Entries - Entry Type: Person - Starting with T

Tabor, Ronald Dale

Since he was a child, Ronald Dale Tabor has been capturing the rustic scenery and the wildlife of the Ozarks on canvas. For most of his adult years, he painted without the use of his limbs. Tabor is a quadriplegic mouth-artist who taught himself to paint using his mouth after sustaining an injury in a near fatal car accident. He is one of the few Arkansans to gain membership in the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the United States (MFPA) and the International Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (IMFPA) based in Liechtenstein, Switzerland. Tabor is known for his realistic paintings of barns, wildlife, and the scenic outdoors of rural Arkansas. Dale Tabor was born in Harrison (Boone County) on …

Tackett, Boyd Anderson

Boyd Anderson Tackett was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Eight-First and Eighty-Second Congresses, serving from 1949 to 1953. Boyd A. Tackett was born near Black Springs (Montgomery County) on May 9, 1911, to John Stark Tackett and Myrtle Sandlin Tackett. As a young boy, he moved with his family to Glenwood (Pike County). He attended Arkansas Polytechnic College (now Arkansas Tech University) in Russellville (Pope County) from 1930 to 1932, as well as Ouachita College (now Ouachita Baptist University) in Arkadelphia (Clark County) during the 1932–33 school year. He graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1935. Later that same …

Tahlonteskee

aka: Tolluntuskee
Tahlonteskee, whose name is roughly translated as “Common Disturber” or “Upsetter,” was the principal civil chief of the Arkansas Cherokee when they coalesced in the Arkansas River Valley about 1812. As the Arkansas Cherokee’s most respected member until his death in 1819, he represented them in their struggle to acquire legal control over lands in Arkansas and to secure relief from threats from both Osage and American settler incursions. Son of a mixed-race couple, Tahlonteskee was Lower Town Cherokee (a group located primarily in what is now western South Carolina) and a supporter of efforts to stop American advances into Cherokee country after the Revolutionary War. In Cherokee opinion, Americans failed to keep previous agreements and treaty provisions and relentlessly …

Takatoka

aka: Ticketoke
aka: Ta-Ka-To-Kuh
aka: De'gata'ga
aka: Degadoga
Takatoka (whose name is spelled various ways in records of the time and in later histories) was one of the leaders of the Cherokee nation in Arkansas during the early years of the nineteenth century. He led warriors in battle against the Osage living in Arkansas, and he also represented the Cherokee in meetings and in negotiations with the U.S. government. Details of Takatoka’s early life are not available, but he was estimated to be around sixty-five years old when he met with Christian missionary Cephas Washburn in 1820. Takatoka was evidently a member of the group led by Tahlonteskee that crossed the Mississippi River to settle in the Missouri Territory, as encouraged by the U.S. government. The New Madrid …

Takei, George Hosato

George Hosato Takei gained international fame as Lieutenant Sulu in the original Star Trek television series and six movies. When he was a boy, he and his family were held in the War Relocation Authority Camp in Rohwer (Desha County). George Takei was born on April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Takekuma Norman Takei, immigrated to the United States from Japan at age thirteen, graduated from Hills Business College in San Francisco, and owned a cleaning shop in the Wilshire corridor of Los Angeles. His mother, Fumiko Emily Nakamura Takei, was a native U.S. citizen who was educated in Japan. In 1942, after the outbreak of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, …

Talbot, John Michael

John Michael Talbot—the founder and leader of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage near Eureka Springs (Carroll County)—is one of the preeminent Catholic musicians in the world, with more than fifty albums to his name. He is also the founder of the Catholic Association of Musicians and the author of more than a dozen books on Christian meditations and music. John Michael Talbot was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on May 8, 1954, to Jamie Margaret (Cochran) Talbot and Richard Talbot. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when Talbot was seven years old and then to Indianapolis, Indiana, two years later. Struggling to make friends in Indianapolis, the family started playing music as …

Talbot, William

William Talbot was a sailor aboard the USS Louisville who received a Medal of Honor for his handling of the vessel’s nine-inch cannon during the 1863 Battle of Arkansas Post. William Talbot (his Medal of Honor papers identify him as Talbott) was born in Liverpool, England, in 1814. At age sixteen, he immigrated to the United States, arriving at Bath, Maine, in August 1830. He got married on September 4, 1834, and he and his wife, Priscilla, would have five sons and a daughter. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States on July 7, 1848. In 1860, he was forty-six years old and worked as a rigger in West Bath, Sagadahoc County, Maine. Talbot apparently enlisted in the …

Tappan, James Camp

James Camp Tappan was a Confederate general, lawyer, and politician from Helena (Phillips County). He is best remembered for commanding a brigade of Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill’s Arkansas Division. James Tappan was born on September 9, 1825, in Franklin, Tennessee, the son of Benjamin S. Tappan and Margaret Bell Camp Tappan. He was the oldest of thirteen children. He received his education at Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and Yale University in Connecticut, graduating in 1845. He then studied law in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and joined the bar of that state in 1846. In 1848, Tappan moved to Helena and began practicing law there and married his wife, Mary, in 1854. Tappan served a term in the Arkansas legislature as a …

Tate, John “Big John”

During the mid-1970s and early 1980s, John “Big John” Tate gained notoriety as a successful amateur and professional boxer. As a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, Tate won a bronze medal in the heavyweight division. In 1979, Tate defeated Gerrie Coetzee to claim the World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight title. The WBA is an internationally recognized professional boxing organization. John Tate was born in West Memphis (Crittenden County) on January 29, 1955. The second of Bonnie Archer’s seven children, Tate did not know his father (Lavon Tate) and grew up in poverty. Tate struggled academically and left school in the seventh grade. Illiterate and unskilled, he toiled in a variety of …

Tate, Sonja Patrice

Sonja Patrice Tate, who played basketball at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1989 to 1993, is one of the finest female athletes in the state’s history. As of 2014, she remains the scoring leader in basketball at ASU, with 2,312 points. In addition, Tate holds the single-season scoring record, with 820 points during the 1992–93 season. She has the top five single-game scoring performances at ASU. Tate also is the only ASU women’s player to have scored forty or more points in a game, a feat she accomplished five times. She returned to ASU prior to the 2012–13 basketball season to serve as an assistant coach for the women’s team. Sonja Tate was born on September 7, …

Tatum, Reece “Goose”

Reece “Goose” Tatum excelled at two sports, baseball and basketball, but is most famous for his basketball career with the Harlem Globetrotters. Known as “Goose” for his comic walk and for his exceptionally wide arm span, he is remembered more for his comic antics in games than for his athletic ability and accomplishments, which were considerable. Reece Tatum was born on May 3 or 31, 1921, in El Dorado (Union County) or Hermitage (Bradley County)—sources differ on his birth date and birthplace. His father, Ben, was a part-time preacher and part-time farmer who also worked at the local sawmill, while his mother, Alice, raised their seven children, of whom Reece was the fifth, and also served as a domestic cook. He …

Taylor, Charles Edward

Charles Edward Taylor, Progressive reform mayor of Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1911 to 1919, brought a new sense of responsibility to city government and directed a wide range of reforms that transformed Little Rock from a nineteenth-century river town into a twentieth-century modern municipality. Charles Taylor was born on September 15, 1868, in Austin, Mississippi, the son of William Arbuckle and Mary Perkins Taylor. During the mid-1870s, the Taylors moved to eastern Arkansas, where W. A. Taylor died. The family then moved to Little Rock when Charles was around twelve. After attending Scott Street High School and taking a bookkeeping course at a local business school, Taylor went to work to help support his mother and sister. He clerked …

Taylor, Chester William

Chester William Taylor was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Seventh Congress, serving from 1921 to 1923. Chester W. Taylor was born in Verona, Mississippi, on July 16, 1883, to Samuel Mitchell Taylor and Mary Bell Taylor. The family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 1887, and Taylor received his early education in the public schools. Upon graduation from high school, he studied law at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Returning to Arkansas after completing his legal studies, he worked in the wholesale lumber business for a number of years. From there, he embarked on a career in state government, serving as deputy state auditor from 1908 …

Taylor, George Edwin

George Edwin Taylor was a native of Arkansas and the first African-American standard-bearer of a national political party to run for the office of president of the United States. George Edwin Taylor was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 4, 1857, to Bryant (Nathan) Taylor, a slave, and Amanda Hines, a “free Negro” woman; he had eleven siblings, none of whom are known by name. Nothing is known about his parents, except Amanda Hines was forced to leave Arkansas in 1859 in compliance with the state’s Free Negro Expulsion Act, signed into law on February 12, 1859. She fled with infant Taylor to Alton, Illinois, a major center of the Underground Railroad. Little is known about Taylor’s time …

Taylor, Jermain

aka: Lecester Jermain Taylor
Lecester Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor began boxing at the age of thirteen and has risen through the amateur and professional ranks to become one of the best boxers in the sport today. He won a bronze medal for boxing in the 2000 Olympics and became the undisputed middleweight champion in 2005, holding that title for two years and then regaining it in 2014, only to be stripped of it the following year. Jermain Taylor was born on August 11, 1978, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Taylor’s father abandoned the family when Taylor was five years old, leaving his mother, Carlois, with Taylor and his three younger sisters. Taylor’s mother had to work long hours to support the family, leaving him to …

Taylor, Johnnie Harrison

Johnnie Harrison Taylor was a popular gospel and rhythm and blues singer, known as the “Philosopher of Soul,” whose recording career spanned forty-six years. His single, “Disco Lady,” was the first single ever to be certified platinum. He was added to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Johnnie Taylor was born in Crawfordsville (Crittenden County) on May 5, 1934. The official date of his birth was not revealed until after his death; he had long claimed to be four years younger. The youngest of three siblings, he was raised by his grandmother in West Memphis (Crittenden County). She was religious and made sure he attended church regularly. He made his church singing debut at age six, and inspired …

Taylor, Marion

Marion Taylor Jr. was the first African-American officer in the Arkansas State Police, serving as a public service spokesman and an instructor at the state police academy. Marion Taylor Jr. was born on January 18, 1940, in Dermott (Chicot County) to Marion Taylor Sr. and Bessie White Taylor. His father supported the family with employment at Missouri Pacific Hospital and Our Lady of Nazareth Nursing Home, and the family attended St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County). A 1957 graduate of Horace Mann High School, Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock and an MS in education at what is now Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Taylor served …

Taylor, Samuel Mitchell

Samuel Mitchell Taylor was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Third through the Sixty-Sixth Congresses, serving from 1913 to 1921. The oldest of ten children, Samuel Mitchell Taylor was born on May 25, 1852, near Fulton, Mississippi. His parents were Louisa Keyes Taylor and Clark W. Taylor, owners of a large successful plantation near Fulton. With the Civil War affecting the family’s finances, Taylor received what education he could in the local public schools before pursuing the study of law. He was admitted to the state bar in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he started a practice in 1876. Initially, he was associated with Judge W. D. Jones in the …

Taylor, Samuel Shinkle

Writer and educator Samuel Shinkle Taylor was one of only two African-American interviewers for the Arkansas Federal Writers’ Project 1936–1938 collection of oral history narratives from ex-slaves. He also wrote and compiled Survey of Negroes in Little Rock and North Little Rock, served as a minister and professor, and was an associate editor for the Arkansas State Press from 1949 to 1956. Samuel Taylor was born on November 21, 1886, to the Reverend Marshall W. Taylor and Catherine Hester Taylor in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was the first black editor of the Southwestern Christian Advocate and author of A Collection of Revival Hymns and Plantation Melodies. Taylor’s father died in 1887, and his mother moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Taylor …

Tebbetts, Jonas March

Jonas March Tebbetts of Fayetteville (Washington County) was a prominent lawyer, judge, and politician known for his abhorrence of slavery and support for the Union during the Civil War. His aid to Union forces led to his later arrest by Confederates, who condemned him to death. But fortuitous circumstances led to his freedom, and he lived a long life. Jonas M. Tebbetts was born on January 5, 1820, in Rochester, New Hampshire, one of five sons of Enoch Tebbetts and Anne Roberts Tebbetts. Tebbetts attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. At sixteen, he was working as a marketing agent selling copies of The Family Expositor by English religious nonconformist Philip Doddridge. As a salesman, he traveled throughout New England, Pennsylvania, …

Templeton, Fay

Born into a theatrical family, Fay Templeton excelled on the legitimate and vaudeville stages for more than half a century. As an actress, singer, and comedian, she was a favorite headliner and heroine of popular theater. Fay Templeton was born on December 25, 1865, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), where her parents were starring with the Templeton Opera Company. John Templeton, Fay’s father, was a well-known Southern manager, comedian, and author. Helen Alice Vane, Fay’s mother, starred with her husband. At age three, Templeton, dressed as Cupid, sang fairy tale songs between the acts of her father’s plays. Gradually, she was incorporated into the productions as a bit player and then, at five, had actual lines to recite. At eight, …

Terral, Thomas Jefferson

Lawyer and politician Thomas Jefferson Terral served the state of Arkansas as a two-term secretary of state and a governor from 1925 to 1927. Terral used his governorship to push for economic reforms and stability. Thomas Jefferson Terral was born in Union Parish, Louisiana, on December 21, 1882, to George W. and Celia Terral. His father was a planter and merchant. Terral had numerous siblings. At the time of his death in 1946, two sisters and three brothers were living in Arkansas. Beginning his education at the University of Kentucky, Terral transferred to the law school at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Graduating in 1910, Terral quickly entered the Arkansas bar, establishing a law practice in …

Terry, Adolphine Fletcher

Adolphine Fletcher Terry was a civic-minded woman from a prominent Little Rock (Pulaski County) family who used her position to improve schools and libraries, start a juvenile court system, provide affordable housing, promote the education of women and women’s rights, and challenge the racism of the Old South. Terry pushed for social change in the early years of the civil rights movement and may best be known as the leader of the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC). Adolphine Fletcher was born on November 3, 1882, in Little Rock to John Gould Fletcher and Adolphine Krause Fletcher. Her father worked in the cotton business and in banking and served terms as sheriff of Pulaski County and city mayor. …

Terry, Clark

Trumpeter and flugelhornist Clark Terry inspired audiences in a jazz career that spanned more than seventy years and included work with some of the biggest names in American music. Terry was one of the most recorded musicians in the history of jazz and performed for eight U.S. presidents and served as a jazz ambassador for State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa. Terry moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 2006 and was active in musical activities associated with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), along with mentoring music students from around the world. He died in 2015 at the age of ninety-four. Clark Terry Jr. was born on December 14, 1920, to Clark Terry Sr. …

Terry, David Dickson

David Dickson Terry was a U.S. congressman for nine years. His most important contributions in that body were directed toward his home city of Little Rock (Pulaski County), where his family had a history of active involvement in political and community affairs. His work in the U.S. House of Representatives helped establish a series of Arkansas River dams. He is also remembered for his long association with local institutions such as the Little Rock Boys Club. Born in Little Rock on January 31, 1881, David D. Terry was the son of William Leake Terry, a lawyer and U.S. congressman, and Mollie C. Dickson Terry. He had two brothers, as well as a half sister born to his father’s second wife …

Terry, Seymour W.

Seymour W. Terry was an officer in the U.S. Army during World War II and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. An Arkansas native, Seymour W. Terry served as a first lieutenant in the 382nd Infantry Regiment, part of the Ninety-sixth Infantry Division. Seymour Terry was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 11, 1918. Terry attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Seymour Terry’s division, the Ninety-sixth, trained in Hawaii in 1944 before being deployed to the Philippines in October 1944. Following the campaign in the Philippines, Lieutenant Terry and his regiment participated in the Battle of Okinawa, during which he led an attack …

Terry, William Leake

William Leake Terry was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas from 1891 to 1901, beginning in the Fifty-Second Congress and extending through the Fifty-Sixth Congress. William L. Terry was born on September 27, 1850, near Wadesboro, North Carolina, to William Leake Terry and Mary Parsons Terry. Terry and his family moved to Tippah County, Mississippi, in 1857. After his mother’s death in 1861, he and his father moved to Pulaski County, Arkansas. Terry was orphaned by 1865 and became the ward of his uncle, Colonel Francis A. Terry, who provided for his education, first at Bingham’s Military Academy in North Carolina and then at Trinity College in North Carolina. He …

Thach, John Smith

John Smith Thach was one of the most influential naval aviators of the mid-twentieth century and is credited with the creation of the Thach Weave, one of the most significant tactical advances in the history of aerial combat. He was awarded the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Medal for developing this tactical maneuver, which remains a standard of military aviation. Jimmie Thach was born on April 19, 1905, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to schoolteachers James H. Thach and Jo Bocage Thach. Thach followed in the footsteps of his brother James, Jr. (who also rose to the rank of admiral) and attended the United States Naval Academy. After his graduation in 1927, he took the traditional career path of the …

Thaden, Louise McPhetridge

Louise McPhetridge Thaden was an aviation pioneer and holder of numerous flight records during the late 1920s and 1930s. At one point, she was the most famous female American aviator only after Amelia Earhart. Louise McPhetridge was born in Bentonville (Benton County) on November 12, 1905, to Roy McPhetridge, a travelling Mentholatum salesman who taught Louise to hunt, fish, and fix a car, and Edna McPhetridge, a housewife. She had one sister. Raised on the family farm, McPhetridge discovered an early interest in aviation long before learning to fly. A ride in a plane with a barnstormer fuelled her desire to fly. After attending local public schools, McPhetridge attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1922 …

Thanet, Octave

aka: Alice French
Alice French was a leading writer of local color stories and journalistic essays under the pseudonym Octave Thanet. Some of her best work is based on the years she spent at her winter home in Clover Bend (Lawrence County) in the Black River swamp country. French also published stories and essays in such national periodicals as the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Scribner’s Magazine, and Century Magazine. She prided herself on the accurate depiction not only of the physical setting of her stories but also of the customs and dialect of the characters in them. Alice French was born on March 19, 1850, in Andover, Massachusetts, to George Henry French and Frances Morton. The French family also included sons George, Morton, Nathaniel, and …

Tharpe, “Sister Rosetta”

aka: Rosetta Nubin Tharpe
Arkansas native Rosetta Nubin Tharpe was one of gospel music’s first superstars, the first gospel performer to record for a major record label (Decca), and an early crossover from gospel to secular music. Tharpe has been cited as an influence by numerous musicians, including Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Arkansan Johnny Cash. Rosetta Tharpe was born in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on March 20, 1915, to Katie Bell Nubin Atkins—an evangelist, singer, and mandolin player for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC)—and Willis Atkins. She went by the first names Rosa, Rosie Etta, and Rosabell, and used both her father’s last name and her mother’s maiden name, Nubin. She began performing at age four, playing guitar and singing …

Thayer, John Milton

John Milton Thayer was a lawyer and politician. During the Civil War, he was a major general in the Union army who served extensively in Arkansas. A native of Massachusetts, Thayer is most associated with Nebraska, where he served as both a senator and governor and commanded troops from that state during the war. Thayer was born in Bellingham, Massachusetts, on January 24, 1820; he was the youngest of nine children. Thayer’s parents, Captain Elias Thayer and Ruthe Staples Thayer, owned a farm. Thayer worked as a school teacher before entering Brown University, from which he graduated in 1841. He married Mary Torrey Allen in 1842; they had six children. Joining the bar in Massachusetts the same year he graduated …

Thebom, Blanche

Blanche Thebom was a world-renowned operatic soprano, opera director, and educator. With her trademark six-foot-long hair, she was among the first American opera singers to have a highly successful international career, spending more than twenty years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She also appeared in Hollywood feature films. Thebom conducted a groundbreaking tour of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. After retirement from the Met, she brought her talents to Arkansas when she taught and directed opera productions at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) for almost a decade. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, Blanche Thebom was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 1915. She was raised in Canton, …

Thibault, David

David Thibault was an agricultural agent and writer whose short stories appeared in popular national magazines. His early death cut short his career before he could accumulate a large body of significant work. Some of his best fiction draws characters, settings, and themes from plantation life in Arkansas in the early twentieth century. David Thibault was born on May 23, 1892, at Walnut Grove plantation east of Little Rock (Pulaski County). His parents were James Keatts Thibault, a farmer, and Corinne Laurie Gibson Thibault. He was the youngest of nine chlidren and was educated in the public schools of Little Rock. In 1915, Thibault married Irene Graeme Stockton, a high school English teacher. In 1917, they had a son, David …

Thomas, David Yancey

David Yancey Thomas was one of the most influential academic historians in the field of Arkansas history. He was a driving force in the re-establishment of the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA) in 1941, was the first editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, was the chair of the Department of History at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for twenty-eight years, and was known nationally for his scholarly books and articles. David Thomas was born on January 19, 1872, to James Fuller Thomas and Eliza Ann Ratliff Thomas. He grew up on a farm in southwest Kentucky, near Hickman in Fulton County. He was the youngest of nine children. Thomas was a student at Marvin Training School in …

Thomas, Henry Andrew “Heck”

Henry Andrew “Heck” Thomas became one of the best-known officers of the law in Arkansas and Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). His reputation as a fearless crime fighter stemmed from a determination to bring felons to justice and from the notorious characters he encountered. Tall and lean, with dark eyes and a mustache, Thomas was the image of the frontier lawman, usually attired in knee-high boots, corduroy trousers, and a flannel shirt. Thomas, and others like him, helped combat frontier criminals in order to make the region safe for settlers. Heck Thomas was born on January 6, 1850, in Oxford, Georgia, the last child of twelve of Martha Ann Fullwood Bedell Thomas and Lovick Pierce Thomas. He acquired the nickname “Heck” …

Thomas, Jefferson Allison

Jefferson Allison Thomas made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high school. Jefferson Thomas was born the youngest of seven children on September 19, 1942, in Little Rock to Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Thomas. Thomas was a track athlete at all-black Horace Mann High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he chose to volunteer to integrate all-white Central High School for the 1957–58 school year as a sophomore. The Nine were harassed daily by some white students, and Thomas’s quiet demeanor made him a …

Thomas, John Orval

John Orval Thomas was a teacher, mentor, and role model for many television and film industry professionals in Arkansas. He worked as a sound engineer on major motion pictures, produced political campaign commercials, and had a variety of jobs in the television industry. Orval Thomas Jr. was born in Slocomb (Saline County) on November 25, 1919, to John Quincy Thomas Sr., who was a traveling preacher, and Eliza Eldridge Thomas. When Thomas was four, his parents started taking him on various “speaking engagements” of the revival circuit, where they would play one-reel silent movies in between his father’s sermons. When he was fourteen, Thomas took a job at a photography studio, the Deluxe Studio in Hot Springs (Garland County). There, …

Thomas, Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris Thomas was a highly regarded amateur ornithologist whose column on birding in Arkansas was published by the Arkansas Gazette for about forty years. Her column not only documented area birds, but it also contributed to a growing appreciation for birds, birding, and habitat conservation. Ruth Harris was born in Kentucky on August 25, 1900, to Charles O. Harris and Columbia B. Cox Harris. She had two brothers. Majoring in English and journalism, Harris graduated from Louisiana State University in 1923, where she also edited the student newspaper. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the autumn of 1923 to work as a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette newspaper. In 1927, she married Maine native Stanley Powers Rowland …

Thomas, William

William H. Thomas, a native of Wynne (Cross County), was an American soldier in World War II who was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in battle against the Japanese in the Philippines. William H. Thomas was born in Wynne on January 13, 1923, to lumber mill worker John Thomas and Jessie Thomas. The Thomas family, which included two daughters and four other sons, apparently moved around the Arkansas Delta, as the family lived in Trumann (Poinsett County) in 1930 and in Brinkley (Monroe County) by the mid-1940s. William Thomas, who had worked as a farmer and timber worker, attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1943 but was turned away because of a heart condition. He succeeded …

Thomason, Harry Z.

Harry Z. Thomason is a film and television producer best known for the television series Designing Women and for his friendship with Bill Clinton. Thomason made the casting of people of Southern heritage more popular, replacing the ignorant hillbilly type with a more wry, witty, sophisticated Southerner. Thomason was born in 1940 in Hampton (Calhoun County). After moving to Little Rock (Pulaski County), he became a high-school speech teacher and football coach. Beginning with Encounter with the Unknown (1973), he wrote, produced, and/or directed the movies The Great Lester Boggs (1974), So Sad about Gloria (1975), The Day It Came to Earth (1979), and Revenge of Bigfoot (1979). He then moved to television, where he produced the television movies A Shining Season …

Thompson, Charles Louis

Charles Louis Thompson was a highly prolific architect who created one of the most successful architectural practices in Arkansas during the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. His firm designed more than two thousand buildings, of which hundreds still exist today. Charles Thompson was born in November 1868 in Danville, Illinois, to James C. and Henrietta Lightner Thompson. He and his six siblings were orphaned when he was fourteen, and they moved to Indiana to live with relatives. He quit school at the age of fourteen and went to work in a mill to help support his brothers and sisters. During his extra hours, he worked for an architect named Hunt, who taught him drafting and exposed …

Thompson, David Aiken

David Aiken Thompson came to Arkansas as the Arkansas Territory was beginning to show rapid growth, attracting settlers from eastern states and offering opportunities for business and land speculation. Thompson became one of the largest land speculators in Arkansas. At the height of his operations, he reportedly either owned outright or had an interest in 150,000 acres of land in sixteen Arkansas counties. David Thompson was born on April 4, 1796, at New Castle, Delaware, to Dr. David Thompson and his second wife, Frances Aiken Thompson. His father died two months before he was born. His mother soon moved to Jonesboro, Tennessee. There, she met John McAlister, and they married on December 25, 1800. Thompson grew up in Jonesboro and …

Thompson, Green Walter

Green Walter Thompson was a major African-American political leader and businessman in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from the end of the Civil War until his death. Green Thompson was born Green Elliott, a slave on the Robert Elliottt farm in Ouachita County. Nothing is known of his early life, though his tombstone lists a birth date of August 15, 1847. A birth year of 1848 is estimated from documents accumulated later in his life. The 1880 census records him as a “mulatto,” so it is likely a white man fathered him. His mother eventually married a slave named Thompson, and Green Elliott took his stepfather’s name. While a teenager, he married a slave named Dora Hildreth; they soon had a …

Thompson, M. Jeff

Meriwether “Jeff” Thompson was a brigadier general in the Missouri State Guard who served and led troops in Arkansas during the Civil War, ultimately surrendering the troops in the northeastern part of the state in 1865 after earning a reputation as a wily commander. Meriwether Thompson was born on January 22, 1826, in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, the son of U.S. Army paymaster Captain Meriwether Thompson and Nancy Slaughter Broadus Thompson. As a youth, Thompson would skip school to accompany a black deliveryman named Jeff on his rounds, which led his family to begin calling him by that name. His friends soon followed suit, and after moving to Missouri in 1847 he had his name legally changed to M. Jeff Thompson. …

Thompson, Roosevelt Levander

Roosevelt Levander Thompson was a very accomplished Arkansan who achieved many things during his short lifetime and is recognized as one of the most gifted people to have attended Yale University. Roosevelt Thompson was born on January 28, 1962, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Reverend C. R. Thompson and Dorothy L. Thompson. He attended Little Rock Central High School and participated in many of Central’s activities. During his freshman year, he decided he wanted to pursue a career in public service. By his junior year, his teachers were already talking to him about becoming a Rhodes Scholar. He was involved in school plays, the school newspaper, and various academic groups, and he was named the All-Star player on …

Thornton, Billy Bob

Billy Bob Thornton is an actor, director, screenwriter, and musician who began his film career in the late 1980s and has since starred in a number of popular and critically acclaimed films. He received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Sling Blade (1996). Billy Bob Thornton was born on August 4, 1955, in Hot Springs (Garland County), the oldest son of high school basketball coach Billy Ray Thornton and Virginia Faulkner, a psychic. At seven months of age, he set the Clark County record for heaviest infant, at thirty pounds. He has two younger brothers, Jimmy Don and John David. Residing with over a dozen relatives in a shack with no electricity or plumbing, the Thorntons subsisted on …

Thornton, Raymond Hoyt (Ray), Jr.

Law professor Raymond (Ray) Hoyt Thornton Jr. was an Arkansas entrepreneur, lawyer, attorney general, U.S. representative, university president, and Arkansas Supreme Court justice. Thornton also played a key role in fashioning the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon concerning the Watergate cover-up. Ray Thornton was born on July 16, 1928, in Conway (Faulkner County), one of two children of Raymond Thornton Sr. of Sheridan (Grant County) and Wilma Elizabeth Stephens of Prattsville (Grant County). His parents attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) and eventually returned to Sheridan to live; Thornton’s father served as superintendent of schools for Grant County, and his mother taught at Sheridan. Thornton graduated from high school in 1945 at age …

Thruston, Henry Clay

Henry Clay Thruston was a Confederate soldier who fought at the Battle of Pea Ridge and in the Camden Expedition, as well as in General Sterling Price’s Missouri Raid of 1864. Thruston is perhaps best known for reportedly being the tallest Confederate soldier of the Civil War at over seven and a half feet tall. Later in life, he worked for P. T. Barnum’s circus, being advertised as the world’s tallest man. Information is sketchy about the early life of Henry Clay Thruston. He was born in South Carolina in either 1830 or 1833, with the exact day variously recorded as May 4 or May 5. His father, Street Thruston, served in the American Revolutionary War, and he had four …

Thurman, Sue Bailey

Author, lecturer, historian, and editor Sue Bailey Thurman was a pioneer in civil rights and equality long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Her contributions in her advocacy, writings, and speeches helped lay a foundation that many others have built upon. Sue Elvie Bailey was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on August 26, 1903, one of ten children of educators Rev. Isaac Bailey and Susie Ford Bailey. Her parents emphasized education, religious instruction, and missionary work. They helped to found the forerunner of what became Morris Booker Memorial College in Dermott (Chicot County), a private college funded by African-American Baptists throughout the state. She completed her high school studies at Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia, …