Entries - Entry Category: National - Starting with S

Sarasin

aka: Saracen
aka: Sarrasin
aka: Sarasen
Sarasin was a Quapaw leader who became a legend among Arkansas settlers for rescuing white children captured by Indians raiding in the territory. Many versions of this story in Arkansas folklore indicate the high regard in which Sarasin was held by his white neighbors. Not remembered as well were Sarasin’s struggles to help his people, the Quapaw, who lived in three villages along the Arkansas River below Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). During the era of Indian removal in the early nineteenth century, Sarasin and other Quapaw leaders attempted to prevent removal. The basic legend about Sarasin concerns the late eighteenth-century capture of two children, taken from their home by a Chickasaw raiding party. Sarasin went to the children’s mother and …

Sawyer, Lewis Ernest

Lewis Ernest Sawyer was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Eighth Congress, serving only briefly in 1923. Lewis E. Sawyer was born in Shelby County, Alabama, on June 24, 1867, to Virginia L. Sawyer (maiden name unknown); his father’s name is unknown. He moved with his family to Lee County, Mississippi, where he received his early formal education in the local public schools. He graduated from the University of Mississippi at Oxford. Sawyer studied law and was admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1895. Soon afterward, he opened a private practice in Friars Point, a once prosperous town on the shores of the Mississippi River that had struggled …

Sebastian, William King

William Sebastian represented Arkansas in the U.S. Senate from 1848 until 1861. Also a farmer, lawyer, and judge, Sebastian served his state until the Civil War ended his career. Sebastian County, formed on January 6, 1851, was named for him. William King Sebastian was born in Centerville, Tennessee, in 1812 to Samuel Sebastian and his wife. Records do not include the name of his mother or any siblings (he appears to be one of at least three children in the household in 1830.) or the exact date of his birth. Sebastian moved to Arkansas in 1835, living briefly in Monroe County before making his home in Helena (Phillips County). While in Tennessee, Sebastian attended Columbia College, graduating in 1834. He …

Sequoyah

aka: George Guess
aka: George Gist
Sequoyah, also known as George Guess and George Gist, is best known for his development of the Cherokee syllabary, a notational system that transcribed the sounds of spoken Cherokee into a written form. But during his long life, Sequoyah played many roles in Cherokee society. Sequoyah was born circa 1770 to a Cherokee mother and an Anglo-European father. There is no record of his having a formal education. He made a living at various periods as a blacksmith and a silversmith, trades that developed as a result of Cherokee contact with European culture, although he was a traditionalist in supporting Cherokee cultural and territorial integrity. When the first large group of Cherokee prepared to move from the Cherokee heartland of …

Sevier, Ambrose Hundley

Ambrose Hundley Sevier was a territorial delegate and one of the first U.S. senators from the state of Arkansas. Sevier was also one of the founders of a political dynasty which ruled antebellum Arkansas politics from the 1820s until the Civil War. His cousin Henry Wharton Conway founded the Arkansas Democratic Party, and his other cousin, James Sevier Conway, served as Arkansas’s first state governor, while yet another cousin, Elias Nelson Conway, was the state’s fifth chief executive. He also married into the powerful Johnson family, and his brother-in-law Robert W. Johnson rose to prominence in antebellum Arkansas politics. Born on November 10, 1801, in Greene County, Tennessee, to John Sevier and Susannah Conway, he was the grandnephew of John …

Sharp, Willous Floyd

Willous Floyd Sharp was a longtime government official. While he served in a number of different capacities at the local, state, and federal levels, he was best known for his leadership of Arkansas’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs during the New Deal. Floyd Sharp was born on March 28, 1896, in Union, Tennessee, one of seven children born to Rufus Sharp and Mary Jane Sharp. The family moved to Idaho in 1899. In 1907, the family moved to Arkansas, settling in Garland County. Sharp received his early education in the area’s local schools. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I, and upon his discharge from the military, he got a job working as a printer for the …

Slater, Rodney Earl

Rodney Earl Slater rose from poverty to become an Arkansas assistant attorney general and served in several positions under Arkansas governor (and later U.S. president) Bill Clinton. He was chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, director of governmental affairs for Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), the first African-American director of the Federal Highway Administration, and U.S. secretary of transportation. Rodney Slater was born on February 23, 1955, in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Soon after, Slater’s mother married Earl Brewer, a mechanic and maintenance man about whom Slater has said, “My stepfather was my father.” When Slater was a small child, the family moved across the Mississippi River to Marianna (Lee County), where, by age six, Slater was picking …

Slemons, William Ferguson

William Ferguson Slemons was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-Fourth through the Forty-Sixth Congresses, serving from 1875 to 1881. William F. Slemons—a descendant of the family of Thomas Slemons, who was born in Perth, Scotland, and came to the United States in 1723, ultimately settling in Pennsylvania—was born on March 15, 1830, near Dresden, Tennessee, to J. B. Slemons and Elizabeth Slemons. After limited early formal education, he attended Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee. Slemons moved to Arkansas in 1852. While he briefly taught school in Hamburg (Ashley County), he also began the study of law, including some formal training at Cumberland School of Law in Lebanon, …

Snyder, John Wesley

John Wesley Snyder was the secretary of the Treasury in the administration of President Harry S. Truman. He holds the distinction of being the first native-born Arkansan to hold a Cabinet post. John W. Snyder was born in Jonesboro (Craighead County) on June 21, 1895. The third of six children of Jerre Hartwell Snyder and Ellen Hatcher Snyder, Snyder obtained his early education through high school in Jonesboro and later attended Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering from 1914 to 1915. Because of finances, he quit and returned to Arkansas, moving to Forrest City (St. Francis County). He taught in a country school in nearby Palestine (St. Francis County), often walking several miles to get to the classes he taught. Later …

Snyder, Oliver P.

Oliver P. Snyder was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-Second and Forty-Third Congresses, serving from 1871 to 1875. Oliver P. Snyder was born in New Madrid County in Missouri on November 13, 1833, to Jeremiah Snyder and Elizabeth Randolph Snyder. He completed a basic course of study before moving to Arkansas in 1853. There, he continued studies in both science and literature as well as the law. He was soon admitted to the bar, opening a practice in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). As the Civil War drew to a close, Snyder, who had originally opposed secession, entered the political arena, winning election to the Arkansas House of …

Snyder, Victor F.

Victor Frederick Snyder served seven terms in the U.S. Congress representing Arkansas’s Second Congressional District. Snyder’s experiences in the U.S. Marine Corps, as a family physician, and as a lawyer have helped shape his career in government service. Vic Snyder was born on September 27, 1947, in Medford, Oregon, to Don Snyder, a bartender, and Marjorie Snyder, a bookkeeper. He has one younger sister. In 1965, Snyder graduated from Medford High School and enrolled in Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Two years later, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1967 to 1969, including one year in Vietnam. Returning to school, Snyder graduated from Willamette in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then went on to earn …

Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor (SEFOR)

The Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor (SEFOR), which is located east of Strickler in rural Washington County, was completed in 1969 at the direction of the federal government, specifically the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, to test the feasibility of breeder reactors in the production of electricity. It closed in 1972, and the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) took over ownership of the site in 1975 and conducted research at the facility until 1986. A fast breeder reactor such as SEFOR uses fast neutrons for fission, making it possible for the nuclear reactor to produce more new fuel than it consumes, essentially “breeding” new fuel in the process. SEFOR was developed by a consortium of private energy companies, …

Sovereign, James Richard

A native of Wisconsin, James Richard Sovereign lived in Arkansas only briefly at the end of the nineteenth century. During that time, however, he played a prominent role in politics and the labor movement at the state and national levels. By the early twentieth century, his prominence had faded, and he subsequently moved to the state of Washington, where he spent the remainder of his life. Born on May 30, 1854, in Cassville, Wisconsin, to Thomas Clark Sovereign and Ruby Mitchell Sovereign, James R. Sovereign grew up primarily on his grandparents’ farm near Elgin, Illinois. At age sixteen, he migrated to Kansas and worked as a cattle driver on the Gonzales and Abilene cattle trail, which ran through Kansas and …

Spencer, George Lloyd

George Lloyd Spencer, a Democrat, served as U.S. senator of Arkansas from April 1, 1941, to January 3, 1943, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Senator John E. Miller. Spencer was not elected to a full term in office but served the remainder of Senator Miller’s term. Spencer also served in the U.S. Navy during both World War I and World War II. George Spencer was born on March 27, 1893, at Sarcoxie, Missouri, to George Spencer and Louella Riley Spencer. He moved to Okolona (Clark County) in 1902, where he attended public school. He also attended Peddie Institute at Highstown, New Jersey, and Henderson-Brown College in Arkadelphia (Clark County). In 1918, Spencer served as a seaman, second …

Stanley, Henry Morton

aka: John Rowlands
Sir Henry Morton Stanley, world-renowned explorer of the Belgian Congo, specifically the Congo River, and famous for finding medical missionary Dr. David Livingstone, lived in Arkansas for a few months in 1860–1861, working as a clerk in a country store at Cypress Bend on the Arkansas River near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Stanley was born on January 28, 1841, in Denbigh, Wales, as John Rowlands. He was placed in the local workhouse at an early age by his grandparents and remained there until he absconded, made his way to Liverpool, and signed on as a cabin boy on an American ship bound for New Orleans, Louisiana. When he arrived in New Orleans in February 1859, he found work on the …

Steelman, John Roy

John Roy Steelman, the son of lower-middle-class cotton farmers, rose to become one of President Harry S. Truman’s best friends and top advisors. He performed valuable government services, sometimes without official title, during the administrations of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Born on June 23, 1900, on a farm near Thornton (Calhoun County) to Pleasant (Ples) Cydney Steelman and Martha Ann (Richardson) Steelman, John Roy Steelman was the oldest child in a family of six boys and one girl. He finished high school and, through the Department of War’s Student Army Corps established during World War I, was able to attend Henderson-Brown College in Arkadelphia (Clark County). After discharge from the army, he managed to stay in …