Date Original



This collection contains a list of lands for taxation and a letter written to William E. Woodruff.

Biographical/Historical Note

William E. Woodruff, Sr., newspaper publisher, land agent, businessman, and elected official, was one of Arkansas's earliest and most influential pioneers. He settled in Arkansas Territory in 1819, and spent the remaining sixty-six years of his life in his adopted state, greatly shaping and contributing to its politics, culture, and economy. Born in Bellport, Suffolk County, New York, on December 24, 1795, Woodruff was the first child of Nathanial and Hannah Clarke Woodruff. William E. Woodruff's siblings were Matthew Edmund Woodruff, George Brown Woodruff, who died at seventeen; Nathaniel Milton Woodruff, Jahiem Hildreth Woodruff, Mary L. Woodruff, and Phebe Jane Woodruff. At eighteen, William Woodruff began a apprenticeship with Alden Spooner, a noted New York printer who published the Suffolk Gazette and the Long Island Star. When the War of 1812 began he enlisted in the reserve corps. He helped defend the city of New York against heavy artillery. In 1819 he moved to the newly-formed Arkansas Territory to start a newspaper. He bought a small printing press and made the three-month journey by horseback and canoe, landing at Arkansas Post on October 30, 1819. He published the first issue of the Arkansas Gazette on November 20, 1819. When the territorial capitol moved to Little Rock in November 1821, Woodruff followed with his press. The first issue of the Little Rock-based Gazette was published on December 29, 1821. Woodruff established the state’s first circulating library in 1826, and also held a variety of elected offices in city and state government. Outspoken newspaper editorials combined with friendships with politicians like Chester Ashley to make Woodruff powerful force in early Arkansas politics. Woodruff sold and repurchased the Arkansas Gazette several times. When he was not able to repurchase it in 1846, he founded a new paper, the Arkansas Democrat. When the Gazette was again available, he bought it and merged the two papers into the Arkansas State Gazette and Democrat. He permanently retired from newspaper publishing in 1883 and died June 19, 1885.William Edward Woodruff, Jr., was born June 8, 1831, and died July 8, 1907. He became a major during the Civil War after organizing the Woodruff Battery. In 1866, he operated the Arkansas Gazette, along with his brother-in-law, W.D. Blocher. From 1881 until 1890 Woodruff was state treasurer. He married Ruth Blocher, and they had three children, William E. Woodruff, III, Margaret Woodruff Wilda of New York City, and Elizabeth Woodruff.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area

Arkansas; New York





Resource Type



William E. Woodruff papers, SMC.021.002


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

William E. Woodruff papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History