Race and Ethnicity: White - Starting with R

Ragon, Hiram Heartsill

Hiram Heartsill Ragon was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fifth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Eighth through the Seventy-Third Congresses, serving from 1923 to 1933. He also served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas from May 1933 until September 1940. H. Heartsill Ragon was born in Dublin (Johnson County) on March 20, 1884, to Alfred Jackson Ragon and Anne E. Heartsill Ragon. (His congressional biography lists 1885 as his birth year, but his draft card, 1900 census data, and grave stone give 1884 as the year.) He received his early education in the local common schools and at Clarksville High School. He attended the College …

Ragon, Imogene McConnell

Imogene McConnell Ragon was a well-known twentieth-century Arkansas educator and plein air (outdoor) artist. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout Arkansas and nationally. Today, she is best remembered for her watercolors of native wildflowers and landscapes, and her architectural renderings of historic buildings all around Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains. The dogwood and the magnolia are among her most popular subjects. Imogene McConnell was born on May 21, 1887, in Clarksville (Johnson County) into the pioneer family of Edward Taylor McConnell and Alice Adele Porter McConnell. She was the third of four children. In 1894, when she was six years old, her father was appointed superintendent of the Arkansas prison by Governor William Meade Fishback. The family moved to Little …

Ragsdale, John, Jr.

John Gails Ragsdale Jr. was an engineer, philanthropist, and author whose writing topics included Dutch oven cooking and Arkansas history. John G. Ragsdale Jr. was born in El Dorado (Union County) on September 11, 1924, the son of lawyer, judge, and politician John Gails Ragsdale and Dimple Hill Ragsdale. He had one brother. After graduating from high school in 1942, he attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County); his studies were interrupted by service in the U.S. Army in 1945–1946. He graduated in 1947 with a degree in engineering. While at UA, he met Dora Dean “DeDe” Johnson; the couple wed in 1946 and had two sons and two daughters. Ragsdale worked from 1947 to 1981 for …

Randolph, Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis Randolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson and friend of Andrew Jackson, served as the last secretary of the Arkansas Territory. Despite his strong connections with many influential families in Virginia, as well as intimate friendships with numerous U.S. presidents, he chose to settle on the Arkansas frontier. He obtained thousands of acres of land in Clark County with the intent of establishing a plantation and making his residence there. His education, family, and social ties offered great promise to the new state, but his contributions were cut short by an early death. Some sources have Randolph’s birth date as January 10, 1810. His father, Thomas Mann Randolph, was a member of a prominent Virginia family and served as …

Randolph, Vance

Vance Randolph was a folklorist whose wide-ranging studies in the traditional culture of the Ozarks made him famous with both academic and popular readers from the 1930s to the present. Vance Randolph was born on February 23, 1892, in Pittsburg, Kansas, to John Randolph, an attorney and Republican politician, and Theresa Gould, a public school teacher. He was the eldest of three sons. Born to the respectable center, he was as a young man attracted to the margins, to the rich ethnic and cultural diversity and radical politics of the region’s mining communities. He dropped out of high school and published his first writing for leftist periodicals such as the socialist Appeal to Reason, published in nearby Girard. He graduated …

Raney, Wayne

Wayne Raney was an American country singer and harmonica player best known for his hit song “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me.” Raney, along with fellow Arkansan Lonnie Glosson, played a major role in making the harmonica a popular instrument through their musical performances as well as through their mail-order harmonica business. Wayne Raney was born on August 17, 1921, on a farm near Wolf Bayou (Cleburne County), the youngest of five children of William Franklin (Frank) Raney and Bonnie Davis Raney. Due to a foot deformity, he could not do heavy labor. Instead, he pursued an interest in music, learning to play harmonica at an early age. He was drawn to the harmonica after hearing a street performer …

Rathke, Wade

Wade Rathke is a longtime community organizer and the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). He was living in Arkansas when he started an organization that would evolve in 1970 into ACORN. His efforts to achieve social justice were highlighted in a 2017 documentary film titled The Organizer. Stephen Wade Rathke was born on August 5, 1948, in Laramie, Wyoming, to Edmann J. Rathke and Cornelia Ratliff Rathke. He was raised in Colorado and New Orleans, Louisiana, and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans in 1966. He then headed to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which he attended from 1966 to 1968. Dropping out of Williams in 1968, Rathke began his organizing …

Ray, Victor Keith

Victor Keith Ray was a prominent writer and journalist who worked in Arkansas for much of his career. Later in his career, he moved to public relations and advocacy work on behalf of the nation’s farmers. Victor Keith Ray was born on February 10, 1919, in Bernie, Missouri, to Victor Hugo Ray and Myrtle Fonville Ray. He grew up in Missouri and graduated from Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (now Southeast Missouri State University). He married Pearl Downs; the couple had a daughter. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Ray’s wide-ranging writing career began after the war in California, where he wrote a number of mystery stories that appeared in pulp detective magazines such …

Rayburn, Howell A. “Doc”

Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn was a Civil War guerrilla chieftain who operated in the area between West Point (White County) and Des Arc (Prairie County). His legacy is a mix of fact and legend. His attacks and those of other guerrillas on Union outposts and expeditions tied up countless Union military assets that otherwise could have been used elsewhere. Doc Rayburn was born about 1841 in Roane County, Tennessee, one of six children born to farmer Hodge Rayburn and Susan Rayburn. A few years later, the family relocated to Texas. Rayburn joined the Confederate army on October 21, 1861, when he enlisted in Company C, Twelfth Texas Cavalry. The regiment moved to Des Arc in March 1862 and prepared to …

Rayburn, Otto Ernest

Otto Ernest Rayburn was a writer, magazine publisher, and collector of Arkansas and Ozark lore. Vance Randolph, in his introduction to Rayburn’s autobiography, Forty Years in the Ozarks (1957), defined Rayburn as a “dedicated regionalist” and added, “There is no denying that, in the period between 1925 and 1950, Rayburn did more to arouse popular interest in Ozark folklore than all of the professors put together.” Otto Rayburn was born on May 6, 1891, in Hacklebarney settlement, Davis County, Iowa, to William Grant Rayburn, a farmer, and Sarah Jane Turpin Rayburn. The family soon moved to Woodson County, Kansas, where Rayburn grew up. In 1909–1910, he attended Marionville College in Marionville, Missouri. In the spring of 1917, Rayburn bought forty …

Raye, Collin

aka: Floyd Elliott Wray
With five platinum records and fifteen number-one singles to his credit, country star Collin Raye is one of the most successful recording artists to ever have emerged from Arkansas. Joining the ranks of acclaimed country performers Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and K. T. Oslin, Raye has proven to be a versatile performer, turning out diverse hits ranging from tender ballads to socially relevant tunes. Collin Raye was born Floyd Elliott Wray on August 22, 1960, in De Queen (Sevier County). His mother, Lois Wray, had achieved notoriety in the 1950s as a regional musician, opening shows for Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Later in her solo career, Raye’s mother had Raye and his older brother accompany her on …

Read, Lessie Stringfellow

Lessie Stringfellow Read was an early champion of women’s rights, a writer for six national periodicals of her day, a correspondent for two large newspapers, and a newspaper editor herself. She was a founder of the Women’s Suffrage Association of Washington County and was an officer for the local Red Cross during World War I. In addition, she served many years as national press chairperson for the largest women’s organization of the early twentieth century, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Lessie Read was born Mabel Staples on January 3, 1891, in Temple, Texas, to William and Lillian Staples. Both her parents died from a fever when she was two years old, and the renowned horticulturist Henry Martyn Stringfellow and …

Read, Opie

Opie Read was a newspaperman, author, and lecturer. He cofounded the comic newspaper The Arkansas Traveler and wrote several successful novels. Arkansas provided much of his education as he worked for three Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspapers: the Arkansas Gazette, the Arkansas Evening Democrat, and the Evening Ledger. His work as city editor and his associations with the state’s antebellum elite provided him with decades of literary material. Opie Read was born on December 22, 1852, in Nashville, Tennessee, the youngest of eleven children. (His middle name is recorded various sources as either Pope or Percival, with the consensus being that it was like the latter.) His parents were Guilford and Elizabeth Wallace Read. Read’s early life was spent in …

Rebsamen, Raymond Henry

Raymond Henry Rebsamen was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman who started a number of small businesses in different industries including insurance, printing, real estate, and automobile sales. Rebsamen was deeply involved in shaping the landscape of modern Little Rock through urban planning organizations like Metroplan, of which he was a founding member, and through his donations of land within the city for public use in sports, leisure, and education. Raymond Rebsamen was born on April 8, 1898, in Lancaster, Texas, to William Frederick Rebsamen and Edna May Miller Rebsamen. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), where Raymond and his younger brothers, Paul and Lloyd, were educated in the public schools. Rebsamen attended the University of Arkansas (UA) …

Rector, Elias

Elias Rector was appointed U.S. marshal for the Territory of Arkansas later served as superintendent of Indian Affairs. During the Civil War, he sought to make treaties with Native American tribes on behalf of the Confederacy. Rector was the subject of the poem “The Fine Arkansas Gentleman, Close to the Choctaw Line,” written by his friend Albert Pike. Elias Rector was born on September 28, 1802, in Fauquier County, Virginia. He was the youngest of nine sons born to Wharton Rector and Mary Vance Rector, who was a native of North Carolina. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Illinois, where Elias Rector spent the early part of his youth. The family relocated again, this time to St. Louis, …

Rector, Henry Massie

Henry Massie Rector was the state’s sixth governor. He was part of Arkansas’s political dynasty during the antebellum period, but he was not always comfortable in that role and played a part in its downfall. Henry Rector was born on May 1, 1816, at Fontaine’s Ferry near Louisville, Kentucky, to Elias Rector and Fannie Bardell Thurston. He was the only one of their children to survive to maturity. Elias Rector, one of the numerous Rectors who worked as deputy surveyors under William Rector, the surveyor-general for Illinois and Missouri, served in the Missouri legislature in 1820 and as postmaster of St. Louis, Missouri. He also surveyed in Arkansas and acquired, among other speculations, a claim to the site of the …

Rector, James Alcorn “Indian”

James Alcorn “Indian” Rector, who took the silver medal in the 100 meters at the 1908 Olympic Games, was the first Arkansan to win an Olympic medal. His nickname “Indian” is said to have been given to him by his teammates or East Coast track fans who said he ran like an Indian. Born on June 22, 1884, in Hot Springs (Garland County), James Alcorn Rector was the fourth of six children of Elias William Rector and Rosebud Alcorn Rector. His paternal grandfather, Henry Massie Rector, served as governor of Arkansas, while his maternal grandfather, James Lusk Alcorn, served as governor of Mississippi. His father practiced law and was a representative in the Arkansas General Assembly. After attending schools in Hot Springs, …

Rector, William Field (Billy), Sr.

William Field Rector was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman and civic leader who founded the real estate firm Rector-Phillips-Morse, Inc. (now RPM Group) and the nonprofit group 50 for the Future. He played a dominant role in shaping the development of Little Rock from the 1950s into the 1970s, especially in his attempt to serve what he believed to be the business community’s interests during the Desegregation of Central High School in the mid-1950s and busing efforts in the decades following. William Field (Billy) Rector was born on June 28, 1912, on a farm near Palarm in Faulkner County to Henry M. Rector and Nancy Rector. He was the great-grandson of Henry Massie Rector, the Confederate governor of Arkansas …

Reed, James Byron

James Byron Reed was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-eighth through the Seventieth Congresses, serving from 1923 to 1929. James B. Reed was born near Lonoke (Lonoke County) on January 2, 1881, to William R. Reed and Georgia A. Reed. He attended the local schools as well as Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) before ultimately graduating from the law department of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1906. He was admitted to the bar that same year and began a private practice. He also ventured into politics, winning election to the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he served in 1907. Reed was …

Reed, Roy

Roy Reed, author of an incisive biography of Governor Orval Faubus, was a renowned writer and reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and The New York Times. He taught journalism for sixteen years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). As a teacher, he stressed not only the importance of telling stories accurately but of telling them well, with careful attention to language. Roy Reed was born on February 14, 1930, in Hot Springs (Garland County) to Roy E. Reed, a mail carrier and later a storeowner, and Ella Meredith Reed, a homemaker. His younger sister, Hattie, died in 1964. Reed grew up in Piney, an unincorporated Garland County community near Hot Springs. Piney was racially mixed, and …

Reid, Charles Chester

Charles Chester Reid was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Fifty-Seventh Congress, but following redistricting, he represented Arkansas’s Fifth District in the Fifty-Eighth through the Sixty-First Congress. His overall tenure in the House ran from 1901 to 1911. Charles Chester Reid was born on June 15, 1868, in Clarksville (Johnson County) to Charles C. Reid and Sarah Robinson Reid. He received his early education in the local public schools before attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for three years. There, Reid won the annual debate medal, besting a son of U.S. Senator James D. Walker. Reid graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in …

Reid, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson Reid was a physician and a colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Reid not only fought during the war—and at one point escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp—he also served at times in a medical role. After the war, he practiced medicine in Arkansas. He moved to Illinois around 1880, where he lived the rest of his life. Thomas Jefferson Reid was born on January 6, 1838, in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was one of twelve children born to Thomas Jefferson Reid and Frances Lightfoot Edwards “Fannie” Reid. Thomas Sr. was a descendant of Major John Reid of Virginia, who had served in the American Revolution. Reid’s mother was well educated and from a slaveholding …