Entry Category: Local

Adair, Benjamin Frank

Benjamin Frank Adair, born a slave in Phillips County, established a legal practice in central Arkansas in the late 1800s and was elected to the Arkansas General Assembly. There, he supported the Separate Coach Law of 1891 (a Jim Crow law requiring separate coaches on railway trains for white and black passengers)—the only black legislator to do so. His reputation was later damaged when he engaged in embezzlement and fraud. Benjamin F. Adair was born a slave in 1852 in the Silver Creek Township of Phillips County. His mother, Charlotte, a Virginia-born slave, was owned by Benjamin F. Adair Sr., a white planter and the father of Adair. After the passage of Act 151 of 1859, a law demanding that …

Agee, Sarah Edith Sonneman

Sarah Agee of Prairie Grove (Washington County) served as a state representative in the Eighty-second, Eighty-third, and Eighty-fourth Arkansas General Assemblies from 1999 to 2004.   Sarah Edith Sonneman was born in Fayetteville (Washington County) on January 2, 1946, to Gladys Margaret Gosnell Sonneman and Emil Herman Sonneman. Thiers was a prominent Washington County family. The Gosnells of Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) had the only bookstore in town, and reading was a prime concern for the family, which had no television. Her mother, who played the organ for the silent movies at the UARK Theater and Palace Theater and was the organist for more than fifty years at First Baptist Church in Fayetteville, was a field representative for the state Welfare Department. The Sonneman family built and operated seven movie theaters in the area, the UARK Bowl, and apartments near campus. Her father owned and operated the Fayetteville Country Club and Razorback Golf Course, supported community projects such …

Alford, Boyce

Boyce Alford was a well-respected optometrist who also had a long career in public service. Active at both the local and state levels, the conservative Democrat served in the Arkansas General Assembly for a decade, while holding various local offices for an additional twenty years. D. Boyce Alford was born on November 13, 1923, in Cove (Polk County). His first initial is something of a mystery, as his tombstone reads “Boyce Alford,” and there are apparently no records that reveal his full first name. He was the son of Thomas Franklin Alford, a one-time state commissioner of education, and Ida Womack Alford, also an educator. Boyce Alford grew up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and graduated from Little Rock Catholic …

Ameringer, Freda Hogan

Freda Hogan Ameringer was a journalist, Socialist Party official, and labor activist in Sebastian County; she moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during World War I. Her socialism, like that of most other Arkansas party members, emerged out of the Farmers’ Alliance and the Populist movement. She saw socialism as a fight against corporations, banks, and other concentrations of economic power that undermined the rights of the nation’s working people. Freda Hogan was born on November 17, 1892, in Huntington (Sebastian County) to Dan Hogan, who was one of the founders of the state’s Socialist Party, and Charlotte Yowell Hogan, who suffered from physical debilities. Her childhood home, which included three younger siblings, was a gathering place for socialists, feminists, trade unionists, and …

Ammons, Evelyn

Evelyn Ammons was county and circuit clerk for Scott County from 1979 to 1994 and served in the 80th, 81st, and 82nd Arkansas General Assemblies (1995–2000) as a state representative. Evelyn Ammons was born on October 2, 1937, in Scott County to Omer Brian Ammons and Maud L. Gimlin Ammons. After Ammons’s father died when she was eleven months old, she, her two older sisters, and her mother left the farm and moved in with Evelyn’s grandmother, Hattie Sedalia Nunn Gimlin. Her mother went to work on a Works Progress Administration (WPA) program to support the family. Ammons and her family moved to Waldron (Scott County) when she was in the first grade, and she attended public schools, graduating from Waldron …

Argue, James Buckingham (Jim) Jr.

James Buckingham (Jim) Argue Jr. became a political and religious leader in Arkansas in the later part of the twentieth century. He served almost two decades in the Arkansas General Assembly, along with a long stint as a leader in the United Methodist Church. Jim Argue Jr. was born on August 19, 1951, in Carthage, Texas, to the Reverend James B. Argue Sr. and Ann Bourland Argue. He grew up in eastern Texas, but the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was fourteen. After graduation from Little Rock Hall High School, he attended Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County). Argue graduated from Hendrix in 1973, earning a BA in history and political science. He and his wife, …

Atkinson, Willie Emmett

W. Emmett Atkinson was a farmer and teacher working in Arkansas in the later part of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. An active Democrat and local office holder, he became embroiled in controversy concerning his support for the American effort in World War I. Willie Emmett Atkinson was born on February 4, 1874, to Robert Atkinson and Eliza Ramsey Gordon Atkinson on the family’s farm near McNeil (Columbia County). He grew up in the Harrison Township of Columbia County; his father had been heavily involved with the development of the township. Atkinson taught school in Columbia, Lafayette, and Nevada counties from 1897 to 1916. Atkinson was often the only teacher in a school that might enroll …

Bandini, Pietro

Father Pietro Bandini is most widely remembered in Arkansas for the 1898 founding of Tontitown (Washington County), located in the northwest corner of the state, which he named after Henry de Tonti, an Italian explorer who established, with René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the first European settlement in Arkansas in 1686. However, the founding of Tontitown is but a regional capstone on a life spent working for the betterment of Italian immigrant communities in the nation. Bandini was born on March 31, 1852, in Forli, which is in the Romagna region of Italy. Little is known about Bandini’s family, described as of the upper class and refined. He is known to have had two older brothers, one of whom …

Barclay, Richard L. (Dick)

Richard L. (Dick) Barclay was a major figure in state and Republican politics in the last part of the twentieth century. Serving in both the Arkansas General Assembly and the executive branch, he became an influential governmental figure while also playing a substantive role in the party’s growth during that period. Richard Barclay was born on June 5, 1937, in Oberlin, Kansas, to John Francis Barclay and Margaret Ellen Bobbitt Barclay. Barclay grew up in Kansas and graduated from Topeka High School, where he was a member of the school newspaper staff. He then earned a dual degree in both business administration and social services from Kansas State University, graduating in 1960. Barclay married Janice (Jan) Forbes in 1960. The …

Barraque, Antoine

Antoine Barraque established the settlement called New Gascony, one of the earliest settlements in what is now Jefferson County. He also served as a government agent with the Quapaw, whom he guided to Louisiana in 1826 after the treaty of 1824, although his efforts to ease their transition to a new land were frustrated by other government officials. Antoine Barraque was born on April 15, 1773, in southwestern France. He was educated in Paris and served in the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte, fighting at the battles of Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Lodi, and Moscow. Following the end of Napoleon’s empire, Barraque relocated to Arkansas, arriving in 1816 at the age of forty-three. Living first at Arkansas Post, Barraque formed friendships …

Bell, Clarence Elmo

Clarence Elmo Bell was a prominent public school educator as well as a longtime, influential member of the Arkansas Senate. He announced his retirement just prior to the state’s adoption of constitutionally mandated term limits. Clarence Bell was born on February 1, 1912, in Camden (Ouachita County). The son of Joseph Dudley Bell and Dona Massengale Bell, he grew up in Camden and graduated from Camden High School, where he was a star athlete. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from what is now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU), where he continued to shine athletically. Graduating in 1934, he spent the following year working as assistant coach and Dean of Men at OBU. In 1935, Bell left Ouachita to …

Black, Pickens W., Sr.

Pickens W. Black Sr. was one of the most remarkable African-American agriculturalists in northeast Arkansas in the post–Civil War years. Although little has been written about his life, he is rightly entitled to appear in the annals of Arkansas history as an entrepreneur, community developer, philanthropist, and advocate for the education of black children in Jackson County. Pickens Black Sr. was born a slave about 1861 (no later than 1863) near Gadsden, Alabama. His mother, Mary Johnston, and her first and second husbands (the second was his father) were the slaves of a white plantation owner named Black, and they took the surname of their master. Black had an older half-brother, John V. Lee, from his mother’s first marriage. Black …

Blair, Peggy O’Neil Long Hartness

Peggy Long Hartness was a state representative from Monticello (Drew County), serving Drew County and parts of Cleveland, Lincoln, and Ashley counties in the Seventy-fourth and Seventy-fifth Arkansas General Assemblies from 1983 to 1985.   Peggy O’Neil Long was born on November 7, 1939, in Monroe, Louisiana, to Neil Carlton Long, who was a farmer who operated a small grocery store, and Vivian Geneva Shipp Long, a nurse at E. A. Conway Memorial Charity Hospital in Monroe. The family lived near the communities of Bosco and Fondale in south Ouachita Parish. She attended Logtown Elementary School and Ouachita Parish High School, graduating in 1957. In high school, she was editor of the school newspaper, team captain and all-state basketball player, homecoming queen, student council representative, class officer, president of the 4-H Club, and secretary of the Louisiana Junior Classical League, as well as a member of the National Honor Society, Latin Club, …

Bliss, Calvin Comins

Calvin Comins Bliss was in search of challenges when he and his new wife Caroline came to Arkansas from New England in 1854. He was involved in many business and other ventures including real estate, publishing, and politics. During the Civil War, he served for a time in the Union army, became the first lieutenant governor of Arkansas, and participated in establishing the new constitution that abolished slavery. His resourceful wife taught school and took care of the family, even traveling back across the front lines to New England in wartime. Calvin Bliss was born on December 22, 1823, in Calais, Vermont, the son of farmers William and Martha Bliss. He was the first of their four children. He attended …

Bond, Patricia Lee Parker (Pat)

Pat Bond of Jacksonville (Pulaski County) served in the Eighty-first, Eighty-second, and Eighty-third Arkansas General Assemblies from 1997 to 2002, representing District 64, which covers part of Pulaski County.   Patricia Lee Parker was born on August 6, 1938, in Gladewater, Texas, to Murray Parker and Lucille A. Lee, who was a professional dancer with Chester Hale Girls, a Broadway dance ensemble that toured nationally and appeared in short Mentone films. In 1942, they moved to Arkansas, settling in Lewisville (Lafayette County), where her grandfather owned Lee Dry Goods Store. She was educated in the public schools of Lewisville and later reflected that “growing up in Lewisville was the kind of experience that you would want every child to have.” In high school, Pat was a cheerleader and a majorette, class president, and a member of the National Honor Society and the school newspaper and yearbook staffs; in addition, she played basketball and acted in class …

Bond, Ulysses Scott (U. S.)

Prominent businessman and entrepreneur Ulysses Scott (U. S.) Bond, like his father and brothers, was a member of a small group of well-educated, wealthy African-American businessmen who encouraged the advancement of minorities. He grew up in a progressive family that provided him with the opportunity to achieve a level of success not typically found in the town of Madison (St. Francis County), and with this success, he encouraged the growth of the black community and economy in St. Francis County. U. S. Bond was born on August 1, 1897, in Madison. His parents were Scott Winfield Bond—a landowner, businessman, and notable resident of St. Francis County—and Magnolia (Nash) Bond. He was the tenth of the eleven sons born to Scott …

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 …

Borhauer, Shirley Ursala Czosek

Shirley Borhauer was a representative from Bella Vista (Benton County) in the Eighty-third, Eighty-fourth, and Eighty-fifth Arkansas General Assemblies, serving from 2001 to 2006.   Shirley Ursala Czosek was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 2, 1926, to Edmund Stanislaw Czosek, a screw machine operator at the Felt and Tarrant Manufacturing Company, and Clara Victoria Mindikowski Czosek, who was a Democratic election judge in Chicago’s Ward 26. She had one older sister, Phillis Mildred Czosek Black.  Czosek attended Chicago Public Schools and graduated from Blue Island High School in 1944. She worked in the office at the Dodge Chicago Aircraft Engine Plant, which made engines for B-29 bombers, and then entered the last class of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps and trained at the Little Company of Mary School of Nursing near Chicago. Graduating as a registered nurse in 1948, she worked at St. Francis Hospital and for the Chicago Public Health Department.  In 1949, she married William N. Borhauer Jr. and changed her political affiliation to Republican. After the birth of her daughter, …

Bratton, Ulysses Simpson

Ulysses S. Bratton was a prominent Arkansas attorney in the first part of the twentieth century. His advocacy on behalf of the state’s African-American population made him enemies in the white community, and in the early 1920s he left Arkansas and resettled in Detroit, Michigan, where he established a successful law practice. Ulysses Simpson Bratton was born on July 28, 1868, in Leslie (Searcy County) to Benjamin Bratton and Mary Redman Bratton. (He was probably named for General Ulysses S. Grant, as his father served with Union forces in the Third Arkansas Cavalry during the Civil War.) According to Fay Hempstead’s Historical Review of Arkansas, Bratton studied at Searcy County‘s public schools and at the Rally Hill Academy in Boone …

Broadway, Shane

Shane Broadway was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1997 to 2002, serving as speaker of the House from 2001 to 2002. In addition, he was member of the Arkansas Senate from 2003 to 2010 and interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education from 2011 to 2014. In 2014, Broadway was appointed vice president of governmental relations at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Shane Broadway was born at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton (Saline County) on August 30, 1972, to Charles and Bertha Broadway of Bryant (Saline County). He is the youngest of six children. Broadway attended Bryant High School and was designated an American Legion Boys State Delegate in 1989. Broadway …

Brooks, Millie Muriel Ward

Millie Muriel Ward Brooks was a long-time alderman in Wrightsville (Pulaski County). The new Wrightsville branch library of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) was named for her in 2013. Millie Muriel Ward was born on August 27, 1932, to Theodore Ward and Claudia B. Smith Ward, and she and her siblings lived with their parents in Wrightsville. She married Julius James Brooks Sr., and they had two children, Shanon and Tena. Millie Brooks entered politics later in life than is customary, besting two opponents to become Ward 2, Position 1 Wrightsville alderman in 1992. She apparently faced no other opponents for reelection during her tenure, and she died while in office on July 9, 2005. Her daughter Tena Brooks …

Brown, Irma Jean Hunter

Irma Hunter Brown of Little Rock (Pulaski County) served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1981 to 1998 and in the Arkansas Senate from 2003 to 2008. She was the first African–American woman elected to the Arkansas House and then became the first African-American woman elected to the Arkansas Senate.  Irma Jean Hunter was born on January 5, 1939, in Tampa, Florida, to Dovie Estoria White Hunter and Joseph Hartwell Hunter. She grew up in Forsyth, Georgia, where she attended segregated public schools and graduated from Hubbard High School. She moved to North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to attend Shorter College, received her associate’s degree in 1958, and then transferred to Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), where she was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and graduated magna cum laude in 1960 with a double major in history and government and a minor in education. She taught in the …

Brownlee, Christine Jackson

Christine Brownlee was mayor of Gilmore (Crittenden County) in 1987–1990 and again in 1997–2002, as well as a state representative in the Seventy-Eighth and Seventy-Ninth Arkansas General Assemblies, serving in 1991–1994 and representing several cities and towns in Mississippi County and a small portion of Crittenden County. She was the first African–American woman to serve as a Republican in the Arkansas General Assembly.  Christine Jackson was born in Jonesboro (Craighead County) on October 16, 1955, to Fannie Murray Wall Jackson, who was a homemaker, and Tom Edward Jackson, a farmer. She was the youngest of ten children. She began her education at the segregated George Washington Carver public school in Marked Tree (Poinsett County). When she was in the third grade, the family moved to Gilmore, near where her father bought a 120-acre farm, and she attended the segregated William R. Golden School in Turrell (Crittenden County). She was salutatorian of her sixth–grade class, a …

Bryan, Leon L. “Doc”

Leon L. “Doc” Bryan was an influential figure in the Arkansas House of Representatives in the final third of the twentieth century. A Democrat, he served for almost thirty years, his tenure ending with his death in office. Leon L. Bryan was born on January 31, 1920, in Coal Hill (Johnson County) to Arthur Hershell Bryan and Gertrude Elnora Jennings Bryan. Bryan grew up in Coal Hill and attended the local schools, graduating from Coal Hill High School in 1939. An outstanding athlete, he was a member of Coal Hill High School’s state championship basketball team. After graduation, he attended what is now Arkansas Tech University in Russellville (Pope County), where he earned letters in both basketball and track before …