Gender: Male - Starting with B

Burns, Bob

aka: Robin Burn
Bob Burns was a well-known national radio and film personality during the 1930s and 1940s. He was known by a variety of titles that referenced his hillbilly origins, such as “The Arkansas Traveler” and “The Arkansas Philosopher.” Burns was a musician and an actor who wove tales of life in the Arkansas hills with his musical performances. He earned his nickname, “Bazooka,” from an instrument he invented and named as a young man in a plumbing shop in Van Buren (Crawford County). The instrument, which was a simple device made of spare gas fittings and a whiskey funnel, eventually lent its name to the World War II anti-tank weapon due to its similar looks and Burns’s popularity among the troops who …

Burr, Edward Everett

Best known for designing the Arkansas Centennial half-dollar, Edward Everett Burr was a commercial artist, sculptor, and art professor. Raised in Paragould (Greene County), he spent most of his career in Chicago, Illinois. Everett Burr was born on January 18, 1895, in Warren County, Ohio, to George and Virginia Burr; he had two siblings. Burr’s father practiced law in Ohio but moved to Paragould in 1905. In 1915, two days after Burr’s twentieth birthday, his mother died. His 1917 draft card shows him living in a boarding house in Detroit, Michigan. His trade was motor building, but he was unemployed. In 1923, his father became a Methodist minister, serving a number of communities in northern and western Arkansas. Burr enrolled …

Burris, Sidney

Sidney Johnson Burris is a prolific writer of essays, criticism, and poetry. His poetry is as influenced by his classical studies in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit as it is the images of his Southern boyhood. A significant portion of Burris’s critical work has been devoted to the study of Irish poet Seamus Heaney. He has served in various posts at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) since 1986, including as director of the Fulbright College Honors Program. He also co-founded the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas.  Sidney Burris was born on March 9, 1953, in Danville, Virginia. His father, John Colton Burris, was a salesman and a World War II U.S. Air Force veteran. His mother, Helen …

Burton-Aikin Feud

The Burton-Aikin (also spelled “Aiken”) feud between Dr. Phillip Patrick (known as P. P.) Burton and Dr. Trent C. Aikin—who both practiced medicine in Batesville (Independence County )—began on October 21, 1841, with the death of Nicholas E. Burton (son of P. P. Burton) and ended on September 15, 1849, when an Independence County jury found P. P. Burton’s son Phil Burton “not guilty” in the murder of Dr. Aikin. The feud grew out of a medical disagreement between the two doctors. Dr. Aikin was called to treat a “Negro woman” (presumably a slave) belonging to a Mr. Byers of Batesville. Aikin diagnosed the woman with liver disease and began treatment of it. When the woman failed to improve, Byers asked Dr. …

Busey, Samuel Thompson

Samuel Thompson Busey was a 1920s oil speculator and promoter of the Arkansas oil industry. While originally trained as a physician, he later became a geologist and completed the famed “Discovery Well,” or Busey No. 1 Well, outside El Dorado (Union County) in 1921. Busey’s efforts helped usher in the south Arkansas oil boom of the 1920s. Samuel Busey was born in Champaign County, Illinois, on February 10, 1867, and was the fifth of six children of John Simpson Busey and the former Caroline Marie Snyder. Busey came from a family of adventurers and community activists. His father was a farmer until 1845, when he left farming to travel across the United States. His father then took over his own …

Bush, John

John Edward Bush, a chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas, rose from poverty to national prominence when he co-founded the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), an African-American fraternal organization of international scope, spanning twenty-six states and six foreign countries from the 1880s until the 1930s. Headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), MTA became one of the largest and most successful black-owned business enterprises in the nation and the world; it included an insurance company, a building and loan association, a hospital, a business college, a publishing house, and a nursing school. Living most of his early life in the downtown 9th Street district of Little Rock, Bush was widely acknowledged as one of the wealthiest black men in Arkansas …

Bussey, Charles E., Jr.

Charles E. Bussey Jr. was the first African American elected to serve on the Little Rock (Pulaski County) City Board of Directors since Reconstruction, the first African-American deputy sheriff of Pulaski County, and the first African-American mayor of Little Rock. Charles Bussey Avenue in Little Rock was named for him in 2005, and he was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Charles Bussey—often called Charlie—was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on December 18, 1918, the eldest child of Annie Bussey and Charles Bussey Sr. Acclaimed author Maya Angelou, who also grew up in Stamps, recalled that her uncle gave Bussey a job in his store and taught him his multiplication tables and a love of …

Butler, Ben F.

aka: Benjamin Franklin Butler
Benjamin Franklin Butler served as mayor of Osceola (Mississippi County) for nearly three decades and was a well-known figure in civic and political affairs at both the state and county level. His tireless advocacy for economic expansion resulted in Osceola’s transformation from a small farm town into an industrialized small city. Ben F. Butler was born in Osceola on January 29, 1894, to Clarence E. Butler and Ada Bragg Butler. Upon completion of his education in 1913, he went into business for himself, first as a car salesman and later in the farm implement business, eventually establishing an International Harvester dealership known as the Ben F. Butler Company. In 1919, he married Irene Tidwell of Memphis and had two sons, …

Butler, Jack

aka: Jack Armand Butler Jr.
Jack Armand Butler Jr. is a poet and novelist known for structurally experimental writing, usually dealing with the development of a religious self-awareness transcending orthodox views. His work is often sexually charged and humorous. Jack Butler was born May 8, 1944, in Alligator, Mississippi, to Jack Butler, a Baptist preacher, and Dorothy Butler, a homemaker. He attended high school in Clinton, Mississippi. He was ordained a Baptist minister in Sedalia, Missouri, in 1965, and pastored the Bethlehem Baptist Church briefly in 1966. He received a BS in math and a BA in English from Central Missouri State College (now Central Missouri State University) in 1966. That year, he married Lynnice McDonald, with whom he had two children, Lynnika and Sarah; …

Butler, Richard Colburn III

Richard Colburn Butler III was a noted historic preservationist who saved historic buildings in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Washington (Hempstead County) and was active with organizations promoting preservation and Arkansas history. Richard Colburn Butler III was born at Trinity Hospital in Little Rock on September 21, 1937, the son of Richard C. Butler Jr. and Gertrude Marjorie Remmel Butler (the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies is named for his father). He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1955, after which he attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, earning an AB in history in 1959. Butler was a student at the University of Arkansas School of Law, receiving an LLB in 1962, …

Butler, Richard Colburn, Sr.

Richard Colburn Butler Sr. was a lawyer, banker, real estate investor, philanthropist, and horticulturist who is best remembered for his wide variety of business developments and community activities. As the attorney for the Little Rock School Board, he played a major role in the 1957 Little Rock school desegregation crisis. Richard Butler, the fourth child of Edna M. Clok and Richard Colburn Butler Sr., was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on January 1, 1910. (Butler, technically “Richard Butler Jr.,” referred to himself as “senior” after his father passed away.) His father was a real estate developer. Butler attended public school in Little Rock and then graduated from Little Rock Junior College in 1929. He subsequently enrolled in the University …

Butler, Turner

Lawyer and jurist Turner Butler was a farmer and schoolteacher before educating himself in law. Butler practiced law for twenty years before being elected a chancery judge. He was a trial judge for fifteen years before he was appointed and then elected to the Arkansas Supreme Court, where he served the last nine years of his life. As a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1930, he wrote a sublime opinion establishing the precedent that the courts must stand in the way of corporations doing harm to land and streams in the pursuit of private profit or the alleged public good. Turner Butler was born on July 7, 1869, as Phillip Turner Butler, in the town of Poplar Bluff …

Butlerville Lynching of 1882

On June 1, 1882, three African Americans named Joseph Earl, Taylor Washington, and Thomas Humphreys were hanged in Butlerville (Lonoke County) for allegedly attacking a young girl named Annie Bridges. Public records reveal very little about the girl or her alleged attackers. There was a thirteen-year-old girl named Sally Bridges in Butler Township of Lonoke County in 1880. She was living in the household of George and Mary Phillips, and her relationship to them was listed merely as “Home.” If the victim’s first name was Sally and not Annie, there is information indicating that her mother had died in Hot Springs (Garland County) in 1878. There was a fourteen-year-old boy named Taylor Washington living in neighboring Prairie County with his …

Bynum, Preston Conrad

Preston Bynum was a political leader in the later part of the 1960s into the early 1980s. In addition to his work in the Arkansas General Assembly, he also played a major role in the growth and development of a vibrant and competitive Republican Party in Arkansas. He later served prison time for bribery. Preston Conrad Bynum was born on June 8, 1939, in Pryor, Oklahoma, to Homer and Roma Bynum. He grew up in Siloam Springs (Benton County), where his father headed Bynum Motor Company. He was a 1957 graduate of Siloam Springs High School and was three times elected class president. In his high school athletic career, he earned three varsity letters in each of his four years, …

Byrd, Conley F

Conley F Byrd Sr. was a sharecroppers’ son from northeastern Arkansas who, after World War II, became a lawyer and a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He proved to be a maverick on the court by dissenting often, and he frustrated some members of the elite court with his obstinacy. Injuries from vehicle accidents left him in so much pain that he retired in 1980 and spent the last thirty-four years of his life farming in the woods east of Redfield (Jefferson County). Conley F Byrd (he had no middle name, just the initial) was born on January 14, 1925, in Poughkeepsie (Sharp County). His parents, Robert Lee Byrd and Artie Elizabeth Barnes Byrd, were sharecroppers. They lived in …

Byrd, Henry

Henry Byrd was one of Arkansas’s most prolific antebellum portrait painters. His portraits present Arkansas’s merchants, planters, and professional gentlemen, along with their wives and children, as they wished posterity to see them. Henry Byrd was born in Ireland in 1805, one of seven children born to William Byrd and Anne Garrett of Belmount Hall, County Tiperary. He immigrated to America and was naturalized through the port of New York City in November 1835. He established himself as a painter and resided at 164 Delancy Street in New York City. During his years in New York, Byrd married Sarah J. Updike, and they had two children while still in New York. Sometime during the late 1830s, the family migrated south, …

Byrne, Andrew

Andrew Byrne was the first Roman Catholic bishop of Little Rock (Pulaski County), a diocese which then and now encompasses the boundaries of the state of Arkansas. A prelate on the southern frontier, he had few Catholics in his ecclesiastical domain; nevertheless, he planted the Church so deeply that even his death, the Civil War, and the five-year absence of any bishop could not eradicate the faith. Andrew Byrne was born in Navan, a town about forty miles northwest of Dublin, Ireland, the son of Robert and Margery Moore Byrne. There is no exact date of his birth on parish records, though they record that he was baptized on December 3, 1802; with his name being Andrew, he may have …