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Notable Arkansans

by Clyde Snider, Special to the Democrat-Gazette | February 21, 2021 at 1:56 a.m.

He was born in 1867 in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. When he was 12, the family immigrated to Prescott (Nevada County), where he immediately started selling newspapers, thus beginning a lifelong career as a newspaperman.

At 17, he volunteered to set type for the Nevada County Picayune. Using that as resume experience, he got a job in the mailroom of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock. He quickly learned shorthand and typing, and was promoted to the business office as a stenographer and subscription clerk. After several months of taking dictation, writing telegrams and advertisements, and performing other routine tasks, he considered himself proficient enough to promote himself to the news department. But after a few bad experiences, he returned to his previous position: He'd decided he didn't have a "nose for news."

In 1892, he married Mary Chapple, with whom he had two sons. In 1895, he switched to part time with the Gazette in order to form a partnership with two other men to publish a literary weekly, the Saturday Bee. The venture proved to be a disaster. Within a few weeks, he was back full time at the Gazette. By 1899, he was the business manager. He served in that position for more than 40 years.

He and fellow Englishman James Chapple, a relative of his wife, formed a partnership and opened a bookstore on the ground floor of the Rose Building, which remained in operation until 1967. A restaurant has recently taken over its old location — and its name. He wrote several books, two of them about the newspaper business. In 1914, he opened the Hotel Freiderica on Fifth Street (now Capitol Avenue). The name was later changed to Hotel Sam Peck, then Legacy Hotel. The hotel was again renovated in 2016 and renamed Hotel Frederica, a variation of its original name.

In 1922 he was appointed chairman of the Arkansas Press Association's newly formed committee on a code of professional ethics, and named the organization's historian "for life." He died in 1946 and is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery.

Who was this influential newspaperman and entrepreneur, who has a Little Rock park named for him?

See Notable Arkansans — Answer

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