Race and Ethnicity: White - Starting with G

Gant, Glenn Rowlett

Glenn Gant was an important figure in the art history of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). He is best remembered for his paintings and pen-and-ink drawings that captured the unique essence of the architecture and culture of Eureka Springs during the last half of the twentieth century. Glenn Rowlett Gant was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 25, 1911, the son of Joseph Rowlett Gant and Phillippa Gant. His parents divorced shortly after his birth. Phillippa, a musician, relocated alone to Chicago, Illinois, while Joseph, a bank president, remained in Kansas City and married Mildred Stites. They had two more children: Elizabeth Lee and John (Jack) E. Gant. After his father’s death in 1925, Glenn lived with his aunt, Emma …

Gantt, Edward W.

Edward W. Gantt became one of southwestern Arkansas’s leading politicians in the Civil War era. He pushed for secession in 1860, led Confederate troops in 1861–1862, and then abruptly supported the Union from 1863 to 1865. He promoted radical social, economic, and political change during Reconstruction as he led the Freedmen’s Bureau and Radical Republicans in Arkansas. Edward W. Gantt was born in 1829, the son of George Gantt, a teacher and Baptist preacher, and Mary Elizabeth Williams. He decided to become a lawyer and attended the 1850 Nashville Convention, which considered secession during the crisis over California statehood. Hoping to find opportunities in the booming Southwest, he moved to Washington (Hempstead County) in 1854. The Sixth Judicial District elected …

Gardner, Virginia

Virginia Gardner was a journalist and left-wing activist. At one time a member of the Communist Party, she was also the author of a well-received biography of Louise Bryant, the wife of Russian Revolution chronicler John Reed. Although born in Oklahoma, Gardner spent most of her youth in Arkansas. Virginia Gardner was born on June 27, 1904, in Sallisaw, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). She was the youngest of three daughters born to Gertrude Boltswood Gardner and John Gardner, who was a banker. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) when she was two. That same year, her father contracted tuberculosis. He was taken to Colorado for treatment, and he sometimes returned there in the summers. Gardner’s mother died when …

Garland, Augustus Hill

Augustus Hill Garland was the eleventh governor of Arkansas, a member of the Confederate Congress, a U.S. senator, and attorney general of the United States. As governor of Arkansas, Garland worked to get the state out of a tremendous debt and improve the state’s image. As the subject of the U.S. Supreme Court case Ex parte Garland, Garland is also a part of legal history, and Garland County is named for him. Augustus Garland was born on June 11, 1832, in Covington, Tennessee, to Rufus Garland and Barbara Hill Garland. He had an older brother, Rufus, and an older sister, Elizabeth. Garland’s father moved the family to Lost Prairie (Miller County), where he owned a store. He died when Garland …

Garland, Rufus King

Rufus King Garland was a prominent Arkansas politician who voted for secession and briefly held the rank of captain in the Confederate army. He turned against the war by 1863, won election to the Confederate Congress, and became one of President Jefferson Davis’s most vocal critics. After the war, Garland remained active in politics and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1882. Rufus King Garland was born on May 22, 1830, in Tipton County, Tennessee, to Rufus Garland and Barbara Hill Garland; he had one brother and one sister. He was raised in Washington (Hempstead County) and educated at St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Kentucky. On February 22, 1853, he married Isabella Sarah Walker, who was the daughter of prominent doctor …

Garner, Claud Wilton

Claud Wilton Garner was a man of many interests and talents. He began as a musician, became a merchant and an advocate for farmers, and, when he was fifty years old, began writing fiction. In addition to his interest in writing, he also composed a number of pieces of music. The sheet music for these compositions, along with the recordings, are located in the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives in Washington (Hempstead County). Garner is remembered both as an Arkansas author and as a worker for farmers in Southwest Arkansas and in the Rio Grande Valley. Claud Garner was born in Hope (Hempstead County) on August 29, 1891, to Thomas Jefferson Garner and Ida Hope Haynes Garner. He had three sisters …

Garvan, Verna Cook

Verna Mary Cook Garvan was one of the first women in Arkansas to own a construction/manufacturing business and was the benefactor of what is now Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs (Garland County). Verna Cook was born on January 22, 1911, in Groveton, Texas, to Arthur Bacillius Cook and Essie Louise Bordis Cook. Verna Cook and her sister, Dorothy, were raised to be “proper ladies,” but Verna often accompanied her father to work and absorbed his business acumen. In 1916, her father moved the family to Malvern (Hot Spring County) to manage the Wisconsin and Arkansas Lumber Company, an enterprise producing oak and pine flooring. Malvern Brick and Tile was also purchased by Verna’s father, who later served as a …

Garver, Neal Bryant

Neal Bryant Garver arrived in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1918 to help provide engineering services for the construction of a munitions plant during World War I. As the Arkansas State Highway Department’s first bridge engineer, Garver also led the design of more than 2,000 bridges from 1921 to 1950, helping to modernize the state’s roadways by adding river crossings. In 1919, Garver started what became the state’s largest engineering firm, which began by providing structural engineering services for Little Rock High School (later called Little Rock Central High), North Little Rock High School, the Pulaski County Jail, and many other structures. Neal Garver was born on February 17, 1877, in Lee County, Iowa, near the Mississippi River, to the …

Gaston, James Albert (Jim)

Jim Gaston was a renowned Arkansas businessman, sportsman, and philanthropist whose legacy includes operating Gaston’s White River Resort, being an advocate for tourism and conservation in the state, and acting as a champion of education. His generosity contributed to significant growth at Arkansas State University–Mountain Home (ASUMH). James (Jim) Albert Gaston was born on December 18, 1941, to Albert (Al) Gaston and Iola Cosey Gaston in Herrin, Illinois. After moving to Arkansas, Al Gaston created Gaston’s White River Resort at Lakeview (Baxter County) in 1958. In 1961, at age twenty, Jim Gaston inherited the property, which at the time consisted of twenty acres, six small cottages, and six boats. Gaston expanded the operation significantly, until it covered 400 acres of land with …

Gates, Noah Putnam

Noah Putnam Gates was an important educator in Arkansas in the last few decades of the nineteenth century. He played a particularly influential role in the development of what became the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Noah Putnam Gates was born on November 18, 1832, near Princeton, Kentucky, the son of Nathan Gates and Carolina Davidson Gates. His early education took place in a wide range of schools (predominantly church affiliated) located in Kentucky and Missouri. He attended Chapel Hill College in Chapel Hill, Missouri, and Princeton College in Princeton, Kentucky, before studying at Illinois Normal University and the University of Michigan. He did not receive a degree from any of these schools, but the board of …

Gatewood, Willard Badgett, Jr.

Willard Badgett Gatewood Jr. was a nationally recognized scholar and longtime professor of history at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He also served briefly as chancellor of the university. Gatewood was the author of numerous books, most dealing with African-American and southern history. Willard B. Gatewood was born on February 23, 1931, on a farm on the Park Springs Road in Caswell County, North Carolina. His parents were Willard B. Gatewood, who was a tobacco farmer, and Bessie Pryor Gatewood. He received his BA, MA, and PhD in history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He began his college teaching career at East Tennessee State University in 1957, and it was there that he met …

Gathings, Ezekiel Candler “Took”

Ezekiel Candler “Took” Gathings represented Arkansas’s First Congressional District for thirty years (1939–1969). Throughout this period, he championed the interests of the neo-plantation elite who dominated politics and society in that region and was one of a powerful bloc of conservative Southern Democrats who frequently fought against social reform legislation introduced by more liberal members of their party. “Took” Gathings was born the youngest of eight children of Melville W. Gathings and Virgie Garner Gathings on November 10, 1903, in Prairie, Mississippi. As an infant, his parents referred to him as “Sugar,” which his two-year-old brother pronounced “Tooker”; hence, the nickname that eventually supplanted his given name. His family later moved to Earle (Crittenden County), where he graduated from high …

Gause, Lucien Coatsworth

Lucien Coatsworth Gause was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the First District of Arkansas in the Forty-Fourth and Forty-Fifth Congresses, serving from 1875 to 1879. Lucien C. Gause was born near Wilmington, North Carolina, on December 25, 1836, to Samuel Sidney Gause and Elizabeth Ann Gause. The family, which included another son, moved to Lauderdale County, Tennessee, where Gause received his earliest education, studying with a private tutor. After graduating from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, he studied law at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. After graduating from Cumberland, he was admitted to the bar and began to practice law in Arkansas at Jacksonport (Jackson County) in 1859. Gause was reputedly an excellent …

Gentry, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (Tom or T. J.) Gentry Jr. served two terms as Arkansas’s attorney general (1953–1956) and, during his tenure, was the state’s most influential racially moderate elected official. He helped guide the state’s initial response to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, putting the state on an early path that won accolades from national Black press and condemnations from segregationists. Gentry’s (and the state’s) moderation, though, could not survive the rise of massive resistance that followed the Arkansas congressional delegation’s signing of the Southern Manifesto in March 1956. He would never win statewide office again, and a once promising political career had been derailed. Tom Gentry was born in Malvern (Hot Spring County) on April 3, 1915, …

Gerard, Gil

Actor/producer Gil Gerard is best known for his role of Buck Rogers in the 1979 movie Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the spin-off television series that followed. He was raised in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in Faulkner County), where he pursued a career in chemistry. Gil Gerard was born on January 23, 1943, in Little Rock, the youngest of three sons. He gave up a promising business career as an industrial chemist to pursue his dream of acting, leaving at the age of twenty-six for New York, where he attended the American Music and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) for two semesters. To make ends meet …

Gerber, Jennifer Sue

Jennifer Sue (Jen) Gerber is a noted filmmaker and teacher from Hot Springs (Garland County) who served as executive director of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) for six years. Her movie The Revival, filmed entirely in Hot Springs, received positive reviews from critics. Jen Gerber was born on June 25, 1979, in Wichita, Kansas. Her parents were Allen Gerber, who was a general surgeon, and Jan Gerber, a nurse. The family enjoyed spending weekends swimming and boating on lakes in the Hot Springs region, later relocating to Hot Springs. There, Gerber attended Lake Hamilton High School, where she ran cross-country and track, ultimately becoming the 3,200-meter Arkansas high school champion. She also performed in school plays, studied ballet, …

Gerig, William Lee

William Lee Gerig was a civil engineer working on railroads and dams in both the United States and abroad, including his service as chief engineer for the construction of the Panama Canal. By the end of his career, he had consulted on every dam built in the United States from 1923 to 1938. William Gerig was born on March 25, 1866, in Boone County, Missouri, the son of Swiss immigrants Francis Joseph and Carolyn Degan Gerig. William Gerig’s grandfather Degen came to America in the early eighteenth century to practice civil engineering. His father, Francis Joseph, assisted in the construction of the Suez Canal before settling in Missouri. As a young boy, the instruments that surveyors used fascinated Gerig, and …

Gerstäcker, Friedrich Wilhelm Christian

aka: Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Gerstaecker
aka: Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Gerstacker
Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Gerstäcker was a nineteenth-century author who wrote about social conditions in backwoods Arkansas before the Civil War. He visited the state from 1838 to 1842 for periods of up to eighteen months at a time. His writings—in the form of essays, short stories, and novels—provide insights into folkways, social conditions, popular religion, gender roles, and a host of other topics relating to backwoods life in Arkansas. Gerstäcker was born in Hamburg, Germany, on May 10, 1816. He and his younger sister moved frequently as children because their parents, Karl Friedrich Gerstäcker and Luise Frederike Gerstäcker, were opera singers who moved as their roles demanded. His father died in 1825 of tuberculosis. Overwhelmed with the twin burdens of …

Ghostley, Alice Margaret

Alice Ghostley was a film, stage, and television actress who was often described as looking “sweetly befuddled.” She most often played comedic roles, though she won Broadway’s Tony Award as best featured actress for her serious portrayal in the 1964 drama The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. Ghostley’s distinctive face and quavering voice became known to millions for her comedic performance as a good witch/housekeeper in the television sitcom Bewitched in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1986 to 1993, she won new fans for her performance as eccentric family friend Bernice Clifton in the television series Designing Women, created by Arkansan Harry Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Alice Margaret Ghostley was born in Eve, Missouri, on August 14, 1923, …

Gibb, Frank Wooster

Frank W. Gibb was a prolific architect whose many designs include those of iconic Arkansas county courthouses and a pair of National Historic Landmarks. Frank Wooster Gibb was born on February 24, 1861, in Rutland, Vermont, to Edward Gibb and Isabella Emerson Gibb. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where the elder Gibb established a carriage-furnishings business, then to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1871 when the business was destroyed in the great Chicago fire. Frank Gibb graduated from the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (which eventually became the Missouri University of Science and Technology) at Rolla in 1881 and then returned to the Arkansas capital to establish a business as a mining consultant and assayer, becoming a member …