Entry Type: Person - Starting with P

Pacaha

Pacaha was a Native American chief who lived in northeast Arkansas during the 1500s. He is known solely from the four written accounts of the Hernando de Soto expedition, which passed through the region in the summer of 1541. One of the accounts refers to him as Capaha, but this is probably an author’s or editor’s mistake. Pacaha lived in a fortified village near the Mississippi River. The town was surrounded by a water-filled moat and a log palisade wall, with guard towers along the wall. Archaeologists speculate that the town may have been in what is now Crittenden County. When de Soto arrived, Pacaha was at war with a nearby chief named Casqui. Both chiefs ruled over several smaller …

Pace, Frank

Frank Pace Jr. was an Arkansas native who served as Secretary of the Army under President Harry S. Truman from 1950 to 1953 and as the first president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from 1968 to 1972 under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon. Pace served in many capacities—such as attorney, civil servant, corporate executive, and nonprofit director—in his long career. Frank Pace Jr. was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 5, 1912, to Frank Pace and Flora Augusta Layton Pace. The family soon moved to Pennsylvania. He received a private school education in Pennsylvania before attending Princeton University. He received his law degree from Harvard University Law School in 1936. Pace returned to Arkansas, …

Palmer, Bob

aka: Robert Franklin Palmer Jr.
Robert Franklin (Bob) Palmer Jr. was an author, music critic, musician, ethnomusicologist, lecturer, record producer, and documentary filmmaker, not to be confused with the British rock singer of the same name. Critic Greil Marcus called Palmer “one of the few distinguished pop music critics to come out of the South.” Bob Palmer was born on June 19, 1945, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to teacher/pianist Robert F. Palmer Sr. and award-winning poet and freelance writer Marguerite Bowers Palmer. He grew up in the lower Pulaski Heights area of Little Rock. He had one sister, a half brother, and a half sister. From an early age, Palmer had his ear to the radio. Unbeknownst to his parents, the teenaged Palmer sometimes …

Palmer, Clyde Eber

Clyde Eber Palmer, a businessman whose instincts for profitmaking in risky industries became legendary, owned at various times nearly forty newspapers in Arkansas and Texas, along with interests in television and radio stations and oil and gas businesses. For most of the twentieth century, Palmer and his heirs had monopoly ownership of daily newspapers in southwestern Arkansas’s largest cities, and by the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century, his heirs controlled most of the daily news consumption in Arkansas through their flagship newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, as well as small dailies. In his constant search for cost savings, Palmer brought about technological changes in newspaper production that were embraced by newspaper chains across the country. Significantly, many …

Palmer, Edward

Edward Palmer conducted most of the fieldwork for the first major study of Indian mounds in Arkansas. His research helped dispel myths about who built the mounds. Edward Palmer was born in England, near Hockwold-cum-Wilton in southwestern County Norfolk, into a family of gardeners. The year of his birth is uncertain, but it was probably 1830; the date was definitely January 12. His father’s name is listed variously as William or Robert, and his mother’s maiden name was Mary Ann Armiger; Palmer’s own middle name is unknown. Little is known about Palmer’s early life. He came to America in 1849 and moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he was strongly influenced by the eminent naturalist Jared Kirtland. He worked as a …

Pankey, Josephine Irvin Harris

Josephine Irvin Harris Pankey was a real estate developer, educator, philanthropist, and leader in the African-American community of Little Rock (Pulaski County) for the first half of the twentieth century. Josephine Irvin was born on November 17, 1869, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents were William R. Irvin and Katherine Harris Irvin. She was the oldest of their five children. Her father was a self-employed whitewasher, her mother a homemaker. Irvin attended elementary school in Cleveland, including at Oberlin College’s Academy, a preparatory school connected with the college. After graduation, she enrolled in Oberlin College but withdrew because of an illness. She was musically talented and studied at the conservatory that was connected with the academy and the college. By 1892, …

Paris, Twila

aka: Twila Inez Paris Wright
Twila Inez Paris Wright is a prolific contemporary Christian singer, songwriter, pianist, and author who lives in Fayetteville (Washington County). She is the winner of many Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Awards and American Songwriter Awards and has hundreds of published and recorded songs to her credit. Hymns and choruses she has composed have appeared in such widely varying hymn collections as the United Methodist Hymnal and the Baptist Hymnal, as well as those of various Pentecostal and non-denominational churches. Twila Paris was born on December 28, 1958, in Fort Worth, Texas, one of four children of Oren Paris II, the founder of Youth With A Mission ministries and Ecclesia College in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), and Rachel Inez …

Park, Neil Hamill

Neil Hamill Park was one of the first professionally trained and licensed landscape architects to practice in Arkansas and was instrumental in the introduction of the discipline of landscape architecture to the state. In his long career, he shaped many significant landscapes, particularly in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His diverse career vividly reflected many of the significant economic and cultural shifts from the 1920s through the 1970s. Neil Hamill Park was born in Lansing, Michigan, on May 12, 1904, to Agnes Hamill Park and Elijah Crane Park. In 1912, the family moved to Parkin (Cross County), where Agnes Hamill Park had been transferred to manage the Lansing Company; she subsequently became a noted community leader, spearheading efforts to bring electricity, …

Parker, Isaac Charles

Isaac Charles Parker served as federal judge for the Federal Court of the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). He tried 13,490 cases, with 9,454 of them resulting in guilty pleas or convictions. His court was unique in the fact that he had jurisdiction over all of Indian Territory, covering over 74,000 square miles. He sentenced 160 people to death, including four women. Of those sentenced to death under Parker, seventy-nine men were executed on the gallows. Born on October 15, 1838, in Barnesville, Ohio, Isaac Parker was the son of Joseph and Jane Parker. Joseph was a farmer, and Jane was known for her strong mental qualities and business habits. She was active in the Methodist …

Parker, Jimmy Dale “Red”

Jimmy “Red” Parker was a football coach at the high school and college levels who was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. Parker coached until just weeks before his death in January 2016. In a career that began in 1953 and ended in 2015, Parker’s combined record as a college and high school head coach at six colleges and universities and five high schools was 322–221–13. Jimmy Dale Parker was born on October 26, 1931, to Floyd Parker and Madelyn Parker of Hampton (Calhoun County). He graduated from Rison High School in 1949, where he was a star football player, and attended Arkansas A&M at Monticello (Drew County)—now the University of Arkansas at Monticello—where he was …

Parker, Mamie Aselean

Mamie Aselean Parker is a trail-blazing conservationist. The first African American to hold numerous positions in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), she ultimately served as northeastern regional director of the service. Since her retirement from the USFWS, she has been an active consultant and public speaker. Mamie Parker was born on October 14, 1957, in Wilmot (Ashley County). Her mother, Cora Parker, was a single parent who supported her family as a sharecropper and was determined that her eleven children (of whom Mamie was the youngest) would receive an education. Named after President Dwight Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie Eisenhower, Parker shared her mother’s love of fishing, which ended up shaping her eventual career path. Parker grew up in Wilmot …

Parks, Tilman Bacon

Tilman Bacon Parks was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Seventh District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Seventh through the Seventy-Fourth Congresses, serving from 1921 to 1937. Tilman B. Parks was born near Lewisville (Lafayette County) on May 14, 1872, to William P. Parks and Mattie Douglass Parks. He received his early education in the local common schools before attending the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. Parks married Fay Newton on March 4, 1897, and they had a son and two daughters. He studied law and was admitted to the state bar in 1900, after which he opened a private practice in Lewisville. While still developing his practice, …

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 …

Parler, Mary Celestia

Mary Celestia Parler was responsible for developing and implementing the most extensive folklore research project in Arkansas history. She was a professor of English and folklore at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and the wife of noted Ozark folklore collector Vance Randolph. Through her vast knowledge and appreciation of Arkansas culture, she enabled many future generations to glimpse the state’s cultural history, much of which remains only in the stories, songs, and images she collected with the help of her students and assistants. Mary Parler was born on October 6, 1904, in Wedgefield, South Carolina, the daughter of a country doctor and farmer, Marvin Lamar Parler, and a local historian, writer, and teacher, Josie Platt Parler. Mary had …

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 …

Parsons, Mosby Monroe

Mosby Monroe Parsons served as a Confederate officer throughout Arkansas during the Civil War. Parsons saw action at Prairie Grove (Washington County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Helena (Phillips County), and he faced off against General Frederick Steele in the Camden Expedition. He also participated in General Sterling Price’s Missouri Raid in 1864. Mosby Monroe Parsons was born on May 21, 1822, in Charlottesville, Virginia, to Gustavus Adolphus Parsons and Patience Monroe Parsons; he had seven siblings. He moved to Cooper County, Missouri, in 1835. Parsons began studying law at St. Charles College in St. Charles, Missouri, in 1844, and he was admitted to the bar in 1846. During the Mexican-American War, Parsons commanded the First Regiment, Missouri Volunteers, Company …

Partain, Edward Allen (Ed)

Edward Allen (Ed) Partain was a U.S. Army officer who fought in the wars in Korea and Vietnam, eventually leading the Fifth Army as a lieutenant general. Ed Partain was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 26, 1929, to Eugene and Zoe Partain. He had one brother. His family moved to Paragould (Greene County) when he was a child, and he grew up there prior to attending the Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois. After graduating, he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he was a cadet company commander and taught Sunday school. Immediately after graduating from West Point, he married Mary Frances Johnson of Paragould on June 5, 1951; they had known …

Patterson, Anne W.

Anne W. Patterson was a longtime member of the United States Foreign Service. Over the course of a distinguished career, she served in numerous diplomatic posts, including a lengthy term as interim U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She was promoted to career ambassador, the highest rank in the career Foreign Service, in 2008. Anne Woods was born on October 4, 1949, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to John Davis Woods and Carolyn Ackley Woods. She has one brother. She grew up in Fort Smith and attended the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas, before enrolling at Wellesley College, from which she graduated in 1971 with a BA in economics. She attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina but …

Patterson, Hugh Baskin, Jr.

Hugh Baskin Patterson Jr. was publisher of the Arkansas Gazette for thirty-eight years and is considered the unsung hero of the triumvirate that led the newspaper through the 1957 desegregation crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Its coverage of the crisis won two Pulitzer Prizes. Hugh Patterson was born in Cotton Plant, Mississippi, on February 8, 1915, the youngest of three children of Hugh B. Patterson Sr. and Martha Rebecca Wilson. His father was a merchant with experience in general stores in Cotton Plant and other places in Mississippi as well as Monticello (Drew County). The family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 1917. As a young man, Patterson worked for a commercial printing business …

Paulette, Gene

Gene Paulette was a professional baseball player whose career totaled six seasons in the major leagues. He played with four clubs: the American League’s St. Louis Browns and the National League’s St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Phillies. An athlete of average speed and hitting ability, Paulette excelled as a defensive infielder. His time in the major leagues was cut short when, amid game-fixing accusations, he became the first player ever to be banned from baseball. After his career ended, Paulette returned to Arkansas, where he lived the rest of his life. Gene Paulette was born on May 26, 1891, in Centralia, Illinois, to Joseph Paulette and Marguerite DeServe Paulette. Paulette was the eleventh of twelve children born …

Payne, “Sunshine” Sonny

aka: John William Payne
“Sunshine” Sonny Payne was the longtime host of King Biscuit Time, the radio program broadcast on KFFA 1360 AM in Helena (Phillips County) (now Helena-West Helena) that has done much to popularize blues music. As blues journalist Don Wilcock wrote, “Sunshine Sonny Payne exists totally outside the boundaries that define and confine most of society. That he loves blues music and the people…all people…who make it and that he has a vehicle for expressing that love to thousands who then in turn influence millions makes the contribution of his cherub wisdom and good humor of incalculable value.” Sonny Payne was born John William Payne on November 29, 1925, to Gladys Swope Payne and William G. Payne, in Helena (Phillips County). …

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 …

Pearson, John

John Pearson was a renowned gunsmith noted for his early work with Samuel Colt in developing the first working revolver. He later worked as a gunsmith in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). John Pearson was born in England around 1811 and, by the 1830s, had immigrated to the United States, where he established himself as a tradesman and gunsmith in Baltimore, Maryland. He was operating there when Samuel Colt began developing his design for a revolving pistol that could fire multiple rounds before being reloaded. Colt worked with several contractors, but Pearson was his favored gunsmith and consultant, and Colt would bring him designs to build with hand tools and early machinery. As one biographer noted, …

Pearson, John Albert

John Albert Pearson Jr. was the last man to be appointed as an officer in the Confederate States Marine Corps during the American Civil War and may have been the only Arkansan to serve as a Confederate marine officer. John Albert Pearson Jr. was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) on November 5, 1845, the son of John and Mary Pearson. His father had created the prototype for the first revolving pistol from designs by Samuel Colt, and Pearson was learning the gunsmith trade when the Civil War began in 1861. Pearson, though only fifteen years old, joined the Third Arkansas State Troops on May 21—fifteen days after Arkansas seceded from the Union. Pearson was with the Third Arkansas when …