Ben C. Henley

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Benjamin Charles Henley
Arkansas Republican Party State Chairman
In office
Preceded by Osro Cobb
Succeeded by William L. Spicer
Personal details
Born (1907-10-07)October 7, 1907
St. Joe, Searcy County
Arkansas, USA
Died November 7, 1987(1987-11-07) (aged 80)
Place of death missing
Resting place Henley Cemetery in St. Joe, Arkansas
Spouse(s) Jewel Ivie Henley
Relations J. Smith Henley
Residence Harrison, Boone County, Arkansas
Alma mater University of Arkansas School of Law
Occupation Attorney; Businessman

Benjamin Charles Henley, usually known as Ben C. Henley (October 7, 1907 - November 7, 1987), was a lawyer and businessman from Harrison in Boone County in northwestern Arkansas, who was the chairman of his state's Republican Party from 1955 to 1962.[1]


The website Political Graveyard indicates that Henley was the state party chairman from 1955 to 1958,[2] but the historian of Arkansas politics, Cathy K. Urwin, writes that Henley gave up the chairmanship in 1962 to William L. Spicer of Fort Smith.[3] Henley is listed in records of the Nixon Library as still the chairman in October 1961, with fellow attorney Roy Mitchell of Hot Springs, the 1956 gubernatorial nominee, who was defeated by Orval Faubus, as the party's first vice-chairman.[4]

Henley was the son of Benjamin Harrison Henley and the former Jessie Genoa Willis Smith. He was married to Jewel Ivie Henley (March 21, 1909 - May 26, 1995).[5][6] Henley graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville. He tutored an aunt by marriage, Mary Elizabeth Smith Massey (1900-1971), in the study of law. Massey became one of the first women lawyers in Arkansas. In 1934, she ran on the Republican ticket for county/circuit clerk in Henley's native Searcy County, was elected, and served three terms in the position. As an appointed city attorney in 1935, she developed the blueprint for the water city system in Marshall, Arkansas, and campaigned for a bond issue to finance the project.[7]

As the state party chairman, Henley was a delegate to the 1956 and the 1960 Republican national conventions held in San Francisco and Chicago, respectively.[8] In 1956, as his party's unsuccessful nominee for the U.S. Senate against the Democrat J. William Fulbright, Henley finished with 17 percent of the vote, well behind his party's presidential nominee, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who still lost Arkansas in the second race against Adlai E. Stevenson, II, of Illinois.[9] Henley did not actively campaign against the politically entrenched Fulbright, who instead was out of state working for the Stevenson campaign, which was managed by the Arkansas journalist Harry S. Ashmore.[10] Fulbright received 331,679 votes to Henley's 68,016.[11]

In addition to his legal practice, Henley was part-owner, with later Harrison Mayor Bob Reynolds, of Walters Dry Goods Company at the intersection of Main and Stephenson streets in Harrison, the only local dealer of Levi's jeans. In May 1961, the store was completely flooded by heavy rains, and virtually all of the mud-soaked merchandise was lost. The facility, which carried no flood insurance, was refurbished through a loan from the Small Business Administration. Walters has since passed into history, and another business, Leflers, moved into that location.[12]

Henley died in 1987 at the age of eighty. He and his wife are interred at the Henley Cemetery near St. Joe in Searcy County.[5] Henley's younger brother, J. Smith Henley, was a long-term U.S. district and appeals court judge for whom the federal building in Harrison is named.


  1. ^ Cathy Kunzinger Urwin, Agenda for Reform: Winthrop Rockefeller As Governor of Arkansas, 1967-71, p. 37. Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Index to Politicians: Hendrickson to Henrotin". Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ The Arkansas Republican Party headquarters in Little Rock does not maintain a list of past chairmen and their years in office.
  4. ^ "List of Officers, Republican State Central Committees, October 3, 1961" (PDF). Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Henley Cemetery, Searcy County, Arkansas". Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Moses Bowen Data Page". Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Mary Elizabeth Smith Massey (1900-1971)". Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Index to Politicians: Hendrickson to Henrotin". Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  9. ^ Arkansas Secretary of State, General election returns, November 6, 1956
  10. ^ The New York Times, October 12, 1956
  11. ^ Arkansas Secretary of State, State election returns, November 6, 1956
  12. ^ "Reynolds: "All Hell Broke Loose", May 6, 2007". Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
Party political offices
Preceded by
Osro Cobb
Arkansas Republican Party State Chairman

Benjamin Charles Henley

Succeeded by
William L. Spicer