Entries - Gender: Female - Starting with T

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, …

Taylor Sisters (Lynching of)

Two African-American women known only as the Taylor sisters were killed on Sunday, March 17, 1907, in McKamie (Lafayette County) while they were detained on charges of murderous assault against Ella Roton and her married daughter, Nora Ogelsby. According to some counts, there were only eight women ever lynched in Arkansas, all of them African American, and so this case constitutes a quarter of all such murders in the state. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the two sisters were aged twenty and fifteen. The likeliest pair of women in the area are sisters Suffronia and Lela Taylor, born in 1885 and 1890, respectively. They appear on the 1900 census, living in Steele Township, but not thereafter. The Roton family (the …

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, …

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. …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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, …

Tomkievicz, Shirley Jean Abbott

aka: Shirley Abbott
Shirley Jean Abbott Tomkievicz, a magazine editor and writer, achieved her greatest fame for her three volumes of memoirs, which detail the story of her family history and her own coming of age in Hot Springs (Garland County): Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South (1983), The Bookmaker’s Daughter: A Memory Unbound (1991), and Love’s Apprentice: The Education of a Modern Woman (1998), all written under the name Shirley Abbott. Critics  lauded her books as well-written examinations, not only of her own life, but of the South in an age of transition. Even after becoming a resident of New York, Abbott continues to write about Arkansas for a wide audience in magazines and newspapers. She once commented, “I learned to respect and …

Tompkins, Rosie Lee

aka: Effie Mae Martin Howard
Rosie Lee Tompkins was the assumed name of Effie Mae Howard, a widely acclaimed African-American quiltmaker whose prodigious talents catapulted her to the forefront of contemporary art. As New York Times critic Roberta Smith put it, “Tompkins’s textile art [works]…demolish the category.” Effie Mae Martin (Effie Mae Howard was her married name) was born in Arkansas on September 6, 1936, to Sadie Bell and MacCurey Martin. The oldest of fifteen half-siblings, she grew up picking cotton and helping her mother piece quilts in rural Gould (Lincoln County), where poverty forced the family to use every available scrap of cloth. Howard never completed high school. She moved to Richmond, California, in 1958 and took courses in nursing at various local institutions, …

Top of the Rock Chorus

The Top of the Rock Chorus is the Little Rock (Pulaski County) chapter of Sweet Adelines International, the female barbershop singing group. The chorus was formed on February 7, 1961, and two original members sang with Top of the Rock until 2005. The group was originally called Little Rock Chorus and was renamed Top of the Rock Chorus in the 1980s. It is composed of about sixty women—ages twenties to eighties—who rehearse weekly and compete annually against other female choruses and quartets in Region 25 (Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas), the Heart of America Region. Sweet Adelines International was formed on July 13, 1945, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A few women wanted to participate in the “chord-ringing, fun-filled harmony” that their husbands—members of …

Travis, Kathryne Bess Hail

Kathryne Bess Hail Travis was an artist and teacher who was especially known for her still-life paintings of flowers. For a three-year period in the late 1920s, she and her then-husband, artist Olin Travis, ran the Travis Ozark Summer Art School near Cass (Franklin County). Kathryne Bess Hail was born in Ozark (Franklin County) on February 6, 1894. She was the only child of Albert Eugene Hail, who owned a general store, and Maude (Brown) Hail. Her education was financed and closely supervised by a wealthy uncle, Oliver Brown. She studied art in high school and graduated with honors from Galloway College in Searcy (White County) in 1911. She briefly attended a girls’ school in Chicago, Illinois, before enrolling in …

Trickey, Minnijean Brown

Minnijean Brown Trickey made history as one 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. Minnijean Brown, the eldest of four children of Willie and Imogene Brown, was born on September 11, 1941, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Her mother was a homemaker and nurse’s aid during the crisis, and her father was an independent mason and landscaping contractor. She is the sister of the late Bobby Brown, who was the president of Black United Youth (BUY) in Arkansas in the late 1960s. Although all of the Nine experienced …

Trulock, Amanda Beardsley

Amanda Beardsley Trulock was an antebellum woman from Connecticut who married a Georgia cotton planter, migrated to Arkansas, and eventually became a plantation proprietor and sole owner of sixty-two slaves near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). She was one among the small number of American women from abolitionist New England who married into a slave-owning family before embracing the institution of slavery herself. However, largely due to her “Yankee” heritage and continued association with her New England family, Trulock was an atypical example of an antebellum slaveholder in the Delta. Her personal papers (primarily correspondence to her Connecticut family) represent an important documentation of plantation life, the Civil War, and emancipation in Arkansas history. Born on April 22, 1811, to Nicholas …

Tuck, Annabelle Davis Clinton Imber

Annabelle Davis Clinton Imber Tuck was the first woman elected justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and, as a trial judge, wrote the original order that reshaped the financing of public education in the state. While a chancery judge in Pulaski County in 1994, she issued an order declaring the state’s system of funding and operating its public schools unconstitutional and gave the Arkansas General Assembly two years to produce schools that guaranteed every child the same opportunity for a good education, as the state constitution required. Ten years later, the case, Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee, resulted in sweeping reforms, including school consolidation and changes in tax structures, that the Supreme Court declared had finally complied with …

Tucker, Betty Jeane Allen

Betty Jeanne Allen Tucker is the wife of Jim Guy Tucker (the forty-third governor of Arkansas) and was the state’s thirty-eighth first lady. Outside of politics, she is best known for her work with the Arkansas Arts Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Betty Jeanne Allen was born on February 28, 1943, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Emmett Allen and Gertrude Allen; she was raised in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Her father served during World War II as an aviator and later practiced law in Brookhaven. During the war, Allan lived with her mother’s parents, who owned a farm and had a lucrative cotton-trading business. She married Lance Alworth in 1958 and came to Arkansas after Alworth signed on …

Tulip Female Collegiate Seminary

aka: Ouachita Conference Female College
The Tulip Female Collegiate Seminary was established in Tulip (Dallas County) during the antebellum period when the community was flourishing. The school instructed female students in the subjects of the day, such as English and music, in addition to drawing, needle-work, and domestic subjects. In August 1849, George D. Alexander established the Alexander Institute in Tulip for the education of both girls and boys. In August of 1850, community leaders in Tulip gathered to discuss dividing the Alexander Institute into two schools, one for girls and the other for boys. Among those prominent citizens was the state representative, Major George Clark Eaton, who represented the interests of those wishing to establish the two schools. On December 17, a legislative charter …

Turner Bell, Debbye

aka: Debrah Lynn Turner
Debrah Lynn (Debbye) Turner Bell, who grew up in Jonesboro (Craighead County), was crowned Miss America 1990. After her reign as Miss America, she became a veterinarian, has appeared on national television, and is a motivational speaker on youth-related and Christian topics. “Debbye” Turner was born on September 19, 1965, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Gussie Turner and Frederick Turner Jr., who was stationed there in the military. As a child, she set her goal to become a veterinarian but recognized the financial challenges ahead, especially after her parents’ divorce. Living in Jonesboro with her sister, Suzette, and her mother, who became an academic counselor at Arkansas State University (ASU), Turner took a fast food job at age sixteen, moving later …