Entry Type: Person

Yell, Archibald

Archibald Yell, a larger than life and colorful figure in Arkansas history, was Arkansas’s first congressman, second governor, founder of Arkansas’s first Masonic lodge, and Mexican War hero. He was a consummate, magnetic politician. Yell County and Yellville (Marion County) were named for him. Archibald Yell is believed to have been born in Jefferson County, Tennessee, in 1797, although North Carolina appears on his tombstone and Kentucky can be found in newspaper accounts. Yell himself wrote that he was born in Tennessee, although he could not spell that word or anything else above two syllables correctly. Best evidence indicates August 7, 1797, not 1799, as his date of birth. His parents—Moses and Jane Curry Yell—settled in the Duck River region …

Yell, James

James Yell was a lawyer, state legislator, and major general in the Arkansas State Militia during the Civil War. Never holding an active field command, he was removed from his position early in the war because of his allegiance to state troops rather than the Confederate government. He did not see action in the war. James Yell was born on March 10, 1811, in Bedford County, Tennessee. He was the son of Pearcy Yell and Jane Gist Yell, and he was the nephew of Archibald Yell, Arkansas’s first congressman and second governor. Receiving some education, he taught school for three years and also served as a magistrate in Tennessee. He married Permelia Young in Bedford County in 1832, and the …

Yellow Horse, Moses J. “Chief”

Moses J. “Chief” Yellow Horse (sometimes rendered YellowHorse or Yellowhorse) is believed by some to be the first full-blooded Native American to play baseball in the major leagues. He spent one celebrated season pitching for the Little Rock Travelers in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1920, which catapulted him to the peak of his short and tragic career. The Pittsburgh Pirates bought “Chief” Yellow Horse’s contract after that season, and he arrived in Pennsylvania in 1921 amid acclaim and high expectations, owing to a lightning fastball that had terrified and struck out so many batters in the Southern Association that Little Rock had won its first-ever baseball championship. In Little Rock, he made a lifetime friend of writer Dee Brown, …

Young, Paul Holden

Paul Holden Young was a bamboo fly-rod designer known for making the bamboo fishing rod lighter, shorter, and capable of being broken down so that it could be more easily transported. Today, his rods are collectibles worth many times the prices they sold for in the 1930s and 1940s. Paul H. Young was born in Cherry Valley (Cross County) on August 27, 1890, to Charles Henry Young and Sarah Alice Young; he had four siblings. His father taught in a variety of local schools but was eventually forbidden from teaching in Cross County after arguments with each school board. Young’s mother, who had several sisters in Jonesboro (Craighead County), raised two of her five children and sent the rest to …

Young, Rufus King

Rufus King Young was an influential church and civil rights leader in Arkansas in the second half of the twentieth century. As the leader of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County), he was actively involved in the local civil rights movement and the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Rufus King Young was born on May 13, 1911, to Robert Young and Laura Scott Young in Bayou Bartholomew (Drew County). He received his early education at Young’s Chapel AME Church, an institution built on land originally owned by his grandfather, before graduating in 1933 from Chicot County Training School in Dermott (Chicot County). He continued his education at Shorter College in North …

Zellner, Ferdinand

Ferdinand Frederick Zellner lived in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1852 until 1863 and wrote a piece of music called “Fayetteville Polka,” which is believed to be the first Arkansas composition to be published as sheet music. Ferdinand Zellner was born in Berlin, Prussia (now a part of Germany), in August 1831 and reportedly came to the United States in 1850 as part of the orchestra that toured with Jenny Lind, the “Swedish nightingale.” After the tour ended and Lind returned to Europe, Zellner and his brother, Willhelm Emil Zellner, stayed in America and settled in Fayetteville. Ferdinand Zellner filed paperwork with Washington County in 1852 to become an American citizen and was hired by Sophia Sawyer as a music teacher …