Sam Faubus

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Sam Faubus
Young Sam Faubus
Born (1887-10-24)October 24, 1887
Died August 24, 1966(1966-08-24) (aged 78)
Other names "Little Sam"
Occupation small farmer, seasonal agricultural worker, journeyman hacker, miner
Known for political activism

John Samuel "Little Sam" Faubus (October 24, 1887 – August 24, 1966), was a small farmer and founder of one of Arkansas' few chapters of the Socialist Party of America. He was the father of the late Governor of Arkansas Orval E. Faubus.


Early life[edit]

He was born in Madison County on Mill Creek south of Combs in the Ozark Mountains, Arkansas, to William Henry Faubus and Malinda (Lindy) Sparks Faubus, who had seven children. His father died in the winter of 1900 from pneumonia shortly after relocating to Greasy Creek north of Combs, and the widow married John Nelson; she gave birth to another eight children. Altogether, John Samuel Faubus had fifteen siblings and stepsiblings and was referred to as Sam.[1]:11

He received little education, and when he was seventeen went to work as a journeyman hacker hewing railroad crossties. However, Sam developed a habit of reading books and self-educated; later, he became a regular correspondent to local newspapers. In his youth, Sam was easy-going, in his later years he was characterized as domineering and strong-minded.[2]

After Sam turned twenty-one, he married in 1908 Addie Joslin (1892-1936), daughter of Thomas Joslin and Sarah Thornberry, and they had three sons, Orval, Darrow, Clarence, and three daughters, Bonnie, Connie, and Betty. He gave his oldest son Orval the middle name Eugene to honor the Socialist Party of America founder, Eugene V. Debs; his another son, Darrow Doyle, was named after well-known at the time labor lawyer Clarence Darrow; and one more son, Elvin Carl, received a middle name after Karl Marx.[3]

The Faubuses were subsistence farmers and toiled on their homesteaded thin-soiled upland farm in the Ozark Mountain country to provide their children with food and basic necessities; Sam also did menial work to earn money while Addie looked after children.[4] He constantly searched for better paying jobs, he did itinerant agricultural work in the Midwest and Canada, and worked in a lead mine at Picher, Oklahoma, for two years.[1]:16

Political activism[edit]

Hardships politically radicalized Sam Faubus,[5] and in his older days he reminisced, "I worked in my younger days as a tiemaker—not the wearing kind, but the kind that railroads use. I made them for 10 cents a piece. That's why I became a liberal. I don't like slave labor, and that's just what it was."[6]

Under the influence of his older and more political savvy neighbor, O. T. Green, Sam joined the Socialist Party of America.[7] In May 1910, he and his friend Arch Cornett, a local teacher, founded the Mill Creek Local of the Socialist Party in Combs with ten members; at an all-time high, membership was close to 30 including Addie Faubus.[8] Sam Faubus was a firm opponent of the U.S. involvement in World War I and once was arrested with Arch Cornett for distributing anti-war literature and charged with the Sedition Act of 1918 violation. The end of the war helped him to escape imprisonment.[3] He also advocated introduction of the graduated income tax, old age benefits, repeal of restricting voting poll tax, and women's suffrage, along with other socialists in Arkansas.[9][10] In the 1950s, he supported desegregation.

Sam's son, Orval Faubus, being the Governor of Arkansas, became nationally and internationally controversial for seeking to oppose the 1957 integration of Central High School in the state capital of Little Rock. Sam Faubus disapproved Orval's actions during the integration crisis and privately conveyed his position to him. Unbeknownst to his son, he wrote letters in support of desegregation to the Arkansas Gazette signed by a pseudonym, Jimmie Higgins, which was the Socialist Party slang for a novice member.[3] At that time, Sam Faubus already changed his political standing becoming a Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal democrat. Ultimately, the Federal Government intervened, and nine African American students known as the Little Rock Nine went on to graduate from Little Rock Central High School.[1]

Later years[edit]

After he widowed in 1936, Sam married in 1952 a widow, Maudie Blanch Jostmeyer Wonders (1903-1987), and lived on ten-acre farm on Milk Creek where he raised chickens. The neighbors called him "Uncle Sam" after Orval Faubus became a governor.[11] John Samuel Faubus died from lymphatic cancer on August 24, 1966, and was interned at Combs Cemetery in Madison County. His gravestone bears an inscription, "He did his share of the world's work."[12] The Arkansas Gazette wrote about him, "Sam Faubus would have stood out in any time, that of his own father, his father's father, anytime. The Ozark mountaineers needed such a man who could articulate their anger at the exploitative economic system that plagued their lives."[6]

Further reading[edit]

  • Reed, Roy (1997), Faubus: The Life and Times of an American Prodigal, University of Arkansas Press, ISBN 1-55728-467-9 


  1. ^ a b c Reed, Roy (1997), Faubus: The Life and Times of an American Prodigal, University of Arkansas Press, ISBN 1-55728-467-9 
  2. ^ Interview with Harry Ashmore, Atlanta, Georgia, 20 June 1992, by Roy Reed, Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, p. 9.
  3. ^ a b c Roy Reed. Sister who opposed Faubus dies: Bonnie Lou Faubus Salcido publicly called out her brother for blocking the integration of Central High., Arkansas Times, May 23, 2013.
  4. ^ Tom Wagy. Memories of a Mountain Woman: Addie Joslin Faubus, 1892-1936, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Spring, 1998), pp. 1-16.
  5. ^ Roy Reed. Orval E. Faubus: Out of Socialism into Realism, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 2, pp. 167-180
  6. ^ a b Williams, Nancy A, and Jeannie M. Whayne. Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000, pp. 98-99.
  7. ^ Tom Wagy. Little Sam Faubus: Hillbilly Socialist, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 263-289.
  8. ^ Parry, Janine A, and Richard P. Wang. Readings in Arkansas Politics and Government. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2009. pp. 217-220.
  9. ^ Kirk, John A. An Epitaph for Little Rock: A Fiftieth Anniversary Retrospective on the Central High Crisis. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2008, p. 54.
  10. ^ G. Gregory Kiser. The Socialist Party in Arkansas, 1900-1912, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Summer, 1981), pp. 119-153.
  11. ^ "I am a country boy," says Governor Faubus, Life, Vol. 143, Number 13, September 23, 1957.
  12. ^ Sam Faubus at Find a Grave

External links[edit]