Phillips County Arkansas Genealogy Trails
















CLEVELAND - LUCY COUEY ABBOTT, 86, of Cleveland, formerly of Phillips County, Ark., homemaker, died of heart failure Monday at Bolivar Medical Center. Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Sunset Memorial Park in West Helena, Ark. Roller-Citizens Funeral Home of West Helena has charge. She leaves two daughters, Marie Broussard of Maurice, La., and Bonnie Hale of Gunnison; three sons, Granville Couey of Anchorage, Alaska, Richard Couey of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and William Couey of Bartlett, Tenn.; two sisters, Pocahontas Kent of Cleveland and Geneva Stevens of Independence, La., 14 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild.  --Commercial Appeal, The (Memphis, TN) - November 10, 1999

Kansas City, KS--CAST BELL, SR., 69, passed away Wednesday, May 21, 1997, in Kansas City, KS. Funeral services will be 12 noon Tuesday, May 27, at the Thatcher Chapel; burial in Highland Park Cemetery. Visitation will be 10-12 a.m. Tuesday, May 27, at the chapel.
Cast Bell, Sr., was born November 28, 1927, to the late Joe Charlie Bell and Carrie Morgan, in Helena, AR. He accepted Christ at the age of eight and was baptized at the Paradise Baptist Church in Phillips County, AR.
Cast moved to Kansas City, KS, in 1961, and was employed at the Gray Brothers Vault Company until retired in 1995. He loved hunting, fishing, gardening and the outdoors. When the weather was nice you could find him on the fish bank and in the fall he hunted. 
He leaves to mourn his passing, six sons, Cast Jr., Bernard, Charles, Gregory, Leander and Ronald; two daughters, Brenda Williams and Patricia Brown; former wife, Mattie Jo Bell, Kansas City, KS; two brothers, William Bell, Sr., Kansas City, KS, and Oscar Bell, West Helena, AR; three sisters, Jessie Ramsey, Kansas City, KS, Amy Thomas, Kansas City, MO, and Emma Jean Grace, Overland Park, KS; a great-aunt, Harriett Wells, Louisville, KY; 15 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and a host of relatives and many friends.
 Kansas City Star, The (MO) - May 24, 1997

WEST HELENA, AR -EVELYN BABY BAKER CLAGGETT, 67, of Chaffee, Mo., formerly of West Helena, agriculture laborer, died of cancer Monday (Sept 7, 1998) at Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau. Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. today at Sunset Memorial Park. Roller-Citizens Funeral Home in West Helena has charge. She leaves two daughters, Estelle Larson and Lynn Sherrod Whitehead, both of Chaffee; two sons, Billy Crowder of Chaffee and Ray Spencer of Union City, Tenn., 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.   --Commercial Appeal, The (Memphis, TN) - September 10, 1998 

Little Rock, AR--ALVIN TATE DAVIS, died Sunday, March 14, 1993, at University Hospital, Little Rock, Ark., He was 43, born March 8, 1950, in Phillips County, Ark., and a resident of Little Rock. He was owner of New Life Auto and Body Shop, Little Rock.
Visiting at Word of Out Reach Christian Center, Little Rock, 2 p.m. until religious services at 3 p.m. Saturday, conducted by Brother Robert Smith. Burial in Rest In Peace Cemetery, Hensley, under the direction of Brown Funeral Home, Pine Bluff, Ark.
Survived by wife, Debra Orah Davis, Little Rock; a son, Terrell Davis, Little Rock; three daughters, Ms. Ranardra Davis, Ms. Chenika Davis and Ms. Alysia Davis, all of Little Rock; a brother, Dr. Leroy Davis, Baker; three sisters, Ms. Ina Lewis, Ms. Fayerine Davis and Ms. Doris J.Collier, all of Little Rock; two grandchildren; and stepfather, Johnnie Robinson, Little Rock. Preceded in death by father, Flander Davis; and mother, Mercie Henderson Davis Robinson. He was a member of Word of Out Reach Christian Center, Little Rock.
--Advocate, The (Baton Rouge, LA) - March 19, 1993

MEMPHIS, TN--PAUL EDWARD DAVIS, 37, of Memphis, formerly of West Helena, Ark., riverboat deckhand for Helena Marine, died of hepatitis Thursday at St. Joseph Hospital. Graveside services will be at 10 a.m. today in Central Cemetery in Lexa, Ark. Roller-Citizens Funeral Home of West Helena has charge.
Mr. Davis, the husband of Marie Davis, also leaves two daughters, Betty Jean Davis of Poplar Grove, Ark., and Elizabeth Enrica Davis of Memphis; three sons, Paul William Davis and Josh Davis, both of Poplar Grove, and Robert Anthony Davis of Memphis; his parents, Shelby Jean Fitzsimmons of West Helena and Bennie Earl Davis of Byhalia, Miss.; three sisters, Sherry Davis, Stacy Fitzsimmons and Tracy Fitzsimmons, all of West Helena; two brothers, Bennie Davis Jr. of Benton, Mo., and Mike Davis of East Prairie, Mo.; and his grandparents, Pauline Evans of West Helena and Bertha Armstrong of Byhalia.
--Commercial Appeal, The (Memphis, TN) - Tuesday, August 20, 1996


Frank Frost, one of the foremost Delta blues harmonica players of his generation, died on Tuesday at his home on the street named in his honor in Helena, Ark. He was 63.  The cause was cardiac arrest, said Otha Bush, deputy coroner of Phillips County, Ark.
Born Frank Otis Frost in Auvergne, Ark., Frost moved to St. Louis when he was 15 and began his musical career as a guitarist. He toured in 1954 with the drummer Sam Carr and Carr's father, Robert Nighthawk. Soon after, he spent several years touring with Sonny Boy Williamson, who helped teach him to play harmonica. After a hand injury, Frost turned his attention to the harmonica and piano.  He moved with Carr to the Mississippi Delta around 1960, and after he played a show with the guitarist Big Jack Johnson, they added him to their group. Together they attracted the interest of the producer and record-label owner Sam Phillips, who years earlier had overseen Elvis Presley's first recording sessions.  --Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) - October 15, 1999.

Cairo, IL.--AARON W. GRIGSBY, 92, of Cairo, died Monday, September 11, 2000 at his home. He was born July 11, 1908 in Helena, Arkansas, son of Aaron H. and Lou Ola Higgins Grigsby. Grigsby was a retired painting contractor. He was a member and deacon of First Southern Baptist Church. He was married to Bertha Louise Marrs on October 20, 1934. Survivors include his wife, Bertha; three daughters, Louise Presson of Gulf Breeze, Fla., Marilyn Purvis of Barlow, KY, Sandra Dunham of Norborne, MO; a son, Charles Grigsby of Tamms, IL; 12 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and a great-great grandchild. Friends may call at Barkett Funeral Home in Cairo from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at First Southern Baptist Church from 9 a.m. until service time. Funeral will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the church with the Revs. Bill Gholson, Raymond Akin, and Clark Short officiating. Burial will be in Beechwood Cemetery at Mounds, IL. --Contributed by Bertha Grigsby.

Confederate widow in Arkansas dies
- Associated Press Writer
Published Aug. 19, 2008 -
LITTLE ROCK -- Maudie White Hopkins did what she had to do as a young girl living a hard-scrabble life in the Ozarks during the Depression.
In a family of 10 children, she did laundry and cleaned house for an elderly Confederate veteran in Baxter County whose wife had died years earlier.
When he offered to leave his land and home to her if she would marry him and care for him in his later years, she said "yes." She was 19; he was 86. The couple were married only three years before he passed away.
For decades, Hopkins didn't speak about her marriage to William M. Cantrell, concerned that people would think less of her. Four years ago, she came around after a Confederate widow in Alabama died amid claims that she was the last widow from that war.
Hopkins died Sunday at age 93, the mother of three children from a second marriage who loved to bake fried peach pies and applesauce cakes. Other Confederate widows are still living, but they don't want any publicity, Martha Boltz of the United Daughters of the Confederacy said Tuesday.
"I didn't do anything wrong," Hopkins told the Associated Press in a 2004 interview about her first marriage. "I've worked hard my whole life and did what I had to, what I could, to survive. I didn't want to talk about it for a while because I didn't want people to gossip about it. I didn't want people to make it out to be worse than it was."
Military records show Cantrell served in Company A, French's Battalion, of the Virginia Infantry. He enlisted in the Confederate Army at age 16 in Pikeville, Ky., and was captured the same year and sent to a prison camp in Ohio. He was later exchanged for a Northern prisoner, and after the war moved to Arkansas to live with relatives.
In the interview, Hopkins referred to her first husband as "Mr. Cantrell" and described him as "a good, clean, respectable man." She recalled one description he gave of life as a Civil War soldier, how lice infested his sock supports and "ate a trail around his legs."
Baxter County records show the couple received a marriage license Jan. 29, 1934, and were married four days later by a justice of the peace. She said Cantrell supported her with his Confederate pension of "$25 every two or three months" and that Cantrell left her his home when he died in 1937.
"After Mr. Cantrell died I took a little old mule he had and plowed me a vegetable garden and had plenty of vegetables to eat. It was hard times, you had to work to eat," she said.
Pension benefits ended at Cantrell's death, according to records filed with the state Pension Board. Hopkins remarried and started a family.
Born Dec. 7, 1914, Hopkins was living in Lexa in east Arkansas when she died at a hospital in nearby Helena-West Helena. Survivors include her three children, Ida Mae Chamness of Manassas, Va., and Opal Byrd and Melvin Lee White, both of Helena-West Helena. Graveside services will be Wednesday at Sunset Memorial Park in Lexa.


Dr. Samuel L. Kountz, an international leader in transplant surgery, died yesterday at his home in Great Neck, L.I., after a long illness. He was 51 years old.
In 1977, following a trip to South Africa as a visiting professor, he became ill. The illness was never diagnosed. However, he remained brain-damaged the remainder of his life and had to be cared for at home.
Occasionally, he was able to sit up in bed, and he apparently recognized certain things, but he was unable to speak. He responded emotionally with tears or laughter, and sometimes he recognized people.
At the time he fell ill, he had been head of surgery at the Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn for five years and had performed 500 kidney transplants, then believed to be the most in the world. He was also chief of general surgery at Kings County Hospital Center.
A Deep Social Drive
Dr. Kountz previously was associated with the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco, where he helped advance the techniques in transplanting kidneys.
He had a deep social drive beyond his scientific interest in advancing transplant surgery. He told friends that an important reason why he moved to Brooklyn was to improve medical care for the black community.
He once sat in the emergency room of Kings County Hospital to see how patients were treated. Dr. Kountz's interest in medicine stemmed from an incident when he was a young boy in Lexa, Ark., where he was born. He accompanied an injured friend to the local hospital. Moved by the ability of doctors to ease the friend's suffering, he decided to become a physician. His father, a Baptist minister, and his grandmother, who had been born into slavery, encouraged him.
In 1952, he graduated third in his class at the Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College of Arkansas. Dr. Kountz went on to graduate school at the University of Arkansas, where he earned a master's degree in chemistry.
First Black in Medical School
He told friends that when he was a graduate student, he met Senator J. W. Fulbright, who advised him to apply for a scholarship to medical school. He won it on a competitive basis and became the first black to enter the University of Arkansas Medical School at Little Rock.
Dr. Kountz interned at San Francisco General Hospital and then spent seven years in surgical training at the Stanford Medical Center. While there, he did animal experiments on kidney transplantation and immunology.
Dr. Kountz discovered that large doses of a drug called methylprednisolone could help reverse the acute rejection of a transplanted kidney. That steroid drug was used for many years in the standard management of kidney transplant patients. Other researchers took advantage of Dr. Kountz's observations and used similar large doses of methylprednisolone in the treatment of many other conditions.
When he moved to the University of California in 1967, he worked with other researchers to develop the prototype of a machine that now is able to preserve kidneys for up to 50 hours from the time they are removed from a donor's body. The machine is used worldwide and is named the Belzer kidney perfusion machine in honor of Dr. Kuntz's partner, Dr. Folkert O. Belzer.
Urged Donation of Organs
At the University of California at San Francisco and at Downstate Medical Center, Dr. Kountz and his colleagues advanced tissue typing tests to improve the results of kidney transplantation.
One of his major efforts was to help persuade the public to donate kidneys and other organs to help save the lives of others. Dr. Kountz is survived by his wife, Grace;, three children, Donald, Keith and Ellen; his parents, the Rev. and Mrs. J. S. Kountz of West Helena, Ark; two brothers, Eugene and Calvin, both of Cleveland.
Interment will be today at All Saints Episcopal Cemetery in Great Neck at 11:30 A.M. A memorial service will be held at 11 A.M. Tuesday at the Downstate Medical Center.
Source:  New York Times, The (NY) - December 24, 1981.

Baker, LA--DEAN EDMOND PARKER died Tuesday, June 6, 1995, in Baker. He was 31, a native and former resident of West Helena, Ark., and a resident of Baker.
He was a terminal manager for Southern Chemical Transport.
Religious services at Roller-Citizens Chapel, 508 East Plaza St., West Helena, at 4 p.m. Friday, conducted by the Rev. Ted Witchen. Interment in Sunset Memorial Park, West Helena. Survived by wife, Stacey Hollis Parker, Baker; two sons, Taylor Jordan Parker, Baton Rouge, and Jacob Austin Parker, Baker; two sisters, Angela Parker, Moon Lake, Miss., and Lisa Ketchum, West Helena, Ark.; a brother, Frank Sanford, Baton Rouge; mother, Shirley C. Parker, Moon Lake; and grandparents, Elbert Weaver, Helena, Ark., and Howard Jennings, West Helena.
Preceded in death by father, Bennie Edmond Parker; and grandmother, Lucille Jennings. Pallbearers will be Jimmy Accord, Jeff McCann, Mike Cody, Joel Jennings, and Kenny Holt.
--Advocate, The (Baton Rouge, LA) - June 9, 1995

ELLA STROGER, 86, mother of Cook County Commissioner John H. Stroger Jr., died Sunday in Helena, Ark., after a long illness.
Mrs. Stroger also was the mother of Cleo Stroger Dunning, an alderman and state school administrator in Arkansas.
Born in Marvell, Ark., Mrs. Stroger was an active member of the New Light Missionary Baptist Church in Helena for 60 years. She came to Chicago each year to participate in the annual 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization Family Basket Picnic.
In addition to her son and daughter, survivors include another son, James, and four grandchildren.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the New Light Missionary Baptist Church, Helena, Ark. Burial will be in Oak Grove Cemetery, West Helena, Ark.
--Chicago Sun-Times (IL) - April 28, 1987

Buffalo, NY--CATHERINE THOMPSON, 75, a retired employee of the state General Services Department and a homemaker, died Wednesday (June 9, 1999) in her Buffalo home.
The former Catherine Simmons was born in Phillips County, Ark., and had lived in Buffalo for 59 years.
Mrs. Thompson attended Harrison High School in Blytheville, Ark., and was an active member of the Old Landmark New Covenant Church of God in Christ and volunteered for the Citizens Community Development Corp.
Survivors include two sons, Clyde E. Jr. of Ransomville and Anthony L.; a daughter, Kathleen Thompson; a brother, Harvey Simmons; three sisters, Jammie Jefferson of Chicago, Rose Lewis of Memphis, Tenn., and Eddie Mae Bridgefourth; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at noon Monday in Old Landmark Church of God in Christ, 896 Jefferson Ave. Burial will be in Forest Lawn.
--Buffalo News, The (NY) - June 13, 1999

Proctor, AR--CURTIS BERNICE WALL, 68, of Proctor, Ark., formerly of Shirley, Ark., and Phillips County, Ark., died of cancer Tuesday at her home. Services will be at 4 p.m. today at Roller-Citizens Funeral Home in West Helena, Ark., with burial in Sunset Memorial Park there. She leaves three daughters, Connie Nelson and Sondra Rawls, both of Proctor, and Toni Avance of Corinth, Miss.; a son, Vincent Wall of Fairfield Bay, Ark.; two sisters, Mary Hughes of St. Louis and Martha Dewberry of Helena, Ark.; a brother, Orrell Ferguson of Shirley, 12 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.  --Commercial Appeal, The (Memphis, TN) - May 29, 1997.

WEST HELENA, Ark. - JERRY DON WILEY, 43, a retired roofer and painter, died Monday in Little Rock, Ark.
Funeral: 4 p.m. Friday in West Helena, Ark.
Jerry Wiley was born July 23, 1952, in Little Rock, Ark. He lived in Fort Worth for about 10 years before returning to West Helena in 1995.
Survivors: Mother, Hazel Burgess; brothers, Boyce Wiley, Jimmy Wiley, Paul Wiley and Bobby Wiley and Ricky Burgess; and sisters, Carolyn Dickson, Tona Bennett and Mona Ann Chisnall.
Citizens Funeral Home, West Helena, Ark.
--Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX) - July 4, 1996

RANSEUR, NC - MRS. AGNES EVANS WILSON, 88, of 5730 Hinshaw Town Road, died April 30, 1993, at Randolph Hospital, Asheboro.
Funeral and burial will be in Marvell Ark.
A native of Phillips County, Ark., she was a homemaker.
Surviving are sister, Marie Wagnor of Kenner, La.; brother Herbert Evan of Helena Ark.
Loflin Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
--Greensboro News & Record (NC) - May 1, 1993

©2006-2010 Arkansas Genealogy Trails

Return to Index