Friday, June 26, 2009
Hanger Hill House Part 2: Arkansas Studies Institute
Isn't it nice? This is the new Arkansas Studies Institute, built just in time for a little summer sleuthing. It sits across from the Main Library in what used to be an old warehouse down by the river market.
I dropped by a few days ago to see what could be found out about a fascinating old house on East 9th St. I have taken to calling it Hanger Hill House, A. because that section of town is called Hanger Hill and B. because the house is the grandest thing going in that area. There has to a be a history there.
Hence the Arkansas Studies Institute.
The City Directory only goes back to 1871 but here we have...
... a "Woodruff, W E, sr., res bt Eighth and Ninth" in a part of town called the "Woodruff Addition."
The name "Woodruff" is a gold mine. He founded the Arkansas Gazette in 1819, and while his children and grandchildren survived the paper published articles of personal recollection and family history, though by the 1960s this largely dries up. The paper itself foundered in 1991.
The house apparently was built in 1853. In 1908 his daughter Mrs. Frances Woodruff Martin reminisced, "The last Thursday in March, 1853, we moved out into the country (for it was all thick, beautiful woods), to run wild and grow up with the trees. There, as when we were 'little tots,' out father was our willing companion in the garden, on horseback or roaming in the woods, and always the same kind, thoughtful, cheerful, devoted father."
During the Civil War the home quartered Union officers and later, according to a granddaughter, served as a Federal hospital. Both sons served in the Confederacy. Mr. Woodruff was exiled south of the Federal lines. Two rooms were reserved for the use of his remaining wife and daughters.
I haven't yet read through all the accounts, but instead printed copies of the microfilm, some of which is very damaged and will have to be transcribed to be fully legible. I am told that the neither the library nor the Democrat-Gazette (which bought the old Gazette) have hard copy archives of Gazette editions.
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