Entries - Entry Category: Local - Starting with M

Maddox, Ode Lee

Ode Lee Maddox was a long-serving and influential member of the Arkansas General Assembly as well as a dedicated career educator. By combining his passion for education with his well-developed political skills, he played a central role in the development of the Arkansas public education system. Ode Lee Maddox was born on October 2, 1912 in Oden (Montgomery County). He was the youngest of four children of Hugh Maddox and Alice Edwards Maddox. He received his early education at Caney Elementary, an experience he believed so central to his future accomplishments that he often said that his most important educational experience had been at the “University of Caney.” He graduated from Oden High School in 1932. On October 6, 1934, …

Mahony, Joseph Kirby “Jodie”

Joseph Kirby Mahony II, who was known by the nickname “Jodie,” was a lawyer and politician who spent nearly forty years in public life, all of them in the Arkansas General Assembly. He was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives at El Dorado (Union County) in 1970 and served twenty-eight years there and another eight in the Senate, rarely drawing an opponent in sixteen elections. When the state’s term-limit law barred him from running again in 2006, he returned to help House speakers and education interests. Seven governors, from Dale Bumpers to Mike Beebe, drew on Mahony’s talents, but he refused to be the floor leader for any of them, because it would restrict the range of his work. …

Mann, Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson Mann Sr. served as the fifty-third mayor of Little Rock (Pulaski County) during a tumultuous two-year term that included the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. Woodrow Mann was born in Little Rock on November 13, 1916, to Fred Mann and Ruby Pritchard Mann. In 1934, he graduated from Little Rock High School. Growing up, he delivered ice for his father’s business and played baseball. He attended the University of Illinois on a music scholarship. While there, he played trombone in the First Regimental Band and was a member of business organizations. Also while in college, he met his future wife, Beverly Burnett, whom he married in 1938. They had two sons. Following graduation in 1938, …

Mansfield, William Walker

William Walker Mansfield was a lawyer, legislator, circuit judge, and associate justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. The Sebastian County town of Mansfield is believed to be named in his honor. William Walker Mansfield was born on January 16, 1830, in Scottsville, Kentucky, the son of Colonel George Washington Mansfield and Frances Cockrill Mansfield. Mansfield received a “common-school” education before studying law under Judge William V. Loving in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1852. A short time later, Mansfield corresponded with fellow Kentucky native and noted Arkansas politician and attorney David Walker in Fayetteville (Washington County) about possible opportunities in the legal field within the state. Despite Walker’s encouragement to consider a practice in …

Mason, James W.

aka: James Mason Worthington
James W. Mason of Chicot County was the first documented African-American postmaster in the United States. He later served as a delegate to the 1868 Arkansas constitutional convention and was a state senator. James W. Mason was born in Chicot County in 1841. His father was Elisha Worthington (1808–1873), the wealthiest landowner and largest slaveholder in Chicot County. Mason’s mother was one of Worthington’s slaves, whose name is unknown. Worthington apparently carried on a longtime, public relationship with this woman. (He did, however, marry Mary Chinn of Kentucky in 1840, but she returned to Kentucky only six months later, claiming that he was an adulterer, and the marriage was annulled.) Mason’s full name, which rarely appears in any public record, may have …

Massey, Mary Elizabeth Smith

Mary Elizabeth Smith Massey—businesswoman, public official, and civic and political leader—was a woman with an average, middle-class, mountain background, meaning her family neither depended upon subsistence farming, sharecropping, or seasonal labor in the Arkansas River bottoms, nor did they have a big store in the county seat or hundreds of acres let to sharecroppers. She became an early Arkansas female success story in the period from 1920 to 1930, when Arkansas women were just beginning to assume prominence in state and national life. In the 1950s, she reaped the results of her early endeavors by serving as Worthy Grand Matron of the Arkansas Order of the Eastern Star and by being admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. …

Mays, Richard Leon

Richard Leon Mays was an early civil rights attorney during the struggles to integrate public facilities and end bias in Arkansas courts and law enforcement. He was in the first group of African Americans to be elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in the twentieth century and became the second African American to be a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Governor Bill Clinton appointed him to the court in 1979. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016. Richard L. Mays was born on August 5, 1943, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the younger of two sons of Barnett G. Mays and Dorothy Mae Greenlee Mays. Although the family lived in an integrated neighborhood on …

McDermott, Charles M.

Charles M. McDermott was a medical doctor, minister, plantation owner, Greek scholar, charter member of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, and inventor. His patented inventions include an iron wedge, iron hoe, a cotton-picking machine, and a “flying machine.” He was a regular contributor to the Scientific American, and he was among the first to advocate the germ theory of disease. Charles McDermott was born on September 22, 1808, in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. His parents, Emily (Ozan) and Patrick McDermott, owned sugarcane plantations. He had four brothers and two sisters. It was at the plantation home, Waverly, where McDermott became interested in flying. McDermott entered Yale University in 1825 and obtained a bachelor’s degree with honors in 1828. On December …

McDermott, Lillian Dees

Lillian M. Dees McDermott was a social worker and community leader in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She made great strides to improve the juvenile courts, schools, and the field of social work. Referred to as the “dean of social workers in Arkansas,” she was the first person in Arkansas to become a certified professional social worker. Lillian Dees was born to Hardy Scott Dees, a farmer and businessman, and Mary Frances Pace Dees on October 4, 1877, near Little Rock. After attending Little Rock public schools, Dees graduated with a degree from Galloway Female College in Searcy (White County), which merged with Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1933. She later served on the Board of Trustees for Hendrix …

McHaney, Edgar Lafayette

Edgar McHaney contributed to legal proceedings that changed constitutional law in the United States. With co-counsel Scipio Africanus Jones, he appealed the convictions of twelve men convicted of murder after the 1919 Elaine Massacre. The case of six of the men, Moore v. Dempsey, was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a precedent-setting decision allowed federal courts to override state appellate courts if constitutional rights were denied. McHaney also served for a short time in the Arkansas House of Representatives before a long tenure on the Arkansas Supreme Court. Born on November 6, 1876, in Gibson, Tennessee, Edgar Lafayette McHaney was one of nine children of William W. McHaney and Mary Ellen Hicks McHaney. He grew up on …

McLaughlin, Leo Patrick

Leo Patrick McLaughlin served as mayor of Hot Springs (Garland County) for almost twenty years, allowing the city to operate as an “open” town with illegal gambling permitted under official supervision. As mayor, he reigned as the undisputed boss of Garland County politics. During his time in office, many underworld characters frequented Hot Springs’ spas, and gambling became one of the town’s most popular forms of entertainment. Even today, many recall McLaughlin as one of Hot Springs’ most memorable personalities. Leo McLaughlin was born on June 5, 1888, in Hot Springs, the son of John Henry McLaughlin and Bridget Adela Russell McLaughlin. He graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1908, where he was a star athlete and president of …

McLaughlin, William Heber

William Heber McLaughlin was a Lonoke County farmer and politician who became one of the first American army officers to be wounded in action in France, participating in the first military engagement involving U.S. Army troops in World War I. William Heber McLaughlin, who was called Heber, was born on January 26, 1882, at Atoka, Tennessee, north of Memphis, to businessman William R. McLaughlin and Annie Gillespie McLaughlin. The family moved to Lonoke (Lonoke County) soon after his birth. Around 1907, his father purchased the Knapp Plantation, east of Scott (Lonoke and Pulaski counties) near Toltec, advocating that the mounds on the site be made into a public park to ensure their preservation. They eventually were acquired by the State …

McRaven, Florence Emily McGraw

Florence McRaven of Little Rock (Pulaski County) was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1927 to 1930. Florence Emily McGraw, sometimes called Floy, was born on May 11, 1877, in Tate County, Mississippi, the third of fifteen children of Catherine Ophelia Babb McGraw and Daniel Murdock McGraw. The family moved to Franklin County, Arkansas, in 1878 and settled a homestead claim on the Big Mulberry Creek near Cass. Daniel McGraw was appointed Franklin County deputy sheriff and was elected county surveyor, serving for twelve years; he later became the superintendent of the Western Coal and Mining Company coal mine at Denning (Franklin County). Growing up in Altus (Franklin County), McGraw obtained her education in the preparatory department …

Meahl, Helen Mae Eidson Buchanan

Helen Meahl served in the Fifty-fifth Arkansas General Assembly, representing Nevada County, from 1945 to 1946. She later served as a professor of sociology in Tennessee and Pennsylvania.  Helen Mae Eidson was born in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) on September 3, 1912, one of four children in the family of Robert Anson Eidson, who was a farm laborer, and Ruby Ann O’Neil Eidson, a homemaker. After graduating from Springdale High School in 1931, she lived with an aunt and uncle in Oklahoma for a year then attended Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee for one semester.  Moving back and enrolling at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), Eidson was vice president of the Home Economics Club, president of the Baptist Student Union, active in the YMCA, on the editorial staff of Arkansas Agriculturalist magazine, and named Who’s Who in Ag School, one of four senior women …

Menifee, Nimrod P.

Nimrod P. Menifee (spelled “Menefee” in some records) helped to found and settle Conway County, donating the land that was used for the seat of government in Lewisburg in 1831. He also was involved in some of the bitter disputes and duels that were the outgrowth of the early political tensions in the Arkansas Territory. He developed significant land holdings and was instrumental in the formation of several early settlements in central Arkansas including Lewisburg (later Morrilton), Point Remove, Oppelo, and the town that bears his name, Menifee—all in Conway County. Nimrod Menifee was born in 1800. The Menifee family first came to this area from Kentucky, beginning in 1818, when the oldest son, Jonas, bought a one-quarter interest in …

Meriwether, John Thompson (Jack)

John Thompson (Jack) Meriwether was a city administrator whose later career in higher education channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to Arkansas colleges and universities. Meriwether was city manager—the city’s chief administrator—of Texarkana (Miller County) and then Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was an officer at a bank in his hometown of Paragould (Greene County) and was general manager of the Arkansas Gazette for several years. He also served as vice president for governmental relations for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Jack Meriwether was born on November 23, 1933, to Ray Meriwether and Marie Thompson Meriwether in Paragould. His father and his uncle, Bill Meriwether, ran a hardware store started by his grandfather in 1883. Meriwether and his …

Metroplan

Metroplan is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for central Arkansas. Metroplan’s core responsibilities are to determine long-term transportation needs and priorities for federal funding for the region. It does so through a council of local governments, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, and local transit agencies. From its inception in 1955, Metroplan evolved from an organization focused on planning needs in Pulaski County to a multi-county association with a federal mandate. Metroplan is supported by member dues and federal and state grants. Membership is open to local governments and covers five counties: Pulaski, Saline, Faulkner, Lonoke, and Grant (non-voting). Its office is housed in the Pulaski County Regional Building in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Originally named the Metropolitan Area …

Miller, Abraham Hugo

The Reverend Abraham Hugo Miller was an African-American businessman, a legislator during Reconstruction, and a church and educational leader in Helena (Phillips County). During Reconstruction, he served in the Arkansas General Assembly as a representative from Phillips County. At the peak of his business operations, he was considered the wealthiest black man in Arkansas. Abraham Miller was born a slave in Colt (St. Francis County) on March 12, 1849. He was the son of Boyer Miller, who was born in Virginia in 1827; the name of his mother is unknown, though his stepmother was Henrietta Miller. During the Civil War, Miller moved with his mother to Helena. Like his father, he became a drayman, which involved hauling cotton, flour, meat, …

Miller, John Eldon

John Miller of Izard County was a longtime Arkansas state legislator. Starting his tenure in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1959, he became renowned for his budgetary expertise. Only when term limits prohibited him from running after his twentieth term did Miller step aside in 1998. John Eldon Miller was born on March 2, 1929, in Melbourne (Izard County). One of ten children of Green H. Miller and Annie Gray Miller, he lived in Izard County for all but one year of his life. Majoring in chemistry, Miller graduated from what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County) in 1949. On November 5, 1949, he married Roby Lenora Robertson; they had three children: a son and two …

Millwee, Minor Wallace

Minor Wallace Millwee was a distinguished justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court who was the first political victim of the surge of racism that followed the showdown over school desegregation at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. After Governor Orval E. Faubus dispatched National Guardsmen to stop nine Black students from entering the high school, and President Dwight Eisenhower nationalized the guard and sent federal troops to protect the Black students in school, former state senator James D. Johnson, Arkansas’s most determined segregationist, ran against Justice Millwee in 1958, calling him “a pawn of integration,” although the judge had never expressed an opinion publicly about the issue. Johnson posited that his own election, rather than Millwee’s, would show the …

Murry, Isaac Taylor (Ike)

Isaac Taylor (Ike) Murry was a lawyer and politician whose surging career before, during, and after World War II climaxed in a historic confrontation with Governor Sid McMath. Murry was the state’s attorney general who in 1952 led an effort to prosecute McMath or his aides for corruption and mismanagement in the state highway program. McMath tried twice to resurrect his career, losing both times, and the brutal investigation and election ended Murry’s political career as well as McMath’s. Ike Murry was born on May 8, 1913, in Fordyce (Dallas County), the youngest of six children of Isaac Taylor Murry and Addie Pearl Harris Murry. Robust and handsome, Murry was the center and defensive tackle of the Fordyce High School …