Time Period: Post-Reconstruction through the Gilded Age (1875 - 1900) - Starting with M

Mansfield, William Walker

William Walker Mansfield was a lawyer, legislator, circuit judge, and associate justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. The Sebastian County town of Mansfield is believed to be named in his honor. William Walker Mansfield was born on January 16, 1830, in Scottsville, Kentucky, the son of Colonel George Washington Mansfield and Frances Cockrill Mansfield. Mansfield received a “common-school” education before studying law under Judge William V. Loving in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1852. A short time later, Mansfield corresponded with fellow Kentucky native and noted Arkansas politician and attorney David Walker in Fayetteville (Washington County) about possible opportunities in the legal field within the state. Despite Walker’s encouragement to consider a practice in …

Mason, Charles Harrison

An outstanding preacher and the founder of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the largest African-American Pentecostal denomination of the twentieth century, Charles Harrison “Bishop” Mason ordained both black and white clergy in the early 1900s, when few did so. Mason was baptized, licensed, ordained in Arkansas, and he preached his first sermon in Preston (Faulkner County). Charles Mason was born on September 8, 1866, on the Prior Farm near Bartlett, Tennessee. His parents, tenant farmers Jeremiah “Jerry” Mason and Eliza Mason, had been converted to Christianity while they were slaves and attended the Missionary Baptist Church. Mason had two brothers and one sister. When Mason was twelve, a yellow fever epidemic forced his family to move from Tennessee …

McCracken, Isaac

Isaac McCracken played a prominent role in the farmers’ and labor movements in Arkansas (and, to a lesser degree, nationally) during the late nineteenth century. McCracken was also active in Arkansas politics as an independent and third-party leader during that era. He served in the Arkansas General Assembly in the 1880s and ran for Congress at a time when elections in Arkansas were notoriously violent and fraudulent. Isaac McCracken was born in 1846 in Huntingdon, Quebec, Canada, but he spent most of his childhood in Lowell, Massachusetts, where his family settled when he was eight years old. In 1867, he married Delia Maral Allen in Wisconsin, and the couple moved to Arkansas three years later. They had nine children between 1872 …

McCulloch, Philip Doddridge, Jr.

Philip Doddridge McCulloch Jr. was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the First District of Arkansas from 1893 to 1903, beginning in the Fifty-Third Congress and extending through the Fifty-Seventh Congress. Philip McCulloch Jr. was born on June 23, 1851, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Philip D. McCulloch, who was a doctor, and Lucy Burrus McCulloch. When he was three years old, McCulloch’s family moved to Trenton, Tennessee. He received most of his early education in the area’s private schools before attending Andrew College in Trenton. He studied law and after being admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1872, he opened a practice in Trenton. In early 1874, McCulloch moved to Marianna (Lee County) and began …

McDiarmid, Clara Alma Cox

Clara Alma Cox McDiarmid was Arkansas’s foremost nineteenth-century women’s reformer. She supported suffrage, temperance, women’s education, and the women’s club movement. Active locally and nationally and concerned about women’s inequalities under the law, she also supported cultural activities in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and farther afield. Clara Cox was born on December 11, 1847, the second of six children in a prominent Noblesville, Indiana, family. Her father’s mother was renowned preacher Lydia Sexton of New Jersey, the first female chaplain for Kansas State Prison. Her mother was Catherine Rowan Allison of Ohio. Her father, John Thomas Cox of Ohio, was a surveyor who moved his family to Coffey County, Kansas, in 1857, where he laid out the town of Ottumwa, …

McGehee Lynching of 1894

On September 22, 1894, Luke Washington, Richard Washington, and Henry C. Robinson were lynched in McGehee (Desha County) for allegedly murdering local merchant H. C. Patton and robbing his store. One of the interesting aspects of this case is that the African-American population of McGehee (then known as McGehee Junction) reportedly took an active part in the three men’s lynching. On September 20, 1894, Patton locked his store, which was located on the edge of a cotton field some distance from the depot in McGehee, and proceeded along the walkway to his bedroom. There, Robinson and the two Washingtons allegedly killed him with a club. Although Patton was armed with a pistol, he was unable to use it in time. His attackers then …

McKennon, Arch

aka: Archibald Smith McKennon
Archibald Smith McKennon was a Confederate military officer, storekeeper, lawyer, temperance advocate, and political activist in Arkansas in the latter part of the nineteenth century. These activities led to an appointment to the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, commonly known as the Dawes Commission. This committee negotiated land allotments to individual Native Americans in order to lessen tribal claims. This subsequently opened the area to white settlement in—and facilitated statehood for—the Oklahoma Territory. Arch McKennon was born near Pulaski, Tennessee, on February 7, 1841. He was one of several children of Dr. Archibald McKennon and Sarah Smith McKennon, who had moved there from South Carolina. The family later immigrated to Arkansas and made their home in Carroll County in …

McLendon, Will (Reported Lynching of)

In many cases, newspapers across the country published reports on lynchings, which were then listed in books and other resources. In some cases, even though subsequent reports indicated that the lynching had not happened, initial accounts were not corrected. Such was the case with an African American man, Will McLendon of Woodruff County, who was reportedly lynched in August 1893. In his 1993 dissertation, citing an August 6 report in the Memphis Appeal Avalanche, historian Richard Buckelew commented on this presumed lynching, which he dated at August 5. In her 1894 book A Red Record, Ida Wells Barnett gave the date of the lynching as August 9. It seems, however, that McLendon actually died in jail in Newport (Jackson County) …

McNeil, Sharpe (Lynching of)

According to the Arkansas Gazette’s coverage of the affair, on the night of January 18, 1881, a mob of about 100 men assembled at the jail in Star City (Lincoln County) for the purposes of lynching a white man named Sharpe McNeil, who had been charged with the murder of Dr. E. U. G. Anderson. The mob “surprised the jailor, put him under arrest, and proceeded to the jail, where they forced open the doors and took out the man.” The mob took McNeil “to the outskirts of the town, where he was found riddled with bullets.” The brief report in the January 20, 1881, Gazette ends by noting: “The people of Star City are much excited over the affair.” …

Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (M&LR)

The Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (M&LR) was the first railroad to operate in the state of Arkansas. The M&LR was a 133-mile-long railroad line that ran from Hopefield (Crittenden County), just opposite Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock (Pulaski County). A five-and-one-half-foot-gauge railroad, it was constructed between 1854 and 1871. At the beginning of the Civil War, only the eastern portion of the railroad between Hopefield and Madison (St. Francis County) was in operation. Construction on the eastern and western thirds of the railroad was complete in 1862, but the Civil War interrupted construction of the middle division of the railroad. During this period, the M&LR played a vital role for both Confederate and Union forces and was under Union …

Merrell, Henry

Henry Merrell of New York was both an industrialist and an evangelical who contributed to the development of Arkansas and Georgia. He has been credited with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Arkansas, and he also served the state as a Confederate major and as an effective Presbyterian elder. Henry Merrell was born in Utica, New York, on December 8, 1816, to Andrew Merrell, an influential printer, and Harriet Camp Merrell; he had two brothers and two sisters. Merrell began working at the Oneida textile factory in Whitesboro, New York, when he was fourteen. He participated in the religious movement of “The Second Great Awakening” and attended the abolitionist Oneida Institute in Whitesboro. Concerning his 1856 arrival in Arkansas, …

Midland Holm

Midland Holm was a 5,000-acre plantation situated in the Oil Trough Bottoms on the White River in Independence County. It was established by Virgil Young (V. Y.) Cook. Described by his contemporaries as a young man “with keen foresight and ability, coupled with indomitable energy,” Cook, at age eighteen, began life in Arkansas as a merchant in Grand Glaise (Jackson County) in 1866. Showing an early interest in the Oil Trough Bottoms, he bought his first eighty acres there in 1873 for $500. He would eventually own a plantation of 5,000 acres of the fertile bottomland, making him the largest landowner in the county. After being appointed receiving agent for the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, Cook moved with the railroad …

Millar, Alexander Copeland

Alexander Copeland Millar was a prominent Methodist minister, educator (elected one of the nation’s youngest college presidents), and publisher. Alexander Millar was born May 17, 1861, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, to William John Millar and Ellen Caven. His father engaged in the drug business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, until the great fire of April 10, 1845, destroyed at least one third of the city, including his drug business and his family’s home. Later, William Millar tried his hand at being an inventor. In 1867, he moved his family to Missouri, where he bought a farm near Brookfield in Linn County. In 1885, Alexander Millar graduated from the Methodist-affiliated Central College in Fayette, Missouri. Four years later, he earned an MA from Central …

Miller, Abraham Hugo

The Reverend Abraham Hugo Miller was an African-American businessman, a legislator during Reconstruction, and a church and educational leader in Helena (Phillips County). During Reconstruction, he served in the Arkansas General Assembly as a representative from Phillips County. At the peak of his business operations, he was considered the wealthiest black man in Arkansas. Abraham Miller was born a slave in Colt (St. Francis County) on March 12, 1849. He was the son of Boyer Miller, who was born in Virginia in 1827; the name of his mother is unknown, though his stepmother was Henrietta Miller. During the Civil War, Miller moved with his mother to Helena. Like his father, he became a drayman, which involved hauling cotton, flour, meat, …