Goodspeed's  Biographical and Historical
Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas
D through G

L. H. Davis, M. D.  (CHART), physician and surgeon, Harrisburg, Ark. The above mentioned gentleman is one of the most successful and prominent physicians in Poinsett County, and is ever to be found by the bedside of sick and suffering humanity. He was born in Ozark County, Mo., on the 22d of December, 1858, and is the son of Dr. Newland A. and Eliza N. (Drake) Davis, natives of Tennessee. [For further particulars of parents see sketch of John C. Davis.] Dr. L. H. Davis was the fifth of six living children born to his parents and their names appear in the following order: Mrs. E. Frierson, wife of J. C. Frierson, and now residing in Jonesboro, Ark.; Mrs. Alice Legg, wife of D. H. Legg, who is a descendant of one of the oldest families of Cross County, and is magistrate of that county; Mrs. M. A. Gilliland, wife of the present school commissioner of Poinsett County; Thomas L., married and living in Harrisburg, is a medical student; L. H., and John C., a druggist at Harrisburg. Dr. L. H. Davis always had delicate health,  and spent much of his time during boyhood in attending school. At the age of seventeen years he entered as clerk the drugstore of Dr. D. A. Graves at Forest City, and remained in that position for three years. During his twenty-first year the Doctor taught school in Woodruff County at Pumpkin Bend, and at the same time began the study of medicine. The following year he read medicine under the tutelage of Dr. Whitsett, at Marion, Ark, and during 1882 and 1883 he attended the Memphis Medical Collage. He then practiced one year in the Little River Country, in Eastern Poinsett County, after which he returned to the same college and graduated in the class of 1885. In the same year he came to Bay Village, Cross County, and began the practice of his profession, which he continued for eighteen months. He then came to Harrisburg, where he has remained ever since, and where he enjoys a large and paying practice. In February, 1887, he wedded Miss Lillian Florence Watkins, daughter of Prof. Watkins, president of Marshall Institute. They were married at Memphis, where Mrs. Davis' family still reside. Mrs. Davis' sister, Mrs. Fanny Anderson, of Millington, Tenn., is the possessor of one of the most noted madstones in that State. It is an heirloom of the Watkins family. To the Doctor and wife has been born one child, Willie Mary W., a sweet little girl of about twelve months. Dr. Davis is medical examiner and a member of the K. of H., at Harrisburg, and is a conservative Democrat.

John C. Davis  (CHART), druggist and apothecary, Harrisburg, Ark. One of the most popular and efficient druggists in the town of Harrisburg is Mr. John C. Davis, whose flourishing establishment is located in one of the busiest portions of that town. He established his present business in 1888, and carried a general stock of drugs, patent medicines and fancy groceries. His birth occurred on the 22d of September, 1867, in Crittenden County, Ark., and he is the youngest in a family of five children born to Dr. N. A. and Eliza M. (Drake) Davis, natives of Tennessee. Dr. N. A. Davis was reared in the country, and received his education in the common schools of Tennessee. He learned the printer's trade, and followed that for some years, when he began the study of medicine, and graduated from the St. Louis Medical College in the class of 1850. He first began the practice of his profession at Ozark, Christian County, Mo., and was married at Bolivar, Mo., on the 1st of December, 1843, to Miss Eliza M. Drake, daughter of Jacob and Anna (Williams) Drake, natives of East Tennessee. Mrs. Davis is a distant relative of J. Q. Adams, and a second cousin of Governor Taylor, of Tennessee. After his marriage, Dr. Davis removed to Christian County, Mo., where he remained until the spring of 1861. He was outspoken in all his political views, and when the war broke out he joined Gen. Price's army as surgeon, and held that position during the entire struggle. In 1866 his family joined him in Louisiana, and from there they moved to Crittenden County, Ark., where they made their home until 1870. In that year they moved to Cross County, and from there, in 1873, he moved to Forest City, where his death occurred in 1876. The mother remained on the home place until 1878, and then made her home with her son, John C. Davis, until her death, in 1888. The latter was reared in town, and spent his schoolboy days in Forest City and the schools of Marion and Crittenden Counties. In 1882 he entered the drug store of his uncle. Dr. T. C. Whitsett, of Marion, as a clerk, and continued with him two years. He then went to Jonesboro', and worked as a clerk until 1886, after which he was on the railroad until February, 1887. He then came to Harrisburg, and purchased a half interest in the drug business of M. D. Simmons & Co., with whom he continued until March, 1888, and then withdrew, and established himself in his present business, which be is now prosperously conducting. He is a conservative Democrat, and gives his support to all enterprises for the good of the county.

W. R. Dedman  (CHART), postmaster, Greenfield, Ark. This much respected citizen has been postmaster at the above mentioned place ever since the office was established, which was in 1886, a flag station on the Helena branch of the Iron Mountain Railroad. In connection with his official duties he is also engaged in agricultural pursuits, an occupation [p.586] to which he was reared. His birth occurred in Madison County, Ala., in 1851, and he was the only child born to the union of F. D. and S. A. (Thacker) Dedman, the father a native of Alabama, and the mother of Virginia. F. D. Dedman was reared to manhood in his native State, and here tilled the soil. In 1869, he emigrated to Poinsett County, Ark., settled in Bolivar  Township, entered land, and there made a permanent home. At present he is residing in Craighead County, Ark. W. R. Dedman became familiar with the duties of the farm, and received the rudiments of an education in the district schools of Tennessee. He commenced farming for himself in Poinsett County, in 1869, and later bought a timber tract of land of 200 acres, which he immediately commenced improving, building a good frame house, setting out an orchard, etc., and he now has about twenty-eight acres under cultivation. The Iron Mountain Railroad runs through his land. Mr. Dedman was married in Poinsett County, Ark., in 1871, to Miss A. H. Schockley, a native of Cherokee County, Ala., and the daughter of A. J. and Frances Schockley, natives of Alabama. Her parents came to Poinsett County, Ark., in 1869, settled in Bolivar Township, and there purchased land. Her father died in 1870, but the mother survives him, and is residing on the old homestead. Mr. Dedman, after marriage, settled in Bolivar Township, and in 1880 purchased his present property. He was engaged in the grocery business here in 1886 and 1887, but closed out in the latter part of the last mentioned year. He has taken quite an active part in politics, votes with the Republican party, and is a prominent man. He has been a member of the school board for about seven years or more, and has held other offices of public trust. Socially, he is a member of White Hall Lodge, No. 77, I. O. O. F., at Harrisburg. To his happy marriage have been born six children: Eudora, Minnie Bell, William Oliver, Ida Lou, Nellie M. and Sarah Frances. Mr. Dedman has always taken an interest in all that pertains to the good of the community, and is a liberal supporter of all laudable enterprises.

J. A. W. Ellzey  (CHART) is salesman and book-keeper for the general mercantile firm of A. S. Thorn & Co., of Marked Tree, Ark. He was born in Pontotoc County, Miss., in 1851, being a son of Dr. James Ellzey, of Georgia. The latter, in connection with his practice, was an extensive planter; he was married in his native State to Miss Martha A. Stevens, whose birth-place was the “Old North State.” The father, who was a Democrat in politics, died in 1869 in Pontotoc County, Miss., whither he had moved at an early day. His widow passed from life in 1882. To them were born eleven children. Our subject, J. A. W. Ellzey (one of the seven sons), was engaged in school teaching in the State of Mississippi, and in the spring of 1879 he went to Milam County, Tex., where he followed the same occupation for nearly one year. In November, 1879, he came to Poinsett County, Ark., and was engaged in teaching and farming up to 1884, when he accepted his present position with the above mentioned firm. He is not a very active politician, but usually votes the Democratic ticket, and socially is a member of the Masonic order. He was married in Poinsett County, in January, 1881, to Miss Mollie C. Williams, who was born in Poinsett County, and is a daughter of B. D. and A. J. (Mardis) Williams, who were born in Alabama and Tennessee, respectively. The father's death occurred in 1862, and his widow, now Mrs. Thorn, still survives and makes her home at Marked Tree, Ark. Mr. and Mrs. Ellzey became the parents of five children (three of whom are now living): Birdie; Beatrice, who died in May, 1886; Thaddens and Willie (twins), the latter dying in July, 1885, and Willie.

Foster I.F. Freeman  (CHART) is the efficient postmaster at Harrisburg, and is now serving his second consecutive term, having previously served in this capacity under Garfield's administration. For about twelve years he was editor and proprietor of Freeman's Express, the last paper being issued on the 15th of October, 1888. He was born in Griffin, Ga., in 1842, and is the eldest of a family of six children born to Robert K. and Mary E. (Sessions) Freeman, who were also natives of the State of Georgia, but moved to Northern Alabama in 1850, where the father became a well-known medical [p.587] practitioner. In 1866 he came to Jonesboro, Ark., but his death occurred in Poinsett County, two years later, his excellent wife surviving him until 1888. Their children are L. C. (Mrs. G. W. Baxter, residing in Stanton, Tenn.), Robert K. (deceased), Mary N. (Mrs. Griffin), L. D. (who resides at Wynne, and is editor of the Wynne Ripsaw), and Foster. From his earliest recollections up to 1861, the latter's time was occupied with the monotonous duties of farm life, and in the meantime he acquired a fair education in the public schools in the vicinity of his home. Upon the bursting of the war cloud which had threatened the country for some time, he laid down the implements of farm life to don the rebel uniform, and enlisted from St. Clair County, Ala., in Company A, Tenth Alabama Volunteer Infantry, Confederate States Army, and went directly to Virginia, becoming a member of Wilcox's Brigade. He was in the entire Virginia campaign, and surrendered on the 9th of April, 1865, at Appomattox Court. House. Mr. Freeman then returned to St. Clair County, Ala., and was married there, in 1867, to Miss Elizabeth J. Gibson, a native of that State. He was engaged in farming there until 1868, when he removed to Tennessee, and the following year settled in Poinsett County, Ark., where he purchased and improved a farm of 160 acres. He also gave considerable of his attention to grist and saw-milling, but recently exchanged his mills for the old homestead in Alabama. He is rather conservative in politics, but usually casts his vote with the Democratic party, and is now a member of the county central committee; he has been county school examiner two terms, and in this capacity did much to raise the standard of schools. He has always been interested in every worthy movement, and has aided materially in the general development of the county. He is a member of Lodge No. 184 of the A. F. & A. M., and is now holding the position of secretary of that lodge. He and wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and to their union were born the following children: R. L., Elizabeth D., S. C., Sally B. and Foster. Elizabeth D. is the wife of Mr. Beards, and is residing in the county.

W. F. Furnish  (CHART) is a farmer, and is also engaged in the saw-milling business, his mill being located in Bolivar Township, and is in operation the most of the year, giving employment to about nine men. Mr. Furnish was born at Old Bolivar, in 1846, and was the elder of two children born to Parker W. and Annice (Smith) Furnish, who were born, respectively, in Missouri and Tennessee. Parker W. Furnish removed to Arkansas, in 1844, while still a single man, but was married soon after, and in addition to opening up a farm was engaged in carpentering until his death, which occurred in August, 1848, he being killed. His widow survived him until 1885, when she, too, passed to her long home. The early youth of our subject was spent in following the plow and in attending the district schools, where he required sufficient education to fit him for the duties of everyday life, and from the age of fifteen up to twenty-two years of age, he assisted in the support of his mother. He was married in 1868 to Miss Barthena Ainsworth, a daughter of Harrison Ainsworth, one of the pioneers of Poinsett County. The year following her death, which occurred in 1872, Mr. Furnish wedded Miss Mary E. Hall, of Louisiana, a daughter of  Philip and Martha (Hicks) Hall, who were Tennesseeans, and came to Arkansas, in 1856, engaging in farming. Mr. Furnish farmed in Bolivar Township until 1879, then went to Dunklin County, Mo., remaining there, engaged in the occupation of farming until 1880, when he returned to Poinsett County, Ark., and has since made the farm where he now lives his home. He owns 160 acres, with fifty under cultivation, raising corn, and also stock. He is a Democrat, and belongs to Lodge No. 77 of the I. O. O. F. He served in the Rebellion from 1863 until the close, being a member of W. G. Godfrey's company, was a participant in a number of skirmishes, and after the cessation of hostilities he returned home. He and his wife are the parents of four children: Walter Lee, James Logan, Willie Gertrude and Thomas Richmond. He has also taken to raise three children belonging to his wife's brother: Martha Elizabeth, Thomas Joiner and Philip Addison.

Gant Bros.  (CHART), general merchants, Harrisburg, Ark. One of the leading characteristics of our commercial fabric is the size and extent of the mercantile business in the various cities of Poinsett County. A vast capital is invested in this important industry, and many persons are furnished remunerative employment. Among the leading establishments of this kind, none are more deserving of more favorable mention and consideration than that of Gant Bros., the individual members of the firm being J. G., J. B. and J. W. Gant. They are the sons of James W. and Sarah (Keller) Gant, natives of Tennessee and North Carolina, respectively. The parents were married in Tennessee in 1852, and the father opened a drug store in Memphis, which he conducted successfully until 1856, when he removed with his family to what is now Craighead County, Ark., where he bought land, and opened up a large plantation. In 1857 he was elected school commissioner, served one term, and after this he acted as surveyor and sheriff until 1861. He was then appointed as Government purchasing agent, serving in that capacity until his death, in 1863. He was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, and a devout Methodist. He was noted for liberal and progressive ideas, and was a strong Democrat. He was one of eighteen children, and his brothers are as follows: John, farmer, of Texas; Benjamin, presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and who died in his pulpit, at Nashville, about 1860; Howard, blacksmith, in Missouri; William, merchant, at Spring Hill, Tenn. There are a number of others supposed to be living, but their exact location is not known. His only sister, Mrs. Polly Hall, is the wife of a farmer, and lives in Izard County, Ark. Mrs. Sarah (Keller) Gant is the daughter of Uriah and Julia Keller, natives of South Carolina. Her father was a tiller of the soil. Mrs. Gant is one of a family of eleven children, eight of whom lived to be grown, and these are now living: John, farmer; Julia, wife of Mr. Gaynor, and is living at Iuka, Miss.; Mattie I., wife of Mr. Hughes, a hotel keeper at Jonesboro, Ark., and Henrietta M., wife of Mr. Whisenhunt, a farmer of Craighead County, Ark. To the marriage of James W. Gant and Miss Sarah Keller were born the three sons, J. G., J. B. and J. W., and one daughter, Julia E., wife of J. W. Rooks, a hotel keeper at Harrisburg, Ark. Mrs. Gant was left a widow just on the eve of the great Civil War, with four small children to support. However, she bravely undertook the task, and first engaged in farming, and then kept a boarding house. The children were able to assist her after a little, and later relieved her of their support altogether. She now makes her home with them, and no mother is thought more of than she is by her children, who vie in making her declining years happy and comfortable. She is the owner of several good homes in Craighead and Poinsett Counties, and is living for her children, bestowing all the wealth of a mother's love on them. J. G. Gant, the senior member of the firm of Gant Bros., was born in 1853, reared to farm life, educated at Jonesboro, and at the age of eighteen embarked in the grocery business. He sold out, and then returned to farm work, which he continued for three years. He then entered the saloon business, which he followed with success until 1883, when the above firm was organized. They carry a large stock of general merchandise, and buy and sell grain and cotton. J. G. Gant was married, in October, 1888, to Miss Lena Lewis, of Woodruff County. J. B. and J. W. were educated at Jonesboro and Harrisburg, and also took a commercial course at Ledding's Commercial College, at Memphis. In 1884 J. B. was married to Miss Jennie Mitchell, of Harrisburg. They have one child, Nellie, who is now four years of age, J. W. is unmarried. All are members of the Masonic fraternity, and all Democratic in their political views. J. B. is a member of both the I. O. O. F. and K. of H. orders. The brothers are all members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and give their unqualified support to all movements conducive to the good of the community. In addition to their mercantile pursuits they are the owners of 1, 200 acres of land, 300 acres under cultivation, and are extensively engaged in stock raising. They are experimenting in several lines of stock, have Holstein cattle (graded), Shorthorn, Durham (large red), and handle Berkshire and Poland-China hogs. They also raise horses, common cattle, sheep and Angora goats.

 G. T. Garvey  (CHART). Among the best-known houses engaged in the grocery business in Harrisburg, is that of G. T. Garvey, who, in connection with his store, conducts a restaurant, his business having been established in 1888. Although he is a young man, and has only been in business in the town but a few years, yet his name has already become synonymous with upright, honorable dealing, and his establishment is a favorite resort for those who wish to procure the best brands of the articles he keeps in stock. He was born in the “Old North State” in 1861, was the younger of two children born to W. F. and Sarah (Burgess) Garvey, who were also born in that State. The father was a salesman in a store, but gave up this work in 1861 to enlist from Edgecombe County in the Thirtieth North Carolina Infantry, but died in 1865 from exposure during his service. His widow still survives him, and resides in Poinsett County, with her son, G. T. Garvey. The latter's early days were divided between farming and learning the painter's trade, his education in the meantime being received in the district schools of Halifax County, N. C. After reaching manhood he went to Baltimore, Md., but removed from there to Poinsett County, Ark., in 1886, and was first engaged in the milling business for D. C. Cole; he was married here, in December, 1888, to Miss Annice Usery, a native of the county, having in February prior to his marriage embarked in his present enterprise. He is a member of Lodge No. 3380 of the K. of H., of Bolivar, and is a Democrat; his wife is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He belongs to the Methodist Protestant Church, having his membership still in North Carolina.

James M. Gilliland  (CHART), county examiner and teacher, Harrisburg, Ark. Since his residence in this county, Mr. Gilliland has been very prominently identified with the material affairs of this community, indeed, far more so than the average of men. Particularly in educational matters is this true. He was originally a native of Tennessee, where his birth occurred in Tipton County, on the 14th of December, 1844, but he was reared in Shelby County of the same State. He is the son of Samuel and Eliza (McFerrin) Gilliland, the father a native of Virginia, and the mother of Alabama. Samuel Gilliland was one of the very early settlers of Shelby County, and, at the time of his first residence, remembers seeing Memphis when it was a very small village. He was a farmer, and opened a large tract of land; he was also a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and labored in that field until forty-five years of age, when he was forced to abandon his chosen profession on account of ill health. He was a Democrat, though conservative in his views. His death occurred in Tennessee in 1856. His excellent wife survived him, and in 1860 removed with her family to Poinsett (now Cross) County, Ark., where she bought a large tract of land, 200 acres of which she cleared and put under cultivation. She erected good houses and barns, set out orchards and otherwise improved the plantation. Mrs. Gilliland was the sister of the late lamented Rev. John B. McFerrin, general manager and field agent of the Methodist Book Concern, of Nashville, and possessed his sterling qualities. Her death occurred at Wittsburg, Cross County, Ark., in 1871. She was an esteemed member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. James M. Gilliland was the third of seven children born to his parents. Mrs. Anna Wilson, who died in 1867, at the age of twenty-four, leaving her husband and four children; Mrs. Sallie Rivers, widow of R. E. Rivers; James M.; John W., a farmer, who died and left a wife and one child in 1881; Mrs. Alice Thomas, Mrs. Ella Durham, and Samuel, who was accidentally drowned in St. Francis River. The shock of this event caused the mother's death on the day following. James M. Gilliland became familiar with the details of farm life in his youth, and received the rudiments of an education in the common schools of Tennessee. Later he attended Marshall Male Academy, at Marshall, Miss., but his studies were interrupted by the breaking out of the late war, which caused him to leave school in order to assist his mother during that struggle. As the excitement increased, however, he deemed  it best to join the army, and accordingly in the year 1862, at the age of seventeen, enlisted for one year in Company B, Twelfth Tennessee Infantry, under Col. Preston Smith,  and was with his regiment at the battle of Corinth. After the retreat from that city Mr. Gilliland was discharged on account of age, under the provision of the Confederate Congress, and returned to Arkansas for a short time. He then enlisted in McGee's Battalion (cavalry), under Gen. Marmaduke, and participated in the battles of Helena, White River and numerous skirmishes in White County. Here during an encounter with the Third Iowa Cavalry Mr. Gilliland had his horse killed, and he was taken prisoner. He was conveyed to Camp Douglas, Chicago, where he was kept a prisoner for about two years. On the 12th of April, 1865, they were started to the month of Red River, and arrived at Cairo on the night that President Lincoln was assassinated. From there they were sent to New Orleans, thence returned to Shreveport, where they were placed on board a Confederate transport, and were ordered to report to their command. There being no command to which to report, on arriving at the mouth of Red River, about 200 of the soldiers, including Mr. Gilliland, started on foot to their homes in Northern Arkansas. This tiresome and perilous journey was accomplished, with great labor but without serious loss, in about one month. On his arrival at home Mr. Gilliland engaged in farming, and March 14, 1872, was the occasion of his marriage to Miss Anna Davis, daughter of Dr. N. A. and Mrs. Eliza M. (Drake) Davis, natives of Tennessee. The fruits of this union were the following children: Eliza Alice, Mary E., John D., who died in infancy; Anna V., J. Landon, Florence C. and Lillian M. Mr. and Mrs. Gilliland are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and he is a member of the following orders: Masonic, Odd Fellows and K. S L. of H. He, like his father, is a Democrat, but is conservative. He has served in different official capacities in the county, first as mayor of Wittsburg, from 1871 to 1872, then as justice of the peace in Cross County, two years, was a member of the board of registrars for two years, and is one of Poinsett County's representative citizens. He moved to Harrisburg, in November, 1886, and has followed the profession of teaching a portion of the time since. He was appointed county examiner in January, 1888, and is the present incumbent. He has taught in the schools of Cross, Woodruff, Craighead and Poinsett Counties, and is one of the progressive educators of this county. He is an earnest advocate of improved methods in education, and under his direction the schools of Poinsett County, are in a very prosperous condition. He is the owner of 127 acres of land in Cross County, fifty acres of which are under cultivation, and he also owns a house and lot in Harrisburg.

James M. Griffin  (CHART), planter and proprietor of a grist and saw mill and cotton-gin, resides in Bolivar, near the county seat of Poinsett County, and has been a resident of this county from his birth, which occurred in 1850, being the fifth of seven children born to Theophilus and Eliza Ann (Thrower) Griffin, who were born in the “Old North State” and the “Blue Grass State,” respectively. They both removed from Poinsett County, Ark., at a very early day, and after their marriage settled near where our subject is now residing, where they cleared and improved a farm. The father was also a practicing physician and surgeon, and in early times he was called upon to attend the sick in all parts of the county, and well as in the counties adjoining. He was successful in alleviating the sufferings of his fellow mortals, and was a man who was esteemed for his many worthy qualities of mind and heart. His wife was called to her long home in 1877. James M. Griffin received such education as Poinsett County afforded in his youthful days, and from his earliest recollections he has been familiar with the details of farm labor. At the age of twenty years he began doing for himself, and after his marriage, in Poinsett County, in November, 1874, to Miss Mary Elizabeth Freeman, of Alabama, he settled down to tilling the soil, and now owns an exceedingly fertile tract, embracing 200 acres, with eighty acres under cultivation. He devotes the greater part of this to the raising of cotton and corn, and has 100 acres under fence. He is a Democrat, and socially is a member of the K. of H. He and wife belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church, at Pleasant Valley, of which he has been steward, trustee and superintendent. He has been an active worker for churches, schools and, in fact, all worthy enterprises, and is in every respect a public-spirited citizen. He and wife became the parents of the following children: Eva Engenia, Louis Christopher, Mattie Lon, Jim and Hubbard Hugh, living, and Nora Bettie, who died September 2, 1888, at the age of four years.