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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Cross County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.  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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Maurice Block, deceased, was for many years a leading merchant in what is now Cross County. He was born in Germany in 1819, and spent his youth until fifteen years of age at home with his father, who was a merchant, and in attending school. At the above mentioned age his father wished him to learn the baker’s trade, but this not proving satisfactory to Maurice, the latter left home and went to Paris, where he worked in a clock factory, doing the fine ornamental brass work and putting on the finishing touches. He worked at this until twenty-two years of age. The year previous he wedded Miss Bettie Bloon, a native of Paris. In 1842 he came to the United States, landing at New Orleans, where he started out by selling goods through the country, and remained in that city for four or five years. While there Mrs. Block was stricken with the yellow fever and died, leaving two sons: Losso (who died in St. Louis in 1849) and Nathan (who is a merchant in Memphis). Soon after the loss of his wife, Mr. Block took his children and removed to Memphis, Tenn., where he continued his business of selling goods through the country for nearly a year. On May 17, 1849, he married Miss Anna Woubilman, also a native of Germany, and in July of the same year they moved to St. Louis, where they resided for two years. In 1851 they moved to Arkansas, settled in Bolivar, the old county seat of Poinsett County, and here made their home for little more than a year. After this they removed to the Cold Water Spring, and here Mr. Block began clerking for David Block (a man of the same name but no relation), and remained in that capacity for two years, when he became a partner in the business, doing the largest cross roads trade on Crowley’s Ridge. In 1859 they shipped 700 bales of cotton and over 10,000 coon-skins. During the year 1858 this firm had the contract to furnish the city of Memphis with beef, and during that year they shipped over 2,600 head. This firm was dissolved in 1859 by Mr. David Block retiring, and the subject of this sketch then moved to Farm Hill in 1860, and there started a store. He soon built up a large trade by his honest upright dealings, and bought a farm which promised to give good returns, but the war breaking out he was compelled to close his store in August, 1861. In the fall of that year the Confederate soldiers burned 139 bales of cotton for him and a large quantity still in the seed, amounting in all to nearly 300 bales. Mrs. Block, with the assistance of two negro women, succeeded in saving a quantity of cotton by throwing the straw out of the bed ticks and filling them with cotton. Five months later this was taken from the ticks and made into two bales which Mr. Block, with the assistance of his son Isaac, took to Island No. 37, where they sold it for $1.20 per pound. During the years of the war Mr. Block bought cotton and cattle, which he succeeded in smuggling into Memphis, and which resulted in immense profits, as he often sold calico at $1 per yard, coffee at $1 per pound and salt at $100 per barrel. Those goods and others he would buy in exchange for cattle and cotton. In 1865 Mr. Block formed a partnership with his old partner, David Block, J. J. Hamilton and A. A. Luckey, and started a large store at Wittsburg, at the head of navigation on the St. Francis River. Mr. Luckey retired after six months. This firm, known as D. Block & Co., soon became one of the largest commercial firms this section has ever known, doing over $100,000 annually, and during the last year, 1875, their sales were over $175,000. Mr. Hamilton withdrew in 1874, and the subject of this sketch died on October 14, 1875. His widow continued his interest in the business until 1878, when David Block died, and the firm was dissolved, the business being sold out to J. Hall & Co. To the union of Maurice Block and his estimable wife were born ten children, seven sons and three daughters: Adam (died in infancy), Isaac (is a retired merchant and farmer residing at Wynne), William M. (is a real-estate agent at Vanndale), Joseph (a mute, has the position of manager of the freight department for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, at Wynne), Samuel (died in 1870 at the age of thirteen years), Julia (is the wife of Ben Block, a merchant at Memphis), Jefferson Davis (a lawyer, at present prosecuting attorney from the Second judicial district of Eastern Arkansas), Callie (wife of B. T. King, real-estate agent of Springfield), Robert E. Lee (county school examiner of Cross County) and Fannie, who died at the age of ten years, in 1880. Maurice Block was long a leading merchant in this section, and was an active energetic citizen. He was the father of a family of children, all of whom are noted for their success in life, and most of whom have been the author of their own fortunes. His widow, hale and hearty, is still living and enjoying the ample means left of her husband’s estate, makes her home alternately with one or the other of her children.

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This family biography is one of 103 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Cross County, Arkansas published in 1890.  For the complete description, click here: Cross County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Cross County, Arkansas family biographies here: Cross County, Arkansas Biographies

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