Jacob Newton Donohoo was born December 16, 1853 in Bradley County, Tennessee. Not much is known about his childhood or family. In his obituary there are two brothers listed in addition to his immediate family. Their names were the Reverend Frank L. Donohoo and Noah W. Smith of Knoxville. Frank Donohoo was born about 1858 in Tennessee and by 1900 was living in California. Noah W. Smith was born in Bradley County, Tennessee in 1874. He identified his parents as Major Smith and Caroline Smith. In 1880 Major’s Household in Bradley County, Tennessee consisted of Major Smith, Caroline Smith, Leonard Smith, Julian Smith, Noah Smith and Precilla Donohoo. Precilla Donohoo was identified as grandmother. Major Smith married Carloine Donohoo on April 12, 1869. That more than likely makes Caroline the mother of Jacob, but who was his father. Evidently Caroline already had several children before marrying Major Smith. By searching slave schedules of Bradley County, Tennessee and comparing ages, the family was living on the plantation owned by James Donohoo.
Jacob Donohoo moved to Arkansas in the 1870s to live with an uncle. Becoming popular quickly, Donohoo was soon elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1877 as the youngest African American member. On February 9, 1879 he married Mollie E. Owens in Phillips County. Jacob then appears on the 1880 U.S. Census for Phillips County with his wife Mollie and their daughter Nina. He identifies his occupation as farmer. All together Donohoo was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives four times.
With all the changes that were going on in Arkansas in the late 1800s, it was incredible that Jacob Donohoo managed to stay well liked by all sides. He was involved in a number of business ventures from farming, running a mercantile store to editor of a newspaper. Donohoo even practiced law and was involved in promoting education in Phillips County. He served on a number of committees and was acquainted with Reverend Elias C. Morris. For a time he was President of the Utility Bank and Trust Company of Pine Bluff. Jacob served eight years as deputy internal revenue collector under President McKinley and was appointed for a third term under President Roosevelt.
Jacob Donohoo died November 11, 1914 in Helena and was buried at Magnolia Cemetery. He left his wife Mollie, two sons named Green and Jacob, and three daughters, Frankie, Laura, and Fannie May.
“Knoxville Sentinel” Knoxville, Tennessee. 14 Nov. 1917, Wednesday – Page 12
“The Journal and Tribune” Knoxville, Tennessee. 14 Nov. 1917, Wednesday – Page 8
“Jacob N. Donohoo” – Arkansas Black Lawyers
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