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Entries - Entry Category: Individuals - Starting with D

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 …

Dodge, Grenville Mellen

Grenville Dodge was a Union officer who fought in Arkansas at the Battle of Pea Ridge. Throughout his life, Dodge was an engineer, soldier, politician, and railroad builder. Grenville Mellen Dodge was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, on April 12, 1831, to Silvanus Dodge and Julia Theresa Phillips Dodge. Dodge was admitted to Norwich University in 1847 and majored in engineering and military tactics, graduating in 1850. He married Ruth Anne Browne on May 29, 1854, and they had three daughters. Dodge and his family moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1855. Foreshadowing future endeavors in his life, in 1859, Dodge met presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln and they talked about railroads. In July 1861, Dodge joined the Union army; he was …

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 …

Douglas, Paul Page, Jr.

Brigadier General Paul Page Douglas, a Paragould (Greene County) native and an air force “ace,” was one of the most highly decorated fighter pilots from 1940 to 1970. In 1940, he joined the Arkansas National Guard, and he retired as commander of the 836th Air Division at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in 1970. The tactics he developed for the P-47 Thunderbolt during World War II made that plane one of the most successful fighter planes of the war. Douglas was born in Paragould on December 23, 1919, to Bess Douglas and Paul Page Douglas. His father was a conductor on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Douglas attended public schools in Paragould and graduated from high school in 1938. That fall, …

Dunnington, John William

John William Dunnington was a Confederate naval and infantry officer during the Civil War. After serving in the U.S. Navy early in his career, he joined the Confederate navy. He served for approximately nine months in Arkansas and took part in the Engagement at St. Charles and Battle of Arkansas Post. Dunnington was rare in that he held the rank of officer in both the Confederate army and navy during the war and served both east and west of the Mississippi River. John W. Dunnington was born on May 18, 1833, in Christian County, Kentucky, to Francis Dunnington (1798–1835) and Elizabeth Cobey Dunnington (1799–1848), both of whom were natives of Maryland. Dunnington’s brother, Francis C. Dunnington, served on Nathan Bedford …