virginia, on January 1, 1827, to Sallie Doswell Cabell and lawyer and military officer Benjamin Cabell. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1850 and served initially as a second lieutenant in the Seventh U.S. Infantry. Following his promotion to first lieutenant in June 1855, Cabell served as regimental quartermaster …

Campbell, John

John Campbell was a Searcy County pioneer after whom the historic community of Campbell was named. He also served in both houses of the Arkansas General Assembly and was a second lieutenant during the Mexican War. John Campbell was born on May 9, 1806, in Warren County, Tennessee, to James Campbell and Lucy Howard Campbell. Campbell became a colonel in the Tennessee militia while still in his twenties; he was usually called Colonel Campbell by his friends and neighbors. On July 29, 1835, he married Ann Blassingame in McNairy County, Tennessee. Following the birth of their son Charles Henry Campbell on September 4, 1837, the family traveled by ox cart on a six-week journey across the Mississippi River and up …

Catterson, Robert Francis

Robert Francis Catterson was an officer in the Union army during the Civil War. Ending the war as a brigadier general, he led militia units in Arkansas after the adoption of the 1868 constitution. He also fought in the Brooks-Baxter War and served as the mayor of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Robert Catterson was born on March 22, 1835, in Beech Grove, Indiana, the son of Patrick and Sarah Catterson. His father died about five years after his birth, and Catterson was raised by his mother alongside his five siblings. He attended local schools and then Adrian College in Michigan and Cincinnati Medical College. Upon the completion of his studies, he opened a medical practice in Rockville, Indiana. Catterson joined …

Cecil, John

John Cecil was the first elected sheriff of Newton County. He joined the Confederate army at the beginning of the war and later led dangerous guerrilla units in northwest Arkansas. The Union army wanted to capture him badly enough to burn down the city of Jasper (Newton County), and they enlisted Cecil’s younger brother Samuel to help snare him. John Cecil was the eldest son of Joseph and Margaret (Buttram) Cecil, born on April 10, 1822, in Morgan County, Tennessee. He had three brothers and five sisters. Joseph Cecil and his family migrated to Arkansas prior to 1837 and settled in Carroll County, part of which became Newton County in 1842. Three of John Cecil’s uncles also migrated to Arkansas …

Chiles, Marcellus Holmes

Army captain Marcellus Holmes Chiles is one of twenty-one Arkansas natives to have received the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. He is also one of just three Arkansas soldiers to have received the award for his service in World War I. All three received the honor posthumously. Marcellus Chiles was born on February 5, 1895, in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). He was the oldest of three children born to attorney John Horne Chiles and Lillian Irene Hughes. It is not known how long the family remained in Arkansas after Marcellus’s birth, but by 1900, they were living in Denver, Colorado. Sometime after graduating from high school, Chiles enrolled at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, where he was …

Clark, Wesley Kanne

Wesley Kanne Clark is an Arkansas resident whose distinguished military career propelled him into the international spotlight. His consulting business, high-profile television commentary, and political aspirations sustain his involvement with the nation’s political leaders and processes. He obtained the rank of a four-star general during his military career and acted as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Europe, from 1997 to 2000. During his first political race in 2004, he was a Democratic candidate for president of the United States. Although unsuccessful in that race, he ran an effective campaign and ultimately turned his support to John Kerry’s bid. Wesley Kanne was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 23, 1944, the only child of Venetta and Benjamin Kanne. His father, …

Cleburne, Patrick Ronayne

Patrick Ronayne Cleburne became the highest-ranking Irish-born officer in American military history, attaining the rank of major general. He entered the Civil War as commander of the Yell Rifles, which became part of the First Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He became a drugstore owner and lawyer in his new Arkansas hometown of Helena (Phillips County) and was a delegate to the Democratic Convention in 1858. Pat Cleburne was born in Ovens, County Cork, Ireland, on March 16, 1828, at Bride Park Cottage to Joseph Cleburne, a doctor, and Mary Anne Ronayne Cleburne. He was the third child and second son of a Protestant, middle-class family that included children Anne, William, and Joseph. His mother died when Cleburne was eighteen months …

Coggs, Granville Coleridge

Granville Coggs was a pilot in the United States Army Air Corps and was one of the Original Tuskegee Airmen. He later attended Harvard Medical School and became the first African American to serve as staff physician at the Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, California. In 2001, he became a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Granville Coleridge Coggs was born on July 30, 1925, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Dr. Tandy Washington Coggs and Nannie Hinkle Coggs. The family later moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father was an educator who served as the president of Arkansas Baptist College from 1937 to 1955. Coggs attended Dunbar High School, graduating in 1942. Coggs took classes at …

Colley, Chad

aka: Ralph C. Colley Jr.
Chad Colley, a veteran of the Vietnam War, is a pilot, businessman, and advocate for disabled Americans. Colley lost both legs and the use of an arm in an explosion in Vietnam. He won two gold medals in the 1992 Paralympics and was recognized by Ronald Reagan for his efforts on behalf of Americans with disabilities. Colley has also been active in Republican Party presidential campaigns. Chad Colley was born Ralph C. Colley Jr. on May 13, 1944, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). His parents were Ralph C. Colley, a native of Arkansas, and Catherine Colley, a native of Oklahoma. His father served in three wars—World War II, Korea, and Vietnam—and was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, and Bronze …

Collier, Calvin Lawrence

Calvin L. Collier was a career U.S. Air Force officer who wrote several regimental histories of Arkansas Confederate units around the time of the Civil War Centennial in the 1960s and was one of the founders of the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas. Calvin Lawrence Collier was born on September 8, 1923, the youngest of the eight children of Robert E. Collier and Nettie Mae Pippin Collier of Dendron, Virginia. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in November 1942 and flew thirty-six missions in B-26 “Marauder” bombers during World War II as part of the 451st Bomb Squadron, 322nd Bomb Group, Ninth Air Force. Collier was badly wounded during one mission. He flew planes during the Berlin Airlift …

Collier, Gilbert Georgie

Gilbert Georgie Collier was an Arkansas-born soldier who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in trying to save the life of a comrade during the Korean War. Gilbert Georgie Collier was born on December 30, 1930, in Hunter (Woodruff County), the son of George H. Collier, who was a disabled veteran, and Ollie Collier. He had four brothers and a sister. By 1940, the family had moved to La Grue Township in Arkansas County. He married sixteen-year-old Peggy Connelly of Gillett (Arkansas County) on May 27, 1950. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at Tichnor (Arkansas County), as did another future Korean War Medal of Honor recipient, Lloyd L. Burke. Collier was serving as a corporal in Company …

Cook, Everett Richard

Everett Richard Cook was a Marianna (Lee County) cotton broker who became a World War I flying ace, a successful businessman, and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Eighth and Twelfth Air Forces during World War II. Everett Richard Cook was born on December 12, 1894, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Jesse Cook and Ollie Belle Everett Cook. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1899. After an education in the Memphis public schools, Cook got a job at the Dillard and Coffin cotton firm, where he learned about the cotton business. In 1916, with $1,000 he had saved, Cook moved to Marianna to run his own business from an office in the Bank of Marianna. “I was rather …

Cook, Gilbert Richard

Gilbert Richard Cook, born in Texarkana (Miller County), was a career U.S. Army officer who served in France in World War I and as deputy commander of George S. Patton’s Third Army during World War II. Gilbert R. Cook was born on December 30, 1889, in Texarkana, the son of attorney Joseph E. Cook and Mary A. Young Cook. He attended local schools but was drawn toward a military career, the result, perhaps, of being the grandson of men who had served in both the Confederate and U.S. armies. He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1908, graduating on June 12, 1912, after serving as a cadet sergeant and playing on the academy’s baseball and …

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 …

Cooke, Charles Maynard “Savvy,” Jr.

Fort Smith (Sebastian County) native Charles Maynard “Savvy” Cooke Jr. rose through the ranks of the U.S. Navy from academy cadet to four-star admiral during an extraordinary career spanning more than two decades and two world wars. He survived a sinking submarine; came under attack at Pearl Harbor; had shrapnel strike his helmet on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion; attended wartime summits in Casablanca, Quebec, Cairo, Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam; and stood on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to witness the Japanese surrender. Charles Cooke Jr. was born in Fort Smith on December 19, 1886, on the family farm of Charles Cooke Sr., a local attorney who later served as mayor and U.S. attorney, and …

Craft, Clarence Byrle

Clarence Byrle Craft, a native of California, received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Hen Hill during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. He moved to Arkansas after World War II and died in Fayetteville (Washington County). Clarence B. Craft was born on September 23, 1921, in San Bernardino, California, the son Louis E. Craft and Pearl Collins Craft. His father, a railroad engineer, died in an accident in 1929 or 1930. His mother worked as a cook in the Harvey House restaurant chain, which led her and her children to move frequently. When World War II began, Craft joined the U.S. Army at Santa Ana, California, and shipped out as a private first class in Company G, …

Crawford, William Ayers

William Ayers Crawford’s importance to Arkansas history stems from his service to the Confederacy and his participation in Arkansas’s postwar political crises, the most visible of which was the Brooks-Baxter War. William Crawford was born on June 24, 1825, in Washington County, Tennessee, the youngest of eleven children of William Ayers Crawford and Martha Blakely Crawford. His father was a farmer and breeder of fine horses; he died in 1834. Following his mother’s death in 1840, the orphaned Crawford left Tennessee with older siblings. After passing through Little Rock (Pulaski County) en route to Texas, they changed their original plan and made Saline County their permanent home, farming for a living. In June 1846, Crawford enlisted for service in the …

Crockett, Woodrow Wilson

Miller County native Woodrow W. Crockett served as a combat pilot in both World War II and the Korean War. Entering the service as an artilleryman, Crockett transferred to Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute as an aviation cadet and became one of the pilots of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. Crockett remained in the service of his country for twenty-eight years. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1995. Woodrow Wilson Crockett was born on August 31, 1918, in Homan (Miller County). Nicknamed “Woody” as a child, he was the fifth of six children born to school teachers William Crockett and Lucindan Crockett. He grew up in Texarkana (Miller County) and then lived with his sister in Little Rock …

Curtis, Samuel Ryan

Samuel Ryan Curtis was the Union general responsible for the victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge, the capture of Helena (Phillips County), and the repulse of Price’s 1864 invasion of Missouri and Kansas. Samuel Curtis was born on a farm in Clinton County, New York, on February 3, 1805, to Zarah and Phalley Yale Curtis prior to the family’s move to Licking County, Ohio. He married Belinda Buckingham in 1831. The couple had six children. A West Point graduate (1831), Curtis resigned his commission in June 1832. During his civilian life, Curtis served as an engineer for the Muskingum River and the Des Moines River improvement projects, the National Road, and the city of St. Louis, Missouri. Admitted to …

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 …

Darby, William Orlando

Brigadier General William Orlando Darby, born in western Arkansas, is best known for his organization of the First Ranger Battalion during World War II. He was known as an exemplary leader in combat, and he always led his men into battle. Bill Darby was born on February 8, 1911, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). His father, Percy Darby, owned a print shop, and his mother, Nell, was a homemaker. He had a younger sister named Doris. Darby attended Belle Grove School through the sixth grade and then went to Fort Smith Senior High School. After his graduation in 1929, he received an appointment to West Point Military Academy, where he served as a cadet company commander. He graduated from West …

Dark, John William (Bill)

John William (Bill) Dark was a bushwhacker in north-central Arkansas during the Civil War. From June 1862 to January 1863, he served as captain of Company A, Coffee’s Recruits, a guerrilla band that attempted to thwart Federal advances in northern Arkansas, as well as to conscript state troops. Dark soon gained the reputation as a cruel and ruthless plunderer who preyed on citizens of Searcy, Izard, and Van Buren counties. Bill Dark was born in Arkansas sometime around 1835. Most of his short and violent life remains shrouded in mystery, and what is known about Dark comes through oral history. He was apparently a handsome and literate young man with long red hair. In 1850, the first time his name …

Davidson, John Wynn

John Wynn Davidson was a United States army officer who led the cavalry contingent of the Union army that captured Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1863 and who subsequently feuded with Major General Frederick Steele about Federal policy in the state. John Wynn Davidson was born on August 18, 1824, in Fairfax County, Virginia, the son of William B. Davidson and Catherine Davidson. His father was a West Point graduate and veteran of the Seminole wars in Florida, and his grandfather was a general officer in the American Revolution. John Wynn Davidson followed his father into the army, graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1845. He served frontier duty in Kansas and Wisconsin before fighting in …

Davis, Herman

Herman Davis was an outstanding marksman who distinguished himself in the U.S. Army during World War I. General John J. Pershing listed Davis fourth on a list of the greatest heroes of World War I. Herman Davis was born on January 3, 1888, at Big Lake Island, which later became Manila (Mississippi County), the son of Jeff and Mary Ann Vance Davis. The family operated a country store and supplemented its meager income with hunting, fishing, and farming. Davis quit school after the fourth grade to help support the family. He grew up in the woods and became a hunting guide at an early age, thought to be in his teens. Davis was an accurate shot and in the period …

Dobbins, Archibald

Archibald S. Dobbins was a planter and a colonel in the Confederate army who spent most of the war leading cavalry units in Arkansas and Missouri. Archibald Dobbins was born in 1827, in Maury County, Tennessee, the son of David Dobbins and Catherine (Gilchrist) Dobbins; he had at least six siblings. His parents were farmers, and he grew up near Mount Pleasant, Tennessee. In 1850, Dobbins married Mary Patience Dawson. By the early 1850s, he had moved to Arkansas to establish himself as a planter. He purchased land in Phillips County, as well as land across the Mississippi River in Coahoma County, Mississippi. He became wealthy and established himself as part of the Helena (Phillips County) community. Dobbins did not …

Dockery, Thomas Pleasant

Thomas Pleasant Dockery attained the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate army, commanding Arkansas troops in a number of important engagements on both sides of the Mississippi River. He enjoyed a reputation as a gallant and aggressive commander. One private under Dockery’s command recalled, “It was one of Colonel Dockery’s hobbies to volunteer to take some battery or storm some difficult stronghold.” At his death, the Arkansas Gazette observed that Dockery “was a broad-gauged man. He was as brave and gallant a soldier as the Confederacy produced.” Born in North Carolina on December 18, 1833, to Colonel John Dockery and his wife, Ann, Thomas Dockery eventually moved to Arkansas, settling in Columbia County, where his father established a large …

Dodd, David Owen

During the Civil War, seventeen-year-old David Owen Dodd of Little Rock (Pulaski County) was hanged as a spy by the Union army. He has been called the “boy hero of Arkansas” as well as “boy martyr of the Confederacy.” His story has inspired tributes such as the epic poem The Long, Long Thoughts of Youth by Marie Erwin Ward, a full-length play, and even reportedly a 1915 silent Hollywood movie, which has not survived. Historical markers, monuments, annual reenactments of his execution, and the naming of the David O. Dodd Elementary School in southwest Little Rock are among the state’s recognitions of his life and death. David Owen Dodd was born on November 10, 1846, in Lavaca County, Texas, to …

Dorsey, Stephen Wallace

Stephen Wallace Dorsey was a soldier, a U.S. senator from Arkansas, and an entrepreneur involved with railroads, ranching, mail delivery contracting, and mining. Ambitious, smart, and handsome, Dorsey was a prominent and successful man throughout his lifetime. His achievements, however, were frequently surrounded by controversy and scandal. The son of Irish immigrants, Stephen Dorsey was born on a farm in Benson, Vermont, on February 28, 1842. He was the seventh of ten children born to John and Mary Dorsey. When he was a teenager, Dorsey and his family moved to Oberlin, Ohio. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Dorsey enlisted as a private in the First Ohio Light Artillery. He fought under generals James A. Garfield and …