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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Chaffin, Charlie Francis Cole

Charlie Cole Chaffin of Benton (Saline County) served in the Arkansas Senate representing District 16 (Saline County, parts of Perry and Garland counties) from 1984 to 1994. She was a delegate to the 1979–1980 Arkansas Constitutional Convention and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994 and 1996.  Charlie Francis Cole was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 13, 1938, to Grace Francis “Frank” Cole, who was a nurse anesthetist, and John Walton Cole, a fourth-generation physician. She was raised in Sheridan (Grant County) and Malvern (Hot Spring County) in a politically active family. Her grandfather, Dr. Charles F. Cole, served on the Grant County Quorum Court. Her father served on the Grant County Democratic Central Committee and eighteen years on the Arkansas Board of Education. Her uncle Ed McDonald was Arkansas’s secretary of state and a candidate for governor. Another uncle, Jim Cole, served as prosecuting attorney and state legislator. Her mother marched for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and her brother, John Cole, served as prosecuting attorney and circuit judge. She and family members worked on campaigns …

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). As mayor, Cunningham presided over Benton’s change from a city-manger system to a mayor-council form of government, which cut short his term in office. 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. …

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 …