Entries - Gender: Female - Starting with F

Fairchild, Barbara

  Throughout her career, Barbara Fairchild has been an influential singer and songwriter in both country and gospel music. Barbara Fairchild was born in Lafe (Greene County) on November 12, 1950, to Opal and Ulys Fairchild. She was raised in Knobel (Clay County) until she and her family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, when she was thirteen. Fairchild’s passion for performing began early; she first performed in front of an audience at age five in a school talent show. Two years after moving to St. Louis, Fairchild released her first single, “Brand New Bed of Roses,” for the Norman label, and it appeared on local television channels. After graduating from high school, Fairchild moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a career in …

Fayetteville Female Seminary

One of the most influential institutions in early Arkansas was the Fayetteville Female Seminary in Fayetteville (Washington County), which provided a quality education for girls throughout the region in a time when most women received little, if any, schooling. It also accepted both Cherokee and white students in an era when the “mixing of the races” was discouraged. Though it was only in existence from 1839 through 1862, the Fayetteville Female Seminary is often cited as one of the factors leading to the location of the state’s land-grant university, the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. The Fayetteville Female Seminary was created by Sophia Sawyer of Rindge, New Hampshire. She went to Georgia 1823 as a missionary to the Cherokee through …

Fernandez, Josie

Josie Fernandez was superintendent of Hot Springs National Park from 2004 to 2018—the first woman to lead the park. Fernandez served a total of twenty-five years in the National Park Service, with fourteen being spent in Hot Springs (Garland County). Under Fernandez’s leadership, Hot Springs National Park rehabilitated its historic bathhouses and founded community engagement programs such as the Artist in Residence Program. Josie Fernandez was born in Cuba in 1957; she has one younger brother. Her family eventually fled Cuba for political reasons and immigrated to the United States when she was twelve, settling in Hialeah, Florida, in 1969. She became an American citizen on July 4, 1976. She spent one year at Miami Dade Junior College and then …

First Ladies

Although there is no defined position mandated by the Arkansas General Assembly for the state’s first lady, today’s Arkansas citizens expect the occupant of the position to hold many roles, including supportive spouse to the governor, hostess, social activist, and speech maker. But such was not always the case for Arkansas’s first ladies. In fact, not much was expected from this position until after World War II, and those increased expectations came to be as a result of increased media scrutiny. Arkansas’s territorial period (1819–1836) saw the beginnings of organized government in the form of president-appointed governors to the territory. The wives of these governors did not play an active part in the formation of the Arkansas Territory. In fact, …

Fisher, Jimmie Lou

Jimmie Lou Fisher, a pioneering female politician, was the state treasurer or state auditor of Arkansas for twenty-four years. She is the longest-serving state treasurer in Arkansas history. Fisher got her start in politics by being elected treasurer of Greene County in 1970, but her friendship and alliance with young Bill Clinton when he campaigned for Congress in 1974 launched her state political career. Her final race came in 2002, when Democratic Party leaders persuaded her to run for governor against the popular Republican governor Mike Huckabee, who was running for his second full term. Though heavily outspent and suffering from a painful back ailment, Fisher nevertheless received forty-seven percent of the votes. Jimmie Lou Cooper was born on December …

Fisher, Rosemary Beryl Snook “Snooky”

Rosemary Beryl Snook Fisher was an artist and pottery instructor for the Arkansas Arts Center for several years. She had an active interest in the preservation of the art forms of the Ozarks but was influenced by many diverse cultures. As a devoted teacher into her last years, she influenced many future artists. She had added local notoriety as the wife of George Fisher, the chief editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Gazette. Her husband regularly wove her nickname, Snooky, into his cartoons; for many years, a favorite game among readers was to find the hidden nickname. Rosemary Snook was born in early 1927 in Burnham-on-Sea, England, to Harold George Snook and Rose Annie Elliott; she had three younger siblings. On …

Flowers, Beulah Lee Sampson

Beulah Lee Sampson Flowers was an African-American educator, community leader, political activist, and businesswoman who was also a mentor to Maya Angelou. Beulah Sampson was born on January 10, 1883, in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Her parents, John Sampson Sr. and Frances Johnson Sampson, were ex-slaves and farmers who lived in the Ozan and Mine Creek townships of Hempstead County. According to the Sampson-Flowers oral tradition, Beulah was the youngest child of approximately twenty-three full and half siblings. Family members debate the exact number of her siblings. She received a public school education in Hempstead County and attended Bowen Seminary in Clow (Hempstead County). Sampson completed her education at Williams Industrial College, a vocational training school for African Americans, in Little …

Flowers, Gennifer

Gennifer Flowers is a singer and former model best known for her affair with Governor Bill Clinton. The relationship, which she claimed lasted for twelve years, was revealed by the tabloid Star in the early winter of 1992 and threatened to derail Clinton’s 1992 campaign for president. Eura Gean Flowers, who was known growing up as Geannie Flowers, was born on January 24, 1950, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the only child of Gene and Mary Flowers. After her birth, the family left Oklahoma for Anchorage, Alaska, and then moved to Washington state and Modesto, California. They eventually settled in rural Brinkley (Monroe County), and her father developed a crop-dusting business. Flowers says that she wanted to be an entertainer from …

Forbush, Nellie

Nellie Forbush is a fictional character created by bestselling author James A. Michener (1907–1997). A native of Arkansas, the character of Nellie first appears in Michener’s book Tales of the South Pacific, which was published in 1947. Tales of the South Pacific, a series of nineteen interrelated stories based on Michener’s experiences in the U.S. Navy while stationed on the New Hebrides Islands in the Pacific during World War II, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Michener explained that he had wanted to write observations of what he called the “valiant people” he met there: “the French planters, the Australian coast watchers, the Navy nurses, the Tonkinese laborers, the ordinary sailors and soldiers who were doing the work, and …

Freund, Elsie Mari Bates

Elsie Mari Bates Freund was a studio art jeweler, watercolorist, and textile artist. In 1941, she and her husband, Louis Freund, established an art school in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) and were major players in preserving and making that town a haven for writers and artists. Elsie Bates was born on January 12, 1912, on a 1,500-acre game preserve in Taney County, Missouri, near the small community of Mincy. She had two sisters. Her father, Ralph C. Bates, who was the superintendent of the game preserve, was of Irish and Cherokee descent. Bates was proud of her Cherokee heritage and claimed that Indian lore kept her close to nature. Bates proclaimed she wanted to be an artist at age five. …

Friedman, Honey Bruce

aka: Honey Harlow
aka: Harriett Jolliff
Harriett Jolliff was an Arkansas-born entertainer best known as the wife and muse of comedian Lenny Bruce. Jolliff maintained ties to her Arkansan maternal grandparents and took Bruce to visit them on at least one occasion. Harriett Jolliff was born on August 15, 1927, in Manila (Mississippi County) to Murl Jolliff and Mabel Layson Jolliff. She had a younger sister, Virginia. Jolliff’s father left the family when Harriett was a young child and Virginia was an infant; he did not maintain contact with his daughters. Mabel traveled to Detroit, Michigan, to look for work. The girls spent much of their early years at the farm of their maternal grandparents, Anna and Oliver Layson, in Poplar Corner (Mississippi County). Jolliff spent …

Fulbright, Roberta Waugh

Roberta Waugh Fulbright took charge of the inherited, fragmented business holdings originally assembled by her husband and molded them into a multi-enterprise family firm. She emerged as an influential newspaper publisher, columnist, bank president, successful business owner, and civic crusader in Fayetteville (Washington County). Roberta Waugh was born on February 14, 1874, in Rothville, Missouri, to James Waugh, a farmer, and Pattie Stratton, a homemaker. She had three brothers and a sister who died in infancy in 1881. Waugh grew up in north central Missouri, attended the lower grades of public school in Rothville, graduated from high school in Kansas City, and attended the University of Missouri for two years to qualify for a teacher’s certificate. She taught in Chariton …

Fuqua, Lela Rochon

Lela Rochon Fuqua, whose professional name is Lela Rochon, has appeared in nearly fifty movies and television shows, starring alongside some of Hollywood’s elite actors, including Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Gene Hackman, Whitney Houston, Timothy Hutton, Eddie Murphy, and Tupac Shakur. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. She was born Lela Rochon Staples in Torrance, California, on April 17, 1964, to Samuel Staples and Zelma Staples of Camden (Ouachita County). Her parents, both alumni of Lincoln High School, attended Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Her father graduated from Arkansas AM&N and went on to own and operate Aladdin Enterprises, a graphic-arts business in California, from …

Fyler, Eliza A. (Lizzie) Dorman

Lizzie Dorman Fyler was an activist in Arkansas in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Although she died at the age of thirty-five, she had already made a mark as a leader in the temperance movement, and she laid the early foundation for the drive to achieve women’s suffrage in Arkansas. Eliza (Lizzie) Dorman was born on March 11, 1850, in Massachusetts to Dr. Uriah Dorman and Eliza Alma Dorman. She moved with her parents and her mother’s parents to Wisconsin in 1853. While little is known about her youth, she appears to have grown up and received her early education in Wisconsin before marrying Frank F. Fyler in 1870. The couple had a daughter in 1871, by which time …