Gender: Male - Starting with J

Jennings, Roscoe Greene

Roscoe Greene Jennings was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Roscoe Jennings was born in Leeds, Maine, on June 11, 1833, the fourth son and fifth child of Perez Smith Jennings and Johanna (Lane) Jennings. His great grandfather, Samuel Jennings of Salem, Massachusetts, had held an important office under King George III of Great Britain but, after the Revolutionary War, had lost his property and moved to Maine to farm. Young Roscoe grew up working on a farm there in the summer and attended school during the winter. He later traveled and taught school to support himself and his continuing education. Jennings apprenticed in medicine …

Jesson, Bradley Dean

Bradley Dean Jesson was a lawyer and political activist who became chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. In the historic school-funding case Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee, Jesson played a pivotal role in settling the long legal battle to reform the funding and supervision of Arkansas public schools so that they served all children equally and adequately. Jesson, who practiced law at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and who was known for his dignified and courteous manner as well as for his legal scholarship, first came to prominence as a confidant and adviser for Governor Dale Bumpers. Bradley D. Jesson was born on January 26, 1932, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the son of Dean Abraham Jesson, who was …

Jetton, White (Lynching of)

In late December 1904, an African-American teenager named White Jetton was hanged near Spring Hill (Hempstead County) for allegedly attacking a white farmer named Nobbs. A search of public records revealed no information about either Jetton or Nobbs. A report in the Arkansas Gazette on January 3, 1905, said only that the lynching occurred “several days ago.” The report indicates that two African Americans, one of whom was Jetton, attacked a farmer named Nobbs near Spring Hill, ten miles south of Hope (Hempstead County), in a dispute over money they maintained Nobbs owed them. Jetton was described as being “less than 18 years of age.” According to the Gazette, Nobbs was wounded in the face and head, but not seriously. …

Jewell, Buddy

Buddy Jewell is a country musician best known for having won the top prize in the first season of the reality television show Nashville Star, which landed him a recording contract with Columbia Records. His first major-label album, Buddy Jewell, reached gold-record status after being released in July 2003. Later projects have not been as successful as his debut, but he continues to make music and record in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2015, Jewell was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. Buddy Jewell was born on April 2, 1961, in Lepanto (Poinsett County), the second of three children born to Leslie L. “Buddy” Jewell, a native of Louisiana, and Eva Lorene Harris, a native of Arkansas. For a time, the …

Jewell, Jerry Donal

Jerry Donal Jewell was the first African American to serve in the Arkansas Senate in the twentieth century. He was also Arkansas’s first ever African-American acting governor, albeit for only a temporary four-day period during Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration in 1993. Jewell moved his dental practice from North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1978, where he continued to work during his political career and up until his death in 2002. Jerry Jewell was born on September 16, 1930, in Chatfield (Crittenden County). His parents James M. Jewell and Ruth Lee Taylor Jewell, who were both sharecroppers, came from Mississippi. He had four sisters, only two of whom survived past infancy. Around 1936, Jewell and his …

Jimerson, Aaron (Lynching of)

On August 8, 1917, an African-American man named Aaron Jimerson was lynched at Foreman (Little River County) for an alleged attack on a local constable. Jimerson, who was born in 1887, married eighteen-year-old Virginia Hooks at Foreman in 1914. According to the Arkansas Democrat, Constable Sam Anderson arrested Jimerson on August 8 for shooting at another African American. As Anderson was opening the jail door to put Jimerson into a cell, Jimerson grabbed him and stole his pistol. Anderson retrieved the gun, but before he could use it, Jimerson hit him with a wooden stick. Jimerson then escaped but was soon recaptured by a posse led by Sheriff W. D. Waldron. He was placed in jail, but a mob broke …

Jobe, John R.

John Russell Jobe worked as a newspaperman and then for state government, serving as Arkansas state auditor from 1909 to 1913. John Russell (John R. or J. R.) Jobe was born on August 24, 1855, in Ringgold, Georgia, to David Jobe and Sarah J. Harden (or Hardin) Jobe. He had seven sisters, as well as a brother, Benjamin F. (B. F.) Jobe, who also later worked in media and government. The family moved to Arkansas in early 1858 and settled near Searcy (White County), though Jobe had at least one cousin living in Marion County. The family seems to have had strong ties to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church: two of Jobe’s sisters married Cumberland Presbyterian ministers, and his brother married …

John, “Little Willie”

aka: William Edgar John
William Edgar “Little Willie” John was a powerful rhythm and blues vocalist and songwriter who recorded several hit songs, including the original version of “Fever” at age eighteen. Little Willie John was born on November 15, 1937, in Cullendale (Ouachita County). He was one of ten children. His father, Mertis, was a logger in northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas; his mother, Lillie, played guitar and sang gospel songs, teaching them to her children. His sister Mable, also raised in Ouachita County, recorded as a Raelette for Ray Charles and solo for Stax Records. In 1942, the Johns moved to Detroit, Michigan, so Mertis could pursue factory work. The eldest children, including Willie, formed a gospel quintet in the 1940s. A …

Johnny Cash’s Cummins Concert of 1969

On April 10, 1969, Johnny Cash played what would be his only concert for prisoners at Cummins Unit (Lincoln County). The concert was held during Winthrop Rockefeller’s ongoing campaign for prison reform, which the governor had made a central component of his political platform since 1966. While Cummins had just begun to see noticeable positive changes, Cash’s appearance brought attention to the plight of inmates and gave Rockefeller good publicity as he sought to overhaul the management of the corrupt and violent prison farms. Cash and Rockefeller knew each other well. In 1968, Cash had played a handful of summer and fall concerts in Arkansas during Rockefeller’s reelection campaign. By then, Cash had released his seminal At Folsom Prison album, …

Johns, Riley “Doc”

Riley “Doc” Johns was an African-American athletic trainer at Little Rock High School (now Little Rock Central High) from 1930 to 1950. He was also the groundskeeper and equipment manager for the school’s sports teams until his death seven years before the Central High Crisis of 1957. Riley Johns was born on September 14, 1895, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to Joseph Johns and Nettie Flynn Johns. He was the youngest of three sons that included Clarence (born 1891) and Percy Legette Johns (born 1892). His parents had lived in several northwestern Arkansas counties before settling in Fort Smith. During World War I, he was drafted into the military from Fort Smith and entered service on August 1, 1918. At …

Johnson (Lynching of)

On August 19, 1876, a white man named Johnson was lynched in Clarendon (Monroe County) for allegedly having murdered two people. According to an account from the Arkansas Gazette, Johnson had been arrested “for the murder of Parks and Young a short time ago” and placed into the jail at Clarendon. On the night of Saturday, August 19, 1876, “a band of masked men” took Johnson from the jail at Clarendon. Apparently at the urging of this mob, Johnson “confessed to the killing, and exonerated from all participation his accomplice, Mobley.” He went on to confessing “to having killed in Georgia a negro family, consisting of man, wife and three children, and then to having set fire to the house …

Johnson, Benjamin

Benjamin Johnson was a judge of the Superior Court of the Arkansas Territory and later the first federal district judge for the state of Arkansas. He was a part of the early Arkansas political dynasty known as “The Family.” Johnson County in northwest Arkansas is named for him. Benjamin Johnson was born on January 22, 1784, in Scott County, Kentucky, to Robert and Jemima Johnson. The Johnsons were leaders in political, educational, and religious affairs in early Kentucky and one of the most prominent families in the state. Five of Johnson’s eight brothers served in the War of 1812, and one, Richard Mentor Johnson, gained fame as the man who killed the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh at the Battle of …

Johnson, Billy Farrel (Bill)

Billy Farrel Johnson of Conway (Faulkner County) is a well-known banker, broadcaster, and civic leader in Faulkner County. He has served as president of three financial institutions, broadcast athletic events on the radio since 1961, served as a justice of the peace, and sat on numerous local and state boards. Johnson is also a development associate for the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) athletic department and raises money for the Purple Circle Club, the primary source of outside funding for UCA athletics. Bill F. Johnson was born on May 15, 1939, in Conway, one of two children of Hulon Johnson and Norma Warbritton Johnson. Johnson attended Conway public schools from elementary through high school and graduated in 1957. He then …

Johnson, Cecil Ernest

Cecil E. Johnson practiced law in southwestern Arkansas for much of his life, except for fourteen years in the judiciary—four of them during the depths of the Great Depression, when he was chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Johnson had no formal education beyond high school but was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-three after studying under an attorney. He was elected chancery judge at the age of thirty-three, appointed chief justice at the age of forty-five, and elected as chief justice a year later. Cecil Ernest Johnson was born on July 26, 1888, in Lockesburg (Sevier County), one of four children of John Frank Johnson and Martha Adelia Collins Johnson, who were farmers. He was …

Johnson, George T. F.

aka: George Taylor
George Taylor F. Johnson received the Medal of Honor for valor while serving as an armorer onboard the USS Lackawanna during the Union navy’s operations against Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Following the Civil War, he was a resident of Paragould (Greene County). Details of George Taylor F. Johnson’s life are largely unknown; even his name is listed in multiple variations, including George Taylor F. Johnson, George F. Taylor Johnson, and George Taylor (the medal was awarded under the name George Taylor). Sources say he was born on November 15, 1830, but they vary on the location of his birth. Some sources claim Redditch, in Worcestershire, England, while other sources claim Watertown, New York. Johnson enlisted in the U.S. …

Johnson, Glenn T.

Glenn T. Johnson was a trailblazing judge in the latter half of the twentieth century. Born in Arkansas, he spent most of his professional life in Illinois, serving in a number of public positions in a career dedicated to public service. Johnson was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Glenn T. Johnson was born in Washington (Hempstead County) on July 19, 1917, to Floyd Johnson and Reola Thompson Johnson. As the family moved around the state, he received his early education Washington, then Hope (Hempstead County), and finally Hot Springs (Garland County), where he graduated from Langston High School. Johnson earned a BS from Wilberforce University in Ohio, graduating in 1941. After college, he served in …

Johnson, Henry (Lynching of)

On November 3, 1903, an African-American man named Henry Johnson was hanged in Lake Village (Chicot County) for his alleged involvement in a shooting at a saloon. It is not possible to specifically determine who Johnson was, since the 1900 census lists more than one Black man named Henry Johnson in Chicot County. According to newspaper accounts, around 2:00 a.m. on November 3, Frank Anderson, described by the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic as “a prominent businessman of Lake Village,” and Baldy Vinson, “the well known Little Rock attorney,” were drinking in Joe Frame’s saloon in Lake Village. The Daily Independent of Newport (Jackson County) reported that some of the Black waiters in the saloon had been “throwing beer around the …

Johnson, James Douglas “Justice Jim”

James Douglas “Justice Jim” Johnson served as an Arkansas state senator and an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court in the 1950s and 1960s. He was an outspoken segregationist and ran unsuccessfully against Orval Faubus for governor in 1956. In the 1966 race for Arkansas governor, he became the first Democrat since Reconstruction to lose to a Republican. Johnson helped to make school desegregation a major political issue in the state by protesting the integration of the Hoxie School District in Hoxie (Lawrence County), as well as by working to get an anti-federalist amendment added to the state constitution. Jim Johnson was born on August 20, 1924, in Crossett (Ashley County) to T. W. Johnson and Myrtle Long Johnson, …

Johnson, James Madison

James Madison Johnson migrated to Arkansas shortly after statehood in 1836. He rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general in the Union army during the Civil War, was twice elected to the U.S. Congress (though he was never seated), and served as the state’s second Reconstruction-era lieutenant governor. James Madison Johnson was born in Warren County, Tennessee. The year of his birth is uncertain, with sources listing 1829, 1832, or 1833; however, 1833 is recorded on the headstone marking his grave, and December 8 is the agreed-upon day. He was the son of James Martin Johnson and Elizabeth Dunagin Johnson. In about 1836, Johnson and his family moved to Arkansas, settling in Madison County. He attended Arkansas College and …

Johnson, James William (Jimmy)

James William (Jimmy) Johnson was a defensive end for the University of Arkansas (UA) Razorback football team and served as the head coach for Oklahoma State University and the University of Miami before going on to become head coach for the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. Jimmy Johnson was born on July 16, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, now known as Memorial High School, in 1961. A defensive end on the high school football team, Johnson continued in that position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (Washington County). An All-Southwest Conference player, he belonged to the 1964 team recognized by the Football Writers Association as the national champion. After graduating from UA …

Johnson, Jeff (Lynching of)

On September 15, 1869, an African-American man named Jeff Johnson was lynched near Des Arc (Prairie County) for allegedly attacking Jennie Conly, the niece of Colonel John H. Bulls. Bulls, a wealthy planter, had been in Prairie County since at least 1860, when he was living near Walnut Plains with his wife, Amanda. He served as a captain in the Twenty-First Arkansas Infantry during the Civil War and was to die of a brain disease only two months after the alleged attack on Conly. According to reports, before the Civil War, Jeff Johnson had been a slave belonging to John C. Johnson in St. Francis County. After the war, Johnson was convicted of theft in Madison (St. Francis County), but …

Johnson, Joe Marcus

Joe Marcus Johnson is a professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets. In the 2012–13 season, Johnson averaged 16.3 points per game, third best on a team that entered the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference. With about 16,000 points and counting, Johnson is the second-most prolific NBA scorer from Arkansas, as of 2013; Scottie Pippen of Hamburg (Ashley County) scored 18,940 points in seventeen seasons. Johnson, a six-time All Star, was a member of the U.S. national team in the FIBA World Championship in 2006. Joe Johnson was born on June 29, 1981, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the only child of Sara Dianne Johnson. For most of his childhood, he was raised in a …

Johnson, John Harold

John Harold Johnson rose above abject poverty and racial discrimination to build a publishing empire that helped forever change the perception of African Americans in the United States. Johnson Publishing Company became the largest African-American-owned and -operated publishing company in the world and launched Ebony and Jet, two very successful magazines that gave a voice to millions of black Americans. Born Johnny Johnson on January 19, 1918, in Arkansas City (Desha County) to Leroy Johnson and Gertrude Jenkins Johnson, a cook in a Mississippi River levee camp, Johnson was a third-generation descendent of slaves. After the death of Johnson’s father in a sawmill accident when Johnson was eight years old, his mother married James Williams, who helped raise him. During a …

Johnson, Kenneth Culver (Kenny)

Kenneth (Kenny) Culver Johnson Jr. is a television writer, producer, and director. He is the creator of numerous Emmy-winning projects including The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk, the original miniseries V, and Alien Nation. Kenny Johnson was born on October 26, 1942, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Kenneth Culver Johnson Sr. and Helene Maye Brown Johnson. His father was an electrical engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who helped build the Pine Bluff Arsenal. Johnson and his family left Pine Bluff after his father was transferred to the Pentagon near the end of World War II, and he was raised in Washington DC. His parents divorced in 1946, and his father moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). …

Johnson, Lycurgus Leonidas

Lycurgus Leonidas Johnson was one of the largest cotton planters and slaveowners in antebellum Arkansas. Around 1860, he built an imposing, seventeen-room Greek Revival mansion along the banks of the Mississippi River at his Lakeport Plantation in Chicot County. Lycurgus Johnson was born on March 22, 1818, the eldest of nine children born to Joel Johnson and Verlinda Offutt Johnson of Scott County, Kentucky. The Johnsons were among the most prominent families in early Kentucky. Johnson’s paternal grandfather, Robert Johnson, was a political, educational, and religious leader in the Bluegrass State; he had been instrumental in establishing Transylvania Seminary (later Transylvania University) at Lexington, the Rittenhouse Academy in Scott County, and the Kentucky Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge. One of …