Entries - Gender: Male - Starting with S

Smith, Norman Eugene

Norman Eugene Smith was a classically trained pianist and musicologist from Benton (Saline County). He spent most of his career as a professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, specializing in the study of early polyphonic (multiple melody) music and classical piano. His scholarly works focused on musical theory, particularly in music from the twelfth century. Norman Eugene Smith was born on November 4, 1931, the second son of Fred C. Smith and Ocie Clara Bryant Smith in Benton. As a young man, he began playing the piano. His teacher, Lorene Carson Houston, composed the Benton High School alma mater. Smith quickly became her protégé. As a member of Houston’s Junior Music Club at Benton Junior High, …

Smith, Ocie Lee (O. C.), Jr.

Ocie Lee (O. C.) Smith Jr. started out singing jazz before moving into the genres of country and rhythm & blues/soul. After touring with Count Basie’s band in the early 1960s, he had his biggest hit with the song “Little Green Apples,” which reached number two on the pop and R&B charts in 1968. In the 1980s, he put aside his career as a recording artist to become a minister. Smith was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1996. O. C. Smith was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, on June 21, 1936 (although some sources say 1932). His parents, Ocie Lee Smith Sr. and Ruth Edwards Shorter Smith, who were both teachers, moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) …

Smith, Odell

Odell Smith was the state’s foremost trade union leader in the middle of the twentieth century, serving at various times as president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 878, the Little Rock Central Trades Council, the Arkansas State Federation of Labor, and the Arkansas AFL-CIO. Along with his close associates Henry Woods and Sidney McMath, Smith was one of the architects of liberalism in post–World War II Arkansas. They put together a coalition that promoted high wages and consumption, generous social provision, access to educational opportunity, racial equality, and the idea that strong governments are essential for regulating capitalist enterprises. Odell Smith was born in 1904 in Jackson, Tennessee, where his father worked as a railroad machinist. The exact date …

Smith, P. Allen

P. Allen Smith is an award-winning designer, a nationally known gardening/lifestyle expert, and the host of two public television programs, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home and P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table, as well as the syndicated show P. Allen Smith Gardens. He appears frequently as a guest on such programs as the CBS Early Show and the Today show on NBC, and on the Weather Channel, sharing design and gardening tips with viewers. He is a contributor for a number of national publications such as Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Southern Living, and Woman’s Day, and is the author of several bestselling books. Paul Allen Smith Jr., the oldest of four children, was born on March 12, 1960, …

Smith, Ray Sammons, Jr.

Ray Sammons Smith Jr. was a lawyer and politician from Hot Springs (Garland County) who spent twenty-eight years as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives and rose to be speaker of the House and majority leader, despite a political bent that often put him at odds with the prevailing political sentiments of the state and his own community. For example, when the legislature and Governor Orval E. Faubus began to enact legislation early in 1957 to deter or limit school integration, Smith was often one of the few votes in either house against any of the bills. When the legislature in August 1958, shortly before school opening, passed a bill written by Attorney General Bruce Bennett and supported …

Smith, V. V.

aka: Volney Voltaire Smith
The last Reconstruction Republican lieutenant governor, known for attempting a coup d’état aimed at displacing a sitting governor, Volney Voltaire Smith was also the most distinguished nineteenth-century figure to have died in the state insane asylum. V. V. Smith was born in 1842, apparently in Rochester, New York. His father was Delazon Smith, a noted Democratic newspaperman and politician. Delazon Smith attended Oberlin College and then wrote an exposé on it for its support of abolition, was lost for eleven months while on a diplomatic assignment in Ecuador (thus becoming known as “Tyler’s Lost Commission”), and served less than three weeks as one of Oregon’s first U.S. senators. V. V. Smith’s mother, Eliza Volk, died in 1846. Two years later, …

Smith, Willis S.

Dr. Willis S. Smith was a regionally significant teacher, sheriff, farmer, doctor, and writer in early southwestern Arkansas. Willis Smith was born on August 10, 1810, in Todd County, Kentucky, a frontier community. He was the fifth of twelve children of Millington Smith and Barbara Barton Smith. He was the grandson and namesake of Revolutionary War soldier Willis S. Smith, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Smith had little opportunity for an education, and he could barely read or write even at twenty years of age. He left his home in Johnson County, Illinois, for Rock Springs Theological Seminary in Rock Springs, Illinois, where he received sufficient education to become a teacher at the school himself. One …

Smithee, James Newton

James Newton Smithee, the founder of the Arkansas Democrat, was a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas journalism. Smithee was also an important Democrat during the years after Reconstruction and an advocate of the silver movement in Arkansas. J. N. Smithee was born in 1842 in what would become Sharp County into a poor Scottish-Irish farming family; his parents were Samuel Harris Smithee and Edna Elizabeth (Woodrome) Smithee. His formal education consisted of three months in a country school. When he was twelve years old, he became an apprentice to the Des Arc Citizen, where he learned the printing trade. When Smithee was eighteen, he bought into the Prairie County Democrat and used it to support the Southern Democratic …

Snell, Richard Wayne

Richard Wayne Snell—a member of a number of white supremacy groups, including the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), which was founded in 1971 in Elijah, Missouri, by polygamist James Ellison—was also reported to be a member of the Aryan Nation. In addition, there are unsubstantiated reports connecting Snell to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; perhaps not coincidentally, McVeigh’s act of domestic terrorism occurred only hours before Snell’s execution for two murders he had committed in the 1980s. Richard Wayne Snell was born in Iowa on May 21, 1930, to Charles Edwin Snell and Mary Jane Snell. Snell’s father was a pastor of the Church of Nazarene, and Snell himself trained in the ministry but did …

Snodgrass, William Anderson

William Anderson Snodgrass was an instructor at the University of Arkansas Medical School (which later became the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). During World War I, he organized Hospital Unit T and served as a major in the United States Medical Department in England and France. William Snodgrass was born on March 17, 1874, to Andrew J. Snodgrass and Elmira F. Masterfield Snodgrass at Murray, Kentucky. When he was ten, his family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). After completing public school and his premedical courses, he entered the Medical School of the University of Arkansas. He graduated in 1896 and was employed as Little Rock’s city physician in 1898. In 1898, he married Lelia Phillips, and they had …

Snyder, Harold

aka: Ralph Harold Snyder
Ralph Harold Snyder is the man most often credited with bringing the poultry industry to the Arkansas River Valley. In 1960, the company he founded, Arkansas Valley Industries, Inc. (AVI), became the first wholly integrated poultry business to make its stock available to the public. Harold Snyder was born on April 3, 1915, in Winfield, Kansas, to Roy C. and Mildred (Poland) Snyder. As a young boy, he moved with his parents and five siblings to Green Forest (Carroll County), where he was raised on a small hill farm. Snyder was valedictorian of his high school class, and he was elected state president of the Arkansas Future Farmers of America. Based on this record, he received a scholarship to the …

Snyder, John Wesley

John Wesley Snyder was the secretary of the Treasury in the administration of President Harry S. Truman. He holds the distinction of being the first native-born Arkansan to hold a Cabinet post. John W. Snyder was born in Jonesboro (Craighead County) on June 21, 1895. The third of six children of Jerre Hartwell Snyder and Ellen Hatcher Snyder, Snyder obtained his early education through high school in Jonesboro and later attended Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering from 1914 to 1915. Because of finances, he quit and returned to Arkansas, moving to Forrest City (St. Francis County). He taught in a country school in nearby Palestine (St. Francis County), often walking several miles to get to the classes he taught. Later …

Snyder, Larry Lloyd

As a jockey who raced thoroughbred horses, Larry Lloyd Snyder won 6,388 races from 1960 to 1994. Many of his wins came at Oaklawn Park (now Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort) in Hot Springs (Garland County). Larry Snyder was born on June 29, 1942, in Toledo, Ohio. He dropped out of school in tenth grade and began working as a stable boy, with the hope of getting the opportunity to race. While cleaning stables and walking horses, he developed a relationship with the Van Berg family, which owned and trained many of the nation’s top thoroughbreds. With the help of Wendy Smith, who would book many of Snyder’s races, he won his first race on September 2, 1960. Snyder led the …

Snyder, Oliver P.

Oliver P. Snyder was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-Second and Forty-Third Congresses, serving from 1871 to 1875. Oliver P. Snyder was born in New Madrid County in Missouri on November 13, 1833, to Jeremiah Snyder and Elizabeth Randolph Snyder. He completed a basic course of study before moving to Arkansas in 1853. There, he continued studies in both science and literature as well as the law. He was soon admitted to the bar, opening a practice in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). As the Civil War drew to a close, Snyder, who had originally opposed secession, entered the political arena, winning election to the Arkansas House of …

Snyder, Victor F.

Victor Frederick Snyder served seven terms in the U.S. Congress representing Arkansas’s Second Congressional District. Snyder’s experiences in the U.S. Marine Corps, as a family physician, and as a lawyer have helped shape his career in government service. Vic Snyder was born on September 27, 1947, in Medford, Oregon, to Don Snyder, a bartender, and Marjorie Snyder, a bookkeeper. He has one younger sister. In 1965, Snyder graduated from Medford High School and enrolled in Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Two years later, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1967 to 1969, including one year in Vietnam. Returning to school, Snyder graduated from Willamette in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then went on to earn …

Somervell, Brehon Burke

General Brehon Somervell was a major factor in the success of American military forces during World War II. He oversaw the construction of troop-training facilities and the supply of all American military forces. As construction division chief of the Army Quartermaster Corps, he was a major influence in the planning and construction of the Pentagon. Brehon Burke Somervell was born on May 9, 1892, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the only child of Dr. William Taylor Somervell and teacher Mary S. Burke. In 1906, his family moved to Washington DC. In 1910, Somervell received an appointment to West Point upon the recommendation of Representative Charles C. Reid of Arkansas and, in 1914, graduated sixth in a class of 107. Upon …

Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV)

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization established to honor the memory of soldiers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. In Arkansas, there are eighteen camps of the SCV (as of 2010), and the organization works to commemorate Arkansas’s Confederate heritage through annual memorial events and more. The SCV is a direct offshoot of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), a voluntary organization of many veterans who fought for the Confederacy during its brief existence (1861–1865). The SCV was organized at Richmond, Virginia, in 1896 at the convention of the UCV. Initially, the SCV was charged with two duties: assisting the UCV and its elderly members at their conventions and other activities, …

Sorensen, John Hjaelmhof

John Hjaelmhof Sorensen was a cartoonist, artist, and advertising executive. A native of Denmark, he lived in Arkansas from 1950 to his death in 1969. He published cartoons in a wide array of magazines, from Playboy to the Saturday Evening Post, achieving wide acclaim for his work. John Sorensen was born on November 22, 1924, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of Paul Sorensen and Elly Hjelmhof Sorensen. His parents divorced when he was three, and he was then raised by his maternal grandmother. During the World War II occupation of Copenhagen, he was in the Danish underground, working as a courier since his job as an accountant for hotels and restaurants involved travel. After the war, he came to the …

Sorrells, John Harvey

John Harvey Sorrells was executive editor of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and former deputy director of the U.S. Office of Censorship during World War II. At the time of his death, the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) native was well respected in journalism circles for his first-hand knowledge of the field and his warm, engaging personality. John Harvey Sorrells was born on March 31, 1896, in a one-story house on State Street in Pine Bluff, one of four children of Walter Bartlett Sorrells, who was a circuit judge, and Mary Iva Fletcher Sorrells. In 1886, his maternal grandfather, Reid Fletcher, launched and edited the Daily Graphic newspaper in Pine Bluff. As a high school student working part time, John Sorrells would …

Southall, James Henry

James Henry Southall was a founding member of the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University, the precursor to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Southall was born on November 5, 1841, in Smithville, Virginia, the son and grandson of distinguished Virginia physicians. After the completion of his education and the interruptions of life caused by the Civil War, Southall moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) at a time when the local medical community was beginning to consider forming a medical school in the state. As with many physicians of his era, Southall had begun his medical education by reading medicine under the tutelage of a professional, Dr. Robert Tunstall of Norfolk, Virginia. He attended medical school at the …

Southerland, Jerome Kee (J. K.)

Jerome Kee (J. K.) Southerland was a regionally important leader in the poultry business as it emerged as an important industry in the state during the post–World War II years. At one time, his poultry enterprise was the second largest in the state. J. K. Southerland was born on September 22, 1903, in Banner (Cleburne County) to James Walter Southerland and Maleta Kee Southerland. His mother died when he was about twelve, leaving his father with four sons and a daughter. After completing school at Banner, he enrolled in school at Sulphur Rock (Independence County) to get a teaching certificate. He then returned to farming and raising cattle in Banner and nearby Floral (Independence County). On June 2, 1928, Southerland …

Southern Cotton Oil Mill Strike

On December 17, 1945, 117 of the 125 mostly African-American employees of the Southern Cotton Oil Mill Company in Little Rock (Pulaski County) walked off the job, demanding sixty cents an hour and time and a half for anything over forty hours a week. The strikers—members of Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers (FTA) Local 98—set up picket lines, and the company ceased milling operations, although it did maintain a small workforce to receive shipments and maintain equipment. The strike remained peaceful until December 26, when an African-American strikebreaker named Otha Williams killed a striker, Walter Campbell, also an African American. A Pulaski County grand jury, empaneled by County Prosecutor Sam Robinson, refused to indict Williams on charges of murder …

Sovereign, James Richard

A native of Wisconsin, James Richard Sovereign lived in Arkansas only briefly at the end of the nineteenth century. During that time, however, he played a prominent role in politics and the labor movement at the state and national levels. By the early twentieth century, his prominence had faded, and he subsequently moved to the state of Washington, where he spent the remainder of his life. Born on May 30, 1854, in Cassville, Wisconsin, to Thomas Clark Sovereign and Ruby Mitchell Sovereign, James R. Sovereign grew up primarily on his grandparents’ farm near Elgin, Illinois. At age sixteen, he migrated to Kansas and worked as a cattle driver on the Gonzales and Abilene cattle trail, which ran through Kansas and …

Speaker, Tristram E.

Tris Speaker was one of the greatest players in baseball history. Fast, smart, and strong-willed, he reveled in the fierce competition that characterized major league baseball in the early days. Elected in the second class of honorees and formally inducted at the inaugural ceremonies that marked the grand opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 1939, Speaker was one of the most outstanding performers in baseball, going head to head with greats such as Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. He was one of only a few players for the Arkansas Travelers who would be elected to the Hall of Fame. Tristram E. Speaker was born on April 4, 1888, in Hubbard, Texas. His father, Archie …

Spencer, George Lloyd

George Lloyd Spencer, a Democrat, served as U.S. senator of Arkansas from April 1, 1941, to January 3, 1943, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Senator John E. Miller. Spencer was not elected to a full term in office but served the remainder of Senator Miller’s term. Spencer also served in the U.S. Navy during both World War I and World War II. George Spencer was born on March 27, 1893, at Sarcoxie, Missouri, to George Spencer and Louella Riley Spencer. He moved to Okolona (Clark County) in 1902, where he attended public school. He also attended Peddie Institute at Highstown, New Jersey, and Henderson-Brown College in Arkadelphia (Clark County). In 1918, Spencer served as a seaman, second …

Spicer, William Leach

William Leach Spicer was a businessman and Republican Party activist. In the early 1960s, he oversaw the beginning stages of the party’s emergence as a competitive force against the long-dominant Democratic Party. In 1964, however, he lost a power struggle with fellow Republican Winthrop Rockefeller and resigned as state chairman. While Spicer played a substantive role in developing the state’s Republican Party, Rockefeller’s vision was ultimately vindicated by his own election as governor in 1966. William L. Spicer was born on October 12, 1918, in Yell County. He was the only child of William Jacob Spicer, who was a Methodist minister, and his wife, Ora Leach Spicer. As his father preached at various churches, Spicer grew up first in Woodruff …

Spirit of the American Doughboy Monuments

The Spirit of the American Doughboy Monuments in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) are memorial sculptures erected following World War I to honor Arkansas servicemen who fought and died in the war. The Arkansas statues were dedicated as part of a nationwide series of Doughboy sculptures designed by artist E. M. “Dick” Viquesney. At least 136 Viquesney Doughboys survive in thirty-five U.S. states, and some experts consider the Doughboy to be one of the most-seen pieces of outdoor statuary in the nation. Viquesney, who lived from 1876 to 1946, devoted two years to perfecting what was to become his trademark. He interviewed scores of World War I veterans, studied hundreds of photographs, and used two soldiers …

Sprague, Charles Leslie

Charles Leslie Sprague was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) native who died while serving on the crew in a test run of the Confederate naval H.L. Hunley, the first combat submarine to sink an enemy warship. Charles Leslie Sprague was born in Little Rock on February 6, 1842, the youngest of four sons of Dr. Alden Sprague and Sophronia Stores Eldridge Sprague. Alden Sprague died on April 26, 1847, and Charles and his mother moved back to her native New Hampshire to live with her sister, Lucinda Eldridge Billings, and her family. Sophronia Sprague died on December 5, 1853, and it is possible that young Charles moved to Tennessee to live with relatives, as her brother lived there. Charles enlisted …

Sprague, John Wilson

John Wilson Sprague was a general in the Union army during the Civil War and served as the assistant commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau in the District of Arkansas immediately following the end of the conflict. John W. Sprague was born on April 4, 1817, in White Creek, New York, to Otis and Polly Sprague; he had several siblings. He attended local schools and, at the age of thirteen, began attending the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Sprague left the college without receiving a degree and worked in the grocery business in Troy, New York, before moving to Ohio in 1845. Living in several towns over the course of his time in Erie County, Sprague worked in the shipping industry and served …

Sprick, Dan Travis

Dan T. Sprick was a prominent political figure in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the middle of the twentieth century. He served a single term as mayor of Little Rock before spending a decade in the Arkansas Senate. Daniel Travis Sprick was born on May 19, 1902, in Little Rock. Little is known about his early years before he entered the military to serve in World War I. After the war, he built a company that constructed the first trunk sewer line around Little Rock. He later founded the Donnafill Corp. Turning from business to politics, Sprick served three terms on the Little Rock City Council, from 1935 to 1941. During his time on the council, Sprick was the only …

Springer, Andrew (Lynching of)

Andrew Springer, a white man, was lynched in Powhatan (Lawrence County) on May 21, 1887. His is the only lynching recorded as happening in Lawrence County and occurred during a decade when whites and African Americans were lynched in relatively equal numbers. That would change the following decade as lynching violence became more exclusively anti-black. The lynching of Springer became the subject of the October “Ghost Walk” held at the Powhatan Historic State Park each year and is a significant component of local folklore. The event was mentioned by newspapers as far away as Perth, Australia. The exact identity of Springer remains a mystery. Some newspapers reported that he was originally from Cook County, Illinois, but the four possible matches …

Spruce, Everett Franklin

Everett Franklin Spruce was an artist and teacher who grew up in Arkansas and worked in the state periodically in the 1920s and 1930s. Spruce is considered the most prominent painter to emerge from a group of Texas regionalists in the 1930s. He was highly influenced by his boyhood in the Ozarks, and his paintings always reflected his love of the land and of nature. Everett Spruce was born in Holland (Faulkner County), near Conway (Faulkner County), on December 25, 1907 (some references list 1908). He was the first of six children born to William Everett Spruce and Fanny May (McCarty) Spruce. His father, who was of Irish descent, was a farmer. In 1911, the Spruce family moved to Adams …

St. John’s Seminary

St. John’s Seminary opened in 1911 in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on Gaines Street as a wing of the Little Rock College for Boys. In its fifty-six-year run, the seminary produced hundreds of pastors, teachers, chaplains, and priests. The seminary was relocated to North Tyler Street in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights neighborhood in 1916 but was closed in 1967 due to financial constraints and a shortage of trained faculty. Today, the campus is the home of the St. John Catholic Center, housing the administrative offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. St. John’s Seminary was started in September 1911 by Bishop John Baptist Morris, who decided the best way to obtain new priests was to open a seminary …

Stackhouse, Houston

aka: Houston Goff
Houston Stackhouse never achieved much in the way of success, yet he was a pivotal figure on the southern blues scene from the 1930s through the 1960s, having worked with numerous significant blues musicians during that period, mentoring more than a few. He was a familiar figure in the small country juke joints, mainly in Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee, and was highly respected among his fellow musicians. He also achieved a measure of regional fame as a member of the King Biscuit Boys who played on station KFFA out of Helena, present-day Helena-West Helena (Phillips County). When he finally made his first recordings in 1967, he was still a working musician, taking jobs within a 150-mile radius of his home …

Stanford, Frank

aka: Francis Gildart Stanford
Francis Gildart Stanford was one of the most recognized and prolific emerging poets of his generation until his suicide at the age of twenty-nine. Though all but two of his books remain out of print, his poems, which pitch startling and often surreal imagery against stark Southern landscapes, have sustained Stanford’s reputation and influence among poets who knew him during his lifetime and have ushered in a resurgence of admirers among a new generation of poets. Frank Stanford was born on August 1, 1948, on the Mississippi side of the Delta, was orphaned, and then was adopted in 1949 by Dorothy Gildart, who was single and the first female manager in the Firestone Corporation. In 1950, Dorothy Gildart adopted a …

Stanley, Henry Morton

aka: John Rowlands
Sir Henry Morton Stanley, world-renowned explorer of the Belgian Congo, specifically the Congo River, and famous for finding medical missionary Dr. David Livingstone, lived in Arkansas for a few months in 1860–1861, working as a clerk in a country store at Cypress Bend on the Arkansas River near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Stanley was born on January 28, 1841, in Denbigh, Wales, as John Rowlands. He was placed in the local workhouse at an early age by his grandparents and remained there until he absconded, made his way to Liverpool, and signed on as a cabin boy on an American ship bound for New Orleans, Louisiana. When he arrived in New Orleans in February 1859, he found work on the …

Starr, Fred

Fred Starr was an educator, farmer, sometimes-politician, and writer who spent the second half of his life working in, observing, and writing about the Ozarks. He was best known for essays that were published in Arkansas and Oklahoma newspapers for more than thirty-five years. They were a mixture of Ozark folklore, often-funny stories of life in the hills, and his own homespun philosophy, told in unpretentious and conversational prose. Fred Starr was born in Waco, Georgia, on September 11, 1896, to William D. Starr, who was a farmer, and Alice Murphy Starr. He was the sixth of their nine children, with six brothers and two sisters, one of whom died soon after birth. He and his family moved to Oklahoma …

Starr, John Robert

John Robert Starr was a reporter, columnist, author, and educator who served as the managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat (and later the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) from 1978 to 1992. He is most known for his role in the newspaper war between the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette. John Starr was born on December 29, 1927, in Lake Village (Chicot County), the oldest of three children of John Phillip Starr and Thelma Russell Starr. The family lived in various locations in southeastern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and Mississippi during Starr’s childhood. After Starr’s father died in 1932, Starr’s mother moved with the children to Lake Village and the family then moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) when Starr was in the fourth …

State of Arkansas v. Tee Davis

State of Arkansas v. Tee Davis was a criminal lawsuit in the Crittenden County Circuit Court in September 1943 that resulted in the conviction of African-American sharecropper and Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) member Tee Davis for assault with intent to kill. Davis was at home in Edmondson (Crittenden County) on March 22 with his wife, Elizabeth, when an intruder began pounding on the door demanding that Davis come outside. Fearing for his safety, Davis armed himself with a shotgun and fired two blasts through the door. The intruder was later revealed to be Edmondson business owner and town marshal Harold E. Weaver. Two Crittenden County deputy sheriffs had enlisted Weaver to help them perform warrantless searches of sharecropper cabins …

State v. Buzzard

State v. Buzzard (1842) was a case in the first half of the nineteenth century involving the right of an individual to carry a concealed weapon. The case came two decades after an 1822 Kentucky case that struck down a state law that restricted concealed weapons—although the weapon at issue there was a sword concealed in a cane. Ultimately, given the facts in Buzzard, coupled with the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the case has come to be recognized as one of the earliest examinations of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The case was heard by the original three members of the Arkansas Supreme Court—Chief Justice Daniel Ringo and Associate Justices Townsend Dickinson and …

Steele, Frederick

Frederick Steele was a United States Volunteers major general and the commander of the Department of Arkansas in the Civil War. Union forces under his command took military control of the northern half of the state in September 1863. Faced with immense military and political problems as a result of the continuing war, however, Steele failed in his larger mission of politically and militarily stabilizing the state. Frederick Steele was born on January 14, 1819, in Delhi, New York, the son of Nathaniel Steele III and his second wife, Dameras Johnson. Frederick Steele never married or had children. Little is known of Steele’s early years. He entered West Point in 1839. A friend and classmate of Ulysses S. Grant, he …

Steelman, John Roy

John Roy Steelman, the son of lower-middle-class cotton farmers, rose to become one of President Harry S. Truman’s best friends and top advisors. He performed valuable government services, sometimes without official title, during the administrations of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Born on June 23, 1900, on a farm near Thornton (Calhoun County) to Pleasant (Ples) Cydney Steelman and Martha Ann Richardson Steelman, John Roy Steelman was the oldest child in a family of six boys and one girl. He finished high school and, through the Department of War’s Student Army Corps established during World War I, was able to attend Henderson-Brown College in Arkadelphia (Clark County). After discharge from the army, he managed to stay …

Steiner, Christian

Christian Steiner was a soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry during an 1869 battle against Apache Indians in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona. He died in Hot Springs (Garland County) and is buried there. Christian Steiner was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, in 1843. By 1860, he had immigrated to the United States and was living with saloon keeper Philip Steiner, then twenty-seven, who was presumably his brother, and his brother’s wife, Louisa (twenty-one), in the Third Ward of St. Louis, Missouri. Seventeen-year-old Christian Steiner’s occupation was listed as saddler in the 1860 census. As the Civil War broke out, Steiner joined many of St. Louis’s citizens of German descent in enlisting in the Union army. …

Stephens, Jackson Thomas

Jackson Thomas Stephens was one of the most successful, high-profile business figures in Arkansas during the twentieth century, joining his older brother Wilton R. “Witt” Stephens in building Stephens Inc. of Little Rock (Pulaski County) into one of the nation’s largest brokerage firms. Stephens also became a well-known philanthropist, supporting institutions ranging from the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Jack Stephens was born on August 9, 1923, in Prattsville (Grant County), the youngest of the six children of A. J. Stephens and Ethel Pumphrey Stephens. A. J. Stephens was a farmer and a politician who served two terms in the state …

Stephens, Kenneth Gene (Ken)

Kenneth Gene Stephens of Conway (Faulkner County) was one of Arkansas’s most successful high school and college football coaches, leading North Little Rock High School to three state championships and the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) to four Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (AIC) titles. He also led several other schools to winning seasons during his nearly forty-year career as a head coach. Ken Stephens was born in Conway on April 2, 1931, to Earl and Edna Stephens. Earl Stephens was a dairyman, and Edna Stephens was a housewife who had a dress shop business next to the family home. The couple had four children. Stephens began participating in track and field as a sophomore at Conway High School. He competed in …

Stephens, Steve

aka: Stephen Owen Stephens
Stephen Owen Stephens was a well-known television and communications pioneer, most famous for Steve’s Show, a popular television program in the 1960s. He remained a communications specialist well into his retirement. Steve Stephens was born on April 22, 1930, as Rufus James Stephens to Owen and Allie Mae Stephens, owners of a restaurant service station in Newport (Jackson County). Later his parents opened a furniture store in the same town, which they successfully operated for more than twenty years. Stephens attended Castle Heights Military Academy and later graduated from Newport High School in 1948. Following graduation, he attended the University of Arkansas until the fall of 1950 when, “looking for adventure,” he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Attaining the rank …

Stephens, Witt

aka: Wilton Robert Stephens
Wilton Robert Stephens founded Stephens Inc., which once was the largest brokerage firm off Wall Street. He was a prime mover in the development of the natural gas industry after World War II and exerted great influence on the political and economic fortunes of Arkansas during the second half of the twentieth century. Witt Stephens was born on September 14, 1907, in Prattsville (Grant County), the second of six children of A. J. “Jack” Stephens and Ethel Pumphrey Stephens. His father was a farmer and politician who served two terms in the state House of Representatives from Grant County, as would Witt thirty years later. The elder Stephens directly influenced his son’s early career moves. As a boy, Witt picked …

Stern, Howard Seymour

Howard Seymour Stern was a physician, a noted photographer, and an award-winning painter. Although he had no professional training in art, his paintings and photographs continue to be displayed in various collections in Arkansas and around the world. Howard Stern was born on June 14, 1910, in Charlotte, North Carolina, the eldest of four children born to Eugene John Stern and Frances Burger Stern. His father was an architect, half the partnership of Mann and Stern, which designed Little Rock Central High School, the Albert Pike Hotel, the Arkansas Consistory, the Arlington Hotel, and the Fordyce Bath House. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1913 so Stern’s father could work with George R. Mann on designing the …

Stevenson, William

William Stevenson was a nineteenth-century preacher generally credited with bringing Methodism to Arkansas. A prototypical frontier preacher and circuit rider, he moved from frontier region to frontier region—from the South Carolina frontier to Tennessee, from there to Missouri, and from there to Arkansas—until he finally settled in Louisiana. Swept into the enthusiastic Methodism of the Second Great Awakening, he felt a desire to spread the faith that led him into sparsely settled areas. In doing so, he laid the foundations of the Methodist faith in Arkansas. William Stevenson was born on October 4, 1768, in a frontier area of South Carolina, not far from the line marking Cherokee land. His parents, James Stevenson and Elizabeth Stevenson, were Presbyterian, and he was …

Stewart, Trenton Lee

Trenton Lee Stewart is a contemporary novelist and short-story writer. He is well known as the author of The Mysterious Benedict Society series of best-selling young adult novels. Described by Kirkus Reviews as “entertainingly quirky” and “hung about with cantrips to catch clever readers,” Stewart’s writing incorporates a cerebral playfulness, utilizing wordplay and mental puzzles that the reader is invited to solve along with the characters. The series has garnered nationwide popularity among students and teachers alike. Additionally, his stories have been published in a number of literary magazines, including the Georgia Review, Shenandoah, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the New England Review. The 2004 Best American Short Stories volume, published by Houghton Mifflin and guest edited by Lorrie Moore, …