THOMAS JAMES CHURCHILL, Arkansas’s 13th governor, was born near Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, on March 10, 1824. He graduated from St. Mary’s College in Bardstown in 1844 and studied law at Transylvania University in Lexington. Churchill had an extensive military career, serving in both the Mexican and Civil Wars. He migrated to Arkansas in 1849, was appointed postmaster of Little Rock in 1857, and elected state treasurer, serving from 1874 to 1880. On September 6, 1880, he was elected Governor of Arkansas, and on January 13, 1881, he was sworn into office. During his term, regulations were enacted for the practice of medicine and surgery, and a State Board of Health was established. Funds were approved for an insane asylum and for the construction of a new school at Pine Bluff. The legislature appointed a special committee to audit the books when Churchill was the state treasurer. The committee found a shortage in the state funds, and a lawsuit was brought against Churchill. He was ordered to repay the missing money. After leaving the governor’s office, Churchill retired from public life. Thomas J. Churchill died on March 14, 1905 in Little Rock. He was buried at the Mount Holly Cemetery with military honors.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Donovan, Timothy P., and Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., The Governors of Arkansas, Essays in Political Biography, Fayetteville; The University of Arkansas Press, 1981
Herndon, Dallas T., Centennial History of Arkansas, Vol. 1, Chicago, Little Rock, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1922. 3 vols.
Old State House Museum