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Elisha Baxter:
I Was Born

In the 1870s Robert W. Trimble began gathering materials from prominent Arkansans for a history of the state that was never written. The materials Trimble gathered are archived at the Arkansas History Commission, including the following autobiographical sketch of by Elisha Baxter.

"My father William Baxter was born and reared to man's estate in Ireland and emigrated to this country and settled in western North Carolina in the year 1789. His first wife died about the year 1806. In a few years afterwards he married Catherine Lee. By the latter marriage there were eight children, five sons and three daughters, of whom I am the youngest but one.

"I was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina on the first day of September, 1827. Owing to the lack of educational facilities in the interior of my state, my education was neglected. Feeling the want of a good education before I arrived at mature manhood, I sought and obtained - without the knowledge of my father - an appointment as a cadet to West Point. After the fact…was made known to my father (who was nearly ninety years old), he so strenuously opposed my leaving home that I reluctantly resigned.

"At twenty years of age I engaged in the mercantile business in the town of Rutherford in company with my brother-in-law Spenser Eaves and for several years met with good success.

"On the 16th of August I was united in marriage with Miss Harriet Patton, a native of the same county as myself. We have had six children, three sons and three daughters. All of whom are living at home except Fannie, an infant daughter who died on the 29th of March, 1873."

"In 1852 I left North Carolina and settled in Batesville, Arkansas and engaged in the mercantile business in company with my brother Taylor A. Baxter. This enterprise proved a disastrous failure. In 1855 we gave up all and paid our debts, and my brother went from the counting room to learn the carpenter's trade and I to learn the printing business. While engaged as a typographer in the office of the Independent Balance at twenty dollars per month, I read law, at such moments as I could snatch from my daily employment, under the direction of the lamented Judge Hulbert F. Fairchild and in 1856 commenced the practice of law, at which I have been engaged ever since, except when interrupted by the war or called to fill official station.

"In 1853 I was elected mayor of Batesville. In 1854 I was elected to the lower house of the state legislature and again in 1858."

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