Entries - Time Period: Early Twentieth Century (1901 - 1940) - Starting with M

Macon, Robert Bruce

Robert Bruce Macon was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the First District of Arkansas in the Fifty-Eighth through the Sixty-Second Congresses, serving from 1903 to 1913. Robert Macon was born on July 6, 1859, near Trenton (Phillips County) to Robert Bruce Macon and Mary Jane Macon. Orphaned at the age of nine, he received his early education in the local public schools and at home, and he first supported himself through a variety of agricultural activities. However, farming in the post-Reconstruction South was particularly difficult work, and Macon eventually turned to politics and the study of law. Before entering the legal profession, Macon served as a state lawmaker, occupying a seat in the Arkansas …

Madden, Owen Vincent

Owen Vincent “Owney” Madden was a gangster and underworld boss in New York City in the 1920s who retired to Hot Springs (Garland County) in the 1930s. Though his role in Arkansas politics and history will forever remain enigmatic, he was a powerful figure (from about 1935 until his death) during the heyday of illegal gambling in Hot Springs and an emblem of the bad old days of machine politics. Owney Madden was born on December 18, 1891, in Leeds, England, to Irish parents, Francis and Mary Madden. He spent his early childhood in Wigan and Liverpool, where Francis worked in textile mill sweatshops until his death in 1902. Mary then took her family, including Madden and perhaps two siblings, …

Madison County Courthouse

The Madison County Courthouse, built in 1939, is located at 1 Main Street in downtown Huntsville (Madison County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the three-story building as architecturally and historically significant as a visible result of the New Deal and as an example of Art Deco architecture in Madison County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 9, 1992. The 1905 Madison County Courthouse sustained roof damage in the 1930s that totaled $600. This, along with the fact that the building was no longer adequate to house county affairs, prompted administrators to seek a new courthouse. At that time, the Great Depression had devastated local government budgets, leaving no money for a public works …

Majestic Hotel

The Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs (Garland County) was known as one of the most famous hotels in the South. For more than a century, the five-acre complex anchored the intersection of the main thoroughfares, Park and Central avenues, at the north end of Bathhouse Row in historic downtown Hot Springs. After numerous sales and a disastrous fire in February 2014, the fate of the Majestic property was uncertain. In 2016, it was decided that it would be demolished. Originally named the Avenue Hotel, the Majestic was built in 1882 on the site of the old Hiram Whittington House. The Avenue Hotel was notable for its amenities such as streetcar service to transport guests to and from the bath houses …

Major League Spring Training in Hot Springs

In the early days of baseball, major league baseball teams conducted spring training, but it was limited. Since all of the teams were located in the north and northeastern part of the country, it was difficult for them to train outside during February and March. Due to the cold weather, many teams used gymnasiums or other inside areas for training. In 1886, Albert Goodwill (A. G.) Spalding, president of the Chicago White Stockings of the National League, decided to train in a warmer climate. Thus, Hot Springs (Garland County) became one of the first spring training locations south of the Mason-Dixon Line for major league teams. On the front page of the maiden issue of the Sporting News, March 17, …

Malaria Control Projects in Southeast Arkansas

Two malaria control demonstration projects in southeast Arkansas during the Progressive Era showed not only that the disease could be controlled, but also that control was economically feasible. The project in Crossett (Ashley County) targeted mosquito breeding sites, while the one in the Lake Village (Chicot County) area studied protection by mechanical means. Both were noteworthy successes, though local governments often failed to follow up on those successes. Malaria control was a logical extension of hookworm eradication projects sponsored by the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease. In 1915, Dr. Wickliffe Rose, who headed the commission, said that “malaria was responsible for more sickness and death than all other diseases combined.” The disease sapped the vitality of …

Malco Theatre (Hot Springs)

The Malco Theatre, located at 817 Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County), was built on a site that has housed vaudeville shows, silent movies, modern films, and specialty productions. The Malco, which was frequented by Bill Clinton as a boy, has played host to the prestigious Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute (HSDFI). The Art Deco building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2010. The Malco is currently home to the Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic & Comedy. The economy of Hot Springs depended on lodging, dining, and entertainment to support its burgeoning tourism industry. In the late 1800s, Hot Springs attracted visitors from around the country to “take the waters.” After their therapeutic …

Malpass, Charles (Lynching of)

On September 27, 1911, a white man named Charles Malpass Sr. was lynched in Desha County following a shootout in which his sons murdered two police officers. According to newspaper accounts, Charles Malpass was a descendent of early French settlers at Arkansas Post. In 1850, the Malpass family was living in nearby Red Fork Township. Farmer Rubin Malpass was living with his wife, Rebecca, and five children, including four-year-old Charles. The family was still in the area in 1860, but by this time there were eight children, among them sixteen-year-old Charles. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Charles began living with a “mulatto” woman named Bettie West in 1868. West had resources of her own, having inherited several thousand dollars when …

Malvern Commercial Historic District

The Malvern Commercial Historic District contains twenty-six contributing properties that represent the historic commercial area of Malvern (Hot Spring County). With structures dating from the 1890s to the 1920s, the district is notable for the high percentage of contributing buildings within its boundaries. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2015. At the time of the nomination, twenty-six contributing buildings and eight non-contributing buildings were present in the district. Included in the boundaries of the district is the separately listed Bank of Malvern building. The boundaries of the district are South Main Street between East First Street and East Fifth Street, also including the Malvern City Hall on Locust Street. The area included …

Malvern Rosenwald School

The Malvern Rosenwald School was constructed in 1929 with support from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2005. After serving as a school for many years, the building was used for various community programs. The Julius Rosenwald Fund offered financial support to projects to construct buildings for the education of African Americans across the South. State records indicate that the fund aided in the building of a total of 389 school buildings (schools, shops, and teachers’ homes) in forty-five counties in Arkansas. (A total of 4,977 schools, 217 teachers’ homes, and 163 shop buildings were built in fifteen states across the South with the assistance of more than $4.3 …

Maness Schoolhouse

The Maness Schoolhouse, located at 8801 Wells Lake Road near Barling (Sebastian County), is a 1937 structure built with the assistance of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It features a porch and amenities constructed in 1943 by German prisoners of war (POWs) held at Camp Chaffee. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 2003. In 2015, the building was rehabilitated to become a restaurant. The first school in the area south of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) near Barling known as Massard Prairie consisted of a log building, which was later replaced by a wood-frame structure, known as the Massard Schoolhouse, all around the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Another school building …

Mann, George Richard

George Richard Mann, an architect educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was hired to design the Arkansas Capitol in 1899. He moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and developed a highly respected practice, taking on projects that included many of the largest and most significant buildings constructed in Arkansas in the first thirty years of the twentieth century. When he died in 1939, Mann was considered by some the “dean of Arkansas architects.” George Mann was born in Syracuse, Indiana, on July 2, 1856. He was the son of Richard F. and Elizabeth Defreese Mann. His father was in the milling business but was killed as a soldier in the Civil War. When not in school, Mann worked …

Manning, Henry Grady

Henry Grady Manning was a leader in Arkansas’s hotel industry. The company he founded, Southwest Hotels Inc., continued his work after his death. Several incarnations of Manning’s legacy hotels still exist in the twenty-first century. Manning’s properties included the Albert Pike Hotel, Grady Manning Hotel, and Lafayette Hotel, all in Little Rock (Pulaski County), as well as the Arlington Hotel, Majestic Hotel, and Hot Springs Country Club, all in Hot Springs (Garland County). Manning made many charitable and civic contributions to Arkansas and was a member of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. Grady Manning was born on March 14, 1892, in rural Scott County. His parents were Dr. Henry Manning and Virginia …

Marianna National Guard Armory

The Marianna National Guard Armory, built in 1929, is an Art Deco–style building constructed as part of a statewide armory building program to house National Guard companies based in Lee County. Citizen-soldier militias have had a constant presence in the United States since the colonial era, but it was not until Congress passed the Militia Act of 1903—also known as the Dick Act for sponsor Senator Charles W. F. Dick, chairman of the Committee on the Militia—that the National Guard became an official partner in the nation’s armed services, receiving federal support for training, equipment, and wages. Arkansas’s state militia was organized into the Arkansas National Guard as a result of the Dick Act. The Marianna National Guard Armory was …

Marianna Waterworks

The Marianna Waterworks, located at 252 U.S. Highway 79 in Marianna (Lee County), is a water distribution complex constructed in 1936–37 with the assistance of the Public Works Administration (PWA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 24, 2007. As the United States struggled with the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs. Like many other Arkansas communities, Marianna had …

Marion Hotel

aka: Hotel Marion
The Marion Hotel (also known as the Hotel Marion) in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) was one of the most famous businesses in Arkansas for much of the twentieth century. Construction began on the hotel in 1905. The Marion was the tallest structure in the state from when it opened in 1907 until 1911. The hotel closed in early 1980 and was demolished to make way for the Excelsior Hotel (which later became the Peabody and then the Marriott) and the Statehouse Convention Center. The Marion Hotel was built by Herman Kahn, who moved to Little Rock from Frankfurt, Germany, in 1870. (Kahn’s great-grandson, Jimmy Moses, has been the driving force behind many of the developments in downtown Little Rock …

Marion Lynching of 1910

On March 18, 1910, two African-American men, Robert (Bob) Austin and Charles Richardson, were lynched in Marion (Crittenden County) for allegedly assisting in a jailbreak. The victims were taken from jail by a mob and hanged in front of the Crittenden County Courthouse. There is very little known about the two victims. At the time of the 1900 census, Bob Austin was living in Jasper Township with his stepfather, Bennie Ross, and his mother, Henriette. Bennie was a farmer who was renting his farm, and nineteen-year-old Bob was a farm laborer. The men could neither read nor write, although Henriette could do both. Census records provide no information about Charles Richardson. According to the Arkansas Gazette, a jailbreak occurred on …

Marked Tree Siphons

Constructed in 1939 by the Memphis District Corps of Engineers for Drainage District Number Seven of Poinsett County, the Marked Tree Siphons were an integral part of the St. Francis River Basin Flood Control Project. The siphons were also a unique application of an engineering structure of their type, designed to lift the flow of the St. Francis River over an earthen levee and deposit it in the river channel on the other side of the levee. In 1917, Drainage District Number Seven of Poinsett County was authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly. The St. Francis River meandered from north to south through the district, which encompassed most of the county east of Crowley’s Ridge, and carried a considerable traffic …

Markwell, Lulu Alice Boyers

Lulu Markwell was the first Imperial Commander for the national Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) organization and president of the Arkansas chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Lulu Alice Boyers was born in Corydon, Indiana, on October 1, 1865. She was the only daughter of Benjamin Boyers, who was a carpenter, and his wife, Phoebe Mathes Boyers, who was a housekeeper. Boyers attended Corydon public schools before enrolling in Bryant & Stratton Business College in Louisville, Kentucky (now Sullivan University). The nationwide chain of colleges was prominent during the era, with alumni such as Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller. After she graduated, Boyers’s professional career began in Little Rock (Pulaski County), including four years in …

Marquette Hotel

aka: Riviera Hotel
The Marquette Hotel is located at 719 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County), near the Hot Springs Convention Center. The building was constructed in the Chicago School style of architecture by the prominent Arkansas firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio. The Marquette Hotel thrived in conjunction with Hot Springs’ greatest period of popularity as a resort destination in the early 1930s through the late 1940s. On October 8, 1976, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places under the name Riviera Hotel. The five-story Marquette Hotel was built on the site of a previous Marquette Hotel (which had been constructed in 1901 as the Navarre Hotel, renamed the Marquette Hotel in 1910, and expanded in …

Marr’s Creek Bridge

The Marr’s Creek Bridge is a reinforced concrete bridge with an open spandrel arch. It was built to carry U.S. Highways 62 and 67, as well as South Bettis Street, over Marr’s Creek in Pocahontas (Randolph County) near its confluence with Black River, although the bridge is no longer an active part of Highway 67. The Marr’s Creek Bridge was an important component of New Deal recovery programs in Arkansas and was constructed in 1934 as one of the Public Works Administration (PWA) projects in Arkansas. The construction of Highway 67 and its subsequent bridges, including the 135-foot-long Marr’s Creek Bridge, was a part of a larger modernization campaign to rebuild Highway 67 into Pocahontas. This campaign created jobs within …

Marshall House (Little Rock)

The Marshall House is located on 2009 South Arch Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was built in 1908 for Joseph C. Marshall, a lawyer and the secretary of the Little Rock and Hot Springs Electric Railroad Co. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 due to its architectural significance, having been designed by notable Arkansas architect Charles L. Thompson. The wood-frame house has two stories. The exterior of the 4,000-square-foot home has French doors on either side of the main entryway. Each French door has sidelights, is lined with dentil molding, and is topped with arched fanlights. The Doric-style pillars and hip roof add character to the home. These are typical characteristics …

Martineau, John Ellis

John Ellis Martineau, governor of Arkansas from 1927 to 1928, reflected the emergence of a new style of political leadership in the state. Nominally a Democrat, his administration continued the progressive positions of his predecessors, beginning with George W. Donaghey’s election in 1909. He helped to launch the Arkansas highway system with an innovative change in the source of funding, and he successfully led the relief effort following the disastrous Mississippi River Flood of 1927. His career also advanced a new and more conciliatory position on race relations with his role in the Elaine Massacre and his stance on the 1927 lynching of John Carter in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Overall, his actions as a politician and judge earned him …

Massey, Mary Elizabeth Smith

Mary Elizabeth Smith Massey—businesswoman, public official, and civic and political leader—was a woman with an average, middle-class, mountain background, meaning her family neither depended upon subsistence farming, sharecropping, or seasonal labor in the Arkansas River bottoms, nor did they have a big store in the county seat or hundreds of acres let to sharecroppers. She became an early Arkansas female success story in the period from 1920 to 1930, when Arkansas women were just beginning to assume prominence in state and national life. In the 1950s, she reaped the results of her early endeavors by serving as Worthy Grand Matron of the Arkansas Order of the Eastern Star and by being admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. …

Matthews, Justin, Sr.

Justin Matthews Sr. was a prominent Arkansas businessman, real estate developer, and community leader best known for his role in the development of the North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Sherwood (Pulaski County) areas. Justin Matthews was born on a farm near Monticello (Drew County) to Samuel James Matthews and Anna Wilson Matthews on December 23, 1875. The Matthewses were a very wealthy family in Drew County, as Samuel Matthews owned a law firm, a large nursery, and a fruit business. Samuel Matthews also served as Drew County judge and encouraged his son to study law, but Justin Matthews decided to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Matthews married Mary Agnes Somers in 1901; they had three children. Around that …

Maudelle: A Novel Founded on Facts Gathered From Living Witnesses

Maudelle: A Novel Founded on Facts Gathered from Living Witnesses, written by James Henery Smith and published by Mayhew Publishing Company of Boston in 1906, is reputed to be the first novel written by an African American residing in Arkansas. Smith was a prominent Little Rock (Pulaski County) dentist, a leader in the black community who spoke in opposition of the proposed Separate Coach Act of 1891, and the father of Arkansas composer Florence Smith Price. Maudelle is a novel about miscegenation, focusing on the “illicit commingling” between a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, George Morroe, and his slave Mary. Their child, Maudelle, becomes orphaned after a series of melodramatic events: the stabbing of Morroe; his deathbed request to be married …

Maumelle River Bridge

The Maumelle River Bridge formerly carried Arkansas Highway 300 over the Maumelle River, approximately half a mile southwest of the town of Natural Steps (Pulaski County), before the highway was relocated. However, the bridge remains a part of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2020. The Maumelle River Bridge is an example of a Pratt through truss, which is a type of bridge developed by Caleb Pratt in 1844. Pratt truss bridges are characterized by diagonals in tension and verticals in compression. The through truss is designed to carry the traffic load with the bridge’s bottom chords or beams. The Maumelle River Bridge is a riveted seven-panel Pratt …

Mayfield, Mary Victor (M. V.)

Mary Victor (M. V.) Mayfield was a woman who came to Mena (Polk County) in 1918 and practiced medicine in the guise of a man for seven or eight years. A small, kind, and peaceful citizen, she soon became “the cancer doctor.” She put Mena in the national news for the events of January 23, 1926, when her identity as a woman was revealed by the news media. Little is known about M. V. Mayfield’s early life. She later claimed that her gender deception began in England—her parents needed a son, not a daughter, to “protect property rights,” so they dressed her as a boy and raised her in disguise. Mayfield carried the masquerade into adulthood by smoking a pipe and drinking a …

Maynard Baptist Academy

aka: Abbott Institute
aka: Ouachita Baptist Academy
The Maynard Baptist Academy—first known as the Abbott Institute and then as the Ouachita Baptist Academy—was a boarding school founded in 1894 in Maynard (Randolph County). At the time, most schools typically had only one room and went only as far as the eighth grade. The Abbott Institute was founded in 1894 by the Abbott (or Abbot) family from the Maynard area. While they themselves lacked much education, they saw great value in educating the young people of the area and surrounding areas. Eli Abbott had been very successful in land speculation in the Fourche River and Current River bottomland while also farming. The institute drew students from a wide area of Arkansas and from other states. The school had …

McAllister, James Thomas (Tom)

James Thomas (Tom) McAllister Sr., a longtime resident of Gurdon (Clark County), was an early twentieth-century southern Arkansas lumberman. In addition to selling lumber, he was a Knight Templar, a 33rd Degree Mason, a Shriner, a member of the Gurdon Chamber of Commerce, president of two Rotary Clubs, and the 1951 winner of the District Scouter Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Tom McAllister was born on May 28, 1899, near Diehlstadt, Missouri, to Alexander Jackson McAllister and Addie Caroline Reynolds McAllister. His mother died shortly after his birth, so he was raised by his grandparents, who were tenant farmers in southeastern Missouri. McAllister attended school through the tenth grade. His first job was working in Arkansas for the …

McClain, Doc (Lynching of)

Doc McClain (whose name is sometimes rendered Dock McLain or McLane) was lynched in Ashdown (Little River County) on May 13, 1910, for allegedly stabbing wealthy young farmer Ernest Hale. According to the 1900 census, farmer Doc McClain (whose age was not given) was living in a rented home in Franklin (Little River County) with his wife Mary (aged thirty) and their two children, Lizzie (seven) and Ezekil (three). They had been married for ten years. Neither Doc nor Mary could read or write. According to numerous accounts, Doc McClain stabbed Ernest Hale in a store sometime in April 1910. Hale survived the attack and was hospitalized. At the time, it was feared that he would die. Local citizens threatened …

McCombs, William

William Frank McCombs, born in Hamburg (Ashley County), became known nationally and internationally for promoting Woodrow Wilson as the Democratic Party’s candidate for the presidency of the United States and for serving as manager of Wilson’s successful campaign for election. William McCombs was born on December 26, 1875, to William Faulkner McCombs and Mary Frances Pugh McCombs, whose family was among the most prominent in the area. He was one of six children—three boys and three girls. Permanently crippled in a fall during infancy, McCombs depended on the support of a cane for the rest of his life. He became an excellent student, taught by his mother and private tutors before enrolling in an exclusive preparatory school in Tennessee. Later, …

McConico, J. H.

aka: John Hamilton McConico
John Hamilton McConico was an African-American educator, newspaper editor and publisher, businessman, national grand auditor for the Mosaic Templars of America, and a civil rights pioneer. His business and civil rights leadership included membership in the National Negro Business League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Arkansas Negro Democratic Association. J. H. McConico was born on December 25, 1877, in Livingston, Alabama, to Jessie McConico, a preacher, and Mattie McConico. His sister, Fannie, was four years his senior. After McConico completed the available public school courses, his family sent him to Agricultural and Mechanical College in Normal, Alabama. In 1898, McConico graduated from the department of printing with a literary emphasis. After graduation, he worked …

McCrory Waterworks

The McCrory Waterworks, located southeast of the junction of North Fakes and West Third streets in McCrory (Woodruff County), was constructed in 1935–36 and installed with assistance from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a New Deal public relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 2007. As the United States struggled with the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs. With a population of …

McDermott, Lillian Dees

Lillian M. Dees McDermott was a social worker and community leader in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She made great strides to improve the juvenile courts, schools, and the field of social work. Referred to as the “dean of social workers in Arkansas,” she was the first person in Arkansas to become a certified professional social worker. Lillian Dees was born to Hardy Scott Dees, a farmer and businessman, and Mary Frances Pace Dees on October 4, 1877, near Little Rock. After attending Little Rock public schools, Dees graduated with a degree from Galloway Female College in Searcy (White County), which merged with Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1933. She later served on the Board of Trustees for Hendrix …

McHaney, Edgar Lafayette

Edgar McHaney contributed to legal proceedings that changed constitutional law in the United States. With co-counsel Scipio Africanus Jones, he appealed the convictions of twelve men convicted of murder after the 1919 Elaine Massacre. The case of six of the men, Moore v. Dempsey, was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a precedent-setting decision allowed federal courts to override state appellate courts if constitutional rights were denied. McHaney also served for a short time in the Arkansas House of Representatives before a long tenure on the Arkansas Supreme Court. Born on November 6, 1876, in Gibson, Tennessee, Edgar Lafayette McHaney was one of nine children of William W. McHaney and Mary Ellen Hicks McHaney. He grew up on …

McIntyre, Samuel (Lynching of)

On April 23, 1919, an African-American man named Sam McIntyre was hanged near Forrest City (St. Francis County) for allegedly murdering another black man, John Johnson, the previous February. According to the February 10, 1919, edition of the Arkansas Gazette, on February 6, Johnson was shot through the window while playing checkers with a friend at his home on the Graham farm. McIntyre was arrested after the killing, along with U. L. “Hub” Lancaster (a white man) and Rube McGee (a black man). According to the report, “Johnson was a witness against Lancaster and McIntyre in several liquor cases, one case of assault to kill and another case charging burglary and grand larceny.” He was to testify when the case …

McLaughlin, Leo Patrick

Leo Patrick McLaughlin served as mayor of Hot Springs (Garland County) for almost twenty years, allowing the city to operate as an “open” town with illegal gambling permitted under official supervision. As mayor, he reigned as the undisputed boss of Garland County politics. During his time in office, many underworld characters frequented Hot Springs’ spas, and gambling became one of the town’s most popular forms of entertainment. Even today, many recall McLaughlin as one of Hot Springs’ most memorable personalities. Leo McLaughlin was born on June 5, 1888, in Hot Springs, the son of John Henry McLaughlin and Bridget Adela Russell McLaughlin. He graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1908, where he was a star athlete and president of …

McLaughlin, William Heber

William Heber McLaughlin was a Lonoke County farmer and politician who became one of the first American army officers to be wounded in action in France, participating in the first military engagement involving U.S. Army troops in World War I. William Heber McLaughlin, who was called Heber, was born on January 26, 1882, at Atoka, Tennessee, north of Memphis, to businessman William R. McLaughlin and Annie Gillespie McLaughlin. The family moved to Lonoke (Lonoke County) soon after his birth. Around 1907, his father purchased the Knapp Plantation, east of Scott (Lonoke and Pulaski counties) near Toltec, advocating that the mounds on the site be made into a public park to ensure their preservation. They eventually were acquired by the State …

McNeely Creek Bridge

The McNeely Creek Bridge is a single Warren pony-truss bridge near the community of Beirne (Clark County). Constructed in 1923, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 2004. Beirne is an unincorporated community founded in 1880 along the Cairo and Fulton Railroad. Settlement of southern Clark County progressed slowly before the establishment of the railroad, with few roads connecting the area with Arkadelphia (Clark County) or other communities. With an economy based on timber, the community grew as it became one of the best shipping locations for raw timber in southwestern Arkansas. The community was linked by road to nearby Gurdon (Clark County), about four miles to the northeast, likely shortly after construction of …

McRae, Thomas Chipman

A lawyer, banker, and politician, Thomas Chipman McRae represented the Third Congressional District for eighteen years and served as governor from 1921 to 1925. During his governorship, he fiercely fought to revise the tax system to adequately fund Arkansas’s dilapidated highway and educational systems. McRae was the last Arkansas governor to have served in the Confederate forces. Thomas McRae, the eldest of five siblings, was born on December 21, 1851, in Mount Holly (Union County) to Duncan L. and Mary Ann (Chipman) McRae. Duncan McRae, a founder of Mount Holly, was a farmer. In 1863, McRae’s father died, leaving him to run the farm during the chaos of the Civil War. Before the conflict ended, McRae briefly served as a …

Medical Arts Building

The sixteen-story Medical Arts Building at 236 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) was the tallest building in Arkansas from its completion in 1930 until 1960, when the Tower Building was completed in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). (The tallest building in Arkansas currently is the forty-story Metropolitan Tower in Little Rock, which was built in 1986.) The upper floors of the Medical Arts Building are now vacant. The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas (HPAA) listed it in 2012 as one of the state’s most endangered places. The Medical Arts Building was constructed by general contractor G. C. Gordon Walker with work beginning on December 1, 1929. Investors from Little Rock and New Orleans, Louisiana, purchased the site, …

Memorial to Company A, Capital Guards

aka: Lest We Forget
The Memorial to Company A, Capital Guards is a Civil War commemorative monument created by sculptor Rudolf Schwarz. It was dedicated in City Park in Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the 1911 United Confederate Veterans Reunion. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 1996. The base of the monument was vandalized in June 2020, and the sculpture of the soldier was moved to storage. Little Rock was selected to host the twenty-first annual United Confederate Veterans Reunion (May 16–18, 1911), and the Robert C. Newton Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) chose to use that occasion to dedicate a monument to the Little Rock men who had served in the Capital …

Mena National Guard Armory

The Mena National Guard Armory at 619 DeQueen Street in Mena (Polk County) is a single-story, Art Deco–style, fieldstone-clad structure built in 1930. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 5, 1991. Citizen-soldier militias have had a constant presence in the United States since the colonial era, but it was not until Congress passed the Dick Act—sponsored by Senator Charles W. F. Dick, chairman of the Committee on the Militia—in 1903 that the National Guard became an official partner in the nation’s armed services, receiving federal support for training, equipment, and pay. Arkansas’s state militia was organized into the Arkansas National Guard as a result of the Dick Act. Seventeen armories—including the Marianna National Guard …

Menifee High School Gymnasium

The Menifee High School Gymnasium, located on the northwestern corner of North Park and East Mustang streets in Menifee (Conway County), was built in 1938 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 6, 2002. Schools for African Americans in the Menifee area were available since at least 1919, and when the Great Depression struck these students were centered in East Side School District No. 5’s Conway County Training School, located on five acres about a mile south of Menifee. In 1938, the district succeeded in getting WPA funding to construct a gymnasium for the complex. Construction started in the spring of 1938, …

Mercury Mining

Mercury, which was first mined in Arkansas in 1931, is in most rock types in trace amounts, generally occurring at higher levels in shale and clay-rich sediments and organic materials like coal than in sandstone, limestone, or dolostone. Although mercury was widely used in the past for several applications, the market for products containing mercury steadily declined in the 1980s because it was recognized to be toxic. It still has important uses, however, in the chemical and electrical industries as well as in dental applications and measuring and control devices. The mercury-bearing district in southwest Arkansas occupies an area six miles wide by thirty miles long, extending from eastern Howard County through Pike County and into western Clark County. Surface …

Merrill, Joseph

Joseph Merrill was a successful philanthropist who made a difference for the lives of young people in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), primarily through his support of African-American schools in Pine Bluff. He was also the founder of the Merrill Institute. Joseph Merrill, the youngest child of William and Mary Merrill, was born in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, around 1810. He had two brothers and one sister. He started his trade of shoemaking at the age of eleven years old and worked until he was twenty-one years old in Boston, Massachusetts. Then he moved to Sidney, Ohio, and worked there for a few years. His health turned bad, and in December 1835, he moved south to Little Rock (Pulaski County) to …

Mikel, Elmer Wayne

Elmer Wayne Mikel was a bootlegger during Prohibition and later became a self-published author who wrote books and essays about his criminal life and his experiences at the notorious Tucker State Prison Farm (now the Tucker Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction) in Jefferson County in the 1930s. Mikel was also a songwriter who wrote about Arkansas subjects, including the deadly Greenwood (Sebastian County) tornado of 1968. Elmer Mikel was born on October 8, 1905, in Jenny Lind (Sebastian County), one of ten children of George Elmer Mikel and Amanda Featherston Mikel. George Mikel, a Missouri native, was active in the United Mine Workers of America and ran as a socialist candidate for governor of Arkansas in 1912. Elmer Mikel attended high school but …

Miller County Courthouse

The Miller County Courthouse, dedicated in 1939, is located at 400 Laurel Street in downtown Texarkana (Miller County) in an area with a number of residences. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the four-story building as architecturally and historically significant for its standing as a visible result of the New Deal and as an impressive example of Art Deco architecture in Miller County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 1998. On September 19, 1938, Miller County determined that the courthouse built in 1888 was no longer capable of housing county business. The county needed a new, modern courthouse, as Texarkana had grown substantially since the late nineteenth century. In addition, the U.S. District …

Miller, Eliza Ann Ross

Eliza Ann Ross Miller was an African-American businesswoman and educator, as well as the first woman to build and operate a movie theater in Arkansas. She was the wife of prosperous Helena (Phillips County) businessman, state legislator, and church leader Abraham Hugo Miller. After her husband’s death, she continued his business operations while also providing leadership in the Helena school system. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Eliza Ross was born in Arkadelphia (Clark County) on September 6, 1869, to George and Sarah Ross. On June 15, 1887, she married Abraham H. Miller in Arkadelphia. The couple had eight children, five of whom survived into adulthood. Abraham Miller, who had been successful in real …