Entries - Entry Category: State - Starting with P

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 …

Parnell, Harvey

Harvey Parnell was the first lieutenant governor of the twentieth century and twenty-ninth governor of Arkansas. During his term as governor, he appointed Hattie Caraway to the U.S. Senate. She later became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Harvey Parnell was born in Orlando (Cleveland County) on February 28, 1880, to William Robert Parnell, a farmer, and Mary Elizabeth Martin. He shared farm chores with four brothers and two sisters. He was educated in the one-room schoolhouses of rural Arkansas. At the age of eighteen, he moved to Warren (Bradley County), where he attended high school and worked in the local hardware store. Parnell’s early career as a small business owner and farmer influenced his later career as …

Pearce, Nicholas Bartlett

Nicholas Bartlett Pearce commanded the First (western) Division of the Arkansas Army in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Oak Hills) on August 10, 1861, and served subsequently as a Confederate commissary officer. Nicholas Bartlett Pearce was born on July 20, 1828, in Princeton, Kentucky, to farmers Allen Pearce and Mary (Polly) Morse Pearce; he had four sisters and one brother. He reportedly graduated from Cumberland College in 1845 and then attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduating in the class of 1850, ranking twenty-sixth in a class of forty-four. Entering the service as a second lieutenant, he saw service in Texas and Utah and, in June 1855, while stationed at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), married Nancy …

Perkins, George Napier

George Napier Perkins was an African-American lawyer and newspaper publisher. Born a slave, he went on to become a major civil rights activist in both Arkansas and Oklahoma. George Napier Perkins was born to Moses Perkins and Millie Perkins. However, given the public record of the time, there is some discrepancy as to facts surrounding his birth; U.S. Civil War pension records list his birthday and birthplace as January 1, 1841, in Williamson County, Tennessee, while other sources list him as born on January 1, 1842, in Washington County, Tennessee. He received a limited education in Tennessee before the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was fifteen. The move was more likely a product of Perkins’s owners …

Phelps, John Smith

As the Civil War military governor of Arkansas and a longtime Missouri congressman, John Smith Phelps began his involvement with Arkansas before the Civil War. A stalwart Democrat, he raised a Union regiment and fought at the Battle of Pea Ridge prior to his appointment as military governor. Cotton politics and personal illness doomed his attempt to establish a Union government in 1862 and led to his removal in 1863. John S. Phelps was born on December 22, 1814, in Simsbury, Connecticut, to Elisha Phelps and Lucy Smith Phelps; he was one of five children. His father was a sometime congressman (1819–1821, 1825–1829). After a public school education, young Phelps attended Washington College (subsequently Trinity College) in Hartford, Connecticut, but …

Pike, Albert

Albert Pike was a lawyer who played a major role in the development of the early courts of Arkansas and played an active role in the state’s politics prior to the Civil War. He also was a central figure in the development of Masonry in the state and later became a national leader of that organization. During the Civil War, he commanded the Confederacy’s Indian Territory, raising troops there and exercising field command in one battle. He also was a talented poet and writer. Albert Pike was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 29, 1809. He was one of the six children of Benjamin Pike, a cobbler, and Sarah Andrews. He attended public schools in Byfield, Newburyport, and Framingham, Massachusetts. …

Pindall, Xenophon Overton

Xenaphon Overton Pindall—attorney, Mason, civic leader, Democrat, and legislator—served as acting governor of Arkansas from May 14, 1907, until January 11, 1909. Rising to the position through an improbable series of circumstances, Pindall focused on the administrative detail of the office and used the power of appointment to shape the policies of state government. X. O. Pindall was born on August 21, 1873, in Monroe County, Missouri, to Colonel Lebbeus A. and Elnorah Snell Pindall. His father was an attorney and later served in the Arkansas legislature. His mother was from a prominent Missouri family. He had three brothers, two of whom died in infancy and one who died at the age of sixteen. During the Civil War, Pindall’s father …

Poets Laureate of Arkansas

The position of Poet Laureate of Arkansas was established on October 10, 1923, by concurrent resolutions of both houses of the General Assembly. In Arkansas, as elsewhere, the title of poet laureate has sometimes been awarded on grounds not restricted to fame or literary eminence. The term “laureate” refers to the ancient custom of crowning a person with a wreath made from leaves of the laurel tree. In antiquity, military heroes, athletic champions, and winners in singing, music, and poetry contests typically received this honor. In modern times, monarchs, governing bodies, or other organizations have named poets laureate, often in recognition of a significant talent but sometimes for political or other reasons. John Dryden was the first poet laureate of …

Pollard, Odell

Odell Pollard was an Arkansas lawyer credited with playing a major role in the development of the two-party political system in Arkansas during the last half of the twentieth century. Pollard was chairman of the Arkansas Republican (GOP) state executive committee during Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s administration. Odell Pollard was born on April 29, 1927, on a farm in Union Hill (Independence County). Pollard was the third of four children of Joseph Franklin Pollard and Beulah Scantlin Pollard. He attended a one-room school at Union Hill through the eighth grade and then attended high school in Oil Trough (Independence County) until his graduation at age sixteen. He then entered the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), attending for two …

Pope, John

John Pope served variously from 1798 to 1842 as a U.S. senator and congressional representative from Kentucky, secretary of state for Kentucky, and the third territorial governor of Arkansas. Initially affiliated with the Democratic-Republican Party, he joined the Whig Party in the 1830s. During his tenure as territorial governor, he worked to establish a legislative program to promote migration and economic development and to rid the region of its reputation as a violent and politically unstable frontier. John Pope was born in February 1770 (exact date not known) in Prince William County, Virginia, the eldest son of Colonel William and Penelope Edwards Pope. The Pope family moved near Louisville, Kentucky, in 1779 at the height of the American Revolution. After …

Priest, Sharon

Sharon Priest served as a city director in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and as mayor of Little Rock before being elected Arkansas secretary of state in 1994, the first woman to be elected to that position in the state’s history. She was reelected and also selected to serve as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. After her time as Arkansas secretary of state, she served as executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, working on the revitalization of the city’s Main Street area. Sharon Mary Devlin was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on September 12, 1947, to Daniel Gerard Devlin and Margaret Meehan Devlin. While working for a Canadian distribution company for Munsey Products, based in …

Pryor, David Hampton

David Hampton Pryor, arguably the most popular Arkansas politician of the modern era, held four different political offices during his career: state House of Representatives member, U.S. congressman, governor, and U.S. senator. A Democrat, Pryor played a crucial role in limiting the rise of Republicanism in Arkansas in the latter decades of the twentieth century. David Pryor was born on August 29, 1934, in Camden (Ouachita County) to William Edgar Pryor and Susan Pryor. His father and grandfather were both sheriffs. His mother was the first Arkansas woman to run for elective office (she ran unsuccessfully for county circuit clerk in 1926); she later won a school board race. Pryor had three siblings. The role of Pryor’s family in public …

Pryor, Mark Lunsford

Mark Lunsford Pryor is an Arkansas lawyer and politician. Following in the footsteps of his father, David Pryor, he served two terms in the U.S. Senate as a Democrat before he was defeated for reelection in 2014. Mark Pryor was born in Fayetteville (Washington County) on January 10, 1963, to David Pryor and Barbara Jean Lunsford Pryor. With his father serving first as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives—followed by service as governor and U.S. senator—Mark Pryor grew up in a politically oriented household in both Arkansas and Washington DC. He received a BA in history from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville in 1985. He continued his studies at the University of Arkansas School of Law, …

Pryor, Susan Hampton Newton

Susan Hampton Newton Pryor was the first woman in Arkansas to run for a political office after women obtained the vote and was one of the first women to hold a seat on a local school board. She also participated in one of the first historic preservation projects in the state, was the mother of David Pryor (who served as governor of Arkansas and U.S. senator), and was the grandmother of Mark Pryor (who served as Arkansas’s attorney general and was elected U.S. senator in 2002). Susie Newton was born in Camden (Ouachita County) on November 9, 1900, to Robert D. and Cornelia Ellen Newton. Her father owned the Camden Shingle Mill and was the sheriff of Ouachita County. After …

Purcell, Joe Edward

Joe Edward Purcell was a lawyer and politician who shocked the political establishment in 1966 by defeating the state’s colorful attorney general, Bruce Bennett, in the Democratic primary. Although Purcell never realized his dream of becoming governor, he was elected attorney general twice and lieutenant governor three times during his political career. Joe Purcell was born on July 29, 1923, in Warren (Bradley County). He was the oldest of three children of Edward L. and Lynelle Cunningham Purcell. His father, known as “Buddy,” remarried and moved to Texas. His mother worked in her father’s grocery store in Warren and, many years later, at the Arkansas Department of Education at Little Rock (Pulaski County). His grandfather, Fred Purcell, was the town’s …