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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, 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 …

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 …

Bunch, Bradley

Bradley Bunch was a longtime Arkansas legislator, Carroll County judge, and the first historian of Carroll County. In addition, he is known as the fourth-great uncle of Barack Hussein Obama, the forty-fourth president of the United States, whom he markedly resembles. Bradley Bunch was born on December 9, 1818, in Overton County, Tennessee, the eighth child of Captain Nathaniel Bunch and Sally Wade Ray Bunch of Virginia. Between 1838 and 1841, his father, a “farmer-blacksmith-mechanic,” moved with his family in stages to Carroll County, Arkansas, settling on the headwaters of Osage Creek near Dinsmore in what subsequently became Newton County. Bunch’s sister Anna (1814–1893) married Samuel Thompson Allred in Tennessee prior to the move; this couple became the great-great-great-great (fourth-great) …

Bussey, Charles E., Jr.

Charles E. Bussey Jr. was the first African American elected to serve on the Little Rock (Pulaski County) City Board of Directors since Reconstruction, the first African-American deputy sheriff of Pulaski County, and the first African-American mayor of Little Rock. Charles Bussey Avenue in Little Rock was named for him in 2005, and he was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Charles Bussey—often called Charlie—was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on December 18, 1918, the eldest child of Annie Bussey and Charles Bussey Sr. Acclaimed author Maya Angelou, who also grew up in Stamps, recalled that her uncle gave Bussey a job in his store and taught him his multiplication tables and a love of …

Butler, Ben F.

aka: Benjamin Franklin Butler
Benjamin Franklin Butler served as mayor of Osceola (Mississippi County) for nearly three decades and was a well-known figure in civic and political affairs at both the state and county level. His tireless advocacy for economic expansion resulted in Osceola’s transformation from a small farm town into an industrialized small city. Ben F. Butler was born in Osceola on January 29, 1894, to Clarence E. Butler and Ada Bragg Butler. Upon completion of his education in 1913, he went into business for himself, first as a car salesman and later in the farm implement business, eventually establishing an International Harvester dealership known as the Ben F. Butler Company. In 1919, he married Irene Tidwell of Memphis and had two sons, …

Butler, Turner

Lawyer and jurist Turner Butler was a farmer and schoolteacher before educating himself in law. Butler practiced law for twenty years before being elected a chancery judge. He was a trial judge for fifteen years before he was appointed and then elected to the Arkansas Supreme Court, where he served the last nine years of his life. As a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1930, he wrote a sublime opinion establishing the precedent that the courts must stand in the way of corporations doing harm to land and streams in the pursuit of private profit or the alleged public good. Turner Butler was born on July 7, 1869, as Phillip Turner Butler, in the town of Poplar Bluff …

Cabe, Gloria Buford

Gloria Cabe was a major political figure in Arkansas from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. She was a member of the Arkansas General Assembly, and her close ties to Governor Bill Clinton would lead her to move to Washington DC following Clinton’s election to the presidency in 1992. Gloria Burford was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on September 15, 1941. She graduated from Pine Bluff High School in 1959. She went on to Hendrix College, where she earned a BA in French in 1963. Burford married Robert Cabe, a Hendrix classmate who would become a prominent attorney, and the couple had a daughter and a son. While raising her young children, Cabe became involved in the local community, …

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 …

Capitol Zoning District Commission

The Capitol Zoning District Commission (CZDC) is a state government agency created by the Arkansas General Assembly in Act 267 of 1975 to be a proponent of the historic preservation and development around the Arkansas State Capitol Building and Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Several historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places are located within the CZDC, including the Governor’s Mansion Historic District, the South Main Street Historic District, and several blocks of the MacArthur Park Historic District. The agency issues permits to those who want to alter the exterior of historic structures and regulates land use in those areas. The CZDC was created to address a transitioning neighborhood with declining residential use around the …

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 …

Caulder, Peter

Peter Caulder was born in Marion County, South Carolina, and was of African descent. The U.S. Army listed him as “a colored man.” In three U.S. censuses, he was categorized in race as “mulatto.” His life in Arkansas represents the success free blacks could achieve prior to their banishment by the state government. At the beginning of the War of 1812, seventeen-year-old Peter joined a state militia unit for three months. He was discharged without seeing any action in the war. When the British burned Washington DC in August 1814, Peter Caulder and his father, Moses Caulder, joined the Third U.S. Rifles and marched with the regiment to defend the capital. Four other Marion County mulattoes, friends and relatives of …

Chambers, Erle Rutherford

Erle Rutherford Chambers was a pioneering woman in Arkansas in the early part of the twentieth century. In addition to being the first woman to graduate from the Law Department of the University of Arkansas, she was also the first to be elected to the Arkansas General Assembly. Erle Rutherford Chambers was born in 1875 in Tennessee to Thomas Chambers and Henrietta Davidson Chambers. She had one younger sister. Little is known about her youth or when she came to Arkansas, but she worked as a teacher before moving into law. Chambers had become interested in the law as a secretary in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) firm of Moore, Smith and Trieber. She began her legal studies while still …

Clark, Moses Aaron

Moses Aaron Clark rose from slavery to become one of the most successful black Arkansans of his time. Elected as a Helena (Phillips County) alderman during Reconstruction, Clark became a lawyer and was one of Arkansas’s first black justices of the peace. After Reconstruction, Clark became arguably the most important black Masonic leader in Arkansas. For more than a quarter of a century, he led the Arkansas Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons, one of the oldest and most prestigious African American fraternal orders. He was also a major Masonic figure on the national stage. As a prosperous Lee County real estate owner, planter, and businessman during the post-Reconstruction era, for forty years, Clark reached statewide audiences through annual travels and speeches in …

Clayton, William Henry Harrison

William H. H. Clayton moved to Arkansas in 1864 and like his brothers, Powell Clayton and John Middleton Clayton, he was an important figure in the history of the state during Reconstruction. Most notably, he held the position of district attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. His home in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was made into a museum. William Henry Harrison Clayton and his twin brother, John Middleton Clayton, were born on October 13, 1840, in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Their parents, John and Ann Clayton, named the boys after the Whig presidential candidates William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. The twins, along with their older brothers, Thomas and Powell, lived on the family farm and received their education at …