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Bonus from the Past: 1854

by Celia Storey | June 9, 2019 at 2:30 a.m.

William Woodruff, the founder of the Arkansas Gazette had 11 children with his wife, Jane Eliza. By 1919, when the modern newspaper that carried on his legacy printed a 244-page special edition to celebrate the newspaper's centennial, his three living daughters contributed memoirs.

Here is an excerpt from the memoir of Mrs. Evalina Woodruff Vaughan (1841-1927) in which she describes how volunteers fought fires in Little Rock in her childhood:

For many years my father was president of the old Pulaski Fire Company.

The engine they used is obsolete now, requiring the water bucket brigade forming in close lines on two sides -- one side passing up the full buckets and the other returning them to the fillers empty. It was an interesting sight.

There was a rhythm to the movements of the firemen. The engine was of the brass rod, sidebar style, each side requiring more than a dozen men to pump the bars up and down.

I remember one fire. I was four or five years old. The Masonic building, at the northwest corner of Markham and Scott, was burning. My father was among the first on the spot. The building was seriously damaged, but the brave fire lads managed to save the remainder of the block.

About 10 o'clock at night my father came in with a crowd of the men, and said, "My dear, can you give the men some hot coffee?"

"Certainly," was my mother's ready answer, "but they will have to wait a few minutes."

The night was a cold one, but they only had to wait a very few minutes, when they were served with steaming hot coffee with cream, reinforced with some of her nice, homemade light-bread, and some cold ham.

You may be sure the refreshments were appreciated by those tired, cold men.

A Section on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: Bonus from the Past: 1854

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