State Figures

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Entry Category: State Figures

Eakin, Jno

aka: John Rogers Eakin
Jno Rogers (John) Eakin, an editor, jurist, champion of women’s rights, and viniculturalist, made notable accomplishments in all four fields. During the Civil War, he edited the Washington Telegraph, making it the state’s only newspaper to remain in operation throughout the war. As a jurist, he served as chancellor from 1874 to 1878 and then as an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court until his death in 1885. His vigorous repudiation of the common law’s entrenched hostility to women was reflected first in his work as chancellor and carried over into his well-crafted, but dissenting, opinions on the Supreme Court. His essay on grape culture was one of the earliest agricultural publications in the state. John Eakin was born …

Gibson, Lorenzo

Early Arkansas, especially Little Rock (Pulaski County), benefited from contributions made by Lorenzo Gibson in the areas of medicine, law, business, and public service. He established a mercantile business in Little Rock in 1833, practiced medicine, and served as the state representative for Pulaski and Hot Spring counties. Lorenzo Gibson was born on May 27, 1804, to William R. Gibson and Frances Hampton Gibson in Clarksville, Tennessee; he had at least four younger brothers. Gibson moved from Tennessee to Little Rock in 1833 and established a mercantile business with his brother. Their store was located in a building that had just been built by Chester Ashley, a prominent Little Rock land speculator and, later, United States senator. In the May …

Hall, Nancy Johnson

Nancy Pearl Johnson Hall was the first woman to be elected to a constitutional office in Arkansas. A staff member to several agencies and constitutional officers of state government, she was appointed to succeed her husband as secretary of state upon his death and went on to be elected state treasurer by the voters. Nancy Pearl Johnson was born in Prescott (Nevada County) on October 5, 1904, to George Sim Johnson and Minnie Bryan Johnson. When she was six years of age, her family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where she attended Little Rock’s public schools. Her career in state government began in 1925 with work for the Legislative Council. She later served as a member of the staff …

Havis, Ferd

aka: Ferdinand Havis
Ferdinand Havis was born a slave but became an alderman, state representative, assessor, and county clerk, and was called the “Colored Millionaire” of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Ferd Havis was born in Desha County on November 15, 1846, the son of John Havis, a white farmer, and a slave mother. In 1859, Havis’s father moved his operations to Jefferson County. Havis received a little common school education and learned the barbering trade. Later, he owned a profitable barbershop on West Court Street in Pine Bluff. The shop later moved to Barraque Street. Havis married three times. His first wife, Dilsa, died childless in 1870. His second wife, Geneva, died on August 4, 1886; they had one child, Ferda. He married …

Hogan, Edmund

General Edmund Hogan was an imposing figure in territorial Arkansas. A veteran of the War of 1812, Hogan was one of the first settlers in Pulaski County, the leader of the territorial militia, and a legislator. His penchant for lawsuits and disputes rivaled his successes, resulting in a fatal encounter with a political foe. Born about 1780, possibly in Anson County, North Carolina, to Griffin and Mary (Gibson) Hogan, he spent his early years in Laurens County, Georgia. He was a tax collector, sheriff, state legislator, and a lieutenant colonel in the Georgia militia. By 1814, he had resigned his military commission and moved to Arkansas. Around 1803, Hogan married Frances Jane Green, born about 1780 in Pulaski County, Georgia. …

Howell, Max

William Max Howell was a politician who served in the Arkansas legislature longer than anyone in history, accumulating power that rivaled that of the nine governors with whom he served. In forty-six years in the legislature, forty-two of which were in the Senate, Howell sponsored more than 700 bills, altering the course of higher education and the judicial system and sharply expanding the state’s services for the disabled and mentally ill. Max Howell was born in Lonoke (Lonoke County) on December 22, 1915, the third of five children. His father, Flavius Josephus Howell, operated a rural telephone company but later operated a rice farm. When Howell was about five, the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where his father …

Hutchinson, Susan Burrell

Susan Burrell Hutchinson is the wife of Asa Hutchinson, the forty-sixth governor of Arkansas, and the state’s forty-first first lady. Outside of politics, she has been best known for her efforts in children’s advocacy and Alzheimer’s awareness. Susan Harriett Burrell was born on April 11, 1950, in Atlanta, Georgia, the second of seven children of a tire dealer and a homemaker. She was the product of an urban working-class household. Although she was her high school valedictorian at Fulton High School in Atlanta in 1968, she found college scholarships hard to come by. She enrolled at Georgia State University but was unhappy there, later saying, “People just weren’t serious about their studies, and the professors; one in particular, tried to …

Jewell, Jerry Donal

Jerry Donal Jewell was the first African American to serve in the Arkansas Senate in the twentieth century. He was also Arkansas’s first ever African-American acting governor, albeit for only a temporary four-day period during Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration in 1993. Jewell moved his dental practice from North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1978, where he continued to work during his political career and up until his death in 2002. Jerry Jewell was born on September 16, 1930, in Chatfield (Crittenden County). His parents James M. Jewell and Ruth Lee Taylor Jewell, who were both sharecroppers, came from Mississippi. He had four sisters, only two of whom survived past infancy. Around 1936, Jewell and his …

Johnson, Virginia Lillian Morris

Virginia Lillian Morris Johnson was the first woman to run for the office of governor in Arkansas. Running as a conservative Democrat, Johnson campaigned against six other Democrats, all male, vying to be the candidate to run against the Republican incumbent, Winthrop Rockefeller, in the gubernatorial race of 1968. Virginia Lillian Morris was born on January 21, 1928, in Conway (Faulkner County) to Jesse Lyman Morris Sr. and Frances Morgan Morris. Her family later moved to El Paso (White County). Upon the death of her mother when she was fourteen, Morris moved to Bee Branch (Van Buren County) to live with relatives while her father served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following her graduation from Southside High School in Bee …

Jones, Guy Hamilton “Mutt”

Guy Hamilton “Mutt” Jones was a lawyer and politician who became one of the most influential state lawmakers of the post–World War II era. Jones served nearly twenty-four years in the state Senate representing Faulkner County and, at various times, five other counties in north-central Arkansas. “Mutt” Jones was born on June 29, 1911, in Conway (Faulkner County), the youngest of nine children of Charles C. Jones and Cora Henry Jones. His father was a country schoolteacher and later operated a motel in Conway. Jones was short, barely exceeding five feet when he was grown. His stature made him feel inferior until a teacher told him that he spoke exceedingly well and should try debating. He became a champion debater, …

Jones, Julia Hughes

Julia Hughes Jones was a Pulaski County circuit clerk and state auditor. She was the first woman to be elected to a statewide constitutional office without having previously been appointed to one. Julia Mae Rumph was born in Camden (Ouachita County) on September 9, 1939, to James Harvey Rumph and Alice Chandler Rumph. Her father served as clerk for Ouachita County, as assessor, and briefly as county judge. Her mother worked in several of the courthouse offices as well as for the Rural Electric Cooperative. The oldest of five children, she had three sisters and one brother. Rumph graduated from Camden High School in 1957. Jones married Charles Hughes in 1960, and they had three children. Divorced in 1978, she …

Martin, Mahlon Adrian

Mahlon Adrian Martin was the first African-American city manager in Arkansas. He was later the chief fiscal administrator for Governor Bill Clinton and president of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. As director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration in Clinton’s second administration, Martin held the highest state government office ever achieved in Arkansas by an African American. Mahlon Martin was born on July 19, 1945, the son of George Weldon Martin, a postal worker, and Georgietta Rowan Martin, who worked for many years at a Little Rock (Pulaski County) department store. He had two brothers and a sister. He graduated in 1963 from the all-black Horace Mann High School. Martin wanted to be a professional baseball player and received …

Morehart, Henry

Henry Morehart was a leader of the third-party agrarian political rebellion in Pulaski County during the late 1880s and early 1890s and served as an agrarian legislator in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1889. His political career illustrates the fierce opposition that the agrarian insurgency engendered among Arkansas’s Democratic Party chieftains and conservative elites, who were willing to use fraudulent means when necessary to maintain their primacy. Henry Morehart was born near Greencastle, Ohio, to Henry Morehart and Mary Plotner on October 30, 1841. He was the second of twelve children. After spending his youth on his parents’ farm, he left home to fight for the Union during the Civil War. He enlisted in Company C, 114th Ohio Volunteers, …

Morris, Elias Camp

Elias Camp Morris was an African-American minister who, in 1895, became president of the National Baptist Convention (NBC), the largest denomination of black Christians in the United States. Recognized by white Arkansans and the nation as a leader of the black community, he often served as a liaison between black and white communities on both the state and national level. He was also an important leader in the Arkansas Republican Party. Morris was born a slave on May 7, 1855, in Murray County, Georgia, the son of James and Cora Cornelia Morris. In 1864–1865, he simultaneously attended grammar schools in Dalton, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. From 1866, he attended school in Stevenson, Alabama, and in 1874–1875, he attended Nashville Normal …

Moses, Colter Hamilton (Ham)

Colter Hamilton (Ham) Moses served as secretary to governors George W. Donaghey, George W. Hays, and Charles Hillman Brough prior to becoming general counsel, president, and chairman of the board of Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L). Well known as an eloquent speaker, Moses represented the Governor’s Office in an entourage that traveled around the country promoting Arkansas; however, his greatest contribution to Arkansas resulted in the state moving from an agricultural economy to an industrial one during the post–World War II years. Although the state’s economy grew monumentally because of Moses’s efforts, he credited the people of Arkansas for the success of his “Arkansas Plan.” C. Hamilton (Ham) Moses, the eldest of Angelus Gaston “A. G.” Moses and Mary Eulodia …

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 …

Nelson, Knox

Knox Nelson was a member of the Arkansas General Assembly for thirty-four years in the second half of the twentieth century, achieving power in legislative halls that was rarely rivaled. Nelson was elected to the state House of Representatives from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 1956 and served two terms, but he attained a position of immense power in the thirty-year career in the state Senate that followed. Governors and groups interested in legislation often had to win Nelson’s favor to get bills passed or defeated in the Senate. Knox Nelson was born on April 3, 1926, in the Goatshed community near Moscow (Jefferson County), a farming community a few miles south of Pine Bluff. His father, Knox Augustus Nelson, …

Norwood, Charles M.

Charles M. Norwood ran for governor in Arkansas in 1888 as the candidate of the Union Labor Party (ULP). Although he lost, he came closer to victory than any other challenger to the gubernatorial candidate of the Democratic Party in Arkansas between 1874 and 1964. Furthermore, recent historical studies have suggested that Norwood would have won his gubernatorial bid had the election not been marred by fraud and violence. Charles M. Norwood was born on February 29, 1840, in Giles County, Tennessee, to Josiah M. Norwood and Sarah A. Norwood, who moved their family to Arkansas around 1847. Norwood’s father became the treasurer of Lafayette County, and Norwood attended private schools in Columbia County. In 1861, Norwood enlisted in the …

Parks, William Pratt “Buck”

William Pratt “Buck” Parks was a captain of a heavy artillery battery at the Battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi. Following the Civil War, Parks became a prominent leader of agrarian protest in Arkansas. The 1860 Census shows William Pratt Parks living in Little Rock (Pulaski County) at the residence of Joshua and Susan Jones, along with four younger siblings. A newspaper article appearing in the Arkansas Gazette on May 16, 1911, listed Parks as being enrolled at St. Johns’ College when it first opened, in October 1859. Parks served as a private in the Pulaski County Field Artillery Battery (Arkansas state troops). This battery, originally organized in late 1860 as the Totten Light Battery, became the Pulaski County Field Artillery …