Entry Type: Person - Starting with J

Jackson, Gertrude Newsome

Gertrude Newsome Jackson was a local activist in the Marvell (Phillips County) area who, along with her husband, Earlis, played a central role in the local civil rights movement. She was widely recognized for her long-term efforts on behalf of the community’s young people and its minority members. Gertrude Newsome was born on November 7, 1923, in Madison, Illinois, to Mitchell and Lillie Newsome. When she was seven, her paternal grandfather died, and the family moved to Gum Bottom, an area in Phillips County, Arkansas, near the Turner community, so that her father could help operate the family’s small Arkansas Delta farm. One of eleven children—six boys and five girls—she got her early education in Marvell, walking miles to a …

Jackson, Joseph Walter (Joe)

Joseph Walter (Joe) Jackson was a talent manager best known as the father and manager of his children’s careers, including the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2011. Joseph Walter Jackson was born on July 26, 1928, in Fountain Hill (Ashley County). He was the oldest of five children of Samuel Joseph Jackson and Crystal Lee King. His father was a schoolteacher. Jackson remembered that his father was one of few African Americans in the area to own a car. The elite status earned his father the nickname of “Professor Jackson.” Much of Jackson’s childhood was spent in Arkansas. However, when his parents separated, he left Arkansas at the …

Jackson, Keith Jerome

Keith Jerome Jackson is a former college and professional football player and current radio broadcast color analyst for University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) football. Jackson began working with the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network in 2000. Jackson is the founder of P.A.R.K (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), a nonprofit after-school recreational and educational program for students. Keith Jackson was born on April 19, 1965, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and grew up in a single-parent home with his mother, Gladys Jackson. He went on to become a successful high school athlete, earning letters in football, basketball, and track at Little Rock Parkview High School. A highly recruited football player, Jackson chose to play for head coach Barry Switzer at …

Jackson, Travis Calvin

Travis Calvin Jackson was one of six native Arkansans elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He played for the New York Giants and was considered the best National League shortstop in the 1920s. Noted for his defense (which earned him the nickname “Stonewall”), he was also considered a clutch hitter. Travis Jackson was born on November 2, 1903, in Waldo (Columbia County) to William Calvin Jackson, a storekeeper, and Etta Farrar Jackson. As a teenager, Jackson played for a team at Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) and for a semipro team in eastern Arkansas, where Little Rock Travelers manager Kid Elberfeld scouted him late in the 1921 season. Baseball was beginning to be played on Sundays …

Jacobs, John Hornor

John Hornor Jacobs is a novelist whose fiction spans different elements of the horror, science fiction, supernatural, and fantasy genres. Jacobs’s home state of Arkansas features prominently in many of his works, though he has lamented the difficulty of gaining popularity in the state. Jacobs, who also works in advertising, is a strong proponent for supporting local art and artists. John Hornor Jacobs was born on January 5, 1971, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to lawyer John Jacobs and his wife, Mary Sue Hornor. He has one sister. As a kid, Jacobs loved to frequent bookstores and libraries. He attended Central High School and received a BA in English from Lyon College in Batesville (Independence County). He also attended the …

Jacoway, Henderson Madison

Henderson Madison Jacoway was an Arkansas politician who represented the state’s Fifth District in Congress for six terms. First elected to the Sixty-Second Congress, he served from March 4, 1911, until March 3, 1923. Henderson Jacoway was born in Dardanelle (Yell County) on November 7, 1870, to William Dodge Jacoway and Elizabeth D. Parks Jacoway. Jacoway attended the local common schools before graduating from Dardanelle High School in 1887. He went on to Winchester Normal College in Winchester, Tennessee, earning his degree in 1892. He then entered Vanderbilt University’s law department, where he completed his degree in 1898, graduating as valedictorian. He was admitted to the bar the same year and started a private practice in Dardanelle. In 1893, Congress …

James, Douglas Arthur

Douglas Arthur James served as a professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1953 to 2016. He was considered the authority of the birds of Arkansas, co-authoring Arkansas Birds with Joseph C. Neal in 1986, and became one of the state’s leading conservationists in the second half of the last century, helping to start the Arkansas Audubon Society in 1955 and the Arkansas Audubon Society Trust in 1972. He arranged the first meeting of what would become the Ozark Society, which was responsible for saving the Buffalo River from damming. Starting with studies of scrubland birds in northwestern Arkansas, James expanded to studying scrubland birds in Africa, Nepal, and Belize. He was …

Janes, Roland

Roland Janes was a well-known session guitar player who worked with Sam Phillips at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. He was elected to the Southern Legends Entertainment & Performing Arts Hall of Fame and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. His guitar is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Roland Janes was born on August 20 ,1933, in Brookings (Clay County) to R. D. Janes and Mary Pearl Janes; he had three brothers and three sisters. Janes learned to play guitar and performed in country bands with his cousins while living in Arkansas. His parents divorced when he was about ten, and his mother moved to St. Louis, Missouri; he shuttled back and …

Jasper, Rickey Lane

Rickey Lane Jasper is the highest-ranking African American ever to serve in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He has also had a career as a minister, serving as a pastor at his church in the United States while pursuing seminary studies both at home and abroad. He is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Rickey L. Jasper was born in Parkdale (Ashley County) on July 28, 1963. His mother, Louisie Mae Grayson, and her husband, Kirt Grayson, raised him and his siblings in the small town. He graduated from Hamburg High School before heading off to college. Although he had planned to join the military after graduation, the academically inclined Jasper instead decided to join his …

Jeannette, Gertrude Hadley

Throughout her career, Gertrude Hadley Jeannette was a playwright, producer, director, and actress with roles on Broadway. Involved in the civil rights movement, she also became a rare woman taxicab driver in New York. Retired after a seven-decade theater career, she remained active in the New York theater scene. Jeannette was a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Gertrude Hadley was born in Urbana (Union County) on November 28, 1914, to Willis Lawrence Hadley and Salley Gertrude Crawford Hadley. She attended Dunbar High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and had plans to attend Fisk University. Instead, she eloped in 1934 to New York City with Joe Jeannette II, a prizefighter and president of the Harlem Dusters, a motorcycle club. …

Jeffery, Jehoiada

Jehoiada Jeffery and his family are believed to have been the first permanent settlers in Izard County. Jeffery was a prosperous farmer who was a war veteran and served as justice of the peace, county judge, and territorial legislator. While in the legislature, he introduced the bill that created Izard County.  Jehoiada Jeffery was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, on August 10, 1790, to James Jeffery and Jane Mason Jeffery. He was the oldest of their four sons and two daughters. About 1800, his family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, and a short time later to Christian County, Kentucky. In 1808, the family moved once again to Union County, Illinois, where they remained for about eight years.  Little is known of Jeffery’s educational training, which was likely very limited due to the family’s regular moves. However, his mother was educated and served as a teacher for the entire family. He married Mary Weir on February 12, 1811. The couple had …

Jeffery, Robert Emmett Jr.

Robert E. Jeffery Jr. was a descendent of one of the earliest families to settle in north–central Arkansas. With very little formal education, he practiced law and also served as a prosecuting attorney, circuit judge, and member of the Arkansas General Assembly. In 1915, he was appointed a minister to Uruguay by President Woodrow Wilson.  Robert Emmett Jeffery Jr. was born in Mount Olive (Izard County) on January 30, 1875, to Dr. Robert Emmett Jeffery Sr. and Mary Cason Jeffery. He was the great-grandson of Jehoida Jeffery, considered by some to be the first white settler in present–day Izard County. He was the oldest of eight brothers and two sisters.   Jeffery, who was called Boyse by his family, grew up in rural Arkansas and had few opportunities for a formal education, attending local schools for no more than …

Jeffords, Edd

Edd Jeffords was one of the most visible figures in the Arkansas counter-culture movement centered in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) during the 1970s. In addition to organizing—along with Bill O’Neill and a host of others—the Ozark Mountain Folk Fair in 1973, Jeffords founded the Ozark Access Catalog, organized the Conference on Ozark In-Migration, and created the Ozark Institute (OI). Edd Jeffords was born in Rector (Clay County) on November 28, 1945, to Roy and Sylvia Jeffords; he had three sisters and one brother. After his father died and his mother fell into poor health, Jeffords moved to Washington State, where he graduated from high school in 1963. From 1963 to 1967, Jeffords served in the U.S. Air Force, working in …

Jeffries, Peggy Sue Newlon

Peggy Jeffries was a senator from Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in the Eightieth and Eighty-first Arkansas General Assemblies, serving from 1995 to 1998. Although she served only one term, she was a significant forerunner of the extreme Republican Party lawmakers who would take over state government more than a decade after she left.  Peggy Sue Newlon was born on June 4, 1940, in St. James, Missouri, to Thelma Geneva Edgar Newlon, who was a homemaker, and Graydon Hopkins Newlon, a truck driver with England Brothers Truck Line who also had a career as a construction foreman with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. Due to her father’s work, she attended first grade in Fayetteville (Washington County) and fifth grade in Mena (Polk County) but otherwise attended Fort Smith public schools at Trusty Elementary and Fort Smith Senior High School (Northside), graduating in 1958. In high school, Peggy …

Jenkins, Ferguson Arthur (Fergie)

Fergie Jenkins was a major league pitcher in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. Over his nineteen-year major league career, the six-foot-five-inch right-hander established a reputation for consistency and durability. Jenkins pitched for the Arkansas Travelers in 1963, 1964, and 1965, and was only the second African American to play for the Travelers. He won a Cy Young Award in 1971 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Ferguson Arthur (Fergie) Jenkins Jr. was born on December 13, 1942 (although some records say 1943, Jenkins has always maintained that it was 1942) in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. He was the only child of Ferguson Arthur Jenkins Sr. and Delores Jenkins. Growing up in Chatham, Jenkins was a …

Jennings, Roscoe Greene

Roscoe Greene Jennings was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Roscoe Jennings was born in Leeds, Maine, on June 11, 1833, the fourth son and fifth child of Perez Smith Jennings and Johanna (Lane) Jennings. His great grandfather, Samuel Jennings of Salem, Massachusetts, had held an important office under King George III of Great Britain but, after the Revolutionary War, had lost his property and moved to Maine to farm. Young Roscoe grew up working on a farm there in the summer and attended school during the winter. He later traveled and taught school to support himself and his continuing education. Jennings apprenticed in medicine …

Jesson, Bradley Dean

Bradley Dean Jesson was a lawyer and political activist who became chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. In the historic school-funding case Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee, Jesson played a pivotal role in settling the long legal battle to reform the funding and supervision of Arkansas public schools so that they served all children equally and adequately. Jesson, who practiced law at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and who was known for his dignified and courteous manner as well as for his legal scholarship, first came to prominence as a confidant and adviser for Governor Dale Bumpers. Bradley D. Jesson was born on January 26, 1932, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the son of Dean Abraham Jesson, who was …

Jewell, Buddy

Buddy Jewell is a country musician best known for having won the top prize in the first season of the reality television show Nashville Star, which landed him a recording contract with Columbia Records. His first major-label album, Buddy Jewell, reached gold-record status after being released in July 2003. Later projects have not been as successful as his debut, but he continues to make music and record in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2015, Jewell was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. Buddy Jewell was born on April 2, 1961, in Lepanto (Poinsett County), the second of three children born to Leslie L. “Buddy” Jewell, a native of Louisiana, and Eva Lorene Harris, a native of Arkansas. For a time, the …

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 …

Jobe, John R.

John Russell Jobe worked as a newspaperman and then for state government, serving as Arkansas state auditor from 1909 to 1913. John Russell (John R. or J. R.) Jobe was born on August 24, 1855, in Ringgold, Georgia, to David Jobe and Sarah J. Harden (or Hardin) Jobe. He had seven sisters, as well as a brother, Benjamin F. (B. F.) Jobe, who also later worked in media and government. The family moved to Arkansas in early 1858 and settled near Searcy (White County), though Jobe had at least one cousin living in Marion County. The family seems to have had strong ties to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church: two of Jobe’s sisters married Cumberland Presbyterian ministers, and his brother married …