Elias Nelson Conway

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Elias Conway
5th Governor of Arkansas
In office
November 15, 1852 – November 16, 1860
Preceded by John S. Roane
Succeeded by Henry M. Rector
Personal details
Born (1812-05-17)May 17, 1812
Greene County, Tennessee
Died February 28, 1892(1892-02-28) (aged 79)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Political party Democratic

Elias Nelson Conway (May 17, 1812 – February 28, 1892) was an American politician and fifth governor of Arkansas.


Conway was born in Greenville, Tennessee. Born into a political family, Elias Nelson Conway was the younger brother of Henry Wharton Conway, who served as territorial delegate to several Congresses, and James Sevier Conway, who became the first governor of Arkansas when it was admitted as a state in 1836.

When he was a boy, his family moved from Tennessee to Missouri. Conway attended Bonne Femme Academy in Boone County, Missouri. His older brother Henry died in 1827 as a result of a duel with a former friend, Robert Crittenden.

In 1833, Conway moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where his older brothers had settled. He studied surveying. In 1835, he was appointed as the state auditor, and served until 1849.


In 1844, Elias Conway was offered, and declined, the Democratic nomination for Governor. When offered the nomination again in 1852, he accepted. With a successful campaign, he was elected as Governor of Arkansas. He was reelected to a second term in 1856.

His administration focused on physical improvements to the state: roads and other infrastructure to encourage development. He formed the Chancery Courts and eased the state's financial problems. When Conway left office in 1860, the state treasury held a surplus.[1]

Drawn in 1859 by David Dale Owen of the Natural Steps

Conway ordered David Dale Owen to survey the territory west of Little Rock. He commissioned a report on the area. The Natural Steps, were first written about and drawn by David Dale Owen (Principal Geologist)in his Second Report of a Geological Reconnaissance of the Middle and Southern Counties of Arkansas (1859).

Family life[edit]

Conway was first cousin to Senator Ambrose Hundley Sevier and Governor Henry Massey Rector.


After Conway retired from public life, he became somewhat of a recluse. Conway is buried at the historic Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.[2]


  1. ^ "Arkansas Governor Elias Nelson Conway". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Elias Nelson Conway". Find A Grave. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John S. Roane
Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Henry M. Rector