Entries - 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 …

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 …

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 …

Bynum, Preston Conrad

Preston Bynum was a political leader in the later part of the 1960s into the early 1980s. In addition to his work in the Arkansas General Assembly, he also played a major role in the growth and development of a vibrant and competitive Republican Party in Arkansas. He later served prison time for bribery. Preston Conrad Bynum was born on June 8, 1939, in Pryor, Oklahoma, to Homer and Roma Bynum. He grew up in Siloam Springs (Benton County), where his father headed Bynum Motor Company. He was a 1957 graduate of Siloam Springs High School and was three times elected class president. In his high school athletic career, he earned three varsity letters in each of his four years, …

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, …

Caldwell, Creed Sr.

Creed Caldwell was a prominent attorney, as well as an influential figure in Arkansas politics in the first decades of the twentieth century. He served in the Arkansas Senate for almost two decades after building a prosperous and well-respected law practice beginning in the later part of the nineteenth century. Creed Caldwell was born on October 4, 1864, in the family home near Double Wells, about ten miles west of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). He was born to Matthew Caldwell and his second wife, Harriett Stribling Caldwell. As Creed Caldwell was born near the end of the Civil War, which had decimated the Caldwell family’s property holdings, he did not have the same educational opportunities his older siblings had had. …

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 …

Canada, Eugene “Bud”

Eugene “Bud” Canada was a longtime member of the Arkansas General Assembly, serving in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Over the course of his distinctive career, he became known as a passionate opponent of the state’s tax on groceries, believing that the tax placed an unfair burden on Arkansas families. Eugene Canada was born on June 6, 1925, in Hartshorne, Oklahoma, to Laura Inez Canada and William Canada. “Bud,” as he was known, grew up in Hot Springs (Garland County). He sold newspapers while in high school, where he was an accomplished athlete, starring for the Hot Springs High School football team and winning the Arkansas Gold Gloves. His athletic success earned him many college scholarship offers, …

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 …

Clemmer, Ann Veasman

Ann Veasman Clemmer is a professor, politician, and public servant from Saline County. She taught political science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from August 1992 to January 2015. She was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2008 and served three consecutive terms, followed by service in the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE). Carol Ann Veasman was born in Osceola (Mississippi County) on August 10, 1958, to Martha Lee Robinson Veasman, a teacher, and Joseph Christian Veasman, a farmer. Her father left farming for agricultural related public service, which included the Agency for International Development (USAID) in Vietnam (during the conflict years) as an agricultural advisor. The Veasman family lived in the Philippines during that …

Cohn, Mathias Abraham

Mathias Abraham Cohn was a businessman, newspaperman, educator, elected official, and lawyer who immigrated to America from Germany. Moving to Arkansas in 1868, Cohn became a leader in the Jewish community of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The son of Abraham and Doris Cohn, Mathias Abraham Cohn was born on May 29, 1824, in Hildesheim, Germany, and was educated in the schools near Bremen, where he also received private instruction in English. He came to the United States prior to 1849, moving to Cincinnati, Ohio. On March 14, 1848, in Cincinnati, he married Theresa Kobner, a native of Odense, Denmark, whom he had met in Hamburg, Germany, and who had arrived in the United States on July 30, 1847; they had …

Columbia County Courthouse

The Columbia County Courthouse, an early twentieth-century building designed by W. W. Hall, is a classic example of the Second Renaissance Revival style. Located at 1 Courthouse Square in Magnolia (Columbia County), the current Columbia County Courthouse was finished in 1906 and is the third courthouse to be located on these grounds. The first was a temporary log courthouse built immediately after the county formed in 1852. In 1856, a more permanent courthouse was built. In 1903, a tax levy was created to provide funds for construction of the current courthouse. While the courthouse was originally only two stories, the courthouse rotunda—which centers the building and once served as the courtroom—has been divided to form two floors, giving the building …

Conner, Laura Cornelius

Laura Nancy Cornelius Conner was a prison reformer, educator, and farmer. In the 1920s, she served on the penitentiary board during the governorship of Thomas McRae. Conner was shocked by the conditions in the Arkansas prisons, but despite support from prisoners, community leaders, and legal experts, she was unable to make progress in reforming the penitentiary. She returned to her hometown, where she was an educator and planter until her death. Laura Cornelius was born on October 24, 1864 in Augusta (Woodruff County). She was one of eight children born to William Cornelius and Arabella White Cornelius. Arabella Cornelius died when Laura was three. After the death of her father in 1876, Laura moved in with her sister Ella and …

Corbin, Donald Louis

Donald Louis Corbin had a career as a state legislator and appellate judge spanning forty-four years. As a state representative, Corbin developed a reputation as a plainspoken maverick, and, as a judge, a reputation for pushing his colleagues to take unpopular stands, particularly on social issues. As his twenty-four-year career as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court was coming to an end in 2014, he had a bitter disagreement with other justices whom he thought had connived to avoid rendering a decision in the controversy over legalizing marriages of same-sex couples. Donald L. Corbin was born on March 29, 1938, in Hot Springs (Garland County), where his father, Louis Emerson Corbin, was a meat-market manager for a Kroger grocery …

Crittenden County Expulsion of 1888

In July 1888, a group of influential white citizens in Crittenden County expelled a number of prominent African-American citizens and county officials. Apparently weary of the fusion governments that had prevailed there for years, as well as fearful of the outcome of the upcoming September and November elections, they hoped their actions would intimidate black voters and ensure a victory for white Democrats. Following the Civil War, land agents began to recruit black laborers from around the South to work in the cotton fields. By 1870, the black population in Crittenden County had reached sixty-seven percent, the majority for the first time. The emergence of a black middle class tied to the Republican Party threatened the hegemony of the white …

Crossett, Edward Savage

Edward Savage Crossett was a pioneer Arkansas lumberman during the late nineteenth century. As the great Southern forest was being developed to meet a growing nation’s need for lumber and wood fiber, Crossett and two associates—all from Davenport, Iowa—came to south Arkansas, acquired land, and began a sawmilling operation that was one of the largest of its kind. The city of Crossett (Ashley County) was named for him and came to be known as “The Forestry Capital of the South.” Edward Crossett was born on February 4, 1828, in West Plattsburgh, New York, one of three children of Mary Gregory and John Savage Crossett, a veteran of the War of 1812. Crossett received his early education in the public schools …

Crowley, Benjamin

Benjamin Crowley and his family were among the early settlers of northeast Arkansas. In 1821, they settled near the present community of Walcott (Greene County) on a ridge that would bear his name. Crowley, one of eleven children of Benjamin and Sarah Strong Crowley, was born in 1758 in Halifax County, Virginia. He married Catherine Annie Wiley of Augusta County, Virginia, on December 15, 1795. They had eight children. Crowley was a surveyor by trade and also raised cattle and dabbled in horse breeding. By 1785, the Crowleys had relocated to Oglethorpe County, Georgia. They moved to Christian County, Kentucky, by 1810 and moved again to Henderson County, Kentucky, by 1821. Crowley had served in the military during the War …

Cunningham, Charles Franklin

Charles Franklin Cunningham Sr. was instrumental in the creation and leadership of the Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) and served as its executive director for thirty-seven years. In 1981, he became the first African-American mayor of Benton (Saline County). He served as mayor from 1981 to 1983. From 2003 to his death in 2017, he served as alderman for Benton’s Ward 2, which encompasses much of Benton’s Southside, including the communities of Christy Acres and the historic Ralph Bunche Community. Charles F. Cunningham was born on January 17, 1933, in South Pittsburg in Marion County, Tennessee, to Floyd S. Cunningham and Georgia Anna Cunningham. In 1952, he married Josie M. Slaughter. Following service in the U.S. Army, Cunningham earned a …

Dickinson, Townsend

Townsend Dickinson was elected to the territorial legislature and served as prosecuting attorney for his territorial district. He was appointed U.S. Land Office Registrar of Batesville (Independence County) in 1833. He served as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1836. Following the convention, he was elected to the first Arkansas General Assembly, which soon made him one of three original members of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Little is known about Dickinson’s childhood, but it appears he was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1795. He was said to be a very polished and well-spoken scholar. In 1821, he moved from New York to Lawrence County, Arkansas. He then moved to Batesville, practicing law and dabbling in real estate. …

Doke, “Preacher”

aka: Nathaniel Mattox Doke
Nathaniel Mattox “Preacher” Doke was a Benton County pioneer, evangelist, entrepreneur, and benefactor. The Methodist exhorter “talked from his heels” in a sincere, convincing manner and was also a master carpenter, blacksmith, farmer, hunter, and fiddler. By the turn of the century, he had married for the third time and fathered a total of twenty-three children. Doke taught his children the same self-sufficient skills he had learned and encouraged them to improve their minds by reading as he had done. “Preacher” Doke was born on December 9, 1833, near Terre Haute in Washington County, Indiana, to Samuel Doke and Mary Mattox. To support the family, Nathaniel and his older brother William worked in a Terre Haute packing house and a …

Dowd, Clark Wayne

Wayne Dowd was a lawyer and politician from Texarkana (Miller County) who accumulated power and influence during twenty-two years in the Arkansas Senate. He had a hand in nearly all the judicial reforms during that period and was the architect of a complete overhaul of Arkansas juvenile justice laws in 1985. He died while attending a convention of the Arkansas Bar Association at Hot Springs (Garland County), where he was about to be honored for fifty years of service to the legal system as a lawyer and lawmaker. Clark Wayne Dowd was born on November 1, 1941, in Texarkana, Texas, one of three sons of Tillman L. Dowd and Blanche Ethel Pope Dowd, both salespeople. He attended a junior college, …

Draughon, James Harris

James Harris Draughon was a prominent businessman and civic booster in Arkansas and Texas following the Civil War. With numerous business interests in the Texarkana (Miller County) area, he was a central figure in the founding of the town that now bears his name, Draughon (Cleveland County). James Harris Draughon was born on June 12, 1843, in Waverly, Tennessee, to William W. Draughon and Cassandra Murphy Draughon. His father died when he was less than a year old, leaving his mother to care for him and his six siblings. He grew up in Waverly and received his early education in the town’s public schools. He got his first job in 1857, working as a clerk in Dresden, Tennessee. Although he …

Drennen, John

John Drennen was a prominent businessman who is called the father of Van Buren (Crawford County). The home he built in Van Buren, now known as the Drennen-Scott House, serves as a museum interpreting local history and Drennen’s legacy. John Drennen was born to Thomas Drennen and Isabelle Moore Drennen on February 5, 1801, in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. At a young age, he and his family moved to Potosi, Missouri. On March 21, 1826, in Potosi, he married Emily Rosanna Deaderick Stuart, widow of James Stuart; John and Emily Drennen had three daughters, one of whom died in childhood. Later in 1826, he moved to Tennessee and went into business with his brother-in-law David Thompson (the husband of Emily Drennen’s sister, …

Duncan, Virginia Maud Dunlap

Virginia Maud Dunlap Duncan was the second woman in Arkansas to secure a registration as a pharmacist. As a young businesswoman and editor of a newspaper, she ran for mayor of Winslow (Washington County) with an all-woman slate for city council. This “petticoat government” was elected to two consecutive terms and gained national attention during its time in office. Maud Dunlap was born on October 22, 1873, in Fayetteville (Washington County) to Dudley Clinton and Catherine Hewitt Dunlap. Her mother died when Dunlap was an infant. She and her brother, Rufus, went to live with her uncle Albert Dunlap and his wife, Virginia, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Other foster parents raised Dunlap’s sister and other two brothers. Dunlap’s foster …

Eagle-Booe Feud

On April 25, 1898, three men were shot to death in Lonoke (Lonoke County). These killings—and the conflicts that took place before and after—have come to be called the Eagle-Booe Feud. The prominent Eagle family of Lonoke County, including the brother of a former Arkansas governor, was roped into the feud and ended up being defended in court by a distant relation who would became governor himself, and later a U.S. senator. Approximately a week before the killings, on or about April 19, 1898, an unknown assailant shot Charles (Charley) Booe (wrongly spelled sometimes as Booie) outside of his law office in England (Lonoke County). Charley Booe, for reasons unknown, accused Robert (Bob) Eagle of shooting him. Booe’s father, William …

Erwin, Judson Landers, Jr.

Judson Landers (J. L.) Erwin Jr. served as the county judge of Desha County from 1947 to his death in 1968. He was never opposed for reelection. During his time in the position, he was a strong supporter of libraries and brought many improvements to the county. J. L. Erwin was born on August 11, 1909, in McGehee (Desha County), son of Judson L. Erwin Sr., who was a railroad engineer, and Batie Rhodes Erwin. He had three younger sisters, one of whom died in childhood. His father died when Erwin was seventeen. The family got by with only his after-school earnings and money from renting out rooms in the house; this experience shaped the lifelong frugal financial policies by …

Faucette, James Peter

James Peter Faucette was a politician, businessman, and the third mayor of Argenta, now North Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was a leader in the separation of Argenta from Little Rock (Pulaski County) after a forced annexation. Jim Faucette was born on September 28, 1867, in Pope Station, Mississippi, the fifth child and second son of James Beard Faucette and Eliza Jane Hubbard. The Faucette family settled in Texas in 1878 and then in Arkansas in 1880, moving to Searcy (White County), Dover (Pope County), and Russellville (Pope County) within a year. Faucette moved to Argenta, a small settlement on the north shore on the Arkansas River, opposite Little Rock in 1885, following his older brother Will Faucette, who settled …

Faucette, Will

aka: William Chesley Faucette
William Chesley Faucette was a politician, businessman, and the first mayor of Argenta, now North Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was a leader in the decade-long fight to separate Argenta from Little Rock (Pulaski County) after a forced annexation. Will Faucette was born on August 13, 1865, in Pope Station, Mississippi, and was the fourth child of James Beard Faucette and Eliza Jane Hubbard. The Faucette family moved to Texas in 1878, then to Arkansas in 1880, living in Searcy (White County), Dover (Pope County), and Russellville (Pope County) within the space of a year. Around 1883, Faucette moved to the small settlement of Argenta on the north side of the Arkansas River opposite Little Rock. The rest of the …

Feild, William Hume “Rush” Sr.

William Hume “Rush” Feild Sr. was elected in the state’s first popular-vote election for circuit court. He was also a member of the Democratic Party and active in state politics. Rush Feild was born on July 10, 1796, in Brunswick, Virginia. (The origin of the nickname “Rush” is unknown.) He was the only son of James Feild and Henrietta Maria Anderson Feild. He studied law at Hampden-Sydney College and the College of William and Mary. By 1821, he was living in Pulaski, Tennessee. He married Mary Amanda Flournoy four months after her sixteenth birthday. He practiced law there and, at the first sitting of the chancery county court in 1832, was the second-longest-serving lawyer. He served one term in the …

Foster, William Franklin (Bill)

William Franklin (Bill) Foster was a longtime and influential member of the Arkansas House of Representatives. Serving in the state legislature for over three decades beginning in the early 1960s, he was particularly well known for his work on behalf of senior citizens. Bill Foster was born on August 2, 1916, in Lonoke County. He was the oldest of three children born to Joseph R. Foster and Josephine Margaret Crutchfield Foster. Foster grew up in Lonoke County, graduating from Lonoke High School in 1934. In the midst of the Great Depression, he worked for the Arkansas Department of Transportation as a statistician for eight years. In 1943, with World War II raging, he joined the U.S. Army Air Force. Discharged in …