Gender: Male - Starting with D

Davis, Jeff

Jeff Davis was a populist governor who railed against corporations and often resorted to race baiting in his campaigns. His tenure in office proved extremely divisive, creating for him many enemies. However, Davis dominated Democratic politics in the state in the early years of the twentieth century, being elected to the office of governor three times and going on to become a U.S. senator. Jeff Davis was born on May 6, 1862, near Rocky Comfort (Little River County) to Lewis W. Davis, a Baptist preacher, lawyer, and county judge, and Elizabeth Phillips Scott. Named for the president of the Confederacy, Davis enjoyed a relatively privileged childhood. In 1869, his family moved to Dover (Pope County) and then, in 1873, moved …

Davis, L. Clifford

L. Clifford Davis is an attorney whose active participation in the legal challenges of the civil rights movement began when he first sought admission to the all-white University of Arkansas School of Law. That effort was the precursor to a distinguished career in the legal profession, one that included two decades of service as a judge in the Texas court system. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2007. L. Clifford Davis was born on October 12, 1924, in Wilton (Little River County). The youngest of seven children of Augustus Davis and Dora Duckett Davis, he was raised on the family farm and received his early education in the Wilton schools. As the town’s educational offerings …

Davis, Lawrence Arnette, Sr.

Lawrence A. Davis Sr. served as president of Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N) from 1943 until his resignation in 1973. During his tenure, he oversaw the school’s 1972 transition from college to university status as part of the University of Arkansas System. The merger entailed a name change to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), and Davis served one year as UAPB’s first chancellor. During his long tenure, Davis, whom Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) residents and students at AM&N affectionately called “Prexy,” was among the most prominent heads of a historically black college (HBC) in the country. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1996. Lawrence Arnette Davis was born on July …

Davis, Lovett (Lynching of)

Early on the morning of May 25, 1909, an African-American man named Lovett Davis was hanged in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) for an alleged assault on a young woman named Amy Holmes. Although the Arkansas Gazette reported that Davis was from Atlanta, Georgia, and had relatives there, public records provide no information to confirm this. Amy Holmes was living in Pine Bluff with her uncle, railroad conductor H. Knowlton Padgett. Holmes was the daughter of Knowlton’s older sister, Harriett, who died in Batesville (Independence County) in 1893. She was still living with the Padgetts in 1910. According to the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic, Davis, described as a “big burly negro,” was a suspect in several robberies in Pine Bluff. Intent …

Davis, William Delford (Willie)

Willie Davis was a millionaire business executive, civic leader, and former football standout who grew up in Miller County. Davis achieved athletic success in football at the high school, college, and professional levels. After retiring from a National Football League (NFL) career of twelve seasons (1958–1969), he moved into the business world, where he attained equal success. Davis was a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. William Delford (Willie) Davis was born on July 24, 1934, in Lisbon, Louisiana, to David and Nodie Davis. After his parents separated when he was eight, his mother moved the family to Texarkana (Miller County). His mother supported the family by working as a cook at the Texarkana Country Club. Willie Davis …

Davis, William Emmet

Photographer William Emmett Davis distinguished himself as a commercial photographer for forty years and, beginning in 1983, worked as a fine art photographer. Davis had aesthetic connections with photographers on the West Coast and worked almost exclusively in Arkansas. William E. Davis was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 14, 1918, to E. N. Davis and Mayson Wise Davis; he had no siblings. His father was a physician. Davis attended local schools and then the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). There, he took two years of pre-med courses. The course of study was interrupted when Davis enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. From 1941 to 1945, he was a fighter pilot aboard …

Davis, William Henry (Willie)

William Henry (Willie) Davis was a professional baseball player who spent eighteen years in the major leagues before retiring at the end of the 1979 season. Spending most of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Davis played a key role on the franchise’s 1963 and 1965 World Series championship teams, and, while he finished his career with the California Angels, Davis held a number of Los Angeles Dodgers batting records at the time of his retirement. Willie Davis was born on April 15, 1940, in Mineral Springs (Howard County), but he grew up in Los Angeles, California. A multi-sport athletic star at Theodore Roosevelt High School, Davis was a world-class performer in track and field, specializing in the 100-yard dash …

Day, Clyde “Pea Ridge”

Known as the “hog-calling pitcher” in a baseball career spanning the 1920s and early 1930s, Clyde Henry “Pea Ridge” Day transported his considerable talents, his hometown’s name, and a slice of the lively culture of the Arkansas hills onto the national scene. Day’s fun-loving showmanship and competitive spirit brought rare publicity to his hometown and home state. Clyde Henry Day was born on August 25, 1899, the second child of James (Jim) and Elizabeth Day. Day’s family lived on a farm and operated a steam-powered sawmill three miles north of Pea Ridge (Benton County), near the Missouri state line. His birthplace is taken to be Pea Ridge, although family members think the actual birth may have taken place in McDonald …

Day, Patrick Alan (Pat)

Patrick Alan Day is a retired thoroughbred jockey with 8,803 victories, many of which came at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County). Born on October 13, 1953, in Brush, Colorado, Pat Day wrestled in high school, once winning the state championship for his weight class. After graduating, he participated briefly in professional rodeo bull riding before turning his attention to thoroughbred horse racing. Standing four feet eleven inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, Day adapted quickly to the sport, riding Foreblunged to his first career victory on July 29, 1973, at the Prescott Downs Racetrack in Prescott, Arizona. Day dominated thoroughbred racing throughout the Midwest in the 1970s and secured his first major win on the East …

de Soto, Hernando

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who led an expedition into the southern United States. He and his soldiers were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Arkansas. Four written accounts of the expedition provide details about his trek through the state. De Soto was born in the Extremadura region of western Spain around 1500, but the exact date is uncertain. He probably was born in the town of Jerez de los Caballeros. The second son of Francisco Méndez de Soto and Leonor Arias Tinoco, he had at least two younger sisters and an older brother. Although the family was of noble heritage, de Soto was poor and borrowed money to travel to the New World …

de Tonti, Henri

aka: Henry de Tonty
Henri de Tonti helped establish the first permanent European settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley in 1686. It was called the Poste aux Arkansas, or Arkansas Post (Arkansas County). As a result, de Tonti is often called the “father of Arkansas.” Although Italian by birth, de Tonti is associated with French exploration. He received notoriety as an explorer in the Great Lakes Region and Mississippi River Valley with his friend, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, at a time when the French were establishing trade monopolies in parts of North America to compete with the English and Spanish. Henri de Tonti was born around 1649 near Gaeta, Italy, to Lorenzo de Tonti and Isabelle di Lietto. The family moved …

Dean, “Dizzy”

aka: Jay Hanna Dean
Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean was a professional baseball player and radio and television baseball broadcaster who was later inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Dean and his younger brother, Paul, pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals during the team’s “Gashouse Gang” era of the 1930s. Along with the aging Babe Ruth, “Dizzy” Dean was considered baseball’s major drawing card during the Depression years of the 1930s. Born in Lucas (Logan County) on January 16, 1910, Jay Dean was the son of Albert Monroe “Ab” Dean, a tenant farmer and sawmill worker, and Alma Nelson Dean. His Arkansas childhood was not an easy one. His mother died in 1918 from tuberculosis, and …

Dean, Arthur (Lynching of)

On September 9, 1911, a twenty-three-year-old African-American man named Arthur Dean was lynched in Augusta (Woodruff County) for a crime spree that ended in the alleged murder of a white woman named Mrs. Albert Vaughan. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Dean had earlier been convicted of assault and had been released from the penitentiary two weeks before the crime spree. On the morning of September 8, he went to the home of Tom Ligon, an African-American farmer who lived five miles east of Augusta. This was perhaps Thomas Ligon, listed on the 1920 census as a tenant farmer living in Augusta with his wife, Mary, and six children aged thirteen and under. While at Ligon’s home, Arthur Dean encountered an …

Dean, Paul

aka: Paul Dee "Daffy" Dean
Like his brother, Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, Paul Dee “Daffy” Dean was a baseball player who enjoyed his greatest success as a teammate with his brother on the St. Louis Cardinals. Due to injuries, Paul Dean had only two truly successful years in the major leagues, though he attempted numerous comebacks. However, the Dean brothers’ 1934 and 1935 seasons are well remembered by baseball historians. Paul Dean was born on August 14, 1913, in Lucas (Logan County) to sharecroppers Albert Monroe Dean and Alma Nelson Dean. He became a professional baseball player in 1932 by signing with Houston of the Texas League. In 1934, he joined his brother on the pitching staff of the St. Louis Cardinals, prompting Dizzy’s famous …

Deane, Ernie

aka: Ernest Cecil Deane
Ernest Cecil (Ernie) Deane—journalist, teacher, historian, and folklorist—was best known for his newspaper columns, “The Arkansas Traveler” and “Ozarks Country.” He taught journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington Couny) and was a proponent to restore Old Main to its historical character at the UA campus. Ernie Deane was born on October 29, 1911, in Lewisville (Lafayette County) to Ernest Deane, a railroad engineer, and Mabel Drew Deane. He attended public schools in Lewisville and Texarkana (Miller County). He received a bachelor’s in journalism in 1934 from UA, having served as editor of the Arkansas Traveler, the UA newspaper, and studied under the founder of the journalism department, Walter Lemke, whom Deane considered his mentor. Deane earned …

Dearmore, Thomas Lee (Tom)

Thomas Lee Dearmore was a nationally recognized journalist and newspaper editor. A native of the Ozarks, Dearmore focused on politics and music in his writing. He worked at newspapers in Washington DC and San Francisco, California, and was an editor at the Arkansas Gazette for two years in the 1970s. Like his contemporary Harry Ashmore, Dearmore was a new breed of southern journalist who sought to distance Arkansas and the South from a segregationist past. Tom Dearmore was born in Mountain Home (Baxter County) on September 11, 1927. He was the son of Benjamin Dearmore and Ethel Shiras Dearmore, both of whom were natives of Arkansas. During World War II, he was stationed in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he …

Deckelman, Gene Darrell “Bud”

Gene Darrell “Bud” Deckelman was a country and rockabilly musician who had brief success in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1950s. His most popular recording was “Daydreamin’,” which was issued on the Meteor record label in Memphis. While his output was relatively small, he toured with artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Wanda Jackson. Bud Deckelman was born in Harrisburg (Poinsett County) on April 2, 1927, to Louisiana native George Deckelman (1904–1984) and Arkansas native Lillian Agnes Ellezy Deckelman (1906–1999). He grew up in a poor farming family and with limited education in Scott (Poinsett County). He had four sisters and three brothers. According to the 1940 census, his father owned the family’s house, but it was valued at …

Deckelman, Joseph Dewitt “Sonny”

Joseph Dewitt “Sonny” Deckelman was a musician, songwriter, and record label owner active in the Memphis, Tennessee, and northeastern Arkansas rockabilly scene in the late 1950s and 1960s. While his artistic output was modest, his recordings were well received and have maintained a small but enthusiastic following. He is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Sonny Deckelman was born in Harrisburg (Poinsett County) on September 1, 1933. He was the son of Joe V. Deckelman and Nell Ellzey Deckelman, both natives of Arkansas. His father was a farmer and mechanic, and his mother was a housewife. Deckelman came from a poor family; the census of 1940 shows his father earning no income. He was the youngest of four …

Dehahuit

Dehahuit, hereditary chief of the Kadohadacho Caddo community of Native Americans at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, is remembered as an effective, respected leader of the Caddo during turbulent times. The Kadohadacho (kado-ha-dach’-o) were the most prominent of several Caddo groups that lived in villages along the Great Bend of the Red River in southwest Arkansas. These Caddo are believed to have lived on the Great Bend for more than 500 years before the Europeans arrived. They remained in this homeland until just before 1800, when disease and Osage raids forced them downstream into northwest Louisiana. Other Caddo viewed the Kadohadacho as descendants of the tribe’s most ancient and prominent ancestral community. Dehahuit was recognized as the …

Dellinger, Samuel Claudius

Samuel Claudius Dellinger was curator of the University of Arkansas Museum in Fayetteville (Washington County) and head of the Department of Zoology for over thirty years. As curator, he built the museum’s archaeology collection into one of the best in the nation. In Dellinger’s view, the museum was, first and foremost, an educational resource for the people of Arkansas, and he worked to generate interest in it from the university community and the general public. Samuel Dellinger was born on January 14, 1892, in Iron Station (later Lincolntown), North Carolina, to Robert H. and Laura Loftin Dellinger. After graduating from high school, Dellinger attended Trinity College (later Duke University), where he was a varsity wrestler and swimmer. Dellinger earned his …

Delray, Martin

aka: Michael Ray Martin
American country music artist Michael Ray Martin (known professionally as Martin Delray) is best known for his 1991 cover of the Johnny Cash song “Get Rhythm.” Michael Ray Martin was born on September 29, 1949, in Texarkana (Miller County). After graduating from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1972 with a BA in English, he served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. After he left military service at the rank of private first class, Martin relocated to North Hollywood, California, and began playing the West Coast club circuit, opening for such acts as Doug Kershaw and Juice Newton. Martin eventually became a staff songwriter at a music publishing company owned by Seals and Crofts. One …

Denton, Herbert Jr.

Herbert Denton Jr. was a leading African-American journalist at the Washington Post. Raised in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of a prominent public educator, Denton became the first person of color to hold a supervisory position at the Post. During his career, Denton reported for the metro, national, and foreign desks; served as both Maryland and District editor; hired and mentored a generation of minority journalists (especially African Americans and women); and built a potent legacy of journalistic excellence at the Washington Post. Herbert H. Denton Jr. was born on July 10, 1943, in Muncie, Indiana, the first of four children of Herbert Denton Sr. and Lucille Battle Denton. “Herbert Junior” spent part of his infancy in Arkadelphia (Clark …

Denton, Ivan

Ivan Denton, a pioneering Ozark woodcarver specializing in wildlife and Western scenes, was one of the most prominent artists in Arkansas. Ivan Denton was born Marlin Ivan Denton in 1927 in Ferrells, North Carolina, to William Denton and Mary Magdalena Massey Denton. Denton never had any formal artistic training but took up carving in the 1930s because he, like most boys in the Great Depression, often made his own toys. Denton whittled wood, pine bark, soap, soft stone, and, occasionally, bone and ivory. He ran away from home in 1945 and worked as a cowboy during a branding season in Texas and New Mexico. Denton spent a year as a first mate aboard a U.S. Army transport vessel, Leapin’ Lena, …

Devoe and Huntley (Lynching of)

aka: Huntley and Devoe (Lynching of)
In early January 1898, two African Americans named Devoe and Huntley (no first names were given in the reports) were allegedly lynched near Bearden (Ouachita County) for an attempted assault on an elderly woman there a year earlier. They were apparently lynched in two different incidents, and as the authorities maintained they had escaped, few details are available. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Devoe and Huntley had attempted to assault an elderly woman named Mrs. Paine near Bearden approximately a year before the alleged lynchings. They fled the scene, but in early January 1898, Devoe returned to the Bearden area and was arrested by J. D. Best and Frank Butler. They asked him where Huntley was, and when he refused …

DeWitt Lynching of 1891

On December 21, 1891, a mob of masked men entered the jail in DeWitt (Arkansas County) and shot three men: Floyd McGregory (sometimes written as Gregory) and his father-in-law, J. A. Smith (who were both white), as well as Mose Henderson (who was African American). The three men had been put in jail for plotting to kill Smith’s wife, who had divorced him and received one-third of his property in the settlement. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Smith’s wife, Mary, divorced him because “he was unkind to her, and abandoned her companionship for that of negroes.” The case was bitterly fought, but in the end, she received damages as part of the settlement, and her former husband objected. Smith enlisted …

Dexter, Maury

aka: Morris Gene Poindexter
Maury Dexter was a film and television director and producer perhaps best remembered for his work on low-budget horror films during the early 1960s, as well as his long professional association with television legend Michael Landon. Dexter’s career paralleled that of an elder Arkansas-born film maker, Jean Yarbrough of Marianna (Lee County). Both were known less for their artistry than for their efficiency, directing or producing numerous competent but unexceptional films for “Poverty Row” studios within the constraints of tight budgets and deadlines. Reflecting on his career, Dexter observed: “I’m first and foremost a filmmaker. Even when I first started out, my intent was to take a script, whatever that script was, and do the best I could under the …

Dhonau, Jerry Franklin

Jerry Franklin Dhonau, a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, contributed to the Arkansas Gazette’s winning of a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting and commentary on the historic desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957. Later, he served as an editorial writer at the newspaper for twenty-seven years and was chief of the opinion section when the Gazette closed on October 18, 1991. Jerry Dhonau was born on September 20, 1934, in Little Rock to Charles Mitchell Dhonau and Lura Hill Dhonau. His father settled damage claims for the Cotton Belt Railroad. An older brother, Charles Mitchell Dhonau Jr., was killed in combat in World War II. While he was a student at Little Rock High …

Dial, Rick

Rick Dial was a character actor, musician, and businessman from Malvern (Hot Spring County). Dial acted in fourteen Hollywood films, first appearing alongside childhood friend and fellow actor Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade (1996). In addition to his acting, Dial was part-owner of a furniture store in Malvern and was “the Voice of the Malvern Leopards,” announcing high school football games. Richard Halley Dial was born on March 9, 1955, in Malvern to Bill J. Dial and DeNora VanDusen Dial; he was one of three children. He graduated from Malvern High School in 1973, where he earned All-Conference honors on the Malvern Leopards football team. Dial married Phyllis Voss on September 22, 1973; they had three children. After high …