Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Emergence of Little Rock’s Community of German Speakers

In the decades before the Civil War, the few ethnic German immigrants who chose to live in Little Rock were unable to form social relationships like those they had enjoyed in their home countries.[1] The immigrants who spoke little or no English were isolated from the activities of native-born city residents and, because of their small numbers, they did not have – with minor exceptions – their own German-language clubs, associations, churches, or other groups, nor did they have their own spaces and events where they casually interacted with each other.[2] As a result, until they mastered English and adapted to the culture that surrounded them, these “small souls” had social lives that took place largely within families or a circle of German-speaking neighbors and friends.[3]

This situation changed during the 1860s after the Civil War triggered population movements that increased the city’s population from 3,727 at the start of the decade to 12,380 at its end.[4]  Among the newcomers were ethnic German immigrants whose numbers grew from 175 in 1860 to 494 in 1870.[5] By 1867, the count of ethnic Germans living in Little Rock was large enough for them to set up their own secular and religious organizations.[6]

The drive to establish German-language clubs and associations in Little Rock came in large part from immigrants who had settled there after the Union army occupied the city in September 1863. Most of these newcomers had moved to the city from other states, mainly in the East and Midwest, to which they had originally emigrated.[7] They quickly outnumbered the ethnic Germans who had lived in Little Rock at the start of the war.  By 1870, they comprised 138 of the 180 ethnic German families living in the city (about 77 percent) and 163 of the 173 single ethnic German residents (94 percent).[8]

Gun Store of A.E. Linzel

On average, the newcomers were younger than the immigrants who had resided in Little Rock before 1860, and they had different life experiences and expectations for their futures. One expectation, stoked by living in larger U.S. cities with active ethnic German enclaves, was that they would have social lives beyond the boundaries of the English-speaking society, enjoying familiar activities such as singing, shooting, dancing, and drinking ­with their fellow German speakers. Toward that end, many of the newcomers led an effort to replicate the social life in clubs and associations (the Vereinswesen) that was pervasive in the German states from which most had emigrated.[9] 

The city’s first German-language association, created in late 1866 or early 1867, was the Men’s Choir (Männerchor), a singing group long popular in the German Confederation.[10] A few months later, ethnic Germans opened a Turnverein, followed during the next few years by marksmen clubs and the German-language lodges of two secret societies, the United Ancient Order of Druids and the Independent Order of Red Men.[11] Numerous additional secular German-language clubs and associations would spring up in the years that followed.[12]

While a few old-timers joined the newcomers in establishing secular clubs and associations for German speakers, others led an initiative to enable Lutherans, who comprised a majority of the city’s ethnic German population, to have their own ChurchSeveral prominent German-speaking immigrants, most of them long-time residents, met in the home of Charles and Fredericka Reichardt Miller in Fall 1868 to plan the new church. On December 15, 1868, this group with a few additions adopted a constitution creating the German Evangelical Lutheran Church.[13] The new congregation quickly constructed a church building, dedicated in March 1870, and then erected a building for its German-language school.[14]  After an immigration surge beginning in the late 1870s that swelled the number of German speaking Catholics in Little Rock, local church leaders built St. Edward Catholic Church, dedicated in 1885, to host German-language services and a German-language school.[15]

Among the German speakers in Little Rock were Jews, whose numbers surged in the aftermath of the Civil War. Unlike observant Lutherans and Catholics, Jews were not expected to avoid secret societies or the Turnverein, and many – both old timers and recent arrivals – were active in them even as they helped assemble the B’nai Israel congregation (chartered in 1867) and build a synagogue (opened in 1872). Soon after the congregation formed, several Jewish merchants started the Concordia Association (1868) to hold social and cultural events, and they founded a local chapter of the International Order of B’nai B’rith (1871), a secret society.[16] Although these organizations were not exclusively for German speakers, more than ninety percent of the early members of the synagogue and the Jewish clubs were ethnic Germans.[17]

These Jewish groups in which German was commonly spoken joined Little Rock’s new German-language secular and Christian religion-based organizations as the core of the active community of German speakers that emerged in the late 1860s. Other elements of the community included a German language newspaper providing community members with relevant news and the different spaces and events where German speakers regularly came together.[18]

Among the spaces where German speakers often encountered each other were the city’s many ethnic German-owned businesses, including a disproportional share of Little Rock’s grocery stores, dry goods stores, and liquor stores.[19] Other important spaces for them were the City Garden, Papa Geyer’s Beer Garden, and Jacobi’s Grove, where German speakers socialized while enjoying family outings, and saloons owned by ethnic Germans where hard drinkers shared shots. German speakers also assembled at beer gardens, the Concordia Hall, and, after 1884, the Turner Hall for their own dances, dinners, and balls, and they attended concerts, plays, and lectures at the latter two venues.[20] Also, a few of them staged, and many took part in, an annual Maifest celebration and an annual masquerade ball, both of which ethnic Germans held in Little Rock well into the twentieth century.  

Little Rock Turnverein, 1892

The elements of the community that brought German speakers together helped overcome deep divisions within the German speaking population caused by differences in country of origin (see footnote 1), religion, wealth, social status, education, political views, and other characteristics.[21]  In spite of the many differences, Little Rock’s German speakers were able to create their own “Little Germany,” in which ethnic Germans, regardless of their English proficiency, could live comfortable lives among people who shared their language and values. In their ethnic enclave, they were no longer “small souls,” but a group that enjoyed their own culture and customs, promoted their own values, and, when needed, protected their own interests.


1. “Ethnic German immigrants” were first-generation German-speakers who had similar cultural characteristics and values whether born in one of the states of the German Confederation (before 1871), Germany (after 1870), Austria, Switzerland, or German communities within Denmark (Schleswig-Holstein), France (Alsace), Poland (Galicia), or elsewhere. When asked their “country of birth” as part of the 1870 U.S. Census, the 589 ethnic Germans living in Pulaski County named, among others, Prussia (227 persons), Baden (76), Bavaria (42), Saxony (33), Hanover (31), Württemberg (31), Austria (25), Switzerland (22), Bohemia (15), Poland (13) and Hesse (11).

2. The exceptions included the Little Rock City Garden, also later known as the Dutch Garden, opened by ethnic German immigrant Alexander George and his brothers in 1840 where guests could sit outside and enjoy various drinks, including beer brewed by the George brothers. Also, German speakers could attend German-language religious services conducted by Reverend William H. C. Yeager in the 1840s at the Christ Church (Episcopal). In addition, an ethnic German “Singer Bund,” formed at least briefly in the late 1850s. See “Little Rock City Garden,” Weekly Ark. Gazette, Apr. 23, 1840, p. 3; “Brewery,” Weekly Ark. Gazette, Feb. 3, 1841, p. 2; and “Ball at James’ Hall,” Ark. True Democrat, Feb. 2, 1861, p. 3.  Also see Michael Dougan, Arkansas Odyssey, Rose Publishing Co, 1994, p. 137.

A few ethnic Germans who spoke good English and became successful businessmen joined the city’s leading citizens as members of English language secret societies. For example, William George, Francis Ditter, Henry Fisher, and Charles Krebs were pre-Civil War members of the United Ancient Order of Druids. "Tribute of Respect," Ark. True Democrat, Aug. 18, 1858, p 4.  

3. According to an editorial in the Anzeiger des Westens, a newspaper published in St. Louis, "small souls” was what Americans called Germans who lived as isolated individuals rather than as part of an organized group. “Anzeiger des Westens, 22 October 1857, Germans and the Crisis,” in Steven Rowan (editor and translator), Germans for a Free Missouri: Translations from the St. Louis Radical Press, 1857-1862. Univ. of Missouri Press, 1983, p. 57.

4. During the Civil war, insecurity caused by guerilla operations in rural areas forced many farmers and their families to move to Little Rock. Also, freed slaves moved to the city in large numbers. After the war, the city’s economic prospects attracted new residents from other states, including former Union soldiers who had been stationed in Little Rock.

5.  Using 1860 and 1870 U.S. Census data, I counted the number of ethnic Germans living in Little Rock in each of those years. For counts of the German-born population of Pulaski County from 1860 to 1890, see Shirley Schuette, Strangers to the Land: The German Presence in Nineteenth-Century Arkansas, Master’s Thesis, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2005, p. 35 and Johnathan Wolfe, “Background on German Immigration,” Ark. Historical Quarterly, 25(4), Winter 1966, p. 377.

6. Historian Carl Wittke observed, “Wherever Germans settled in sufficient numbers to support group activities, they introduced the social patterns of the fatherland, for like all immigrant groups, they did not shed lightly the customs of the Old World.” Carl Wittke, Refugees of Revolution, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1952, p. 280.

7. Using the household data in the 1870 U.S. Census, I identified each ethnic German family living in Little Rock that included a son or daughter who had been born in another state. I assumed that the birthplace of the oldest child was the family’s previous state of residence. My count of the previous states of residence was as follows: Tennessee 13, New York 13, Missouri, 11, Ohio 10, Illinois 4, Pennsylvania 3, Indiana 3, California 2, Louisiana 2, Alabama 1, Kentucky 1, and North Carolina 1. Only one ethnic German family with children had moved to Little Rock from a German state in the 1860s. Comparable data on previous states of residence are not available for ethnic German families without children or for single individuals who settled in Little Rock during the 1860s.

8.  My analysis of 1860 and 1870 U.S. census data for Little Rock showed that forty-two (nearly two-thirds) of the sixty-five ethnic German families living in Little Rock in 1860 were still there in 1870.

9. According to Annette R. Hofmann, “In the German states, the Vereins movement began at the close of the 18th century and developed during the first decades of the 19th Century into a mass movement that permeated all strata of the population.” Annette R. Hofmann, The American Turner Movement: A History from its Beginning to 2000. Max Kade German American Center, Indiana University and Purdue University, 2010, p. 47. Wittke (1952, p, 280) noted that “in urban centers [of the United States], large and small, Germans nurtured social organizations of many kinds to perpetuate the life they had known at home.” The noun word “Verein” has multiple translations depending on the context of its use. It can refer to, among other things, a social club, association, society, or organization. I translate, as others have, Turnverein as the “Turner Society.”

10. The existence of the Männerchor was mentioned in local newspapers when it sponsored the city’s first German Maifest celebration. See “May Festival,” Ark. Gazette, May 19, 1867, p. 3 and “Festival,” Ark. Gazette, June 12, 1867, p 3. In the latter article, the author wrote, “The Maennerchor is an association of our German citizens, banded together for social purposes; and periodically they observe the customs of the fatherland, suggestive to the aged of the happy hours long since gone, and affording innocent amusement to their descendants.”

11. Untitled Item, Ark. Gazette, Dec. 16, 1868, p. 3; “Attention Sharpshooters,” Ark. Gazette, Dec. 12, 1872, p. 4; and “Our Schuetzen Gilde – 1875,” Ark. Democrat, Oct. 25, 1878, p. 4. Grove No. 5 of the United Ancient Order of Druids (UOAD) was founded on April 12, 1870. Although many of its members were ethnic Germans, German may not have been its main language. Aurora Grove No. 6 of the UOAD, formed in 1871 or 1872, was populated exclusively by German-speaking members. The Arkansas Stamm No. 162 of the Independent Order of Redmen first convened on October 15, 1871. A second lodge, Hermann Stamm No. 163, opened on Feb. 6, 1872. See the Little Rock, Arkansas, 1872 City Directory, p.18 (accessed on Also, “U.O.A.D.,” Ark. Gazette, Apr. 12, 1870, p. 4. 

12. Among other German-language groups formed in the 1870s were the Germania Lodge of the Knights of Honor, another secret society, and the Casino Club, a group that sponsored frequent social events for its mostly Lutheran membership. “City and General Items” (Casino Club), Ark. Gazette, Nov. 22, 1876, p. 4 and “City and General Items” (Knights of Honor), Ark. Gazette, Feb. 24, 1878, p. 4.

13. Del Schmand, Heritage of the First Lutheran Church. Horton Brothers Printing Co., 1988, pp. 9-11 and Goodspeed Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Central Arkansas, 1889, p. 411 (accessed on Google Books). Schmand, citing Church records, listed 22 “charter members” of the Lutheran Church. Of those, 14 were living in Pulaski County – most in Little Rock -- before 1860 and another was living in Benton. Seven lived outside the state in 1860. 

14. “A Model Church,” Ark. Gazette, Apr. 7, 1888, p. 5; “German Lutherans,” Ark. Gazette, Sept. 9. 1888, p. 3; “Corner-Stone is to be Laid Today,” Ark. Gazette, July 7, 1907, p. 11; “New Lutheran School,” Ark. Gazette, Sept. 15, 1907, p. 4; and “Lutheran Church is 55 Years Old,” Ark. Gazette, Dec. 15, 1923, p. 17.

15. “St. Edward Catholic Church,” Encyclopedia of Arkansas, accessed at

16. The history of Jews in Little Rock and the rest of Arkansas is covered comprehensively in Carolyn G. LeMaster, A Corner of the Tapestry, University of Arkansas Press, 1994. Also see, “I.O.B.B.,” Ark. Gazette, May 30, 1871, p. 4; “The New Synagogue,” Ark. Gazette, Sept. 28, 1872, p. 4; and the listing of “benevolent and secret societies” in the 1872 Little Rock City Directory.  Although the Concordia Association board and its members were Jewish, the Concordia Hall was a popular venue for events sponsored not only by the Association but also by diverse non-Jewish organizations.

17. According to LeMaster (1994, p. 22), over ninety-nine percent of the Jews who settled in Arkansas before and during the 1850s were from German states.

18. A weekly German-language newspaper was published in Little Rock starting on June 1, 1866, with an unknown final date; from Oct. 1869 to January 1871; and from Oct. 1874 to March 1876, with a suspension from January to March 1875. The first two newspapers were named the Arkansas Staats Zeitung and the third was the Arkansas Freie Presse. In October 1877, another version of the Arkansas Staats Zeitung began publication. It continued until 1917. An additional weekly German-language paper, the Arkansas Echo, began publication in 1891 and continued until 1932. See "The Press Gang," Ark. Gazette, June 10, 1876, p. 2 and Kathleen Condray, Das Arkansas Echo. The University of Arkansas Press, 2020.

19. The 1872-1873 Little Rock City Directory listed businesses by category with their owners’ names. Using that information and the 1870 census, I identified businesses owned or co-owned by ethnic Germans. The count showed that 16 of 25 “Dry Goods – Retail” businesses were owned or co-owned by ethnic Germans, as were 15 of 30 “Grocers-Retail” businesses, 5 of 15 “Liquors;” and 8 of 22 “Saloons.” See “Little Rock Business Directory, 1872–1873,” Pulaski County Historical Review, 9(1), December 1961, pp. 57-67. In 1870, ethnic Germans made up about four percent of the total population of Little Rock and in 1880 the percentage peaked at about six percent.

20. Each of the German-language secret society lodges had its own meeting room. Also, of course, the German Evangelical Lutheran church had its own meeting space for the activities of its members as did St. Edward Catholic Church after it was constructed in 1885.

21. Because of their differences, ethnic Germans often disagreed with and sometimes disliked each other. Nevertheless, in the decade or so following the Civil War, increasing numbers of Little Rock’s ethnic Germans came to view themselves as “Germans” who shared a common heritage. Eleanor Turk observed, “The process of trans-Atlantic migration … changed Prussians, Hessians, Bavarians, and Palatines from Central Europeans into “Germans” as well as “Americans.” Eleanor L. Turk, "Germans in Kansas," Kansas History, 28, Spring 2005, p. 48.


Monday, March 7, 2022

Growing up in Turn-of-the-Century Mondovi, WI: Life in the City

Grace Reese Adkins
“Leaves from Childhood’s Diary,” Part 4

As I mentioned in the first post on growing up in turn-of-the-century Mondovi, the town was a small one with 503 residents in 1890 and 1,207 in 1900. It is in Buffalo County, which shares a border (the Mississippi River) with Minnesota. It is named after the Buffalo River, which cuts through the southern part of the county. The city of Eau Claire lies about twenty miles to the northeast, and Minneapolis is about 100 miles to the northwest. Of course, given its northern latitude, Mondovi has long, cold winters.

Map of Wisconsin,
Buffalo Co. in Red

In the following poem, Mrs. Adkins recalled those winters:

Winter (Published May 6, 1937)
When winter came
To our town,
All the men declared
That their families
Would starve to death
Before spring.
But if, by any chance,
They should survive,
They vowed that they would never
Spend another winter
In Wisconsin.

Uncle Walt [Lemke], the author and editor of the Ozark Moon column, who also grew up in Wisconsin, commented, “That’s winter in Wisconsin all right. Thirty-five and forty degrees below zero. Snow so deep in the cuts that trains didn’t run for days. And shoveling snow, a daily job for youngsters, snow shovels were made in various widths and designs and of various materials, wood, tin, and steel. Last winter a Fayetteville man tried to buy a snow shovel, but such an article was not to be had in this town.”  

1911 Map Showing Cities in
Buffalo Co., Wisconsin

In a letter to the editor published in the
Northwest Arkansas Times on May 6, 1969, Mrs. Adkins told of her family’s move to Washington County, Arkansas, in 1902, a few months after her mother’s death, to escape “the rigors of Wisconsin winters.”

 [I recall] when our family first came to this charming place, in 1902. There was my father, an older sister, myself, and seven young motherless stairsteps. We had long wanted to escape t h e rigors of Wisconsin winters, and our father came to Fayetteville on a homeseekers' excursion.

On his return he said, "Girls, I've found the garden spot of the world." In a month we were moved. We came in on a midnight train, and the air was redolent with apples, which were shipped in large quantities in those days. The picturesque courthouse stood in the middle of the Square, with a dog-trot running through it. Old men wore long white beards, and spoke courteously to all strangers, as was not customary in the north. My sister and I saw our first dogwood, lining a ravine of East Mountain (Mt. Sequoyah) and it took my breath away, as it does still. 

Before making the move south, Grace Reese had spent eighteen years of her youth in Mondovi, and she remembered some of the locals who made an impression her when she was growing up:

A Town Character (Published May 1, 1937)
He lived just up the block
From us,
And everybody said
He was the biggest liar
In the county.
It was his children,
Who broke our windows,
And quarreled with us,
And stole our hazelnuts.
They could not play at home
Because their mother
Had headaches.
They quoted their father
Even in the schoolroom,
But they always added,
“If you don’t believe papa,
Just ask Uncle Richie.”

The Amen Corner (Published, May 13, 1937)
The men who sat
In the Amen Comer
Had long beards,
And most of them
Were a little deaf.
One of them
Always stood on his toes
When he shouted.
Mondovi Congregational Church,
Built 1870, Now Demolished

Mrs. Adkins did not mention in her poems which church she attended as a child in Mondovi. Where did she encounter “the Amen Corner?” Most likely, her family belonged to the city’s Congregational Church.  After she moved to Washington County Arkansas, she joined the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and during the rest of her life, she was a zealous advocate of the American Restoration Movement.  In 1938, she started her own church, the Central Christian Church in Fayetteville, and was the pastor of that church for a decade. 

Thirty-five years after she left Mondovi, Grace Reese Adkins still remembered details of the places that were part of the city, including the school library and the city fairgrounds.  She wrote these poems about them:

The School Library (Published, May 4, 1937)
There weren’t many library books,
Because a mean boy
Had burned the schoolhouse down
At night.
The school, each year,
Gave a big entertainment
In Borst’s Hall.
To buy more books.
They had Lyceum Courses,
I liked to go,
But our family was large,
And we had to take turns about
Using the tickets

It is interesting to note that even though Mondovi was a small town, it was on the lyceum circuit. Thus, its residents had an opportunity to attend lectures, debates, class instruction, and dramatic performances.  Of course, Mrs. Adkins liked to attend them but had to take turns with other members of her family.

The Old Fairground (Published, April 21, 1937)

It wasn’t much of a fairground,
And the buildings were strewn around
Location of the
Mondovi Flats
Almost at random.
The chewing gum man
Was the main attraction,
For he had plush albums
Displayed as prizes –
Although most of those who bought
Got needle cases.
One year the merry-go-round
Was operated by manpower,
But after that they had an old horse
To turn it.
There was a phonograph
That you could hear
By paying a dime
And putting tubes in your ears.
In the exhibits
Were flowers made of feathers,
Seeds and hair,
Pieced quilts, handwoven rugs,
And fancy work galore.
The morning after the fair,
We children hunted
Underneath the grandstand
And where the chewing gum man had been
And sometimes found a nickel or a dime.

Uncle Walt [Lemke] commented on this poem, “We recall the … fairground thrills that Pricilla mentions, especially poking around among the litter under the grandstands and finding nickel or a dime. But the best place to find coins was in the cracks of the board sidewalks. It required two sticks expertly manipulated to draw out the coin. And when workmen replaced the rotten boards in the sidewalk, we kids were there to pounce on any coin or other valuables that might be revealed.”

“The Old Fairground” was in an area known as the Mondovi flats, in the southwest part of the town (bounded by Alma Ave, Water St., and State St.), not far from the Buffalo River. In the 1890s, it was replaced by a new fairground located north of the old one. The Buffalo County Fair is still held there on land with a Harrison Street address. The city’s middle school is not far to the east of the fairgrounds with a good view of it. Likely that spot is where Grace Reese’s high school was located. 

The New Fairground (Published on June 2, 1937)
They abandoned the old fairground
Down on the river road,
And acquired a new one
Adjoining the school grounds.
There weren’t many trees,
And it was dusty
At fair time,
But the legless Hokey Pokey
Chewing Gum Man
Was still on hand,
Barking his wares.
Our high school windows
Opened toward the fairground
And meadowlarks sang
In the clove field
Inside the racetrack
On May mornings,
While I was studying
The Present-Day "New Fairground" in Mondovi

My geometry.

It’s a relief to know that the “legless Hokey Pokey Chewing Gum Man” survived the move to the new fairground. For more on the history of Buffalo County fairs, go to this website:

This poem, “The New Fairground,” was the final one in Mrs. Adkins's series titled “Leaves from Childhood’s Diary.” Uncle Walt wrote about those poems:

We hope our readers have enjoyed today’s column. Priscilla has the trick of making half-forgotten events live again. The younger generation, of course, won’t know what it’s all about. They’re too sophisticated. They can’t imagine paying a dime to hear one of the crude first gramophones play. Or playing tag in a yard surrounded by a picket fence. Or swimming in a quarry hole Those were thrills that only the initiated can understand. And they can’t be matched by such modern thrillers as hitting 40 in a streamlined car or listening to Kenny Baker on the radio. They were the good old days.

 Anyone who would like to read more of the “Leaves from Childhood’s Diary” poems can find them in the Fayetteville Daily Democrat, whose name changed to the Northwest Arkansas Times on July 8, 1937. These papers can be accessed in the database, which requires a paid annual subscription. Most are also available in the database, available through or through a separate subscription.  The following list includes the titles of the poems and their dates of publication:

Theme: Leaves from Childhood’s Diary. Thirty-one poems: The Aspen (Apr 3), The Alder Slough (Apr 6), The River (Apr 8), Flowering (Apr 13), Our Front Yard (Apr 21), The Old Fairground (Apr 21), The Quarry (Apr 21), Home Theatricals (Apr 21), Hazelnutting (Apr 26), Memorial Day (Apr 28), A Town Character, (May 1), The Party (May 3), The School Library (May 4), Shaving (May 5), Winter (May 6), Going After the Cows (May 6), Company (May 6), Playing School (May 6),  My Room (May 6), Sunday School (May 11), Amen Corner (May 13), Books (May 17), Evenings (May 18), Patchwork (May 20), Echoes of ’98 (May 21), Cowslips (May 22), The Burr Oak (May 24), An Embarrassing Incident (May 25), Violets (May 27), Childhood Grief (May 29) The New Fairground (Jun 2).

Monday, February 21, 2022

Growing up in Turn-of-the-Century Mondovi, WI: Grace’s Pa

Grace Reese Adkins 
“Leaves from Childhood’s Diary,” Part 3

Mrs. Adkins's father, Edwin Frank Reese (1852–1924), was a stonemason but had interests far beyond his work. In her poems, Mrs. Adkins tells us about his love of books, providing some insight into her own bookish nature. She also lets us know that her pa played the fiddle, and she sometimes accompanied him on the organ. From the poems, we learn that Grace's pa at times got exasperated with the kids underfoot and could be a bit absent-minded.

"Ozark Moon," Fayetteville Daily Democrat,"
May 17, 1937, p.2
Books   (Published May 17, 1937)

Grandma said
That pa bought books
When there was danger of his children
Going hungry.
The books had titles
That were hard to read.
I like to dust
And arrange them.
And feel the texture
Of their bindings
Under my fingers.

Mrs. Adkins inherited her father’s love of books. I learned that when I was about eleven years old in 1958 and went for the first time to a Bible study class that Mrs. Adkins conducted in her home next to the Christ’s Church building on Rock Street in Fayetteville. I was astounded by the library/study where we assembled. The walls were lined with stuffed bookshelves and every flat surface in the room had piles of magazines, clippings, and newspapers. I had never seen such a room; my parents and relatives we often visited had no such bookshelves because they kept few books other than the Bible and those with recipes.  

Mrs. Adkins's parents grew up in Pennsylvania, but got married in Buffalo County, Wisconsin on September 20, 1879. They must have made many good friends in Mondovi. In one poem, we learn from Mrs. Adkins that friends who played the fiddle sometimes congregated in his home for an evening and her father joined them playing the instrument.

Evenings   (Published May 18, 1937)
Folks used to come
And spend the evening
With us –
Particularly folks
Who played the fiddle,
I often seconded
On the organ.
Pa’s fingers were stiff
From laying rock,
But mother liked
To have him play
As he used to do
Before they were married.
When the younger children
Got in the way of his arm,
He scowled
And tapped them on the head
With this fiddle bow
The pieces had queer names
Like Irish Washerwoman,
The Devils’ Dream,
And Sailor’s Joy.

Mrs. Adkins not only inherited a love of books and reading from her pa, but also must have acquired her love of music from him. She learned during her childhood how to play the organ and piano, and after she moved to Arkansas, she often composed music and wrote songs. During her life, she produced six songs that appeared in one or more of ten hymnals, the first published in 1914 and the last in 2011. One of her songs, “I’ll Wish I Had Given Him More,” is still sung. The most popular version of it is sung in an expansive Dutch cathedral, and it features soprano Maria Kemler backed by the huge Waddinxveen (Netherlands) men’s choir and accompanied by an ornate organ. As of February 2022, nearly 400,000 viewers had watched that performance, which can be viewed at this link: 

Once a week, Mrs. Adkins’ pa would shave, likely using a straight razor that would punish his face if he didn’t pay close attention to what he was doing. 

Walter Lemke, 
Fayetteville Daily Democrat,
April 9, 1935, p. 6.

Shaving   (Published May 5, 1937)
Pa shaved
On Sunday morning,
While we children
Dodged around
Under his elbow.
It made him cross
And nervous,
And when he cut himself,
Anything could happen.
Sometimes he only set us in a corner
Till we quieted down.

Lemke, the column editor, commented on this poem: “This leaf from Priscilla’s childhood diary calls attention to one of the most significant contrasts between then and now. Pa was the big boss. The razor strop was put to other uses than honing the razor. [Yikes]  Imagine pa trying to get into the bathroom to shave on a Sunday morning nowadays. Why there wouldn’t even be room for his old shaving mug among the creams, lotions, and other preparations that decorate the bathroom of today.”   

Lemke’s reference to “Priscilla’s childhood diary” reminds me that I have failed to mention that Mrs. Adkins’s poems in Ozark Moon were published under a pseudonym.  In fact, almost all poems in Lemke's column were signed with either pseudonyms or initials. Hers was Priscilla, a name drawn from the Bible. Even Lemke used a pseudonym, calling himself "Uncle Walt."  

One of Mrs. Adkins’ memories of her father was the time he absentmindedly stole a dinner napkin from a preacher’s house. It was probably a family joke for the years that followed.

An Embarrassing Incident  (Published May 25, 1937)
Pa liked to visit
With preachers;
And after he
Had dined
With the Congregationalist minister
Ma found
A dinner napkin
In his pocket.

Uncle Walt offered his irreverent comment on this poem: “And of course pa said, ‘Now how do you suppose that got there?’” You didn’t have any Pullman towels or Delmonico silver around your house, did you Priscilla? And another thing – what was ma looking for in pa’s pocket.”

Priscilla may have been amused by Lemke’s comments, but she was not known for her sense of humor.  

Growing up in Turn-of-the-Century Mondovi, WI: Play Time

Grace Reese Adkins, 
Leaves from Childhood’s Diary, Part 2

In the poem “Our Front Yard” (see part 1), Mrs. Adkins recalled four games that she, her siblings, and neighborhood kids had played in turn-of-the-century Mondovi. Of course, such physical games were not enough to fill up a weekend or whole summer.  So, in addition to those games, the kids found other ways to engage their imaginations and fill up their days. In two of her poems, she recalled such activities, playing school and putting on shows.   

Grace Reese Adkin
Northwest Ark. Times, Nov. 6, 1948

Playing School (Published May 6, 1937)
We played school
In the back yard,
And I was the teacher,
But my brothers
And Cousin Ray,
And the neighbor children
Often made trouble
So that mother
Had to call the boys in,
And sometimes send
The neighbor children

Home Theatricals (Published April 21, 1937)
Every summer vacation
We had home theatricals.
I was master of ceremonies
Mother was patient
And let us string sheets
Across the living room,
And decorate
We invited our grandparents,
And all the neighbors,
And when our uncle was home from college
He liked to come.
We spoke pieces
With much gesturing
And staged impressive tableaux.
It was hard work
Cleaning up the living room

Note that when playing school, Grace Reese was the teacher and when putting on shows, she was the master of ceremony. That she took on those roles provides a good clue about what she was like in her childhood: She was clearly a “take charge” girl. Playing school was probably fun for Grace Reese, but quickly became boring for her “students.”

 Nevertheless, the game was good preparation for Grace’s first job. After she arrived in Arkansas in the middle of 1902, she began teaching schools in rural Washington County schools. She taught a couple of years in Prairie Grove and later two more years in Oak Grove, near Winslow.   

 The “home theatricals” were no doubt more fun than playing school. Much effort was spent in preparing for the production, and the audience was appreciative. Later in her life, Mrs. Adkins wrote and directed various programs, plays, and celebrations for her churches, including the one she founded in 1938.  She orchestrated Mother’s Day, Easter, and Christmas shows featuring young folks singing, reading verses, and reciting poetry. 

Fun was not only to be had in games and play but also could be found in celebrating special occasions. Grace Reese recalled one “nice” birthday party where the birthday boy found a way to impress all the girls in attendance.              

The Party (Published on May 3, 1937)
One of the boys
Had a nice birthday party in his front yard.
We wore our best clothes.
He got lots of presents,
But he drank one of the bottles
Of perfumery –
An act which profoundly impressed
Us girls.
Proposed Logos for the Ozark Moon Column

Lemke was not impressed with the boy who drank perfume. He commented on the poem, recalling:  “We didn’t do anything sissyish like that. Up in Wausau when we wanted to impress the girls we bit off a big chew of Mail Pouch. Or maybe it was Battle Ax. Perfume – pooh!"

More serious and educational fun was to be had in exploring nature around Mondovi.  Mrs. Adkins recalled an annual event that took her into the nearby wilds to find spring plants.

Flowering (Published April 13, 1937)
In early spring
We went flowering –
An oft-repeated pilgrimage,
Fondly anticipated
During the winter.
Disagreeable winds
Blew sand in our eyes,
But we trudged down the road
That paralleled the river.
Our first objective was a low fill
Where something we called nervine grew.
The green leaves carpeted the ground,
And dainty, bell-like flowers
Peeped out.
Then there was a wind-swept pasture
Where, springing at our feet,
We would find the pasque-flower.
There were patches of buttercups
By the roadside,
And deep in the woods
Beside a creek
A spot where bloodroot grew.
And Dutchman’s breeches,
Snowy white.
We picked the flowers,
Because we did not know
They should be left
To bloom for others.

Mrs. Adkins loved flowers, both wild and the ones she grew, and she became quite knowledgeable about them. In 1936, she submitted seventeen short poems to Ozark Moon on the theme ofBotanical Notes.” The poems had the following titles: Houstonia Minima (March 12), Anemone Patens (March 12), Ranunculus Fascicularis (March 12), Amelanchier Botryaplum (March 12), Quercus Alba (March 12), Pyrus Malus (March 12), Trillium Grandiflorum (March 18), Aquilegia Canadensis (March 20), Draha Verna (March 23), Sanguinaria Canadensis (March 24), Viola Blanda (March 26), Thalictrum Anemonoldes (March 27), Anemone Nemorosa (March 30), Caltha Palustris (April 13), Taraxacum Bens-leonis (April 15), Anemone Nemorosa (April 16), Hepatica Triloba (April 17).

Growing up in Turn-of-the-Century Mondovi, WI: "It was a Great Life"

Grace Reese Adkins,
Leaves from Childhood’s Diary, Part 1

Grace Reese, born in 1884, spent the first eighteen years of her life in Mondovi, Wisconsin, a town with 503 residents in 1890 and 1,207 in 1900. It is in Buffalo County, which shares a border with Minnesota, about 100 miles southeast of Minneapolis and 20 or so miles southwest of Eau Claire.

Photo Published in the
Christian Standard, June 4, 1921

Grace was a precocious child (“Before I started to school I had learned to read, though no one knew how or when”). As a teenager, she enjoyed writing poems and songs, and she kept a diary, which she took with her when she moved in 1902 to Washington County, Arkansas with her father and eight siblings. (The move came soon after her mother passed away.) Thirty-five years later, Grace Reese Adkins (she married Ary Adkins in 1909) consulted her diary to recall important aspects of her Mondovi childhood. The memories were written as poems published in 1937 in the Fayetteville Daily Democrat. In one poem she remembered her bedroom in Mondovi.

My Room (Published May 6, 1937)
My bedroom was upstairs,
Overlooking the river
And the alder slough.
I liked to sit at the window
In April dark
And listen to the frogs sing.
I had a dry goods box desk
In the corner
Draped with bleached and embroidered
Flour sacks.
Hidden in the desk
Was a cigar box
Containing my first poems –
Effusions about spring
Such as are still being
Above the desk was a shelf
With a few battered books
And an early edition of Riley
Which my uncle sent me from college.
The window curtains
Were made from a dress
Of my great-aunt’s.
But mother said
I must not explain that
To anyone.

The river mentioned in this poem was the meandering Buffalo River, which forms the southern border of Buffalo County. This river is fed by a couple of creeks that flow south through the county, and its shifting channel has over the years left behind several sloughs. The river, the two creeks that flow into it, and the sloughs created a habitat for diverse flora and birds that inspired many of Mrs. Adkins's poems.

Grace Reese shared her house with two older sisters and seven younger siblings, four boys and three girls. The house had a big front yard that, she reports, was a popular place for the youngsters and neighborhood kids to play games. She recalled the yard in this poem:

Our Front Yard  (Published April 21, 1937)
It was the gathering place
For all the neighbors’ children.
Box elders managed to grow
Around it
And morning glories
At the windows,
But the grass
Had a hard time.
For there were games to play
Pom pom pull away,
Pussy wants a corner,
One ole cat,
And town ball.
Sometimes the windows got broken
And dad sent the neighbor children
But it was a great life.

The Adkins kids and the neighborhood kids played games with names that we no longer recognize: pom pom pull away, pussy wants a corner, and one ole cat. I can guess what “town ball” was. Probably that game was the one that most often resulted in a broken window. 

The man who edited the column in which Mrs. Adkins's poems appeared also grew up in Wisconsin. His name was Walter J. Lemke and he was just a few years younger than Grace Reese, born in 1891 in Wausau. He had moved to Fayetteville in 1928 to start a journalism program at the University of Arkansas, and his column “Ozark Moon” was one of his many extracurricular journalistic activities. His column appeared in the Fayetteville Daily Democrat starting in January 1935, and he had issued an open call to his readers to send him their poems. 

Fayetteville Daily Democrat, Jan. 1, 1935
Often Lemke commented on the poems in his column, and he did so on this one, noting that he and his friends in Wisconsin had played “pump pump pull away,” not “pom pom pull away.” He also wrote that when windows got broken at his house, his father – a German immigrant – not only sent the neighborhood kids home but also “gave us a touch of that torture instrument of his own invention – seven leather thongs attached to a handle grip.” Yikes! Nevertheless, Lemke agreed, “It was a great life.”


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

HENRY JACOBI’S BRAVE DEED: Helping Seven Escaped Slaves as the Confederacy Ended in Little Rock

Confederate patriots living in Little Rock were alarmed when the Union Army shattered the Confederate forces that attacked Helena on July 4, 1863 and a few weeks later began moving west.[1]  As the Federals slowly advanced toward Arkansas’ capital, some of the city’s wealthier families began leaving, many taking their slaves to safe havens further south.  

Ann McHenry Reider

Among those who wanted to protect their slaves from Yankee freedom was the widow Ann McHenry Reider. She had inherited eleven of them from her husband when he died on June 11, 1861. Jacob Reider had been among the earliest German-speaking immigrants to settle in Arkansas. Emigrating from Zürich, Switzerland, Jacob arrived in the Arkansas Territory in about 1821 – the year of his arrival is not certain – and in 1826 was living in Batesville.[2]   He moved to Little Rock on May 18, 1828.[3] 

Reider opened a mercantile business to sell groceries, dry goods, shoes, liquor, and whatever else consumers might want.[4]  Beginning in 1830, he conducted his business at a one-story building on the corner of Main and Market Streets, where he also lived. He prospered, and in the late 1830s, bought his first slaves. The 1840 census showed that he owned six slaves; by 1850 he possessed sixteen and in 1860 he had twelve. In 1860 census Reider was the richest German-speaking immigrant living in Little Rock. The self-assessed value of his real and personal property was over $1.2 million in current dollars.[5] An “unlettered man” not active in local civil affairs, he was a devoted Catholic. In 1830, he attended the first Catholic mass conducted in Little Rock.[6]  

Jacob and Ann McHenry had married on April 30, 1833. Born in Tennessee in 1805, she came with her parents to Arkansas in 1818 “in a canvas covered wagon.” After the marriage, the couple built Little Rock’s first two-story building, a house near the corner of 2nd and Louisiana Streets.[7] The widow and her slaves were still living there in 1863. 

Advertisement for the Return of Charlotte

Among Mrs. Reider’s inherited slaves was “Charlotte,” who had run away from the Reiders twenty years earlier. To get her back, Jacob offered a reward of up to $100 for her return. In a  Weekly Arkansas Gazette advertisement, he described her as “a mulatto girl,” who was “about 17 years old, 5 feet 6 inches high, rather slender and genteel in her appearance, color tolerably light for a mulatto, smiling countenance, has a down look when spoken to and a habit of rolling her eyes when retiring, and is very active in walking.”[8] The ad was discontinued after two weeks, indicating that likely Charlotte was captured quickly.  In 1863, she was in her late 30s and was the mother of two children, also owned by Mrs. Reider. Aside from the brief time spent on the lam, Charlotte had lived her whole life “within one mile of Little Rock.”[9]  

One day in the middle of August, as General Sterling Price was strengthening Little Rock’s fortifications in preparation for a Union Army attack, Charlotte bumped into Henry Jacobi, a 50-year-old German immigrant who had moved to Little Rock in about 1848.[10]  A couple of years later, he had opened a book bindery. In the decade that followed, he had expanded his Markham Street store to sell books and other assorted goods.[11] Charlotte was thoroughly acquainted with Jacobi because, she later explained, “As my mistresses house in town was near his store, I often ran in there [Jacobi’s store] to buy little things before the war and got to know him well.”[12] 

Jacobi was an educated man interested in public affairs. A U.S. citizen since 1844, he was active in the “Sag Nicht” movement that in the middle 1850s sought to counteract the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic Know Nothing party.[13]  Jacobi may have been Jewish, but likely was not.[14] In 1845, while living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he had married Sarah Ann Jewel (1826 – 1904), who was not Jewish. After moving to Arkansas, he was not active in Little Rock’s nascent Jewish community in the 1850s or the B’nai B’rith congregation that officially formed after the Civil War. None of his children were raised in the Jewish faith. Perhaps a freethinker, he apparently did not attend any church in Little Rock. 

Portrait of Henry Jacobi

Although Jacobi worked hard to build his business from its modest beginning, he had mixed success and sometimes struggled to support his growing family – during the 1850s, he and his wife added five children to their household, including a set of twin girls.[15]  When he made extra profits from his business, he invested in real estate, buying large tracts of undeveloped land near the city. At the end of the 1850s, he encountered severe financial difficulties and ended up deeply in debt.[16] To help financially, his wife opened a shop in 1859 next to his bookstore that first sold “hoop shirts” and, later, shoes.[17]  

Jacobi closed his store just as the Civil War was arriving. With a partner, he opened a beer garden and grocery store in May 1861 on about twelve acres of unincorporated fenced land he owned by the western edge of the city. He lived in a house on this land, which sat a few blocks south of the state penitentiary (now site of the state capitol) at a location that was 10th and High Streets before High Street was destroyed by Interstate 630.  Jacobi initially called his establishment “Jacobi’s Garden,” but it became known as “Jacobi’s Grove.”[18] 

During the Civil War, Jacobi was quietly pro-Union, like many ethnic German immigrants living in Pulaski County.  He said little publicly about his views but confided in a few close friends and some of the slaves he knew.  For example, Shederick Parrish, who was in bondage until the Union Army occupied Little Rock, testified before the U.S. Southern Claims Commission in 1874 that Jacobi “always talked in favor of the Federal government and said the Yankees would lick the rebels at last. He would read the papers to colored men and tell us how things were going on.”[19]  Another former slave, Asa Richmond, who served on the Little Rock city council from 1869 to 1872, told the commission, “I have often spoken to him about the war, but he would not have much to say about it, for it was dangerous for a white man like him who was suspicioned and threatened to talk to a negro – he told me he was a union man. I know he dared not to do anything to show he was a loyal man….” A third former slave, Sol Winfrey, testified, “I believe from what I know of old man Jacobi that he is a union man and that he had to keep what he did a secret or he would have been taken out and hung.” 

At the chance encounter of Charlotte and Henry Jacobi in August 1863, the German immigrant warned her, as she later related in her own words, that Mrs. Reider “was getting wagons and fixin to send us to Texas” the next day. Jacobi suggested, she said, that “I had better run off if I could, that the Federals would be in town soon….” Jacobi offered to help her.[20]   

Knowing that if she were taken to Texas, she would be beyond the reach of the Union army and the freedom it would bring to slaves in Little Rock, Charlotte ran away that night from Mrs. Reider. She was joined in her escape by six other slaves, including her two children, two other females, and two other children. The seven escapees hid in wooded land lying near the borders of Jacobi’s Grove. She later recalled, “[F]or three weeks we laid out in the woods, night and day, wet and dry, and along in the evening every day, Mr. Jacobi sent out a little girl to us with a bucket full of victuals. She would go up the hill like she was going for water and slip round to us in the bushes.” 

By helping the escaped slaves, Jacobi put himself and his family in danger. If his actions had been discovered, he would have been arrested, or more likely would have been beaten or worse, and his property destroyed. According to Charlotte, Jacobi “was suspicioned of having us there for one night some rebel soldiers came out to his house. I was only 200 yards in the timber and saw it all as it was bright moon light, the men were on horses and surrounded the house, some them went in and made the old man get up, then they looked through the stable and everywhere – and when they could not find us they got mad and went down in the cellar and brought up all the barrels of wine and liquor, and after they drank all they wanted  – they throwed the rest out.” 

One night two weeks after that incident, Charlotte was at Jacobi’s house when a “Federal spy” arrived. He told her that the Union Army “would open the ball(?) at Bayou Meto next morning,” and advised her “not to stay in the woods because the rebels would catch us if we were there as they would scatter them all over.” Immediately, the seven escaped slaves moved to conceal themselves “under the colored Methodist Church.” Charlotte described what came next: “Sure enough next morning the cannons begun to fire, and about 10 o’clock the rebels began to leave there and kept it up till three, and about four o’clock I heard the clank of the cavalry sabers, and looked out and seen the men with blue coats, and I knew it must be the yankees.” 

After the union army arrived on September 10th, Mr. Jacobi boarded Charlotte and her six companions for two weeks at his house as they began their lives as free people. They had avoided being taken to Texas, where most of the slaves were not freed until many weeks after the war ended in April 1865. 

After her emancipation, Charlotte took Edwards as her family name or married a man whose last name was Edwards. Little is known about her life after she was freed.[21] Her voice speaks through time only in her testimony before the Southern Claims Commission, where she told the story of her escape. She likely lived in Little Rock for the rest of her life (she was still living there in 1874 when she gave her testimony). Although it is not certain, she may be buried in Little Rock’s Fraternal Cemetery where more than 2,000 African Americans have graves.[22]  Among them are at least fourteen with the last name of Edwards who were buried before 1915. Their burials were recorded in the cemetery record book, but their graves are not marked, either because they have no tombstones or, if they do, any writing on them is illegible. One person listed in the cemetery record book is Lotte Edwards, who was buried on June 29, 1909.[23] Perhaps she was the Charlotte who escaped from Mrs. Reider. If so, she lived the last half of her life as a free woman, reaching her eighties before her death. 

Reider Burial Grounds

Unlike the post-war life of her former slave, that of Ann McHenry Reider is easy to trace. She resumed her life in Little Rock after the war with some of her wealth remaining.[24]  She continued to live at 2nd and Louisiana Streets in her house that was “all enclosed with green shutters” and had “an old-fashioned garden in which flowers bloomed in profusion” until April 1887 when she moved to a large home at 1406 Lincoln Street, which is now Cantrell Road.[25] She occupied the house, later known as the “Packet House,” with the families of her daughters Cassie (1839-1931) and Amanda (1845-1920) who were married, respectively, to brothers Robert C. Newton (1840-1887) and Thomas W. Newton (1843-1908).[26] Mrs. Reider overcame the trauma of losing her slaves to live a long life, dying in 1897 at the age of 93. According to one obituary, she was at the time of her death “the oldest resident of Little Rock.”[27] 

Like her husband, Mrs. Reider was a devout Catholic, and both are buried at Little Rock’s Cavalry Cemetery. Their burial places are in a family plot marked by a marble monument more than a dozen feet tall that features the sculpture of a near life-size woman whose arm is draped over a cross. The sculpture stands on a massive base with Jacob Rider’s name and birth/death dates prominently inscribed in the front. 

Jacobi stayed in Pulaski County for the rest of his life, sometimes living in the city but mostly residing on a farm about eight miles from Little Rock. After the war, he did not return to his bookbinding business but continued operating Jacobi’s Grove until about 1871.[28] In addition to the hospitality business, Jacobi found government work. When the Union Army occupied Pulaski County, he signed on with its Provost General Office as a detective and a “secret service” member. For a few months after the end of the war, Jacobi served as the city’s appointed police chief. In 1866, he was elected the city’s constable and collector.[29] 

In 1868, Jacobi was elected county coroner at the same election at which voters approved a new state constitution. He was re-elected to that office in 1870 as part of the brindletail ticket.[30] Two years later, he ran for circuit and criminal court clerk, an elective county government office, but lost.[31]  After Reconstruction ended, he was defeated in his 1874 campaign to be elected a Justice of the Peace (JP) from Big Rock Township. However, he was appointed to fill a vacant JP seat a couple of months later on Dec. 31th.[32]  During most of the decade that followed, he was known as ‘Squire Jacobi, and he presided over a JP court, later called a magistrate court, where people accused of breaking county laws were tried. He resigned from the court in December 1883.[33] 

The paltry salaries of his elected positions and the meager profits he earned from his beer garden and farm provided too little income to pay off his pre-war debts. In 1872, the Pulaski County Chancery Court forced him to settle the $7,000 debt owed to creditors in New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati by selling large amounts of land he had bought in the 1850s, including 320 acres located fifteen miles from Little Rock, 120 acres nine miles from the city, and three city blocks.[34]   

In the early 1870s, Jacobi filed a claim with the U.S. Southern Claims Commission for compensation for property (mainly lumber and animals) taken from him by the Union army soon after it occupied Little Rock. (It was as part of the investigation of this claim that Charlotte Edwards was called as a witness in 1874.) His initial claim was rejected, but when he refiled it in 1876 with letters from Gen. Frederick Steele, who led the successful Union army attack on Little Rock, and Sen. Clayton Powell, it was approved. He was awarded $821.50 of the $3,582 he requested. The commission had no doubts about Jacobi’s loyalty but questioned the value of the property taken from him.  

Jacobi Tombstone

‘Squire Jacobi, a respected citizen, died on January 23, 1887, a couple of weeks before his 74th birthday. His wife, Sarah Ann, lived for 78 years, passing away on December 31, 1904 (the year on her tombstone is wrong). They share a marble headstone at Little Rock’s Mt. Holly cemetery.[35] Jacobi was remembered in his obituary as “charitable, kind, and affectionate to everybody….a true and warm friend always ready to help and assist.”  Those characteristics, along with compassion, were evident in his good deed nearly twenty-five years earlier when – at some risk to himself and his family – he assisted Charlotte Edwards and six other slaves to gain freedom that would have been delayed at least twenty months without his help.   


1.  Mark K. Christ. 2010. Civil War Arkansas 1863. University of Oklahoma Press. See chapter 4 “The Battle of Helena” and Chapter 5 “The Campaign to Capture Little Rock.” 

2. Reider’s obituary stated that he came to Arkansas “about 40 years ago.” “Obituary.” 1861. Little Rock True Democrat, Aug. 1, p. 2.  His presence in Batesville is mentioned in “Early Times in Arkansas by N.” 1858. Weekly Ark. Gazette, Jan 9, p. 2. 

Reider’s year of birth is uncertain. The date on his tombstone is 1776, which would have made him 85 years old when he died in 1861. His obituary stated he was 85.  However, in the 1860 census, his age is given as 76.  In the 1850 census, his age was listed as 53, and the 1840 census indicates that his age was between 40 and 49.  According to the 1850 census, he and his wife had a three-year-old child, which means that if he were 85 years old in 1861, he would have been 71 when the child was born. 

3. The exact day he arrived is mentioned by Fay Hempstead (p. 773) in Pictorial History of Arkansas from Earliest Times to the Year 1890, published in 1890.  Accessed via Google Books. 

4. His first advertisement in the Arkansas Gazette, which at that time was published at Arkansas Post, appeared on May 21, 1828.  Because of the time needed to set up a store, Hempstead's arrival date (footnote 3) was likely not accurate. New Goods.” (Adv). Ark. Gazette, May 21, 1828, p. 4.  

5.  According to the 1860 census, Reider owned real property worth $25,000 and personal property valued at $15,000. In 2020 dollars, the amount was about $758,000 (real property) and $455,000 (personal property).  I used the inflation calculator at  to determine the present values in 2020. The site estimates that a $1 in 1860 had the purchasing power of $30.31 in 2020. 

6. “St. Andrews Cathedral, Little Rock.” 1924. The Guardian (Official Organ of the Diocese of Little Rock), December 20, p. 8.  Accessed at

In his obituary, Reider was described as follows: “An unlettered man, he was endowed by nature with remarkable mind and memory, and sound judgment.” “Obituary.” 1861. Little Rock True Democrat, Aug. 1, p. 2.  

7. “Glimpses of Yesterday.” 1934. Ark. Gazette, Mar. 11, p. 30. 

8. “$100 Reward” (adv). 1841. Weekly Ark. Gazette, Nov. 10, p. 3. 

9. This quote and all others attributed to her are from testimony given in 1874 to the U.S. Southern Claims Commission related to claim 21,507, filed by Henry Jacobi. Jacobi’s complete file with all related testimony can be found at in the database “Southern Claims Commission, Approved Claims, 1871-1880.” 

10. Jacobi testified to the U.S. Southern Claims Commission that he came to Little Rock in 1848, but his arrival may have been in 1849 or 1850. The first advertisements for his bookbinding business showed up in the Arkansas Gazette in 1851. 

Jacobi was born on February 10, 1813, in Trarbach, now known as Trauben-Trarbach, a small town on the middle section of the Moselle River, famous for its winemaking. The city was in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz when he was born, but in 1816 the area was annexed by Prussia. According to Jacobi’s obituary, his family was “highly reputable,” and his father was an officer in the Prussian army. He was educated by a wealthy grandmother, and before emigrating, he traveled extensively as a wine salesman for a vineyard owned by a family member. He emigrated “before 1837” and settled in Pennsylvania, where he learned the bookbinding trade. He applied for citizenship in 1842 and received it in 1844. That year, he married Sarah Ann Jewell (Dec. 14, 1926 – Dec. 31, 1904), a native Philadelphian. See “The Late Henry Jacobi.” 1887. Ark. Gazette, July 5, p. 5 and “Died.” 1887. Ark Gazette, June 24, p. 1. 

Jacobi and his wife had seven children, one of whom died in childhood. They were Rachael (1846 – 1905), Henry Jr. (1848 – 1851), Susannah (1850 – 1873), Clara (1852 – 1828), Lillie (1854 – 1920), Rosa (1854 – 1937), and Albert Cohen (1857 – 1919). Rachael and Henry Jr. were born in Pennsylvania, the others in Little Rock. 

Catherine Jewell (1837 – 1901), the younger sister of Sarah Ann Jewell, moved to Little Rock from Cincinnati with her husband George Baehr in the latter part of 1860 or early 1861. Baehr, born in Bavaria, was, like Jacobi, a bookbinder. He volunteered for the Capital Guards, a Little Rock militia, incorporated into the Confederate Army as Co. A, Arkansas Sixth Regiment. Baehr was killed in action on June 27, 1864, at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia. According to testimony heard by the U.S. Southern Claims Commission, Catherine Jewell lived in a small house on land next to Jacobi’s Grove during the Civil War.  Calvin L. Collier. 1961. First In – Last Out: The Capitol Guards, Arkansas Brigade in the Civil War. Pioneer Press (Little Rock), p. 115. 

11. His first advertisement was published on October 14, 1851.  “Book Binding.” 1851. Ark. Banner, Oct. 14, p. 3.  The same ad was published on Oct. 17 in the Weekly Ark. Gazette.  Jacobi regularly advertised in the years that followed.  His typical advertisement was as follows:

“The undersigned would inform the public of Arkansas that his Book-Bindery is in full operation, and that he is prepared to bind new books or to rebind old books at Cincinnati prices. As he purchased his stock of materials for cash in New York and executes the work himself, in person, there are no extra charges for profits at his Bindery. Persons in the city or in any part of the state who may have the kindness to give him their patronage may rely on their work being done on unusually reasonable terms and with neatness and dispatch.”  

On Dec. 5, 1957, he started publishing a new, longer advertisement that repeatedly ran in the Arkansas Gazette.  See “Henry Jacobi. Bookseller, Book Binder, Stationer, and Blank Book Manufacturer.” Weekly Ark. Gazette, Dec. 5, p. 3.    

The ad included this note:  “N.B. As I am a practical mechanic, much experienced, and long established in my business; doing most of my work with my own hands and when assistants are necessarily employed, giving it my immediate personal supervision, I am enabled to not only guarantee its fidelity, but to sell it at mechanic’s prices, without extra profits. And essentially as I do business on the cheap system (both buying and selling) I am further enabled as I have done from the beginning, unchanged even by late flush times, to supply my customers with every article in my line, in good faith at the lowest prices, at which it is practicable to live, carry on business, and to remain solvent in this community.”    

12. Testimony to the U.S. Southern Claims Commission. Claim 21,507 filed by Henry Jacobi, “Southern Claims Commission, Approved Claims, 1871-1880,” a database accessed at 

13. “The Great Sag Nicht Rally in Saline.” 1855. Weekly Ark. Gazette, Nov. 2, p. 3. 

14.  Carolyn Gray LeMaster claims in her book that Jacobi was Jewish but offers no evidence to support that conclusion. She may have mixed him up with Hirsh Jacobi (1840 – 1897), who settled in Little Rock after the war and was active in the local synagogue. Hirsh’s wife, Amalia Kahn Jacobi (1834 - 1926), opened a Millinery and Dry Goods Shop on Main Street in 1871 and advertised herself as “Mrs. H. Jacobi --  Millinery and Fancy Goods” until she went bankrupt in 1876. See, for example, “Mrs. H. Jacobi – Millinery and Fancy Goods (adv).” 1874. Ark. Gazette, p. 4 and “Bankrupt Sale.” 1876. Ark. Gazette, Aug. 19, p. 4.  Henry Jacobi and Hirsch Jacobi were not related. 

15. LaMaster reviewed Jacobi’s credit reports compiled by R.G. Dun & Co. during the 1850s. (These reports are housed in Harvard University’s Baker Library.) The reports document that he was “quite poor with modest trade” when he started his store, but gradually increased his stock and business. LaMaster, 1994, p. 14. 

16. Some evidence suggests that part of Jacobi’s financial problems resulted from unpaid or under-paid binding work he did for the state Printing Office in 1858, 1859, and 1860. Before the Civil War and for several years after its end, he tried to get the Arkansas General Assembly to pay him more for the work he had done. See, for example, “Legislative Proceedings.” 1860. Weekly Ark. Gazette, Nov. 17, p. 2 and “House of Representatives.” 1860. Weekly Ark. Gazette, Dec. 22, p. 2. (The State Senate passed a relief bill for Jacobi, but the House of Representatives narrowly rejected it.) Also see, “General Assembly of Arkansas. “1868. Ark. Gazette, Dec. 15, p. 2. 

17. “Hoop Shirks” (adv). 1859. Weekly Ark. Gazette, Oct. 1, p. 3 and “Ladies’ Shoes at Mrs. Jacobi’s” (adv) 1860. Weekly Ark. Gazette, January 28, p. 3. 

18. “Jacobi’s Garden.” 1861. Weekly Ark. Gazette, July 6, p. 3. The advertisement stated:  “The undersigned at his place near the western boundary of the city of Little Rock, has opened a garden, and is prepared to furnish refreshments to such as favor him with the patronage. The place is quiet and retired, and kept in the most orderly manner. Ice cream, light wines, and other refreshments on hand, and served to persons singly or in parties. He solicits a share of public patronage. Henry Jacobi.  

19. The testimony of Shederick Parrish and the others that follow are in Claim 21,507 filed by Henry Jacobi, “Southern Claims Commission, Approved Claims, 1871-1880,” a database accessed at 

20. Jacobi gave similar advice to Nelson Douglas, the slave of a Confederate Army officer. According to Brooks, a few days before the occupation, “[Jacobi] told me to remain in Little Rock and not to go south with Col. Brooks and the Confederate Army.” Brooks took the advice. On the day that the Union Army arrived, Brooks went to work for Jacobi, living at his place until June 1865. Testimony of Nelson Douglas in Claim 21,507 filed by Henry Jacobi, “Southern Claims Commission, Approved Claims, 1871-1880,” database accessed at 

21. Nothing was found about her in searches of,,,, and 

22. See  

23. “Oakland and Fraternal Historic Cemetery Records,” accessed on  

24. According to the 1870 census, the self-assessed value of her real estate was $10,000, about $198,500 in 2020 purchasing power. The estimate of 2020 purchasing power was calculated at the following website: 

25. See “Glimpses of Yesterday.” 1934. Ark. Gazette, Mar. 11, p. 30 and Renton Tunnah. 1929. “City Wore a Different Aspect During the Reconstruction Days.” 1929. Ark. Gazette, March 31, p. 12. For more on the Packet House, see  

26. Robert C. Newton commanded Baxter’s military forces in the 1874 Brook-Baxter War. 

27. Mrs. Reider’s tombstone has the date of her death as November 16, 1898. However, her obituaries are dated 1897: “Mrs. Anna Reider’s Death.” 1897. Ark. Gazette, Nov. 16, p. 5 and “The Oldest Resident of Little Rock.” 1897. Forrest City Times, Nov. 19, p. 6. (The likely date of her death was Nov. 14, 1897;  the Arkansas Gazette obituary published on Tuesday, Nov. 16, stated that her death was on the preceding Sunday.) 

28. Jacobi’s Grove hosted many events, including the city’s first Maifest, held by ethnic Germans in 1867. Also, it was a popular venue for events held by the city’s former slaves. Jacobi sold this property in the early 1870s, but the name and venue remained in use into the 1880s. See “May Festival.” 1867. Ark. Gazette, May 19, p. 3 and “The Fourth of July.” 1868, Weekly Ark. Gazette, Jul 7, p. 2. 

29. “Post of Little Rock.” 1865. Ark. Gazette, May 11, p. 4; “Item.” 1865. Weekly Arkansas Gazette, Oct 7, p. 2; and “City Chamber, Little Rock.” 1867. Ark. Gazette, March 21, 1867, p. 3. 

30. “Election Results.” 1868. Morning Republican, March 4, p. 2 and “Result of the State Election.” 1870. Ark. Gazette, Nov. 15, p. 4. 

31. “For Circuit and Criminal Court Clerk and Recorder” (adv). 1872. Ark. Gazette, Sept 13, p. 4. 

32. “The Election: The Returns as Far as Received–Pulaski County Redeemed.”1874. Ark. Gazette, Oct 15, p. 4 and “Little Rock Locals.” 1874. Ark. Gazette, Dec 31, p 4. 

33. “Resigned.” 1883. Ark. Democrat, Dec. 12, p. 1. 

34.  Jacobi mentioned the forced sale of his land in his 1874 testimony before the U.S. Southern Claims Commission. Claim 21,507 filed by Henry Jacobi, “Southern Claims Commission, Approved Claims, 1871-1880,” database accessed at 

35. “The Late Henry Jacobi.” 1887. Ark. Gazette, July 5, p. 5 and “Mrs. S. A. Jacobi Dead.” 1905. Ark. Gazette, Jan. 1, p. 7.