Date Original



This collection contains correspondence, financial and legal documents, essays, printed materials, newspapers, a diary, and scrapbooks belonging to Woodruff family.

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, Jehiel Hildreth Woodruff, Mary L. Woodruff, and Phebe Jane Woodruff. At 18, William Woodruff began an 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. In Little Rock Woodruff met Jane Eliza Mills, the daughter of Abraham Mills. They married on November 14, 1827, and had eleven children, four sons and seven daughters. Alden Mills Woodruff, born August 27, 1828, and died September 30, 1893. At seventeen Alden joined Captain Albert Pike's company of Yell's Mounted Arkansas Regiment during the Mexican War. He was Chief Commissary to General William J. Hardee during the Civil War. Later, he served as Chief Clerk in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1862 and Chief Secretary of the Arkansas Senate during the Brooks-Baxter War in 1874. At the time of his death Alden Woodruff worked in the Gazette Printing office. He married Eliza Sizer on December 1, 1856. His second marriage was to Clay Sparks on December 2, 1863. His children included one son, George, and two daughters, Janie and Willie. William Edward Woodruff, Jr. 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. Harriet M. Woodruff Jabine was born January 31, 1836 and died January 17, 1918. She was a founder of the Arkansas Pioneers Association, and a charter member of the Memorial Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She married John Jabine and they had seven children. Mrs. H.C. Rather, Mrs. Claude H. Sayle, Shelby Jabine, C.W. Jabine, Thomas Jabine, Dan Jabine, and Lucien Jabine. Mary Eliza Woodruff Bell was born April 17, 1838 and died February 20, 1911. She married Samuel Slade Bell of Hamburg, Ashley County, in 1865. They had three children, Eva Bell (Mrs. Francis Bennett) Reynolds, Hatty Woodruff Bell Walt, and Fannie Bell. Evelina W. Woodruff Vaughan, was born June 21, 1840 and died November 30, 1927. At the time of her death she lived at the Confederate Home in Sweet Home, Arkansas. She married Cradrick R. Vaughan, May 28, 1869. They had two children, William Woodruff Vaughan and Aimee Thompson Vaughan. Frances Clark Woodruff Martin was born April 4 1843 and died February 6, 1936. She married Joseph A. Martin and they lived in Abilene, Texas and later New Orleans, Louisiana. They had three children, Mrs. Robin A. Jones, Mrs. E.A. Sherrill, and Joseph Martin, Jr. Jane Georgine Woodruff was born February 23, 1845 and died December 3, 1935. She was a member of the United States Daughters of 1812, the Memorial Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and was a charter member of the Aesthetic Club of Little Rock, Arkansas. Chester Ashley Woodruff was born January 12, 1850 and died February 3, 1899. He married Mary Thurston and later married Katherine Elizabeth McIntosh.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area






Resource Type



Woodruff family papers, MS.000385


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Woodruff family papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History