Entries - Race and Ethnicity: White - Starting with O

Oates, Will Etta Long (Willie)

Willie Oates was a renowned civic activist in Arkansas throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Whether through her fundraising efforts for charities and nonprofit organizations or her service in the Arkansas General Assembly, she had a substantive impact on her state and its citizens—and it was all achieved in a colorful style that was characterized by the flamboyant hats that became her trademark. Will Etta (Willie) Long was born on January 14, 1918, in Arkansas City, Kansas, to Harry L. Long and Roberta Fern Jordan Long. Harry Long, a pharmacist, was mayor of Arkansas City for several years. Willie Long arrived at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1938, earning her bachelor’s degree in …

Ogden, Dunbar H., Jr.

Dunbar Hunt Ogden Jr. was a minister who played an important role in the effort to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the mid-twentieth century. His support for the Little Rock Nine was controversial, and his efforts split his congregation. Ultimately, faced with diminishing support, Ogden resigned his pastorate and left Arkansas, taking over a church in West Virginia and eventually retiring in California. Dunbar Ogden Jr. was born on August 15, 1902, in Columbus, Mississippi. One of seven children born to Dunbar H. Ogden, who was a minister, and Grace Augusta Cox Ogden, Ogden was brought up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Boys High School in Atlanta before going to Davidson College …

Ogden, Mahlon Dickerson

Mahlon Dickerson (M. D.) Ogden was a physician who cofounded Trinity Hospital of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1923. At Trinity, he pioneered the use of the health maintenance organization (HMO)—a form of health insurance in which member physicians provide medical care to subscribers for a fixed fee—in Arkansas. Born on December 5, 1881, in Little Rock, M. D. Ogden was the only son of railroad clerk Charles Cullen Ogden and his wife, Altamira Deason Ogden. An older cousin, Fred R. Bryson, was adopted into the family and became Ogden’s legal brother. Educated in the local schools, Ogden graduated from the Arkansas Medical School (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) in 1904. From 1905 to 1916, he taught …

Old Mike

Old Mike is the name given to a traveling salesman who died in 1911 in Prescott (Nevada County). The people of Prescott only knew him by his first name, Mike. He was subsequently embalmed and publicly displayed for over sixty years. Mike visited Prescott about once a month to sell pens, paper, and thread to homes and businesses near the railroad tracks in the center of town. He would arrive on the southbound 3:00 p.m. train and stay overnight. The next day, he would re-board the 3:00 p.m. train and continue his journey. On April 11, 1911, Mike probably attended an outdoor revival in the city park. The next day, his body was found underneath a tree in the park, …

Oldfield, Pearl

aka: Fannie Pearl Peden Oldfield
In 1929, Fannie Pearl Peden Oldfield became the first woman from Arkansas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served from January 9, 1929, to March 3, 1931. While a member of the House of Representatives, Oldfield introduced twenty-eight bills, served on three House committees, and spoke in Congress on three occasions. Pearl Peden, daughter of John Peden and Amanda Hill Peden, was born on a farm near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on December 2, 1876. She attended Cotton Plant Grammar School and Batesville Public School. In 1891, Peden enrolled in Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville (Independence County) but withdrew before finishing a degree. In June 1901, she married William Allen Oldfield. The couple had no …

Oldfield, William Allan

William Allan Oldfield was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-first U.S. Congress and to the nine succeeding Congresses, serving from 1909 until his death in 1928. During that time, he served as a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means and was chosen as chair of the Democratic Congressional Committee, campaigning across the country for Democratic candidates and incumbents. He was reelected to the Seventy-first Congress, his tenth consecutive term, but he died before he could take office. After a special election, his wife took his place in Congress, becoming the first woman in Arkansas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. William A. Oldfield was born in Franklin (Izard County) on February 4, 1874, …

Oliver, M. E.

aka: Marvin Elmer Oliver
Marvin Elmer Oliver was an artist, farmer, and civil service employee in the Arkansas Ozarks. In 1955, he produced a book, Strange Scenes in the Ozarks, which attracted notice because of its unique artistic qualities. Text and illustrations were printed using the silk-screen (or serigraph) process, assembled by hand, and enclosed in a handmade cover. Oliver published 400 copies. The text describes the backwoods life Oliver remembered, which was almost completely gone by the time he produced his book. His distinctive illustrations make Strange Scenes in the Ozarks an item of interest to collectors of Arkansiana and of regional art. Oliver later published Old Mills of the Ozarks (1969) with black-and-white sketches, descriptions, and locations of twenty water-powered mills. M. …

Ord, Edward Otho C.

Edward Otho C. Ord was a major general in the Union army during the Civil War and commanded the Department of Arkansas and the Fourth Military District during Reconstruction. Born in Cumberland, Maryland, on October 18, 1818, Edward O. C. Ord was the son of James and Rebecca Ord. The family moved to Washington DC when Ord was young. Tutored by his father, he was known as a mathematical genius. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point at the age of sixteen. He graduated in 1839 and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Third United States Artillery. After service during the Second Seminole War and a promotion to first lieutenant in 1841, Ord sailed …

Orr, David

David Orr was one of the earliest preachers in northeastern Arkansas, settling in the state in about 1828. During his time in the region, he started nine different churches and founded the Spring River and Rocky Bayou Baptist Associations in the Ozark Mountains east of the White River. Although Orr was exclusively a Baptist preacher, he was also interested in modern-day religious revelations, such as those of the Mormons and New York farmer William Miller. After his birth in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1798, Orr lived near Cincinnati, Ohio, seventy miles away from his birthplace. While in Cincinnati, he was influenced and baptized by Jeremiah Vardeman, a fiery revivalist preacher during the Second Great Awakening. Orr married Eliza Caldwell in …

Orsini, Mary “Lee”

Mary “Lee” Hatcher Orsini was the central figure in two sensational murders and the ensuing media frenzy that took place in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1981–82. After many dramatic turns, including the arrest of her defense attorney on suspicion of conspiring to kill his wife, Orsini was ultimately arrested and convicted. Mary Lee Orsini was born Mary Myrtle Hatcher in Searcy (White County) on August 17, 1947, to Henry Hatcher, who raised cattle on land near Gravel Ridge (Pulaski County), and Julia Hatcher, who was a school cafeteria worker and drove a county school bus; she had two siblings. Though Hatcher later left the impression with acquaintances that she had been a refined “society” girl, she spent her early …

Orto, Zaphney

Zaphney Orto, a prominent physician who helped discover the link between malaria and mosquitoes, was a U.S. army major and surgeon during the Spanish-American War, and the second president of Simmons First National Bank, founded in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Born to Leonidas Orto and Martha G. McElwee Orto in Somerville, Tennessee, in 1842, Zaphney Orto lived on a farm near Somerville until he was eighteen, then worked in a store for two years. He studied medicine with Dr. S. W. Thompson of Evansville, Indiana, and graduated from the Miami Medical College of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1872. Shortly afterward, he moved to Arkansas, where he settled in Clover Bend (Lawrence County). He practiced medicine there for two years before moving …

Oslin, Kay Toinette (K. T.)

Kay Toinette (K. T.) Oslin is a country music singer who skyrocketed to fame in her mid-forties with the hit album 80’s Ladies (1987). Her work is known for its humor and mature perspective, as she achieved success much later in life than most popular musicians. K. T. Oslin was born in Crossett (Ashley County) on May 15, 1942. Soon after her birth, her family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and then to Houston, Texas. Oslin considers Houston her hometown. Oslin initially performed as a folk singer with Guy Clark in the 1960s and then moved to New York, where she performed as a chorus girl on and off Broadway. She soon began doing advertising jingles, which led to appearances in …

Ottenheimer, Gus

Gus Ottenheimer, an industrialist, became known nationally through his successful efforts in manufacturing women’s garments. He was a land developer as well, and he spent much of the last one-third of his life promoting higher education in central Arkansas Ottenheimer was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 18, 1897, to Daniel Ottenheimer and Hannah Berger. He was the youngest of four children. The Ottenheimers were a Jewish pioneer family, some of whom came to the state in the 1850s. Ottenheimer’s father died in 1908. The eldest son, Leonard, became the family breadwinner at age sixteen and forfeited his education to his younger brother. Ottenheimer graduated in 1918 from Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, …

Ouzts, Perry Wayne

Perry Wayne Ouzts, a professional jockey from Lepanto (Poinsett County), is one of twenty-one professional riders to have won 5,000 races. Around horseracing tracks, he is nicknamed the “Workingman’s Hero” or, for his unique riding style, “Scoot N’ Boot.” He has also been noted for overcoming numerous potentially career-ending injuries. Perry Ouzts was born in Lepanto on July 7, 1954, but was raised primarily in Rivervale (Poinsett County). During his years in Rivervale, Ouzts began riding horses with his cousins Earlie and Jackie Fires. Earlie Fires was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame of Jockeys, while Jackie’s career ended when his body was crushed during a horse race in 1977, paralyzing him. Ouzts began riding professionally in the spring …

Overton, William Ray

William Ray Overton was a U.S. district judge from 1979 to 1987 and is best known for his ruling in the McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education court case, which held the teaching of creationism to be unconstitutional. William Ray Overton was born on September 19, 1939, in Hot Spring County to Elizabeth Ford and Odis Ray Overton, a mine foreman at Magnet Cove (Hot Spring County). His mother, who taught several subjects in Hot Spring County’s public school system, was known for her skill with the English language; Overton joked that he got some learning in language by osmosis. Overton was an only child. His father died in 1957 when Overton was sixteen years old. In 1963, his mother …

Owens, Freeman Harrison

Freeman Harrison Owens was a pioneer cinematographer and inventor of cinematic technology, including the A. C. Nielsen Rating System, a plastic lens for Kodak, and the method of adding synchronized sound to film. He is credited with 11,812 inventions and held 200 patents during his lifetime. Freeman Owens was born on July 20, 1890, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). He was the only child of Charles H. Owens and Christabel Harrison Owens and grandson of Arkansas Supreme Court judge William M. Harrison. Owens attended Sixth and Beech Street Elementary School, but he dropped out during his senior year at Pine Bluff High School. He went to work for a movie theater when he was twelve years old. He cleaned the …