Gender: Male - Starting with L

Lawhon, Jay Noal

Jay Noal Lawhon of McCrory (Woodruff County) was a star Razorback football player. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1944 but turned down the offer on doctor’s advice. During World War II, Lawhon served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. After the war, he taught vocational agriculture in Arkansas high schools and was a high school principal. He was the founder of Lawhon Farm Services, the 1988 Arkansas Business of the Year. In 1975, Lawhon and wife Lillian founded a non-denominational charity, the World Christian Relief Fund, Inc. (WCRF). Jay Lawhon was born on July 16, 1919, in Monarch (Marion County), a small hill community near Harrison (Boone County), to Thomas Jefferson and Sarah McPherson Lawhon. He was …

Lawrence, Tracy Lee

With rural Arkansas beginnings, Tracy Lee Lawrence took Nashville, Tennessee, by storm in the early 1990s to become one of the most popular country recording artists of that decade. Lawrence quickly gained a fan base with his physical appeal, vocal ability, good-guy image, and succession of hit songs. Tracy Lawrence was born on January 27, 1968, in Atlanta, Texas. Reared by his stay-at-home mother, JoAnn Dickens, and his stepfather, Dwayne Dickens, a banker, Lawrence had two brothers and three sisters. In 1972, the Dickens family moved to Foreman (Little River County), where Lawrence sang in the choir of the local Methodist church and learned to play guitar. While his mother wanted him to become a Methodist minister, Lawrence aspired to …

Lawrence, William M.

William M. Lawrence was a prominent physician in Batesville (Independence County) from 1848 until his death. He was appointed the surgeon general of the state of Arkansas in 1881. William Lawrence was born on November 22, 1826, in Kentucky, the son of James McKinney Lawrence and his first wife, Lucy D. Martin Lawrence, who was from Missouri. He had two brothers (one of them a son to his father’s second wife, Margaret Ann Vaunter Lawrence) and three sisters. Lawrence moved with his family to Fulton, Missouri, when he was a young child. About 1843, he began “reading medicine” under Dr. Robert Blakely in Fulton. He attended medical school at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, studying under Dr. Joseph McDowell. Following …

Lay, Henry Champlin

The Right Reverend Henry Champlin Lay was the third missionary bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. The diocese was land the Church defined as also including Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) and what would later become the states of New Mexico and Arizona. Lay was also bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas when it was allied with the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. He again served the original missionary territory when the national church reunited in 1865. Henry Champlin Lay was born on December 6, 1823, in Richmond, Virginia. He was the son of John Olmsted Lay and Lucy May Lay. He was educated in Richmond and New York City. Lay graduated from the University of Virginia …

Leavy, Calvin James “Slim”

Calvin James “Slim” Leavy, vocalist and guitarist, recorded “Cummins Prison Farm,” a blues song that debuted on Billboard’s rhythm and blues chart on May 2, 1970, and stayed for five weeks, reaching No. 40. It was also the No. 1 song on the Memphis, Tennessee, station WDIA. Leavy was the first person charged under a 1989 Arkansas “drug kingpin law” targeting crime rings. Calvin Leavy was born on April 20, 1940, in Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties), the youngest son of fifteen children born to the musical family of Johnny Leavy and Cora James Leavy. Both parents sang in the church choir at Mount Lake Baptist Church in Scott, and several family members played musical instruments. Leavy started out singing …

Lebow (Lynching of)

A group of men lynched a white man named Lebow (also spelled as Lebo), described as a “villain, murderer and horse-thief,” in Polk County in August 1877, apparently ending a series of crimes by which he had terrorized the area. The Fort Smith Independent reported on August 8, 1877, that “an old man named Lebow was hung by a party of men last week in Polk County, for foully murdering two men who were travelling in the direction of Hot Springs. Lebow has been a terror to the citizens of Polk County for many years.” He apparently operated from his home on one of the major roads through the county to kill and steal. “Many travelers have lost their horses, …

Ledbetter, Calvin Reville (Cal), Jr.

Calvin Reville (Cal) Ledbetter Jr. was a professor, author, politician, and philanthropist. He taught political science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) from 1960 to 1997, after which he was named Professor Emeritus of Political Science. He also served five consecutive terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives, from 1967 to 1977. Ledbetter is widely remembered for his dedication to higher education as well as his efforts to foster constitutional reform in Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s. Cal Ledbetter was born on April 29, 1929, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Virginia Ledbetter and Cal Ledbetter Sr. (II); his father served as president of the Boyle Realty Company. Ledbetter received his undergraduate degree from the Woodrow Wilson School …

Lee, Burwell

Burwell Lee came to Arkansas Territory from Tennessee in 1830 as a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church and a missionary to the Indians. Because he organized the Methodist Society at Batesville (Independence County) in 1835, which hosted the first session of the new Arkansas Conference of the church the following year, he is referred to as one of the fathers of the Methodist Church in Arkansas. Burwell Lee was born on October 20, 1809, in Davidson County, Tennessee. His father was Braxton Lee, who had come to Davidson County from Virginia around 1796. In Davidson County records, there is a marriage for Braxton Lee to Polly Hunter on May 20, 1808, although it is uncertain if these are Lee’s …

Lee, Clifton Phifer (Cliff)

Arkansas native Cliff Lee is a major league baseball pitcher. He has pitched in both the National and American Leagues, winning All-Star recognition in both circuits. Clifton Phifer Lee was born on August 30, 1978, in Benton (Saline County) to Steve Lee, who was a firefighter and one-time member of the Benton City Council, and his wife, Sharon Lee. Lee grew up in Benton and graduated from Benton High School in 1997. Following graduation, he was drafted by the Florida Marlins but decided to attend Meridian Community College in Meridian, Mississippi. Drafted in 1998 by the Baltimore Orioles, he again deferred, instead attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). The left-handed Lee had one solid season pitching …

Lee, Haeng Ung

Haeng Ung Lee was the founder of the American Taekwondo Association (which later became ATA Martial Arts), headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). ATA has over 300,000 members worldwide, making it the largest organization in North America dedicated to the discipline of taekwondo. Haeng Ung Lee was born on July 20, 1936, in Manchuria in northeastern China. Little is known about his early life, but shortly after World War II, he and his family moved to Korea. He began training in the martial arts in 1953. Lee progressed rapidly, earning his first-degree black belt only a year later. Upon graduating from high school in 1956, Lee joined the Republic of Korea Army, serving as a martial arts instructor for military …

Lee, Hubert L.

Hubert L. Lee, who lived in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) as a child, was a soldier in the U.S. Army who received a Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in battle during the Korean War. Hubert L. Lee was born in Arburg, Missouri, on February 2, 1915, the son of railroad fireman Charles Lee and Beulah Lee. Five years later, they were living in North Little Rock’s Ward 4. The family later moved to Leland, Mississippi, and it was there that Lee was inducted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He served with distinction, winning a Bronze Star and Silver Star for heroism in fighting in North Africa and Italy. Lee remained in the army and …

Leflar, Robert Allen

Robert Allen Leflar was one of Arkansas’s most renowned legal scholars, a champion of racial equality, longtime dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County), and president of two state constitutional conventions. Robert Leflar was born on March 22, 1901, in Siloam Springs (Benton County), the son of Lewis D. Leflar—who was a drayman, former deputy U.S. marshal in “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker’s court, and former Alma (Crawford County) town marshal—and Viva Mae Pilkenton of Siloam Springs. The oldest of eight children, Leflar later said that his mother, a high school graduate, was the chief influence on him and his siblings getting an education. Leflar worked his way through the University of Arkansas (UA), beginning …

Lemke, Walter John

Walter John Lemke established the department of journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1928 and served as the head of the department until his retirement in 1959. The university named the department the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism in his honor in 1988. In addition, he founded several historical and journalistic organizations. Walter Lemke was born on January 6, 1891, in Wausau, Wisconsin, to Carl Lemke and Ulrika Block Lemke. Lemke attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Indiana. He received his AB degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, which is near Cleveland, in 1911. The college later awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1962. He earned …

Lemley, Harry Jacob Jr.

Harry Jacob Lemley Jr. was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War before retiring as a lieutenant general in 1971. Harry Jacob Lemley Jr. was born on February 1, 1914, in Hope (Hempstead County), the son of future U.S. District Court judge Harry J. Lemley Sr. and Caroline McRae Lemley. After graduating from Hope High School, Lemley attended the Marion Military in Marion, Alabama, in preparation for his appointment to West Point. Remembering his time at West Point, Lemley wrote years later: “West Point devastated me mentally and physically, as I was grossly immature in every respect. I nevertheless toughed it out, as I …

Lester, Julius

Julius Lester, who spent considerable time in Arkansas as a child, was an author, musician, photographer, and civil-rights activist. A longtime educator, he was recognized by numerous organizations and institutions for his artistic and literary efforts. Julius Lester was born on January 27, 1939, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Woodie Daniel Lester, who was a Methodist minister, and Julia Smith Lester. Lester spent his earliest years in Kansas City, Kansas, living there from 1941 to 1954. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1954 but spent most summers on the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) farm of his grandmother, who was the daughter of a former slave and a German Jew. Her father had immigrated to the United States and settled in …

Lewis, David Levering

David Levering Lewis is a Pulitzer Prize–winning American historian best known for his works on the African-American experience in the twentieth century. He has written biographies of two of the most important figures in the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. and W. E. B. Du Bois, as well as a reader on the Harlem Renaissance. In 1999, Lewis was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” David Lewis was born on May 25, 1936, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of John H. Lewis, an educator and principal of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, and Urnestine (Bell) Lewis, who taught high school math. Lewis attended parochial school in Little Rock and then continued his education in Ohio and …

Lewis, Henry Jackson

Henry Jackson Lewis, who was born into slavery, has been called the first black political cartoonist. His drawings appeared in publications across the nation. H. J. Lewis was born in Water Valley, Mississippi, in 1837 or 1838. As a child, he fell into a fire, maiming his left hand and blinding his left eye. Nothing further is known about his youth, but by 1872, he was living in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where he worked as a laborer in the mid- to late 1870s. By 1879, he was selling drawings of city and Arkansas River scenes to the national publication Harper’s Weekly, and he later sold similar drawings to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. On October 25, 1882, a Pine Bluff …

Lewis, Paul Tyrone

Paul Tyrone Lewis was an American artist who is remembered for the realism of his landscape paintings. In a career that spanned six decades beginning in the 1950s, Lewis created compositions that were skillfully executed and sought after throughout the United States and internationally. Tyrone Lewis, as he was known, was born on November 29, 1938, in Mena (Polk County) to Paul Goodwin Lewis and Wynogene Hubbard Lewis. He had one sister. Lewis’s parents met during the Great Depression while Paul was employed on a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project near Mena. Wynogene’s family had migrated to that area from Fort Worth, Texas, where her father, Hans Heron Hubbard, was a well-known and respected artist in the 1920s. Painting was …

Lewis, Sanford (Lynching of)

At midnight on March 23, 1912, a mob hanged Sanford Lewis from a trolley pole in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). He had been suspected of shooting Deputy Constable Andy Carr, who sustained a fatal wound above the eye. Although the Arkansas Gazette refers to this as the first lynching in Sebastian County, it was actually the first lynching of an African American there. The murder of a white man named James Murray in the county on December 6, 1897, was described in many media outlets as a lynching. Deputy Constable Andy Carr was probably the Andy Care [sic] listed on the census as living in Ward 4 in Fort Smith in 1910. Living with him were his wife, Della, and …

Lewisburg to Strahan’s Ferry, Expedition from

The expedition for Lewisburg (Conway County) to Strahan’s Landing (Johnson County) saw a Union anti-guerrilla operation’s mission shift to protecting steamboats carrying desperately needed supplies to the garrison at Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Major George L. Childress left the Union base at Brownsville (Lonoke County) on November 21, 1864, with 300 men of the Eighth Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) and 200 troopers of the Ninth Iowa Cavalry under Major Willis Drummond for temporary duty at Lewisburg, where Colonel Abraham Ryan’s Third Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (US) was involved in heavy anti-guerrilla activity. After arriving on November 24, the cavalrymen from Brownsville were sent out two days later to “scour [the] country above Dover (Pope County) and on the Big Piney.” After …

Lewisburg, Scouts from (August 11–14, 1864)

The scouts by troops from the Third Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (US) from Lewisburg (Conway County) were sent out in search of Confederate troops and guerrillas as General Joseph O. Shelby’s men operated in north-central and eastern Arkansas in the late summer of 1864. Shelby’s troops had been operating north of the Arkansas River and between the White and Mississippi rivers since May 1864, forcing irregular troops into service with established regiments, conscripting every male aged fifteen to fifty into Confederate service, sinking the USS Queen City in Clarendon (Monroe County), and skirmishing with U.S. soldiers throughout the region. In early August, Shelby sent Colonel Archibald Dobbins to attack federally leased farms in Phillips County while Colonel Thomas McCray gathered recruits …

Lewisburg, Scouts from (June 1864)

The scouts from Lewisburg (Conway County) were conducted in an effort to locate Confederate troops under Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby who were recruiting soldiers and attacking Union targets in central and eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Shelby drove off troops from the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) and Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US) garrisoning Dardanelle (Yell County) in the early hours of May 17, 1864, and spent the next two days moving approximately 1,200 Confederate soldiers across the Arkansas River to begin operations behind Federal lines along the river. Union forces struggled to determine the location of the Confederate force and, by late May, had abandoned their bases at Batesville (Independence County) and Jacksonport (Jackson County). Shelby officially took …

Lewisburg, Scouts from (September 6–12, 1864)

A flurry of Union scouting expeditions set out from Lewisburg (Conway County) between September 6 and 12, 1864, as Colonel Abraham H. Ryan tried to determine the locations of Confederate troops while Major General Sterling Price was beginning his invasion of Missouri in the fall of 1864. Ryan, commanding the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) from its base at Lewisburg on the Arkansas River, began sending scouting expeditions into the region on September 6 to determine where Price’s troops were operating; they, in fact, were beginning to cross the Arkansas at Dardanelle (Yell County) on September 6. A patrol of the Third Arkansas scattered Confederate pickets and captured thirteen horses at Norristown (Pope County) on the same day. Ryan dispatched scouts …

Lightfoot, Claude M.

Claude Lightfoot was an Arkansas-born Communist who became involved in politics after moving to Chicago, Illinois. A frequent candidate for public office in Chicago from the 1930s to the 1950s, Lightfoot represents the impact of the Great Migration out of Arkansas and both the possibilities and limitations of black liberation in northern cities. Claude M. Lightfoot was born on January 19, 1910, in Lake Village (Chicot County). His grandmother, who separated from her husband, acquired a farm of her own and raised her twelve children to adulthood. Shortly after Lightfoot’s birth, his parents moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where his father worked for a railroad company and his mother as a domestic worker, while young Claude stayed with his …

Lightfoot, G. P. F. (Lynching of)

In December 1892, African-American Baptist minister G. P. F. Lightfoot, referred to in most accounts as “Preacher Lightfoot,” was murdered by a group of African Americans in Jackson County in retaliation for taking their money and promising them nonexistent passage to Liberia. Interest in immigrating to Africa started early in the United States. The Back-to-Africa movement dates back to 1816, when the American Colonization Society (ACS) was established to help free blacks resettle in Africa. The Republic of Liberia was established in 1847 and was recognized by the U.S. government in 1864. Following the Civil War, many newly freed Arkansas slaves became interested in the movement, especially those in majority-black counties in the Arkansas Delta. The Liberian Exodus Arkansas Colony …

Lighton, Will

aka: William Rheem Lighton
In 1908, writer William Rheem (Will) Lighton bought land in Fayetteville (Washington County), named it Happy Hollow Farm, and used “scientific agriculture” ideas to turn it into a successful farm. Even more successful was an article, “The Story of an Arkansas Farm,” which was published in the Saturday Evening Post on January 22, 1910. The article resulted in a stream of curious visitors. By the time it was expanded into a book, Happy Hollow Farm (1914), it had attracted more than 200 back-to-the-land settlers to Fayetteville. Will Lighton was born on July 13, 1866, in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, the son of William and Lydia Rheem Lighton. He married Laura McMaken on April 8, 1890, in Atchison, Kansas, set up their …

Lile, James Buel

James Buel “The Arkansas Knifesmith” Lile is one of the most accomplished and famous custom knife makers in American history. He carved his first fixed-blade knife from wood at the age of eight, and by age eleven, he was grinding old files into fixed-blade knives. James Lile was born on August 22, 1933, in Russellville (Pope County) to Leona and Buel Lile. His father was a coal miner who later worked for Arkla after the mines closed, and his mother was a housewife who also worked twenty years at the Local International Shoe factory. In 1952, at the age of nineteen, Lile met and worked for Winthrop Rockefeller welding bull pens being built at the Mountain Top Ranch on Petit …

Lily White Republicans

The post-Reconstruction “Redemption” era witnessed Democratic Party forces sweeping Republicans from all branches of state government in Arkansas. Their regime instituted so-called progressive reforms such as the Election Law of 1891, which disenfranchised many African-American voters, who traditionally supported the Republican Party. From the late 1890s onward, the stigmatized biracial Republican Party remained hopeless underdogs in every statewide electoral contest—and most local ones. Practically the only way Republicans could hope to hold public office remained through federal political patronage appointments. Former governor and state Republican Party leader Powell Clayton controlled the distribution of these federal civil service jobs, which he extended to supporters including African Americans who won his confidence during Reconstruction. By the 1880s, distinct friction had developed between …