Date Original



This collection consists of correspondence and other papers belonging to Griffin Smith, Sr.

Biographical/Historical Note

Griffin Smith, Sr., (1885-1955) was Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1937-1955 and an influential Arkansas newspaperman, business leader, and attorney. He was born in DeKalb County, Tennessee, on July 13, 1885, the son of Napoleon and Louisa Watkins Smith. He lost both parents before he turned sixteen and was raised by a distant relative, Rutledge Smith, a Cookeville, Tennessee, newspaper publisher who taught the younger Smith the trade. Smith moved to Arkansas in 1911 and married Amelia Daggett (1889-1982) of Marianna. They had two children, a daughter, Sheffield (Mrs. Drew) Lander (1913-2003), and a son, Griffin Smith, Jr. (1915-2000). The Smiths lived briefly in Bonham, Texas, where Smith worked as a linotype operator, but returned to Arkansas after he became editor and part owner of the Paragould Daily Press and the weekly Paragould Soliphone, two publications that he eventually owned outright. When World War I broke out, Smith reported from France to the Paragould newspapers. The Arkansas Gazette, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and the United Press also carried his dispatches from the trenches. After ten years as an editor, Smith decided to pursue a law degree at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. He passed both the Tennessee and Arkansas bar exams and then moved his family to California, where he studied more law at Stanford University and bought a newspaper at Paso Robles. The family returned to Arkansas in 1926 and Smith opened a law practice in Marianna. In 1932, Governor Harvey Parnell named Smith to fill an unexpired term as State Comptroller. Smith announced himself as a candidate for governor in 1936 but then changed his mind and instead campaigned successfully for chief justice. Smith was speaking at First Christian Church in El Dorado, Arkansas, when he suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He died about six hours later, on April 29, 1955, and is buried in Little Rock's Roselawn Cemetery.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area

Arkansas; Texas; Kansas; Missouri; District of Columbia; Maryland





Resource Type



Griffin Smith papers, SMC.030.003


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Griffin Smith papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


Use and reproduction of images held by the Arkansas State Archives without prior written permission is prohibited. For information on reproducing images held by the Arkansas State Archives, please call 501-682-6900 or email at


United States History