Entry Type: Person - Starting with B

Brough, Charles Hillman

Charles Hillman Brough was an educator, a promoter, and the state’s twenty-fifth governor. Consistently rated by some historians as among the state’s best governors, he exemplified southern progressivism in Arkansas. However, he also led the state’s official response to the Elaine Massacre, the deadliest mass-casualty instance of racial violence in the state. Charles Brough (whose much-mispronounced name rhymes with “rough”) was born July 9, 1876, in Clinton, Mississippi. His father, Milton Brough, was a captain in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry in the Civil War. After the war, he engaged in mining and banking, first in the South and then in Utah. While in Mississippi, he met and married Flora Thompson, a schoolteacher, who came from Maine and was living …

Brown, Benjamin Chambers

Benjamin Chambers Brown was among the first Arkansas artists to attain national and international recognition as a painter, lithographer, and etcher. He is best known for his plein-air impressionist landscapes of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and expanses of brilliantly colored poppy fields. His works are in major museums in the United States and Europe, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC and the British Museum in London, England. Benjamin Brown was born in Marion (Crittenden County) on July 14, 1865, one of five children born to Judge Benjamin Chambers Brown and Mary Booker Brown. He spent much of his boyhood in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Brown’s parents wanted him to become an attorney, but he wanted to be …

Brown, Dee

aka: Dorris Alexander Brown
Dorris Alexander (Dee) Brown is the only contributor to Arkansas literature included in The New York Public Library’s Books of the Century (1996), a selection of the “most significant works of the past 100 years.” He lived more than half his life in Arkansas and, beginning as a teenager, wrote continuously for publication, often long into the night, as he did for his best-known work, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970), which changed the way the world thinks about America’s westward expansion. His daytime profession as a librarian was the key to his international success as a writer: he knew how to find primary sources, such as Indian Treaties written in their own Native American words. His most famous …

Brown, Evangeline Katherine

Evangeline Katherine Johnson Brown was a longtime educator and activist in the Arkansas Delta who served as a plaintiff and witness in Jeffers v. Clinton, a lawsuit that helped create new majority black districts for the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Arkansas Senate. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. Evangeline Katherine Johnson was born in Norwood, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, on February 23, 1909, the fourth child of James M. Johnson and Mamie C. Gilmore Johnson. Her father was a farmer who owned the family’s farm (with a mortgage). It was fairly uncommon for area families to own their farms at that time. The family frequently moved, and Johnson attended high schools in …

Brown, Floyd B.

Floyd B. Brown founded the Fargo Agricultural School in Monroe County in 1919 to provide the equivalent of elementary and secondary vocational education for African-American students. The school was for both day and residential students and was modeled after the Tuskegee Institute, which Brown attended, where students learned practical skills intended to help them achieve success and economic security. Floyd Brown was born on April 27, 1891, in Stampley, Mississippi, the second of ten children and the son of black tenant farmers Charles and Janie Brown. As a youth, Brown worked with his father in the cotton fields of Mississippi and the cane fields of Louisiana. His mother, who had heard of the work of Booker T. Washington, encouraged him …

Brown, Fountain

Fountain Brown was a Methodist preacher who was the first person to be charged and found guilty of violating the Emancipation Proclamation. Charged with having sold several of his slaves back into slavery after they had in fact been freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s order, Brown found himself at the center of a case that reflected the changes that came with the war. For a brief time, it was a celebrated legal matter leading to an active postwar effort to secure a pardon for the physically ailing Brown. Little is known about Fountain Brown’s early years. He is thought to have been born in 1806 or 1807, but the location is unknown. A one-time resident of Tennessee, he had been …

Brown, Helen Marie Gurley

Helen Gurley Brown was a native Arkansan whose career includes landmark achievements in advertising and publishing. She was considered a spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement and sexual revolution in the mid-twentieth century as author of the bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl (1962) and editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Helen Marie Gurley was born on February 18, 1922, in Green Forest (Carroll County) to a family of modest means. Her father, Ira Gurley, finished law school in 1923 and was soon elected a state legislator. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and settled in the Pulaski Heights neighborhood. In 1932, as her father was preparing to run for Arkansas secretary of state, he was killed in an elevator …

Brown, Irma Lee Hunter

Irma Hunter Brown of Little Rock (Pulaski County) served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1981 to 1998 and in the Arkansas Senate from 2003 to 2008. She was the first African American woman elected to the Arkansas House and then became the first African American woman elected to the Arkansas Senate.  Irma Lee Hunter was born on January 5, 1939, in Tampa, Florida, to Dovie Estoria White Hunter and Joseph Hartwell Hunter. She grew up in Forsyth, Georgia, where she attended segregated public schools and graduated from Hubbard High School. She moved to North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to attend Shorter College, received her associate’s degree in 1958, and then transferred to Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), where she was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and graduated magna cum laude in 1960 with a double major in history and government and a minor …

Brown, J. L.

aka: James Lafayette Brown
James Lafayette (J. L.) Brown, one of the most influential early leaders of the Landmark Baptist movement in Arkansas, was a minister, editor, poet, legislator, and published writer. J. L. Brown was born at Elm Store, a rural community on the Eleven Point River in northwestern Randolph County, on December 7, 1853. He was the youngest of the eight children of farmer Elijah Brown and his wife, Mozilla. The father died in 1859, and James and his family relocated to eastern Independence County after the Civil War. He later recalled that he “was raised in poverty and received the most rudimentary of educations.” Most of his class room education was obtained after he was an adult. He was ordained as …

Brown, Jacob

Jacob Brown was an important but often overlooked figure in Arkansas’s territorial and early statehood period. He served as the chief disbursement agent for the Office of Removal and Subsistence and was the first president of the Arkansas State Bank. After Brown fought and was killed in the Siege of Fort Texas during the Mexican War, Fort Texas was renamed Fort Brown in his honor; the city of Brownsville, Texas, also bears his name, as does Brownsville (Lonoke County). Jacob Brown was born in Charlton, Massachusetts, on July 19, 1789. Brown’s father, also called Jacob, had served during the Revolutionary War against Great Britain, and his mother was Mary Wells Brown, also from Charlton. Brown served with distinction in the …

Brown, Jim Ed

Country and western music star Jim Ed Brown’s career spanned more than half a century since the early 1950s. He was a solo vocalist and a member of two singing groups: the Browns and a duo consisting of himself and singer Helen Cornelius. He performed on numerous radio and television programs, hosting some and starring on others, and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. James Edward Brown was born in Sparkman (Dallas County) on April 1, 1934, to Floyd and Birdie Brown; he had two sisters. He grew up in the timber country near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and his father hauled logs for a living and was also a farmer. Brown formed a musical duo with his …

Brown, John Elward

A prominent evangelist, publisher, radio pioneer, and educator in the first half of the twentieth century, John Elward Brown established John Brown University (JBU), one of the state’s leading private universities. He was also the leading figure in securing passage of a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol in Benton County, a ban that continued into the twenty-first century. John Brown was born on April 2, 1879, near Center Point, Iowa, the fifth of nine children born to Civil War veteran John Franklin Brown and his wife, Julia. The elder Brown, weakened by war injuries, could not perform arduous farm work, so the family subsisted on a meager soldier’s pension. At age eleven, Brown dropped out of school to work …

Brown, Lyle

Lyle Brown was a lawyer and historian who capped a career in politics by serving for twenty-one years as a circuit judge and justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Brown earned some renown as the only justice on the court at the time to insist on the right of the state’s public schools to teach evolutionary theory. When a legal challenge to the state’s 1928 initiated act that forbade the teaching of evolution reached the Arkansas Supreme Court late in 1966, there was intense pressure for the court to be united in upholding the law, which was widely believed to protect the biblical account of the creation of the universe from perceived scientific attacks. To satisfy two justices who originally …

Brown, Robert Laidlaw (Bob)

An attorney with a successful career in politics working for Dale Bumpers and Jim Guy Tucker, Robert L. Brown served as associate justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1991 until his retirement in 2012. Brown authored several opinions that changed the landscape of Arkansas history, including the Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee public school lawsuit and U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, which was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Robert Laidlaw (Bob) Brown was born in Houston, Texas, on June 30, 1941, to Robert and Katherine Brown; he had two sisters. His father Robert Raymond Brown was an Episcopal priest who began his ministry in Harlingen, Texas. Brown began his education in public school at …

Brown, Robert Raymond

The Right Reverend Robert Raymond Brown was the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. He became nationally known in 1957 for his role in the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Brown drafted a pastoral letter that stated the Episcopal Church’s unequivocal position in favor of desegregation and support for racial equality. His efforts with a number of clergy, Christian and Jewish, resulted in a city-wide Day of Prayer on October 12, 1957. Brown was also the author of five books, including Bigger Than Little Rock, which recounted his role in the desegregation conflict. Robert Raymond Brown was born on June 16, 1910, in Garden City, Kansas. He was one of two sons of …

Brown, Walter Lee

A Texan who helped shape the discipline of Arkansas history, Walter Lee Brown oversaw the daily operations of the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA) for thirty-five years and edited its journal, the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, for almost as long. Walter L. Brown was born in Gatesville, Texas, in 1924, to Frank J. Brown and Alice Berry Brown. Brown served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He earned a BA in history at Texas A&M University (1949) and an MA (1950) and PhD (1955) from the University of Texas. His dissertation was only the first installment in a lifetime of work on the Arkansas politician and polymath Albert Pike. In 1954, Brown joined the history department at the University …

Brown, William M. “Buck”

William M. “Buck” Brown was the leader of a band of irregular Confederate cavalrymen who bedeviled Union troops in northwestern Arkansas for much of the Civil War. William M. “Buck” Brown was born on May 26, 1822, in Bedford County, Tennessee. He married Elizabeth Ann Burgess, and they moved to Arkansas; the couple had eight children, one who died as a small child. By 1850, they were living in Washington County’s Marrs Hill Township, where he reported owning $700 in real estate. Ten years later, the growing family was living in Elm Springs (Washington and Benton counties) and reporting $4,000 in real property and $2,000 in personal property, which included an enslaved woman. Brown was listed as a farmer in …

Brownderville, Greg Alan

Arkansas poet Greg Alan Brownderville has published three award-winning books of poetry and folklore and created a “go-show” called Fire Bones. He is a full professor in the Department of English at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, and is editor-in-chief of the Southwest Review. Greg Brownderville was born on October 10, 1976, in a Jonesboro (Craighead County) hospital. He grew up with his brother and sister in the small close-knit Woodruff County community of Pumpkin Bend, where generations of his family lived and farmed. His father, Alton Brownderville, was a farmer and later owned a funeral home. His mother, Janie Woodall Brownderville, worked at the county library and later was secretary to the elementary principal at McCrory (Woodruff …

Browning, Kayle

Kayle Browning is a world-class markswoman, specializing in trap shooting. She represented the United States in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she won a silver medal after years of successfully competing in competitions both in the United States and around the world. Kayle Browning was born on July 9, 1992, in Conway (Faulkner County) to Tommy Lynn Browning and Tammy Browning. She graduated from Greenbrier High School in Greenbrier (Faulkner County) in 2010 and attended the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), where she studied interior design. Introduced to shooting by her father, who was a lifelong hunter and avid sporting clay shooter who had won national shooting titles, Browning was exposed to competitive shooting at an early age. When she …

Brownlee, Christine Jackson

Christine Brownlee was mayor of Gilmore (Crittenden County) in 1987–1990 and again in 1997–2002, as well as a state representative in the Seventy-Eighth and Seventy-Ninth Arkansas General Assemblies, serving in 1991–1994 and representing several cities and towns in Mississippi County and a small portion of Crittenden County. She was the first African–American woman to serve as a Republican in the Arkansas General Assembly.  Christine Jackson was born in Jonesboro (Craighead County) on October 16, 1955, to Fannie Murray Wall Jackson, who was a homemaker, and Tom Edward Jackson, a farmer. She was the youngest of ten children. She began her education at the segregated George Washington Carver public school in Marked Tree (Poinsett County). When she was in the third grade, the family moved to Gilmore, near where her father bought a 120-acre farm, and she attended the segregated William R. Golden School in Turrell (Crittenden County). She was salutatorian of her sixth–grade class, a …

Brownlee, Robert

Robert Brownlee was a Scottish stonemason who lived in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1837 to 1849. He helped build the first statehouse in Arkansas and several other historic landmarks in Pulaski County. Robert Brownlee was born on April 24, 1813, in Bonkle, Cambusnethan Parish, a tiny community in the Scottish lowlands. He was ninth in a family of seven sons and four daughters born to Margaret and Alexander Brownlee. After a basic education at Murdestoun Estate School near Bonkle, he apprenticed to his older brother, William, a stonecutter. Brownlee was twenty-three when he read about the December 1835 fire that almost destroyed New York City and the need for mechanics to help rebuild the city. That same day, he …

Broyles, Frank

aka: John Franklin Broyles
After beginning his administrative career as an assistant coach at Baylor University in 1947, John Franklin (Frank) Broyles became one of the most familiar and powerful figures in all of college sports. In his years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), he built a diverse and excellent athletics program, plus a system of world-class athletic facilities in addition to establishing a winning tradition that includes the most football victories as head coach in Razorbacks history: 144 wins, far ahead of the runner-up coach, Lou Holtz, whose teams won sixty. Frank Broyles was born on December 26, 1924, in Decatur, Georgia, to O. T. Broyles and Louise Solms Broyles. Broyles became a star quarterback at Georgia Tech, where he …

Bruce, William Harvey (Harve)

Harve Bruce was a moonshiner who resided on Oak Mountain in Van Buren County. Pursued by local and federal authorities, Bruce shot and killed two U.S. marshals, although his sentences for moonshining were longer than his sentence for killing the marshals.  William Harvey (Harve) Bruce was born on June 23, 1847, to William and Sarah Bruce of Georgia. The family moved to Winston County, Alabama, to earn money through tenant farming. However, the Civil War began soon after, and his father joined the Confederate army. Without any financial support, his mother moved the family closer to relatives in Cherokee County, North Carolina. Two years into the fighting, Harve Bruce joined the Confederate army after turning sixteen. Serving for the remainder of the war, he fought in the infantry division Company D, Thomas’s Legion, led by Colonel William Holland Thomas. This was one of the few regiments in which Cherokee and …

Bruhin, Joseph Aloysius

Ceramic artist Joseph Aloysius Bruhin III of Fox (Stone County) was awarded the Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship in 1992 and has been the recipient and winner of numerous “best of show” awards. Nationally, Bruhin figures among two dozen potters who are recognized as specializing in wood-fired pottery. He is the first contemporary potter to work continuously with a wood-fired kiln in Arkansas. Joe Bruhin was born on April 7, 1953, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Bruhin and Joseph Aloysius Bruhin Jr., an electrician; he was one of four boys. At age fifteen, Bruhin was hitchhiking and backpacking to the western states of Colorado, California, and Washington. He graduated from high school in 1971 and spent some time exploring Florida …

Brumley, Albert Edward

Albert Edward Brumley Sr. was one of the most successful American gospel song composers of the twentieth century, penning such standards as “I’ll Fly Away,” “I’ll Meet You in the Morning,” “If We Never Meet Again,” “Turn Your Radio On,” and many others. Between 1926 and 1931, he studied, lived, and worked at the Hartford Music Company in Hartford (Sebastian County) under the tutelage of its founder, Eugene Monroe (E. M.) Bartlett. Although Bartlett died in 1941, Brumley forever credited him as the chief mentor and inspiration behind his music and eventually purchased the Hartford Music Company in 1948. Albert E. Brumley was born on October 29, 1905, in Indian Territory near present-day Spiro, Oklahoma. His parents, William Sherman Brumley …

Brundidge, Stephen, Jr.

Stephen Brundidge Jr. was a prosecuting attorney, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee, and a six-term U.S. Representative for the Sixth and Second Congressional districts. Born on January 1, 1857, in Searcy (White County), Brundidge was the fourth child of Stephen and Minerva Brundidge, who moved to Searcy from Mississippi in 1853. His father was a contractor who built the first brick buildings in Searcy, including the main section of the present White County Courthouse, built in 1869. Brundidge graduated with honors from the Searcy Male and Female Academy. He then read law in the offices of William R. Coody and Dandridge McRae and was admitted to the bar in 1879. He first practiced law in Jacksonport (Jackson …

Bryan, Leon L. “Doc”

Leon L. “Doc” Bryan was an influential figure in the Arkansas House of Representatives in the final third of the twentieth century. A Democrat, he served for almost thirty years, his tenure ending with his death in office. Leon L. Bryan was born on January 31, 1920, in Coal Hill (Johnson County) to Arthur Hershell Bryan and Gertrude Elnora Jennings Bryan. Bryan grew up in Coal Hill and attended the local schools, graduating from Coal Hill High School in 1939. An outstanding athlete, he was a member of Coal Hill High School’s state championship basketball team. After graduation, he attended what is now Arkansas Tech University in Russellville (Pope County), where he earned letters in both basketball and track before …