Four Governors Hail From Parish

Gazette Centennial Edition

Union Parish in its 100 years of existence has furnished a number of men to fill high state offices. It has furnished four governors – two to Louisiana and two to Arkansas – besides many others to state and other various offices.

The governors were W. W. Heard, governor of Louisiana from 1900-04, and state auditor from 1892-1900, Ruffin G. Pleasant, governor of Louisiana from 1916-20, and attorney general from 1912-16, George W. Donaghey, governor of Arkansas for two terms, 1908-10 and 1910-12, and Tom J. Terral, governor of Arkansas from 1924-26 and secretary of state at one time.

Governor Terral is the only one of the four governors living (in 1939) and is now practicing law in Little Rock.

Other high officials and natives of Union Parish in its century of existence are W. W. Farmer, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, who died in office in 1853, L. F. Thomas, speaker of the house of representatives and state bank examiner and later mayor of the city of Shreveport for two teams, Edward Everett, secretary of state of Louisiana, 1911-12, O. B. Steele, state auditor of Louisiana, 1884-92, J. M. Smith, registrar state land office, 1900-04, Ben C. Dawkins, Louisiana supreme court justice and federal district judge, Fred M. Odom, Louisiana supreme court justice, J. G. Lee, commissioner of agriculture, 1900-04, W. N. McFarland, auditor of public accounts, Judge G. A. Killgore, secretary of the state pension board, J. G. Lee, Jr., dean of the college of agriculture, Louisiana State University.

Brief biographical sketches of the four governors follows.


William Wright Heard

Governor of Louisiana

1900 – 1904

William Wright Heard, governor of Louisiana from 1900 to 1904, was born April 28, 1853 in old Shiloh community, Union Parish. His father was a farmer and the boy spent his early days on this farm.

He attended school in Farmerville and at an early age took an active and deep interest in public affairs. In 1876, he was elected as representative. In the legislature he served on two of the most important committees, the ways and means and the appropriations committees.

He was later elected senator and shortly was asked to run for state auditor on the ticket of Murphy J. Foster. The ticket was elected and in 1892 he became state auditor. He was re-elected to this office in 1896.

In 1900, Mr. Heard was nominated and elected governor by a 50,000 majority.

His tenure of office is best described by the following editorial of that time.

“Governor Heard has made the state an ideal chief executive and his record for honest methods and conscientious discharge of every duty imposed upon him by the high office which he fills has won the admiration and confidence of the whole people”

“There are some who may have differed with him at times, there are none who have ever raised a question as to his integrity and honesty of purpose”

“In looking back upon his record it pleases us to point out two things among his many good works which stands out prominently and mark him for the gratitude of the people.”

“First, comes the splendid record he has made in behalf of education, including in his broad efforts, the children of the primary grades and the youth of the state in the industrial schools and the higher branch of education. He has topped all cords and written above his administration the word “Education” as its highest and most distinguishing feature.”

“Second, he has eliminated from contests within the Democratic party the old feeling of administration, refusing to use the patronage and poser at his command in an attempt to dictate his successor. He has occupied and now occupies a dignified position of neutrality and stands for a square deal between white men and Democrats. This is high ground and marks a new epoch in  the political ethics of Louisiana. All honor to William Wright Heard who is content to record himself the willing servant, rather than the would-be master of his people. The people salute you, Governor Heard”. 

After leaving the governor’s office, he moved to New Orleans where he became an officer in the State National Bank of the city. He also served as assistant treasurer of the United State under Woodrow Wilson.

Mr. Heard married Isabel Elizabeth Manning of Farmerville. They had seven children, two dying in infancy. Five are now living, Mrs. Eva Heard Dooley of New Orleans, Mrs. Luther E. Hall, Jr. of New Orleans; William A. Heard of New Orleans; Manning W. Heard of Hartford, Connecticut, and Wilbur W. Heard of Houston, Texas.

Mr. Heard died in New Orleans in 1926 at the age of 73.


Ruffin Golson Pleasant

Governor of Louisiana

1916 – 1920

Ruffin G. Pleasant, governor of Louisiana from 1916 – 1920, was born in June 1871 near old Shiloh community in Union Parish. He spent his boyhood and early manhood days in Farmerville where his father served as sheriff for a good many years.

He attended the public schools in Farmerville and later attended LSU and was graduated from that institution in 1892. From there, he went to Yale where he studied law.

Mr. Pleasant returned to Louisiana and at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War was made a lieutenant-colonel in the Louisiana regiment  but never saw service. He was elected city attorney of Shreveport almost immediately after passing the bar examination in 1898.

In 1904, he was appointed assistant attorney-general and served in that capacity until he was elected attorney-general for the State of Louisiana in 1912.

At the end of his term, in 1926, he was nominated and elected governor of the state. He returned to Shreveport after his term of office expired and was in active law practice until his death, September 12, 1937.

Governor Pleasant, like Governor Heard, went down in history as being one of Louisiana’s ruggedly honest chief executives.

Thomas Jefferson Terral

Thomas Jefferson Terral

Governor of Arkansas

1924 – 1926

On a small farm in the little settlement of Holmesville, Union Parish, one bright morning in December, 1884, a boy was born to a man and his wife. He joined a family that already numbered nine.

This child was to grow into manhood many years later and to be elected to the executive office of one of Union’s finest states – Arkansas.

The family named him Thomas Jefferson Terral.

He entered school, at the old Enterprise school, later attended the Downsville High School, the Laurel (Miss.) High School and entered the Kentucky University, Lexington, Ky.

Out of college, he returned to the deep South and El Dorado, Ark., where he entered public life. He served in the state senate, and later as assistant secretary then secretary of that body; assistant state superintendent of public instruction, secretary of state, then, as governor of the state of Arkansas.

He returned to private law practice in Little Rock, after his retirement from the office of governor and is still in practice there.

 George W. Donaghey

George Washington Donaghey

Governor of Arkansas

1909 – 1913

Born in a humble farm home near Oakland in the extreme northern part of Union Parish and reared during the trying years of the Civil War period, George Washington Donaghey rose to serve as Governor of Arkansas for two terms, from 1909 to 1913, being elected in 1908 and 1910.

George W. Donaghey was born July 1, 1856, and died December 15, 1937. His family moved to Arkansas when he was a small boy.

He received his college education at the University of Arkansas and on January 1, 1884 was married to Miss Louvenia Wallace.

Mr. Doanghey, as a contractor, accumulated a fortune, only to leave the greater part of it as an education endowment so that others could be benefited by what he had missed during his early youth.

His love for construction work and his desire to see all work done well led him into politics and the governor’s race as he fought to have the Arkansas State Capitol building well and soundly constructed. Donaghey discovered that the contractors for the construction of the present state capitol were departing from the plans and specifications of the work as contracted for. There were charges of fraud against both the contractors ans some of the members of the general assembly for having given and accepted bribes for votes on the capitol bill which would have provided extra work for the contractors. An ugly scandal broke which resulted in prison sentences for some of those accused.

Donaghey made this an issue in his campaign for governor and was elected by a landslide vote. His chief opponent was none other than United States Senator Jeff Davis, who espoused the candidacy of General Irby, the most outstanding candidate against him.

Mr. Donaghey, after serving the State of Arkansas as governor for two terms and seeing that the capitol was properly constructed, returned to private life, but continued until his death his active life as builder and business man, serving on many boards and commissions in business and public affairs.


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