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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Yell County, Arkansas published by Southern Publishing Company in 1891.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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W. L. Heck, planter and senior member of the well-known firm of Heck & Briggs, general merchants of Bellville, was born two and one-half miles south of that village. His parents, A. S. and Sarah (Brown) Heck, were originally from Pennsylvania and Alabama, but the father, whose ancestors were from old Pennsylvania stock of the same family with prominent people still residents of that State, came to Arkansas in 1828, locating at Morrison’s Bluff, now in Logan County, which was at that time the only trading post and settlement for miles around. The following year moving his family and effects to the site which he made his permanent home, he started a tan-yard, the only one within a radius of fifty miles, which attracted a good trade from the surrounding country, until Heck’s tan-yard was one of the best known localities in all Western Arkansas. He died January 4, 1861, having been married three times, his first wife having been a Miss Saddler, who bore him three children, one of whom is dead, those living being S. S. Heck (who married Simeon Pledger about 1854 or 1856), and Nancy M. Heck (who married N. J. Buckman about 1850 or 1851, and now lives on her father’s old homestead); his second wife having been our subject’s mother, who died in 1845, leaving two children to his care; and Mrs. Saddler, nee Balch, became his third wife. He was an upright, honest, sturdy pioneer, and just such a character as was necessary to lay the foundation of a future community. Our subject, W. L. Heck, was brought up on a farm and educated in the common schools, and early taught the trade of his father. In July, 1861, he enlisted in Capt. Lawrence’s company and was sent to Southwestern Missouri, where he fought in the battle of Oak Hill, and on August 10, 1861, returned home. Re-enlisting in February, 1862, he was sent east of the Mississippi River, participating in the battles of Iuka and Corinth, being wounded and captured at the latter place. He was conveyed to the hospital at Iuka and, upon recovery, was taken to the military prison at Columbus, Ky., where he remained until he was exchanged at Vicksburg in December, where he was given a furlough and returned home. Joining a cavalry company the following June, went to the Indian Territory, taking part in the Back Bone fight in August, 1864. Returning home he went to Little Rock, where he remained until the close of the war, when he resumed his farming duties once more, and May 17, 1868, established a general store on his farm, removing his stock, however, the next year to Danville, taking J. T. Briggs into the business as partner, under the firm name of Briggs & Heck. At the expiration of a year J. T. Briggs withdrew and Mr. Heck continued the business alone till 1872, when he sold out and retired to his farm, where he busied himself improving and clearing large tracts of land for seven years when, in 1879, he again went to Danville and entered into business, which he moved to Bellville, in January, 1884, uniting with the firm of J. B. Heck & Martin, not changing the name of the firm, which was dissolved in 1886. In September of the same year Mr. Heck opened a general store, and in 1890 the present firm of Heck & Briggs was organized, our subject and L. L. Briggs being the members. They carry a stock of about $5,000 value, and do a business of $15,000 annually. His individual property is some 1,300 acres of good, fertile, seeding and fair timberland, 350 of which are cultivated, and also a fine residence in Bellville. Miss Lydia Littlejohn, daughter of Marcellus Littlejohn, became his wife January 3, 1867, and they have become the parents of two children: Laura (widow of Dr. William H. Fergeson, Jr.), and Ladonia. Mr. Heck and family are consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, he filling the office of steward of the same; he belongs to Danville Lodge No. 41, of the Masonic fraternity. He is courteous and affable, and in his dealings with his fellow-men, has always proved worthy any trust reposed in him.

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This family biography is one of 124 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Yell County, Arkansas published in 1891.  For the complete description, click here: Yell County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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