Wednesday's Wonderful Collection - Willson-Harkey family papers, MS.000617
Mary Leah Willson was born December 30, 1889, at Dardanelle, Yell County, Arkansas, the daughter of James A. and Minnie McElwee Willson. She was the granddaughter of Dr. Curtis Reed Willson, a surgeon in the Confederate Army. She graduated from Ouachita Baptist College and later attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. In 1915, she married Opal Noils Harkey, a merchant and banker with businesses in Ola, Plainview, and Dardanelle, Arkansas. In 1937, the Harkeys moved to Conway where they operated a number of retail businesses, including a women’s clothing store. Opal died January 9, 1940.
In 1949, Mrs. Harkey became the director of the Arkansas Confederate Home at Sweet Home. In 1953, she supervised the relocation of the home’s inmates to a new building on the campus of the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock, Arkansas. She also oversaw the closing of the home in 1963. Mrs. Harkey's brother–in–law, Judge Clarence Price Newton (1879-1958), served as the second superintendent of the Confederate Home from 1913 to 1918.
Mary Willson Harkey was a member of many professional and patriotic organizations including the United Daughters of Confederacy, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and the Welfare Forum. She died in Little Rock on April 3, 1979, and was buried next to her husband in the Sandlin Cemetery at Ola, Arkansas. The couple had two children, Virginia Harkey Hilton and James Willson Harkey.
This collection contains photographs, newsclippings, business records, correspondence, publications, and scrapbooks from the personal and professional files of Mary Leah Harkey. It contains information related to her tenure as superintendent of the Arkansas Confederate Home in Little Rock, Arkansas.
1. Biographical/Genealogical material: Willson, Harkey, Newton families (Box 1)
Arkansas Confederate Home
2. Minutes and correspondence: Confederate Home Board of Control, 1950-1962
3. Personal: 1949
4. Guestbook: 1955-1962
7. Ledger: 1886-1889, Dr. Curtis Reed Willson, Dardanelle and Ola, Arkansas
12. 1943–1944, includes probate records, O.N. Harkey
13. 1909–1917: includes deeds, Baptist church in Plainview, Arkansas
14. Harkey family correspondence: 1937–1959
16. Arkansas Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs
17. Daughters of the American Revolution
18. United Daughters of the Confederacy, Little Rock Chapter
James F. Willson
20. 1926–1936: Scrapbook
21. 1937-1939: Scrapbook
22. Photograph album: C.P. Newton, 1921–1923
23. Southern Governor’s Conference, 1960
Confederate veterans publications
24. 1916 September: "Confederate Veteran"
25. 1931: Souvenir program, "Forty-first United Confederate Veterans Reunion"
Publications (Box 2)
27. 1899: "The Complete Medical Packet–Formulary"
28. 1911: "Speech of Senator Jeff Davis Delivered at Morrilton, Arkansas"
29. 1913: "Jeff Davis Governor and U.S. Senator: His Life and Speeches"
30. 1951: "The Golden Book of Favorite Songs"
31. 1945: "American Red Cross First Aid Textbook"
32. 1912: "Ouachitonian" (yearbook of Ouachita College)