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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 …

Earle, Fontaine Richard

Fontaine Richard Earle was a major in the Thirty-fourth Arkansas Infantry (CSA) from Cane Hill (Washington County). He fought in a number of Civil War battles in the Trans-Mississippi Theater and later served northwest Arkansas as a legislator (1866–1867), minister, teacher, administrator, and author. Fontaine R. Earle was born on January 9, 1831, in Pond River, Kentucky. His parents, Samuel Baylis Earle and Jane Woodson Earle, were farmers in Pond River; he had eight siblings. Earle received bachelor’s degrees in arts and divinity from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1858. He moved to Boonsboro (now Cane Hill) in 1859 to become president of Cane Hill College and a Cumberland Presbyterian minister. During the Civil War, he became engaged to …

Earle, Josiah Francis

Josiah Francis Earle was a landowner in eastern Arkansas who served in the Civil War as a Confederate officer. The town of Earle (Crittenden County) is named for him. Born on September 15, 1828, in Camden County, North Carolina, Earle was the second child of Josiah Earle and Nancy Lamb Earle. His father owned a number of trade ships operating in the Atlantic between the United States and the West Indies. At least one source lists Earle as serving during the Mexican War, although it is not clear if he actually participated in the conflict. He moved to Arkansas as a young man, settling in Crittenden County. He appeared on an 1850 listing of residents in Proctor Township, Crittenden County, …

Eberle, Edward Walter

Edward Walter Eberle was a U.S. Navy officer who grew up in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) before beginning a forty-seven-year career that saw him develop several innovations and rise to some of the highest naval posts. Two naval ships, the USS Eberle and the USS Admiral E. W. Eberle, have been named in his honor. Edward Walter Eberle was born on August 17, 1864, in Denton, Texas, to Joseph Eberle and Mary Stemler Eberle, who fled Fort Smith when Union troops threatened to capture the town in 1863. They returned to Fort Smith after the war, and young Edward attended school there before being appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in September 1881. After graduating, he served on the USS …

Edwards, Daniel Richmond

Daniel Richmond Edwards, a native Texan, received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War I. He also claimed a wide range of other adventures before moving to Arkansas and becoming a Lake Ouachita fishing guide. In its entry on Edwards, the Texas State Cemetery website states: “The events of Medal of Honor recipient Daniel Edwards’ life, from birth to death, are unclear. He was prone to embellishment, a trait most likely enhanced by his celebrity, and records from the time he lived are often incomplete, making many of his claims impossible to disprove and many true events difficult to confirm.” Daniel Richmond Edwards was born on April 9, 1897, in Mooreville, Texas, to Jefferson Dudley Edwards and …

Ellis, William

William Ellis was a sergeant in the Third Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment who received a Medal of Honor for gallantry in the January 14, 1865, Action at Dardanelle. William Ellis was born in England in 1834. After immigrating to the United States, he was living by 1860 in the household of woolen manufacturer Simeon Ford in Watertown, Wisconsin’s Third Ward. Ellis, then age twenty-eight, was a wool carder in Ford’s employ. After the Civil War began, Ellis enlisted as a sergeant in Company K of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry on October 21, 1861, eventually rising to the rank of first sergeant. The Third Wisconsin organized at Janesville on November 30, 1861, and mustered in on January 28, 1862. The regiment served …

Factor, Pompey

Pompey Factor was a scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. In 1875, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroic actions during the course of the Red River War. Factor was born in 1849 in Arkansas to Hardy Factor, a black Seminole chief and Indian scout, and an unknown Biloxi Indian woman. The descendants of runaway slaves and Seminole Indians, many black Seminole fought against the U.S. Army in the Second Seminole War (1835–1842). By the end of that conflict, most of them were captured and removed to the Indian Territory. The fear of enslavement, however, drove many black Seminole to migrate to Mexico in the 1850s. Factor’s family was among those who emigrated. Factor and …

Fagan, James Fleming

James Fleming Fagan was a politician and United States marshal from Little Rock (Pulaski County) who is best remembered for his service as a Confederate general. Fagan’s service to the Confederacy includes leading Arkansas troops at the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Helena, and the Action at Marks’ Mills. Born in Clark County, Kentucky, on March 1, 1828, James Fagan was the older of two sons of Steven and Catherine Fagan. The family moved to Little Rock in 1838, where Fagan’s father worked as a plasterer during the construction of the Old State House before his death in 1840. Two years later, his mother married Samuel Adams, who was a former state representative, current state senator, and future state …

Fernandez, Josie

Josie Fernandez was superintendent of Hot Springs National Park from 2004 to 2018—the first woman to lead the park. Fernandez served a total of twenty-five years in the National Park Service, with fourteen being spent in Hot Springs (Garland County). Under Fernandez’s leadership, Hot Springs National Park rehabilitated its historic bathhouses and founded community engagement programs such as the Artist in Residence Program. Josie Fernandez was born in Cuba in September 1956; she has one younger brother. Her family eventually fled Cuba for political reasons and immigrated to the United States when she was twelve, settling in Hialeah, Florida, in 1969. She became an American citizen on July 4, 1976. She spent one year at Miami Dade Junior College and …

Floyd, John Buchanan

John Buchanan Floyd was the governor of Virginia, secretary of war, a brigadier general in the Confederate army, and a lawyer and planter who lived in Arkansas for a period. John Buchanan Floyd was born on the Smithfield Plantation, outside Blacksburg, Virginia, on June 1, 1806. His father, John Floyd, served in the House of Representatives and as the governor of Virginia. His mother, Letitia Preston Floyd, came from a prominent Virginia family. Floyd was the oldest of twelve children. Floyd attended South Carolina College and opened a law practice in Abington, Virginia, in 1829. The next year, he married Sarah Buchanan Preston. The two adopted a daughter. In 1834, Floyd and a brother moved to Arkansas, purchasing a cotton …

Franks, William Joseph

William Joseph Franks was a U.S. Navy seaman who received a Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as an artilleryman in a Civil War battle at Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1864. He is buried in Maple Hill (Independence County). Little is known about William Joseph Franks’s early life, except that he was born in 1830 in Pittsboro, Chatham County, North Carolina. The 1850 federal census appears to include a reference to him as living in Chatham County’s Lower Regiment with a fifty-year-old woman named Rebuah Frankes and a seven-year-old girl named Emilin Frankes, though it lists William as a fifteen-year-old laborer rather than a twenty-year-old. Regardless, he was in DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) in 1863 and enlisted in …

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 …

Gantt, Edward W.

Edward W. Gantt became one of southwestern Arkansas’s leading politicians in the Civil War era. He pushed for secession in 1860, led Confederate troops in 1861–1862, and then abruptly supported the Union from 1863 to 1865. He promoted radical social, economic, and political change during Reconstruction as he led the Freedmen’s Bureau and Radical Republicans in Arkansas. Edward W. Gantt was born in 1829, the son of George Gantt, a teacher and Baptist preacher, and Mary Elizabeth Williams. He decided to become a lawyer and attended the 1850 Nashville Convention, which considered secession during the crisis over California statehood. Hoping to find opportunities in the booming Southwest, he moved to Washington (Hempstead County) in 1854. The Sixth Judicial District elected …

Gillam, Isaac Taylor

Isaac Taylor Gillam was an important African-American leader in post–Civil War Little Rock (Pulaski County). His service on the Little Rock City Council, the Arkansas General Assembly, and as Pulaski County coroner typified the strong interest black freedmen took in politics and elections for decades after the Civil War. Isaac Gillam was born a slave in Hardin County, Tennessee. His birth date is unknown, but based upon surviving documents, he was probably born in 1839. Little is known of his life until September 15, 1863, when he enlisted in the Union army at Little Rock, five days after the city fell to Union troops. Gillam served in Company I, Second Regiment, Arkansas Infantry (later renamed Company I, Fifty-fourth Regiment, U.S. …

Gillem, Alvan Cullem

Alvan Gillem served as a general in the Union army during the Civil War and in the Fourth Military District, which included Arkansas, during Reconstruction. He was involved in the process of establishing and approving a new state constitution for Arkansas in 1868 so the state could be readmitted to the union. Alvan Cullem Gillem was born in Gainesboro, Tennessee, to a farming family on July 29, 1830. The son of Samuel and Ruth Gillem, Alvan had two brothers and a sister. At the age of seventeen, he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Graduating in 1851 as the eleventh ranked student in the class, he received a commission as a second lieutenant in …

Gilliland, Charles Leon

Charles Leon Gilliland of Yellville (Marion County) died in combat at the age of seventeen and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in battle in the Korean War. Charles Gilliland was born on May 24, 1933, in the Colfax (Baxter County) to Leon Carl Gilliland, a farmer and construction worker, and Evangeline Margarite Martin Gilliland, a nurse’s aide. Gilliland was the second of nine children and the oldest son. The family moved to neighboring Marion County when Gilliland was a teenager. A country boy who loved to hunt and fish, Gilliland was fascinated by the military and police work. He collected military-related photographs and articles from newspapers and magazines and wore surplus military fatigues and a …

Gordon, Anderson

Anderson Gordon was a state legislator, Confederate officer, and participant in the Brooks-Baxter War. Anderson Gordon was born on February 13, 1820, in Maury County, Tennessee. The son of John Gordon and Nancy Tomlinson Gordon, he spent part of his childhood in Alabama and moved to Arkansas in 1839. The family settled about six miles north of Lewisburg (Conway County). When he was a child, his right hand was partially disabled due to a fever. Gordon engaged in a number of enterprises in Conway County, including store clerk, grocer, and farmer. He married Lydia Griffin on April 22, 1846, and the couple had ten children, three of whom survived to adulthood. In 1854, he obtained forty acres of land from …

Gordon, Nathan Green

Nathan Green Gordon was a naval pilot in World War II, Medal of Honor recipient, and lawyer. He served as lieutenant governor from 1947 to 1967, the longest tenure of one person in that office in Arkansas history. Nathan Gordon was born on September 4, 1916, in Morrilton (Conway County), the second of four children of Edward (Ed) Gordon Sr., a lawyer and one-time state representative, and Ada Ruth Gordon. Noted as “a boy who couldn’t pass up a challenge or a dare,” he showed excellence at a young age. Growing up in Morrilton, he attended public school through the tenth grade before finishing high school at Columbia Military Academy in Tennessee, where he played baseball and football and was …

Govan, Daniel Chevilette

Daniel Chevilette Govan participated in many of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War in Tennessee and elsehwere but lived into the twentieth century, following many career paths through his long life. Daniel C. Govan was born on July 4, 1827, in Northampton County, North Carolina, to Mary Govan and Andrew Govan, who served as a U.S. representative from South Carolina. In 1832, the family relocated to Marshall County, Mississippi, where the young Govan was raised. He received his primary education from private tutoring and then attended South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina). He left before graduating, for unknown reasons. Like thousands of other prospectors seeking their fortunes, Govan participated in the 1849 California gold rush alongside …

Green, Benjamin William

Benjamin William Green was a soldier, planter, mill operator, real estate agent, and advocate for Confederate veterans. Raised in South Carolina, he fought in a Georgia unit during the Civil War. He moved to Arkansas after the war and later served as commander of the Arkansas Division of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV). Benjamin Green was born on September 7, 1846, in Darlington County, South Carolina, to Judge James Green and Sarah Ann Green. He was a descendant of John James, an officer of the American Revolution. Green’s father was a planter, who, according to the 1860 census, owned twenty slaves ranging from age three to eighty years of age. His father was too old to fight in the Civil …

Greenway, John Campbell

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

Grider, John McGavock

Mississippi County native John McGavock Grider was one of a small number of U.S. pilots who served with the British Royal Air Force in World War I. Shot down in 1918, he is best known for an airfield named in his honor and the postwar publication of a version of his diary by a comrade who initially made no mention of Grider as the author of the account. John McGavock Grider, the only son of William H. Grider and Sue Grider, was born on May 18, 1892, at Sans Souci plantation near the community of Grider (Mississippi County). As a young man, he followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer. On March 29, 1909, he married Marguerite Samuels, with …

Gunn, Paul Irving “Pappy”

Paul Irvin “Pappy” Gunn was a Quitman (Cleburne and Faulkner counties) native whose innovative alterations to aircraft to increase their firepower played a significant role in the American victory in the Pacific during World War II. Paul Gunn was born on October 18, 1899, in Quitman, one of six children of blacksmith Nathaniel Hezekiah Gunn and Laura Litton Gunn. As a teenager, he became interested in airplanes after he read about the fighter pilots serving in Europe. He registered for the World War I draft on September 12, 1918. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the waning days of the war and served as an aviation mechanist’s mate, learning the technical skills he would later use in World War …

Hardee, William Joseph

William Joseph Hardee, known as “Old Reliable,” was one of the finest corps commanders in the Confederate army. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was the first Confederate general sent to Arkansas, where he organized a number of regiments. Hardee was already a well-known figure to officers in both armies because his manual on infantry tactics became required reading for a generation of officers during the Civil War. To quote Hardee’s biographer Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr., “It might be said that every officer of the war went into battle with a sword in one hand and a copy of Hardee’s manual in the other.” William Hardee was born on October 12, 1815, in Camden County, Georgia, the youngest …

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 …

Hathcock, Carlos Norman “Gunny,” II

Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Norman Hathcock II is believed to have attained the highest number of recorded kills in the history of the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Known to his fellow soldiers as “Gunny,” Hathcock had ninety-three confirmed kills as a sniper during the Vietnam War. Others have had more confirmed kills, but his actual total is estimated to be more than 300. He was also instrumental in establishing the Marine Corps Scout/Sniper School at Quantico, Virginia, and helped plan its syllabus. Carlos Hathcock was born on May 20, 1942, in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), the only child of Carlos and Agnes Hathcock. He was fond of firearms from an early age, playing with a non-operating war relic Mauser …

Hawthorn, Alexander Travis

aka: Alexander T. Hawthorne
Alexander Travis Hawthorn was a lawyer and Baptist minister who is best known for serving as a brigadier general in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Serving in the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters, Hawthorn led units at both the Battle of Helena and at the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry. Born on January 10, 1825, in Conecuh County, Alabama, Alexander Hawthorn was the son of the Reverend Kedar Hawthorn and Martha Baggett Hawthorn. Growing up in Wilcox County, he attended school at Evergreen Academy and Mercer University. Moving to Connecticut in 1846, he attended Yale Law School for the next two years. With the outbreak of war with Mexico, Hawthorn returned to Alabama, where he joined a unit of troops preparing …

Hendrix, James Richard

  James Richard Hendrix was a World War II veteran and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during that war. James Hendrix, the son of a sharecropper, was born on August 20, 1925, in the small town of Lepanto (Poinsett County) near Jonesboro (Craighead County). At an early age, he left school to work alongside his parents, Pearl Hendrix and James Hendrix Sr., on the family farm. In 1943, at age eighteen, Hendrix was drafted into the U.S. Army. After attending basic training in Florida, Private Hendrix was sent to Europe assigned to the Fifty-third Armored Infantry Battalion, Fourth Armored Division. Hendrix, along with his unit, waited out the Allied invasion of Normandy on a ship in the …

Herron, Francis Jay

Francis Jay Herron, a Union general, saw extensive service in Arkansas and Missouri during the early years of the Civil War. He later held various political posts in Reconstruction Louisiana before moving to New York City in 1877. He was one of four soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas. Francis Herron, the third child of John and Clarissa Herron, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 17, 1837. He enrolled in Western University but left in 1855 to join his three brothers who had established a bank in Dubuque, Iowa. Four years later, Herron created and became captain of a local militia unit, the Governor’s Grays. On May 14, 1861, …

Hill, Daniel Harvey

Daniel Harvey Hill was a Confederate general, professor, and president of what is now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), then called Arkansas Industrial University. Born on July 12, 1821 in York District, South Carolina, to Solomon Hill and Nancy Cabeen Hill, Daniel Harvey Hill was the youngest of eleven children. His father died four years later, and his mother raised the children with the help of her eldest son, William. The family owned a small plantation, and Hill grew up working the land. Entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1838, Hill graduated four years later, ranking twenty-eighth in a class of fifty-six. Originally assigned to the Engineer Corps, Hill instead served in the …

Hill, Thomas Lionel

Thomas Lionel Hill is a track and field star, who, as a student at Arkansas State University (ASU), was ranked number one in the world in the high hurdles by Track and Field News. After graduating from ASU, he claimed the bronze medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1972 Olympic Games. Tom Hill was born on November 17, 1949, in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of five sons of Mattie Hill, who was a domestic worker. He grew up in the Magnolia Housing Project and attended Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans. In high school, Hill participated in track and field, competing particularly in the high jump and long jump. As a senior, he took third place in …

Hindman, Thomas Carmichael

Thomas Carmichael Hindman was a prominent attorney and Democratic politician prior to the Civil War. In the crisis prior to that war, he was a major player in bringing about the state’s secession. He subsequently served in the Confederate army as a brigadier general, playing a prominent role in the defense of Arkansas and later serving in the Army of Tennessee. Thomas Hindman was born on January 28, 1828, at Knoxville, Tennessee, one of Thomas Hindman and Sallie Holt Hindman’s six children. His father was a planter and a federal agent for Indian affairs in Tennessee. In 1841, his father purchased a new plantation in Ripley, Mississippi, and the family moved there. Hindman went to local schools, and then, like …

Hodges, Jerry T.

Businessman Jerry T. Hodges Jr., who grew up in the Arkansas Delta, was one of a group of African-American men to serve as Original Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Approximately 992 pilots advanced through the segregated Tuskegee program, with over 450 seeing action in the war overseas. Hodges was one of the more than 500 who completed the training program but did not see action. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2012. Jerry Hodges was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 29, 1925, to Jerry Hodges Sr. and Mae Paterson Hodges. The family soon moved to Hughes (St. Francis County) and then relocated to a farm in Heth (St. Francis County). He attended the …

Holmes, Theophilus Hunter

Theophilus Hunter Holmes was a lieutenant general in the Confederate army and served variously as the commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department and commander of the District of Arkansas. After he failed to regain northwest Arkansas and saw failures at the Battle of Arkansas Post and the Battle of Helena, public confidence in his abilities evaporated. After a medical leave of absence, Holmes resigned his command of the District of Arkansas and returned to North Carolina to serve out the rest of the war. Theophilus Holmes was born on November 13, 1804, in Sampson County, North Carolina, to Gabriel Holmes, North Carolina congressman and governor, and Mary Hunter. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1829, forty-fourth …

Horner, Elijah Whitt

Elijah Whitt “Lige” Horner served in both World War I and World War II before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He was instrumental in the first use of Native American languages as military code, selecting the men who eventually became known as the Choctaw Code Talkers in France during World War I. Elijah Horner was born on May 19, 1893, near Mena (Polk County) to James Lafayette Horner, who was a farmer and real estate businessman, and Corah Elfleda Holman Horner. Horner was the youngest of the five children who lived to adulthood. His mother died when he was four years old, leaving him and his brother John to be raised by his older sisters—Mary Belle, Susan, and Oma. After …

Hovey, Charles Edward

Charles Edward Hovey was a major general in the Union army during the Civil War, serving as the Federal commander at the Action at Hill’s Plantation (a.k.a. Battle of Cotton Plant) and leading a brigade at the capture of Fort Hindman. While he served only briefly in Arkansas, Hovey was involved in these two major actions, which helped ultimately to secure the state for the Union. Born in Thetford, Vermont, on April 26, 1827, Hovey was the son of Alfred Hovey and Abigail Howard Hovey. One of eleven children, Hovey attended school until the age of fifteen, when he was hired as a teacher. After several years in the education field, Hovey worked as a lumberman before entering Dartmouth College in …

Howe, John David

John D. Howe was a career U.S. Air Force officer who helped establish vital supply and maintenance operations during World War II and the Korean War, ending his career as commander of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. John David Howe was born on July 24, 1906, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the son of Charles D. Howe and Lucy Rowland Howe. The family moved to Hot Springs (Garland County) by 1910 and to Conway (Faulkner County) by 1920, where John studied at Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas. Howe enlisted in the 153rd Infantry Regiment of the Arkansas National Guard when he was seventeen, leaving two years later to pursue aviation. By 1929, he was …

Johnson, George T. F.

aka: George Taylor
George Taylor F. Johnson received the Medal of Honor for valor while serving as an armorer onboard the USS Lackawanna during the Union navy’s operations against Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Following the Civil War, he was a resident of Paragould (Greene County). Details of George Taylor F. Johnson’s life are largely unknown; even his name is listed in multiple variations, including George Taylor F. Johnson, George F. Taylor Johnson, and George Taylor (the medal was awarded under the name George Taylor). Sources say he was born on November 15, 1830, but they vary on the location of his birth. Some sources claim Redditch, in Worcestershire, England, while other sources claim Watertown, New York. Johnson enlisted in the U.S. …

Johnson, James Madison

James Madison Johnson migrated to Arkansas shortly after statehood in 1836. He rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general in the Union army during the Civil War, was twice elected to the U.S. Congress (though he was never seated), and served as the state’s second Reconstruction-era lieutenant governor. James Madison Johnson was born in Warren County, Tennessee. The year of his birth is uncertain, with sources listing 1829, 1832, or 1833; however, 1833 is recorded on the headstone marking his grave, and December 8 is the agreed-upon day. He was the son of James Martin Johnson and Elizabeth Dunagin Johnson. In about 1836, Johnson and his family moved to Arkansas, settling in Madison County. He attended Arkansas College and …

Johnson, William J.

William J. Johnson became the first African-American general in the history of the Arkansas National Guard. Johnson served in the Arkansas National Guard for thirty-six years before his 2012 retirement. Brigadier General Leodis Jennings said of Johnson’s 2008 promotion to deputy adjutant general that it was “significant on three levels—he is the first African American General in Arkansas, the first African American Deputy Adjutant General in Arkansas and the highest ranking African American in the Arkansas National Guard. He routinely sets the standard of excellence.” In 2010, Johnson was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, and three years later became a member of the Arkansas National Guard Officer Candidate School (OCS) Hall of Fame. William J. Johnson was …

Johnston, Leroy Alfred

Leroy Alfred Johnston was a World War I veteran who received the Croix de Guerre and who posthumously received the Purple Heart in 2018 after it was discovered that his service records had been deliberately altered. He and his three brothers were murdered during the Elaine Massacre of 1919. Leroy Alfred Johnston was born on April 2, 1893 or 1894, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). In the 1900 federal census, Johnston’s date of birth was listed as April 1893, but on his military records, his date of birth was listed as April 2, 1894. Johnston was the son of the Reverend Lewis Johnston Jr. (1847–1903), who was a native of Pennsylvania, and Mercy Ann Taborn Johnston (1848–1927), a native of …

Kennedy, John

John Kennedy was a Union artilleryman who won a Medal of Honor for gallantry in the 1864 Battle of Trevilian Station in Virginia. He spent the last part of his life in Arkansas and is buried in Oakland and Fraternal Cemetery in Little Rock (Pulaski County). John Kennedy was born on May 14, 1834, in County Cavan, Ireland. Immigrating to the United States, he enlisted in the Second U.S. Artillery, Battery M, on December 16, 1857, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, committing to a five-year term of service. Kennedy had served during the 1858 Utah Expedition before the Civil War began and was involved in many actions with Battery M in the Eastern Theater during the Civil War. Kennedy and the Second …

Kindley, Field Eugene

Field Eugene Kindley, recipient of the British Distinguished Flying Cross and an Oak Leaf Cluster for the American Distinguished Service Cross, ranked third in number of aircraft downed for the United States Army Air Service in World War I. Working his way from National Guard volunteer to commissioned Army officer, Kindley commanded the 148th Squadron in France from August 1918 until the end of the war and totaled twelve confirmed kills. Field Kindley was born on March 13, 1896, in a rural area near Pea Ridge (Benton County) to George C. and Ella Kindley. The death of his mother prior to his third birthday disrupted the family, and shortly thereafter in 1898, his father left the country to become the …

King, John

John King was an Irish sailor who received two Medals of Honor during a twenty-six-year career in the U.S. Navy, though neither was for wartime action. King died in Hot Springs (Garland County) and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery. John King, a native of Ballinrobe in County Mayo in western Ireland, was born on February 7, 1862, to Michael King and Ellen Flannery King. He moved to the United States in 1886 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 20, 1893. King served his career below decks, beginning as a coal passer, before receiving promotion to fireman, oiler, water tender, and chief water tender, the latter being the petty officer commanding the boiler room. Perhaps the most-feared occurrence in …

Lee, Hubert L.

Hubert L. Lee, who lived in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) as a child, was a soldier in the U.S. Army who received a Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in battle during the Korean War. Hubert L. Lee was born in Arburg, Missouri, on February 2, 1915, the son of railroad fireman Charles Lee and Beulah Lee. Five years later, they were living in North Little Rock’s Ward 4. The family later moved to Leland, Mississippi, and it was there that Lee was inducted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He served with distinction, winning a Bronze Star and Silver Star for heroism in fighting in North Africa and Italy. Lee remained in the army and …

Letzig, Margaret Heller Himstedt

Margaret Heller Himstedt Letzig was the first Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) officer from Arkansas during World War II. She served from 1942 to 1943, achieving the rank of first lieutenant. Margaret Himstedt was born on November 4, 1898, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Henry Himstedt and Margaret Hickey Himstedt. Her father was the co-owner of Pfeifer-Himstedt Plumbing and Heating Company. Himstedt was educated in Little Rock’s public schools and graduated from Little Rock High School in 1915. She attended Trinity College in Washington DC, where she received BA degrees in English and chemistry. She later received a master’s degree in social work from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Himstedt worked as a medical social worker at St. …