This collection contains papers belonging to the Wassell family of Little Rock, Civil War physician John C. Lee, and Confederate generals Thomas C. Hindman, Dandridge McRae, and Albert Pike. Items include personal correspondence, narratives, speeches, women's suffrage correspondence, papers for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, United Sons of Confederate Veterans, United States Daughters of 1812,newsclippings, and other miscellaneous material. The majority of the material pertains to the Civil War and Bettie McConaughey's involvement in Confederate organizations in the early 1900s.
John Wassell came to America from England in 1829, at the age of sixteen. He became a carpenter, settling in Arkansas in 1836, and winning the contract to do the carpentry in the new state capitol building. Not long after finishing his work on the state capitol, John gave up carpentry to become a lawyer, eventually serving as a judge. He was also the military appointed mayor of Little Rock in 1868.He married Margaret Spotts of Kentucky around 1836, and eight children were born to the marriage, including Samuel Spotts. Samuel Spotts Wassell was born May 2, 1854. He attended Cornell University and then studied law in Memphis. He married Elizabeth (Bettie) McConaughey April 8, 1878. The two had four children, including Samuel McConaughey Wassell, who was mayor of Little Rock, 1947-1952. Bettie McConaughey was born October 18, 1858, to James W. and Albina McConaughey. Bettie was active in the women's suffrage movement, becoming the first woman juror in Arkansas. She also organized the J.M. Keller Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, was honorary state president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, served on the committee that erected the David O. Dodd monument, was the president of the Nicholas Headington Chapter of the Daughters of 1812, state regent from 1913-1915 for the Daughters of the American Revolution, a charter member of the Arkansas Pioneers Association, and supported efforts to preserve the Old State House. She died November 28,1923. Bettie's father, James W. McConaughey, was also a lawyer and early settler of Arkansas, settling in Searcy. James became good friends with a fellow lawyer in Searcy, Dandridge McRae, and eventually married his sister, Albina McRae. During the Civil War, James served under Dandridge as Captain Assistant Adjutant General in the Confederate Army, until poor health forced his resignation in 1863.James and Albina both died young, leaving their only surviving daughter, Bettie, in the care of her uncle, Dandridge McRae, and his family. Dandridge McRae was born October 10, 1829, in Baldwin County, Alabama. McRae moved to White County, Arkansas, with his mother and siblings in 1849. He began studying law in Searcy, and by 1856 was a county and circuit clerk. He married Angelina (Angie) Lewis on January 10, 1855. When the Civil War began, Dandridge joined the Confederate Army, becoming a brigadier general November 5, 1862. He spent the majority of the war fighting in Arkansas, including at Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove, and Helena. After the war, McRae returned to Searcy and began practicing law again. He held several prominent positions, including deputy secretary of state, president of the board of trustees of the Searcy Male and Female College, commissioner for Arkansas at the 1886 World’s Fair in New Orleans, and vice president of the State Bureau of Information. He died April 23, 1899. Thomas C. Hindman was born January 28, 1828, at Knoxville, Tennessee. After fighting in the Mexican War, Hindman became a lawyer and moved to Helena, Arkansas in 1856. A year later he married Mary Watkins Biscoe. He was active in politics, and in 1858, he became a United States congressman. Hindman was a Democrat and an avid secessionist. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he raised the Second Arkansas Infantry and went east to fight. In 1862, he was called back to Arkansas to organize a new Confederate Army. Now a major general, his methods in creating and sustaining this new army were Wassell family papers MS.000201 - Page 5 - harsh, and earned him many enemies. After the disastrous Prairie Grove campaign, Hindman requested and received a transfer back east, where he remained until a series of battle wounds forced him to resign from the army. After a brief time spent in Texas and then Mexico, Hindman returned to Helena with his family, where he resumed his political ambitions amidst the turmoil of Reconstruction. He was killed by an assassin September 28, 1868. John C. Lee was born about 1830 in North Carolina. By 1860, he was a physician in Lafayette County, Arkansas, and he became the personal physician to the families of Thomas C. Hindman and James W. McConaughey during the Civil War. At the end of the war, James and his wife Mary, moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where they lived for the remainder of their lives. Albert Pike was born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 29, 1809. He had many different professions through the years, including the practice of law, newspaper editor, writer, and railroad investor and builder. At the start of the Civil War, Pike was given the task of forming treaties with the Indians. Appointed brigadier general in Indian Territory, he received constant complaints and criticism from other Confederate leaders concerning the conduct of his Indian troops. In response to the mounting hostility, Pike resigned in 1862. He moved to Washington, District of Columbia, in 1870, where he became increasingly involved with the Masonic Lodge, an organization of which he had been a member since 1850. Pike died in Washington, District of Columbia, April 2, 1891.
Document, 8.5" x 11"
Wassell family papers, MS.000201
Arkansas State Archives
Arkansas State Archives
Wassell family papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
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United States History