Monday, July 7, 2008

Featured Manuscript Collection: July

The Couch-Remmel Family Papers
MSS 06-16

Finding Aid

The Couch-Remmel Family Papers, MSS 06-16, contains documents and correspondence from the collections of the prominent Couch and Remmel Families, long-time residents of Arkansas.

Harvey C. Couch (1877-1941) was an entrepreneur who owned several railroad lines, a telephone company, and three electrical power companies (in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi). Couch was born in Calhoun, Arkansas on August 21, 1877. After working on the family farm, for a local cotton gin, and as a store clerk, Couch entered the Railway Mail Service in 1898.

Image to Right: Harvey C. Couch in Switzerland, 1937. Location in Collection: Series I, Subseries I, Box 9, Item 1.
Image to Left: Harvey C. Couch and [Unknown] Green Working in Railway Mail Car, Early 1900s. Location in Collection: Series I, Subseries I, Box 10, Item 1.

It was while working his route that Couch was inspired to create his first business venture, the North Louisiana Telephone Company which he later sold to Southwestern Bell for over one million dollars. Couch’s later ventures included the Mississippi Power and Light Company, Louisiana Power and Light Company, and Arkansas Power and Light Company (AP&L). AP&L was Arkansas’s largest utility company and eventually developed into today’s Entergy.

In addition to his business ventures, Couch served as flood relief director during the 1927 flooding in Arkansas, as state relief chairman during the 1930 drought, and as board member of President Hoover’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation. He built the Remmel and Carpenter Dams near Hot Springs, as well as his family home, Couchwood, which was visited by a number of prominent people over the years. Couch married Jessie Johnson Couch in 1904 and had five children.

Image to Right: Letter from Harvey C. Couch to Jessie Johnson, Postmarked April 27, 1904. Location in Collection: Series I, Subseries I, Box 6, File 1. Image Above, Left: Couchwood Menu and Program for The Annual Round-Up Honoring Postmaster General James A. Farley, June 3, 1939. Location in Collection: Series I, Subseries I, Box 1, File 23.
Image Below: Herbert Hoover (left), Harvey C. Couch (center), and Unidentified Man at Couchwood Near Hot Springs, Arkansas, Undated. Location in Collection: Series I, Subseries I, Box 9, Item 25.

The Couch and Remmel families were connected when Catherine Couch (daughter of Harvey and Jessie Couch and namesake of Lake Catherine near Hot Springs, Arkansas) married Pratt C. Remmel (1915-1991) of the long-time Republican Remmel family in 1941.

Pratt C. Remmel worked with the Republican Party of Arkansas throughout his life serving as chairman of the Young Republicans of Arkansas, vice chairman of the Young Republican National Federation, chairman of the Pulaski County Republican Executive Committee, and finance director of the Arkansas Republican Party, among other positions. In 1951, Remmel became the first Republican Mayor elected in Little Rock, Arkansas in 74 years. He unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Arkansas in 1954 and remained Mayor until 1955.

Image to Left: Pratt C. Remmel at Mr. Judea During Governor's Campaign, 1954. Location in Collection: Series II, Subseries I, Box 31, Item 38.

Image to Right: Pratt C. Remmel for Little Rock Mayor Campaign Mailer, circa 1951. Location in Collection: Series II, Subseries I, Box 25, Item 3.

A large amount of the documents in this collection deal with Remmel’s time in office as well as his activities with the Arkansas Republican Party, particularly the Pulaski County Republican Committee.

In addition to his political activities, Remmel, a World War II veteran, was active with Gideons International and the Red Cross, along with a number of other organizations in Arkansas. He also served as a board member of the Arkansas River Basin Commission and chairman of the Arkansas Waterways Commission before his death in 1991.

Pratt C. Remmel with Vice President Richard Nixon, February 18, 1954.
Location in Collection: Series II, Subseries I, Box 31, Item 8.

This sixty-nine box collection is arranged into two main series. The first series focuses on the Couch Family and is divided into four subseries (Harvey C. Couch, Jessie Johnson Couch, their Household, and General Couch Family). The second series pertains to the Remmel Family and is also divided into four subseries (Pratt C. Remmel, Catherine Couch Remmel, their Household, and General Remmel Family).

Contributed by Stephanie Bayless, Archival Assistant


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