Last modified on 4 November 2019, at 00:31

Jimmy Shoalmire

Jimmy Gayle Shoalmire​

(Historian and Professor at Mississippi State University)

Born July 23, 1940
Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
Died July 31, 1982 (aged 42)​
Alexandria, Virginia
Spouse (1) Carol Ann Shaughnessy Shoalmire (married 1962-1979, divorced)​

(2) Betty Kathryn Buckner Shoalmire (married 1980-his death)​
From first marriage:
Alan Dean Shoalmire
​ Brent Thomas Shoalmire
​ Rachel Lea Shoalmire Scriber
Rube Robert and Melba Elliott Shoalmire​
Alma mater:
Fair Park High School (Shreveport)
Louisiana Tech University
Mississippi State University

Religion Baptist

Jimmy Gayle Shoalmire (July 23, 1940 – July 31, 1982) was an historian of the American South originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, who specialized in Reconstruction and agricultural studies.​


Shoalmire was born to Rube Robert Shoalmire (1913–1984), a welder, and the former Melba Agnes Elliott (1915–1995). He graduated in 1958 from the since downgraded Fair Park High School.[1]

Shoalmire then enrolled at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, at which he engaged in the study of history, having received both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. In 1966, he completed his thesis, "Reconstruction in Red River Parish" based in part on research at the Red River Parish Court House in Coushatta in northwestern Louisiana.[2] He was a visiting instructor at Louisiana Tech for the academic year 1966-1967.[3]​ ​

At Mississippi State University

​ To pursue his Ph.D., Shoalmire entered Mississippi State University in Starkville]], Mississippi. In 1969, he completed the dissertation entitled "Carpetbagger Extraordinary: Marshall Harvey Twitchell, 1840-1905", a study of Marshall Harvey Twitchell, the Louisiana Republican state senator for Bienville and Red River parishes. As a legislator, Twitchell pushed for the establishment of Red River Parish and brought many of his northern relatives to live there, mostly as planters.[4] In 1876, his Redeemer (conservative Democrat) detractors fired six shots at him, and he lost the use of both arms below the elbows. He played dead and avoided even more bullets. Twitchell then left Louisiana and spent his later years as a diplomat in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.[4]

Shoalmire's dissertation stemmed from his earlier study of Reconstruction in Red River Parish.[5] In writing his original study on Red River Parish, Shoalmire located the Marshall Twitchell papers in the attic of a Twitchell grandson in Burlington, Vermont, and brought the materials to Prescott Memorial Library at Louisiana Tech.[6] The Twitchell papers were used by Ted Tunnel of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, for his 2001 publication, Edge of the Sword: The Ordeal of Carpetbagger Marshall H. Twitchell in the Civil War and Reconstruction.[7]

In 1973, Shoalmire co-authored with his MSU colleague, Roy Vernon Scott, The Public Career of Cully Cobb: A Study in Agricultural Leadership.Originally a poor farmboy from Tennessee, Cully Alton Cobb, Sr. became a southern agricultural publisher and philanthropist. From 1933 to 1937, Cobb was a director of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, a New Deal agency which supervised the plowing under of cotton fields to reduce farm output in hopes of reversing the lagging prices paid to farmers. In the preparation of their book, Shoalmire and Scott used papers from the Henry A. Wallace Collection at the University of Iowa at Iowa City.[8]

Shoalmire became associate professor of history at MSU and head of Special Collections at the Mitchell Memorial Library there.[9] As the head of Special Collections, he was also the curator of the archives of U.S. Senator John Stennis. In that capacity, he conducted oral history interviews with personal friends, staff, senatorial colleagues, and other observers of Stennis' long career in politics. Among the interviewees was Stennis' son, John Hampton Stennis, a Jackson attorney who lost his 1978 bid for the United States House of Representatives.[10]

Shoalmire left MSU in 1979 to work on Stennis' staff in Washington, D.C. Within a year, he became a lobbyist, serving as director of legislative affairs for Gould, Inc., an electronics and defense weapons firm in Washington.[11][12]​ ​

Early death and family

​ Shoalmire's lobbying career was cut short, for he died suddenly at his residence in Alexandria in Fairfax County, Virginia, of a heart attack eight days after his 42nd birthday.

In 1962, Shoalmire wed the former Carol Ann Shaughnessy (born 1942), a Ruston resident who also graduated from Fair Park High School. The marriage ended in divorce in 1979. Three children came from the marriage, Alan Dean Shoalmire (born 1967) of Navasota, Texas, Brent Thomas Shoalmire (born 1971) of Shreveport, and Rachel Lee Shoalmire Scriber (born 1972) of Ruston. Brent Shoalmire is a professor and associate dean at Louisiana Baptist University, and senior pastor of Red River Baptist Church in Benton in Bossier Parish.​

On October 26, 1980, Shoalmire married the former Betty Kathryn Buckner of Starkville, Mississippi, and Alexandria, Virginia, who was then a member of the staff of then U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.[11] The wedding ceremony was performed in Christ's Episcopal Church in Alexandria. Shoalmire's sister, Robbye Agnes McGuinn (1937–1982), succumbed fewer than three months after her brother's death. Their paternal grandmother, Ethel Wright Shoalmire (1889–1982), died during the short period between the deaths of Jimmy and Robbye. In addition to his spouse Kathryn Shoalmire, his children and their mother Carol, Shoalmire had a surviving brother, Jack Benny Shoalmire (1942-2011)[13] of Broken Arrow, near Tulsa, Oklahoma.[14] Jack Shoalmire was a 1960 Fair Park High School graduate and a Vietnam War veteran, recipient of a Purple Heart and three Bronze Stars,[13] who retired after thirty-six years with Ford Motor Company at the title of superintendent​.[13]

A memorial service for Jimmy Shoalmire was held in the Mike Mansfield Room of the United States Capitol, with the Senate chaplain officiating. Another memorial service followed in Shreveport. Shoalmire, who was a Baptist, is interred at Forest Park Cemetery in Shreveport.[12]


  1. Fair Park High School Alumni Association. Retrieved on July 17, 2010.
  2. Theses and Dissertations Database. Retrieved on July 17, 2010.
  3. The Historian Vol. 28 (Issue 4), 1967.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jacob G. Ullery, compiler. Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont, Part III. Brattleboro, Vermont: Transcript Publishing Company, 1894. Retrieved on July 5, 2010.
  5. Jimmy G. Shoalmire, Carpetbagger Extraordinary: Marshall Harvey Twitchell, 1840-1905," unpublished dissertation, Mississippi State University at Starkville, Mississippi, 1969
  6. Ted Tunnell, "Crucible of Reconstruction: War, Radicalism, and Race in Louisiana, 1862-1877, p. 182. Google Books. Retrieved on July 17, 2010. 
  7. Edge of the Sword: The Ordeal of Carpetbagger Marshall H. Twitchell in the Civil War and Reconstruction. Louisiana State University Press, 2001. Retrieved on July 17, 2010.
  8. Jimmy G. Shoalmire and Roy Vernon Scott, The Public Career of Cully Cobb: A Study in Agricultural Leadership (Jackson, Mississippi: University and College Press of Mississippi, 1973).
  9. John F. Marszalek (1999). Sherman's Other War: The General and the Civil War Press. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. Retrieved on July 17, 2010.
  10. John C. Stennis Oral History Collection, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Shreveport native dies in Virginia," The Shreveport Times, August 2, 1982.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Statement of Carol Ann Shoalmire, Ruston, Louisiana, July 5, 2010.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Jack B. Shoalmire. The Shreveport Times (September 8, 2011). Retrieved on September 8, 2011.
  14. Net Detective People Search

​ ​​​​​