Legislative Branch -- Representatives

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Entry Category: Legislative Branch -- Representatives

Norrell, Catherine Dorris

Catherine Dorris Norrell was the wife of Congressman William Frank Norrell and succeeded him in Congress, becoming the third woman in Arkansas history to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Catherine Dorris was born in Camden (Ouachita County) on March 30, 1901, to Baptist preacher Franklin Dorris and Rose Whitehead Dorris. The family moved from congregation to congregation in Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and Dorris attended public schools in all of those states, finishing high school in Monticello (Drew County). She attended Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) in Arkadelphia (Clark County) as well as the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), becoming an accomplished organist and pianist. Afterward, she taught in the public schools of …

Norrell, William Frank

Congressman William Frank Norrell served southern Arkansas and the entire state during an important time in the region’s economic and social development. He was the first World War I veteran to be elected to Congress from Arkansas. William F. Norrell was born in Milo, a small community in Ashley County, on August 29, 1896. His parents were farmers John H. Norrell and Elvie Richardson Norrell. He attended the local public schools and pursued higher education at the Fourth District State Agricultural School of Monticello (Drew County)—now the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM)—as well as at the College of the Ozarks (now the University of the Ozarks) at Clarksville (Johnson County) and at what is now the University of Arkansas at Little …

Oldfield, Pearl

aka: Fannie Pearl Peden Oldfield
In 1929, Fannie Pearl Peden Oldfield became the first woman from Arkansas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served from January 9, 1929, to March 3, 1931. While a member of the House of Representatives, Oldfield introduced twenty-eight bills, served on three House committees, and spoke in Congress on three occasions. Pearl Peden, daughter of John Peden and Amanda Hill Peden, was born on a farm near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on December 2, 1876. She attended Cotton Plant Grammar School and Batesville Public School. In 1891, Peden enrolled in Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville (Independence County) but withdrew before finishing a degree. In June 1901, she married William Allen Oldfield. The couple had no …

Oldfield, William Allan

William Allan Oldfield was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-first U.S. Congress and to the nine succeeding Congresses, serving from 1909 until his death in 1928. During that time, he served as a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means and was chosen as chair of the Democratic Congressional Committee, campaigning across the country for Democratic candidates and incumbents. He was reelected to the Seventy-first Congress, his tenth consecutive term, but he died before he could take office. After a special election, his wife took his place in Congress, becoming the first woman in Arkansas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. William A. Oldfield was born in Franklin (Izard County) on February 4, 1874, …

Parks, Tilman Bacon

Tilman Bacon Parks was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Seventh District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Seventh through the Seventy-Fourth Congresses, serving from 1921 to 1937. Tilman B. Parks was born near Lewisville (Lafayette County) on May 14, 1872, to William P. Parks and Mattie Douglass Parks. He received his early education in the local common schools before attending the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. Parks married Fay Newton on March 4, 1897, and they had a son and two daughters. He studied law and was admitted to the state bar in 1900, after which he opened a private practice in Lewisville. While still developing his practice, …

Peel, Samuel West

Samuel West Peel’s diversified career in Arkansas included roles as a businessman, politician, county clerk, Confederate soldier, lawyer, prosecuting attorney, congressman, Indian agent, and banker. In Benton County and Arkansas, he is best remembered as the first native-born Arkansan to be elected to the United States Congress. Sam Peel was born in Independence County on September 13, 1831, to John Wilson Peel, a farmer and merchant, and Elizabeth West Peel. He had two sisters. Peel was four years old when his mother died. His father left him with his grandparents and moved to Carrollton (Carroll County), making a home on Crooked Creek and remarrying. John Peel and his second wife, Malinda Wilson, had eleven children. As a youth, Peel worked …

Ragon, Hiram Heartsill

Hiram Heartsill Ragon was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fifth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Eighth through the Seventy-Third Congresses, serving from 1923 to 1933. He also served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas from May 1933 until September 1940. H. Heartsill Ragon was born in Dublin (Johnson County) on March 20, 1884, to Alfred Jackson Ragon and Anne E. Heartsill Ragon. (His congressional biography lists 1885 as his birth year, but his draft card, 1900 census data, and grave stone give 1884 as the year.) He received his early education in the local common schools and at Clarksville High School. He attended the College …

Reed, James Byron

James Byron Reed was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-eighth through the Seventieth Congresses, serving from 1923 to 1929. James B. Reed was born near Lonoke (Lonoke County) on January 2, 1881, to William R. Reed and Georgia A. Reed. He attended the local schools as well as Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) before ultimately graduating from the law department of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1906. He was admitted to the bar that same year and began a private practice. He also ventured into politics, winning election to the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he served in 1907. Reed was …

Reid, Charles Chester

Charles Chester Reid was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Fifty-Seventh Congress, but following redistricting, he represented Arkansas’s Fifth District in the Fifty-Eighth through the Sixty-First Congress. His overall tenure in the House ran from 1901 to 1911. Charles Chester Reid was born on June 15, 1868, in Clarksville (Johnson County) to Charles C. Reid and Sarah Robinson Reid. He received his early education in the local public schools before attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for three years. There, Reid won the annual debate medal, besting a son of U.S. Senator James D. Walker. Reid graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in …

Robinson, Tommy Franklin

Tommy Franklin Robinson made a statewide name for himself as a controversial Pulaski County sheriff, won a seat in Congress as a Democrat, switched to the Republican Party while in office, and then lost in a 1990 Republican primary race for governor of Arkansas. Tommy Robinson was born on March 7, 1942, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), an only child. His father, Hoover, was a fireman, and his mother, Esther, was a state worker. He grew up in the Rose City area of North Little Rock (Pulaski County), with future Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as a childhood friend. He later married Carolyn Barber of Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties); they have six children. Robinson graduated from the University of …

Rogers, Anthony Astley Cooper

Anthony Astley Cooper Rogers was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-First Congress, serving from 1869 to 1871. Anthony Rogers was born on February 14, 1821, in Clarksville, Tennessee. He received only minimal formal education and worked as a clerk in a dry-goods store from age fifteen to twenty-two. Looking for new opportunities, Rogers relocated to Arkansas in 1854, apparently settling in the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) area, where he bought land and slaves and joined the ranks of planters. With the possibility of civil war on the horizon, and supported by pro-Union forces, Rogers sought election as a delegate to the state secession convention in 1861. Although …

Rogers, John Henry

John Henry Rogers was a Civil War Confederate hero, a lawyer in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), a four-term Congressman, and a United States District Court judge for the Western District of Arkansas. John Rogers was born on October 9, 1845, in Bertie County, North Carolina. His father, Absolom Rogers was a successful planter and slaveholder. In 1861, when Rogers was fifteen years old, he became the drillmaster for a company of home guards, and in March 1862, he was mustered into Company H, Ninth Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers, as a private soldier. Rogers served in the same regiment until it was surrendered at Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 1, 1865. He saw a considerable amount of action and was twice wounded, …

Ross, Michael Avery (Mike)

A native of southwestern Arkansas, Mike Ross served six terms in the U.S. Congress from the Fourth Congressional District spanning the southern portion of Arkansas. Even as voters in his district became hostile to Democrats, Ross was able to maintain popularity in the district through a conservative persona and voting record. After leaving Congress in 2013, Ross became the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014. He was defeated soundly in an election cycle that marked the culmination of a sea-change toward Republican dominance in the formerly Democratic state. Michael Avery Ross was born in Texarkana (Miller County) on August 2, 1961, to Gene and Frances Ross, who were both public school educators. The family lived in a variety of towns …

Rust, Albert

Albert Rust—Confederate general, congressman, legislator, and lawyer—helped shape the course of Arkansas in the early years of its statehood. Rust served as an important figure in helping to build the communities of Union County. Rust was born in 1818 in Fauquier County, Virginia, near the Maryland border. His exact birth date is uncertain. In 1837, he made the trek from Virginia to Arkansas, settling on the banks of the Ouachita River in Union County. Soon after his arrival, he bought a few acres of land and a store house near the river. In 1838, he became a county surveyor, helping organize the untamed land into defined sections for sale. In 1839, the county seat was moved to Scarborough’s Landing (called …

Sawyer, Lewis Ernest

Lewis Ernest Sawyer was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Eighth Congress, serving only briefly in 1923. Lewis E. Sawyer was born in Shelby County, Alabama, on June 24, 1867, to Virginia L. Sawyer (maiden name unknown); his father’s name is unknown. He moved with his family to Lee County, Mississippi, where he received his early formal education in the local public schools. He graduated from the University of Mississippi at Oxford. Sawyer studied law and was admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1895. Soon afterward, he opened a private practice in Friars Point, a once prosperous town on the shores of the Mississippi River that had struggled …

Slemons, William Ferguson

William Ferguson Slemons was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-Fourth through the Forty-Sixth Congresses, serving from 1875 to 1881. William F. Slemons—a descendant of the family of Thomas Slemons, who was born in Perth, Scotland, and came to the United States in 1723, ultimately settling in Pennsylvania—was born on March 15, 1830, near Dresden, Tennessee, to J. B. Slemons and Elizabeth Slemons. After limited early formal education, he attended Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee. Slemons moved to Arkansas in 1852. While he briefly taught school in Hamburg (Ashley County), he also began the study of law, including some formal training at Cumberland School of Law in Lebanon, …

Snyder, Oliver P.

Oliver P. Snyder was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-Second and Forty-Third Congresses, serving from 1871 to 1875. Oliver P. Snyder was born in New Madrid County in Missouri on November 13, 1833, to Jeremiah Snyder and Elizabeth Randolph Snyder. He completed a basic course of study before moving to Arkansas in 1853. There, he continued studies in both science and literature as well as the law. He was soon admitted to the bar, opening a practice in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). As the Civil War drew to a close, Snyder, who had originally opposed secession, entered the political arena, winning election to the Arkansas House of …

Snyder, Victor F.

Victor Frederick Snyder served seven terms in the U.S. Congress representing Arkansas’s Second Congressional District. Snyder’s experiences in the U.S. Marine Corps, as a family physician, and as a lawyer have helped shape his career in government service. Vic Snyder was born on September 27, 1947, in Medford, Oregon, to Don Snyder, a bartender, and Marjorie Snyder, a bookkeeper. He has one younger sister. In 1965, Snyder graduated from Medford High School and enrolled in Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Two years later, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1967 to 1969, including one year in Vietnam. Returning to school, Snyder graduated from Willamette in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then went on to earn …

Tackett, Boyd Anderson

Boyd Anderson Tackett was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Eight-First and Eighty-Second Congresses, serving from 1949 to 1953. Boyd A. Tackett was born near Black Springs (Montgomery County) on May 9, 1911, to John Stark Tackett and Myrtle Sandlin Tackett. As a young boy, he moved with his family to Glenwood (Pike County). He attended Arkansas Polytechnic College (now Arkansas Tech University) in Russellville (Pope County) from 1930 to 1932, as well as Ouachita College (now Ouachita Baptist University) in Arkadelphia (Clark County) during the 1932–33 school year. He graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1935. Later that same …

Taylor, Chester William

Chester William Taylor was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Seventh Congress, serving from 1921 to 1923. Chester W. Taylor was born in Verona, Mississippi, on July 16, 1883, to Samuel Mitchell Taylor and Mary Bell Taylor. The family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 1887, and Taylor received his early education in the public schools. Upon graduation from high school, he studied law at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Returning to Arkansas after completing his legal studies, he worked in the wholesale lumber business for a number of years. From there, he embarked on a career in state government, serving as deputy state auditor from 1908 …

Taylor, Samuel Mitchell

Samuel Mitchell Taylor was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Third through the Sixty-Sixth Congresses, serving from 1913 to 1921. The oldest of ten children, Samuel Mitchell Taylor was born on May 25, 1852, near Fulton, Mississippi. His parents were Louisa Keyes Taylor and Clark W. Taylor, owners of a large successful plantation near Fulton. With the Civil War affecting the family’s finances, Taylor received what education he could in the local public schools before pursuing the study of law. He was admitted to the state bar in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he started a practice in 1876. Initially, he was associated with Judge W. D. Jones in the …

Terry, David Dickson

David Dickson Terry was a U.S. congressman for nine years. His most important contributions in that body were directed toward his home city of Little Rock (Pulaski County), where his family had a history of active involvement in political and community affairs. His work in the U.S. House of Representatives helped establish a series of Arkansas River dams. He is also remembered for his long association with local institutions such as the Little Rock Boys Club. Born in Little Rock on January 31, 1881, David D. Terry was the son of William Leake Terry, a lawyer and U.S. congressman, and Mollie C. Dickson Terry. He had two brothers, as well as a half sister born to his father’s second wife …

Terry, William Leake

William Leake Terry was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas from 1891 to 1901, beginning in the Fifty-Second Congress and extending through the Fifty-Sixth Congress. William L. Terry was born on September 27, 1850, near Wadesboro, North Carolina, to William Leake Terry and Mary Parsons Terry. Terry and his family moved to Tippah County, Mississippi, in 1857. After his mother’s death in 1861, he and his father moved to Pulaski County, Arkansas. Terry was orphaned by 1865 and became the ward of his uncle, Colonel Francis A. Terry, who provided for his education, first at Bingham’s Military Academy in North Carolina and then at Trinity College in North Carolina. He …

Thornton, Raymond (Ray) Hoyt, Jr.

Law professor Raymond (Ray) Hoyt Thornton Jr. was an Arkansas entrepreneur, lawyer, attorney general, U.S. representative, university president, and Arkansas Supreme Court justice. Thornton also played a key role in fashioning the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon concerning the Watergate cover-up. Ray Thornton was born on July 16, 1928, in Conway (Faulkner County), one of two children of Raymond Thornton Sr. of Sheridan (Grant County) and Wilma Elizabeth Stephens of Prattsville (Grant County). His parents attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) and eventually returned to Sheridan to live; Thornton’s father served as superintendent of schools for Grant County, and his mother taught at Sheridan. Thornton graduated from high school in 1945 at age …

Tillman, John Newton

John Newton Tillman was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Third District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Fourth through the Seventieth Congresses, serving from 1915 to 1929. John N. Tillman was born near Springfield, Missouri, on December 13, 1859, to Newton J. Tillman and Mary Mullins Tillman. The family moved to Arkansas when he was a child, and he attended the local common schools before graduating from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1880. Following graduation, Tillman taught school while also studying law. He read law in the office of Judge J. M. Pittman until Pittman was elected circuit court judge, at which point Tillman studied with local lawyers Holsinger and …

Trimble, James William

James William Trimble was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Third District of Arkansas in the Seventy-ninth through the Eighty-ninth Congresses, serving from 1945 to 1967. James W. Trimble was born in Osage (Carroll County) on February 3, 1894, the oldest of four sons and six daughters born to Allen Trimble and Ana McFarlane Trimble. He attended a variety of rural schools that operated on three-month terms, but he overcame this inconsistent preparation to graduate from high school in Green Forest (Carroll County) in 1913. He then worked his way through the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) as a janitor, receiving his degree in 1917. After graduation, Trimble taught history at …

Wallace, Robert Minor

Robert Minor Wallace was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Seventh District of Arkansas in the Fifty-Eighth through the Sixty-First Congresses, serving from 1903 to 1911. Robert Wallace was born on August 6, 1856, in New London (Union County), the second of three children of William Jonathan Wallace and Susan Wallace. His mother died when he was not quite four years old, and his father, a major in the Confederate army, was killed in combat in May 1864, leaving him orphaned at age seven. Living with extended family, Wallace received his early education in the local common schools, and he graduated in 1876 from Arizona Seminary in Louisiana. After studying law in Little Rock …

Warren, Edward Allen

Edward Allen Warren was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Thirty-Third and the Thirty-Fifth Congresses, serving from 1853 to 1855 and then again from 1857 to 1859. Edward A. Warren was born near Eutaw, Alabama, on May 2, 1818, to Robert H. Warren and Lydia A. Minter Warren. He received his early education in the area’s local schools, and he then studied law on his own. He married in October 1838, and he and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Warren, went on to have two children. He was admitted to the state bar in 1843, after which he began to practice law in Clinton, Mississippi. Like many young lawyers, …

Wilshire, William Wallace

William Wallace Wilshire was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Third District of Arkansas in the Forty-Third and Forty-Fourth Congresses, serving from 1873 to 1874 and from 1875 to 1877. W. W. Wilshire was born on September 8, 1830, in Shawneetown, Illinois, to William Wilshire and Mary Akers Wilcher (the spelling of the name seems to have varied over the generations). He was educated in the local schools before heading to California in 1852 to prospect for gold. He returned to Illinois in 1855, pursing coal mining and mercantile endeavors in Port Byron while also studying law. His was admitted to the state bar in 1859, but his legal career was interrupted by the …

Wingo, Effiegene Locke

In 1930, Effiegene Locke Wingo became the second of only four women from Arkansas to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served from November 4, 1930, to March 3, 1933. Wingo introduced eighteen bills and served on three House committees during her congressional service. Effiegene Locke, daughter of George T. Locke and Callie Blanche Dooley Locke, was born in Lockesburg (Sevier County) on April 13, 1883. She attended Union Female College in Oxford, Mississippi, but it is unknown if she graduated from this institution. In 1902, she graduated from Maddox Seminary in Little Rock (Pulaski County) with a bachelor’s degree in music. On October 15, 1902, she married Otis Theodore Wingo, a lawyer and banker who …

Wingo, Otis Theodore

Otis Theodore Wingo was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-third through the Seventy-first Congresses, serving from 1913 to 1930. Otis T. Wingo was born in Weakly County, Tennessee, on June 18, 1877, to Theodore Wingo and Jane Wingo. He received his early education in the local public schools before attending Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee; McFerrin College in Martin, Tennessee; and ultimately Valparaiso College in Indiana. Following college, Wingo taught school while he studied the law. He was admitted to the bar in 1900 and settled in De Queen (Sevier County), opening a legal practice there. On October 15, 1902, he married Effiegene Locke, and the couple …