Entry Type: Person - Starting with M

Morris, Gilbert Leslie

A Christy award–winning Christian author, Gilbert Leslie Morris wrote more than 200 books for young adults spanning several genres, including historical novels, westerns, science fiction, and fantasy. His most well-known series of novels, the “House of Winslow” series, has collectively sold more than a million copies. Gilbert Morris was born on May 24, 1929, in Forrest City (St. Francis County) to Osceola M. and Jewell Irene (Gilbert) Morris. Morris attended Arkansas State College (now Arkansas State University) and received a BA in English in 1948 and an MSE in 1962. He received a PhD from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1968 and also attended the University of Washington–Seattle. Morris married Johnnie Yvonne Fegert on May …

Morris, John Baptist

John Baptist Morris was the third Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, which still corresponds to the political boundaries of Arkansas. Known as a gifted orator, Bishop Morris served for four decades as Arkansas’s Catholic leader while the diocese underwent tremendous institutional growth. This was accomplished as the U.S. went through two world wars and a massive economic depression. John Baptist Morris was born on June 29, 1866, on farm near Hendersonville, Tennessee, the eldest son of John Morris and Anne Morrissey, both immigrants from Ireland. Morris received his first formal education at St. Mary’s College in Lebanon, Kentucky. It is not clear what degree Morris earned, for in 1887, he returned to live with his family, …

Morris, John William

John William Morris was a long-time physician in Woodruff County who practiced medicine until the age of 101. Beginning in 1950, the Arkansas Medical Association (AMA) recognized Morris as the oldest practicing physician in Arkansas. In 1973, the AMA and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” recognized him as the oldest full-time practicing physician in the United States. J. W. Morris was born on February 6, 1875 at Honey Hill (White County) to George Louis and Sarah Seawell Morris. He had ten siblings. Morris began his practice near McCrory (Woodruff County) on April 21, 1900. He married Amma Gray Burkett on December 19, 1901, and they had two children. Morris estimated that he delivered more than 7,000 babies during his career. …

Morton, Herwald “Hal”

Herwald “Hal” Morton was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service, spending most of his career working in the U.S. Information Agency (USIA). In a career spanning over thirty years—and which culminated in his earning the rank of Career Minister—he lived in five different countries while visiting more than 100 as a representative of the United States. He is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Hal Morton was born on July 19, 1931, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the youngest of Rachel and James Morton’s five children. He grew up in Little Rock and was the valedictorian of Dunbar High School’s Class of 1948. (He later recalled getting his first job as a ten-year-old, lying about his …

Moses, Colter Hamilton (Ham)

Colter Hamilton (Ham) Moses served as secretary to governors George W. Donaghey, George W. Hays, and Charles Hillman Brough prior to becoming general counsel, president, and chairman of the board of Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L). Well known as an eloquent speaker, Moses represented the Governor’s Office in an entourage that traveled around the country promoting Arkansas; however, his greatest contribution to Arkansas resulted in the state moving from an agricultural economy to an industrial one during the post–World War II years. Although the state’s economy grew monumentally because of Moses’s efforts, he credited the people of Arkansas for the success of his “Arkansas Plan.” C. Hamilton (Ham) Moses, the eldest of Angelus Gaston “A. G.” Moses and Mary Eulodia …

Mosley, Lawrence Leo “Snub”

Lawrence Leo “Snub” Mosley was a jazz trombonist, composer, and band leader originally from Little Rock (Pulaski County). Nicknamed “Snub,” Mosley had a career that spanned more than fifty years, which included stints in the 1930s with Claude Hopkins, Fats Waller, and Louis Armstrong. Mosley is probably best remembered today as creator of his own unique instrument—the slide saxophone—which combined an upright saxophone and mouthpiece with a trombone mouthpiece and slide. Snub Mosley was born on December 29, 1905, in Little Rock. Encouraged by his grandfather, he took an interest in the trombone and played in the band at M. W. Gibbs High School in Little Rock. His tendency to improvise on sheet music and (as Mosley put it) “swing” drew …

Mullins, David Wiley

David Wiley Mullins was a prominent and influential educator in Arkansas in the middle of the twentieth century. As president of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for almost fifteen years, he played an important role in the development of the state university system during a period of extensive expansion and growth. David W. Mullins was born on August 11, 1906, in Ash Flat (Sharp County). The son of Roscoe Mullins and Emma Matilda Roberts Mullins, he grew up in Ash Flat before entering UA in 1927. Majoring in math and history, he graduated cum laude in 1931. He became a high school teacher in the Williford Consolidated Schools in 1931 and served as superintendent of the …

Mullins, David Wiley, Jr.

David Wiley Mullins Jr. was a prominent economist whose professional experience includes stints working in both the Department of the Treasury and as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, as well as in the private sector. David W. Mullins Jr. was born on April 28, 1946, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was one of three children of David Wiley Mullins, who was a longtime educator, and Eula Elizabeth Harrell Mullins. Mullins’s family lived in Alabama, where his father worked for Auburn University. In 1960, his father became president of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), and David Mullins Jr. attended high school in Fayetteville, graduating from Fayetteville High School in 1964. Mullins earned a BS …

Munn, John Calvin

Lieutenant General John Calvin “Toby” Munn was a commander in the Pacific Theater of World War II and a pioneer among U.S. Marine aviators who perfected the use of aircraft carriers for combat operations. After the war, he was responsible for securing the major Japanese Yokosuka Naval Base, which became the largest U.S. naval base in the Far East. During his career, he continued to guide the improvement of U.S. Marine air capabilities, and he rose to the top echelon of marine leadership as the assistant commandant of the United States Marine Corps. John Calvin Munn was born in Prescott (Nevada County) on October 17, 1906, to a recently widowed schoolteacher named Cora Hitt Munn. At the age of five, …

Murphy, Benjamin Edward (Ben)

Ben Murphy is an actor and tennis star who is perhaps best known for his leading role in the popular 1970s television series Alias Smith and Jones, although he is also known for starring roles in a number of other TV series, including The Name of the Game, Griff, Gemini Man, and Berrenger’s. He played a major character in the landmark TV mini-series The Winds of War and appeared in feature films including The Graduate (1967), Yours, Mine & Ours (1968), The Thousand Plane Raid (1969), To Protect and Serve (2001), and The Uniform Motion of Folly (2006). He is also a highly regarded tennis player on the United States Tennis Association (USTA) singles and doubles circuit. Benjamin Edward (Ben) …

Murphy, Charles H., Jr.

Charles Haywood Murphy Jr. became the leader of his family businesses in 1941 at the age of twenty-one after his father suffered a stroke. Under his leadership, the family ownership of timber land, oil interests, and banking in southern Arkansas eventually became the Murphy Oil Corporation, a company with international operations. Charles H. Murphy Jr. was born in El Dorado (Union County) on March 6, 1920, to Charles Haywood Murphy Sr. and Bertie Wilson Murphy. He had three sisters. In 1904, his father moved to El Dorado (Union County) to operate a bank and, by 1907, owned thirteen banks in Arkansas and the Indian Territory. Subsequently, he built a sawmill at Cargile (Union County), south of El Dorado, and then …

Murphy, George Washington

George Washington Murphy’s career as a soldier and lawyer spanned sixty years and included an ideological journey from defending the Confederacy and slavery to seeking the liberation of twelve innocent Black men who had been sentenced to death following the events of the Elaine Massacre of 1919. Murphy was elected attorney general of Arkansas twice at the beginning of the twentieth century and, in 1913, ran for governor, unsuccessfully, on the Progressive Party ticket. George Murphy was born on January 8, 1841, in Huntingdon, Tennessee, north of Memphis, to Joseph Robertson Murphy and Grace Leslie Murphy. A few weeks before Tennessee formally seceded from the Union, in June 1861, Murphy, then twenty years old, enlisted in the Confederate army. He …

Murphy, Isaac

Isaac Murphy was a teacher, attorney, and eighth governor of Arkansas. After years of relative obscurity, he became nationally famous when, at the Arkansas Secession Convention on May 6, 1861, he not only voted against secession but also resolutely refused to change his vote despite enormous crowd pressure. In 1864, he became the first elected governor of Union-controlled Arkansas. Isaac Murphy was born outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 16, 1799, to Hugh Murphy and Jane Williams Murphy. His Murphy ancestors came to the United States from the Dublin, Ireland, area between about 1737 and 1740. His father was a paper manufacturer who died during Isaac’s childhood. The executor saw to Murphy’s education but squandered the estate before committing suicide. …

Murphy, Sara Alderman

Sara Alderman Murphy was an influential civic activist and educator in Arkansas in the twentieth century. As an adult, the Tennessee native moved with her family to Arkansas at the beginning of the turmoil surrounding the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and became active in the efforts to resolve the city’s often acrimonious school battles. Sara Alderman was born on June 17, 1924, in Wartrace, Tennessee, to David M. Alderman and Sadie Stephens Alderman. She earned a BA in social studies and English from George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in 1945. The following year, she earned an MS in journalism from Columbia University, where she said she developed a social consciousness about race that …

Murray, John Edward

John Edward Murray was a West Point cadet and Confederate officer who is popularly known as the youngest general in the Confederate army, though he was never thus promoted. John Murray was born in March 1843 to John C. Murray and Sarah Ann (Carter) Murray in Fauquier County, Virginia. His parents also had three other sons and one daughter. At the age of six, Murray moved with his family to Arkansas, settling near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where his father became a judge. In 1860, Murray received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point and attended that institution until the next year. With the secession of Arkansas, Murray returned home, where his military skills were put …

Murrell, John Andrews

Among legendary characters associated with nineteenth-century Arkansas, John Andrews Murrell occupies a prominent place. Counterfeiting and thieving along the Mississippi River, Murrell was only a petty outlaw in a time and place with little law enforcement. However, he became a greater figure in legend following his death. John A. Murrell was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, in 1806. His father, Jeffrey Gilliam Murrell, was a respected farmer who, with his wife, Zilpha Murrell, raised eight children. Shortly after John was born, the Murrells and other relations moved to Williamson County, Tennessee. However, Murrell’s father fell on hard times, and his sons, who were wild and errant, began to have trouble with the law. At the age of sixteen, Murrell, along …

Murry, Isaac Taylor (Ike)

Isaac Taylor (Ike) Murry was a lawyer and politician whose surging career before, during, and after World War II climaxed in a historic confrontation with Governor Sid McMath. Murry was the state’s attorney general who in 1952 led an effort to prosecute McMath or his aides for corruption and mismanagement in the state highway program. McMath tried twice to resurrect his career, losing both times, and the brutal investigation and election ended Murry’s political career as well as McMath’s. Ike Murry was born on May 8, 1913, in Fordyce (Dallas County), the youngest of six children of Isaac Taylor Murry and Addie Pearl Harris Murry. Robust and handsome, Murry was the center and defensive tackle of the Fordyce High School …

Murton, Thomas Orhelius

Tom Murton is best known for his attempts to reform the Arkansas prison system during the governorship of Winthrop Rockefeller. Intelligent and conscientious with a dry sense of humor, Murton could also prove abrasive and uncompromising with others, especially his superiors. His uncovering of three skeletons at Cummins prison farm in early 1968 gained national attention, and his handling of the matter drew the ire of the Rockefeller administration. Murton wrote a bestselling book about his time in Arkansas, Accomplices to the Crime (1969), on which the 1980 movie starring Robert Redford was loosely based. Thomas Orhelius Murton was born in Los Angeles, California, on March 15, 1928, the son of Oregon native Edmund T. Murton and Oklahoma native Bessie Glass Stevens …

Myers, Amina Claudine

Arkansas native Amina Claudine Myers is a noted pianist, singer, educator, recording artist, and composer who gained prominence in Chicago, Illinois, and New York City beginning in the 1970s. She has had a long career in jazz, choral/orchestral music, and theater, and is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame. Amina Claudine Myers was born on March 21, 1942, in Blackwell (Conway County). She was raised by her great-aunt, Emma Thomas, and by her uncle, who gave her music lessons early in her life. She studied classical piano at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Morrilton (Conway County). She moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1949 and kept studying piano. She played for …