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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Hot Spring County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  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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Samuel Alexander Emerson, one of the early settlers of Hot Spring County, Ark., was a native of North Carolina, and came from that State in 1832, at the age of twenty-two years. He was born January 25, 1810, and his early outdoor life formed him into a strong, robust man after reaching his maturity. He was a perfect Hercules in form and strength, but withal a tender-hearted and self-sacrificing man. He was a devout Christian, and belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, as also the Masonic order, in which he stood high. Mr. Emerson settled on a farm of eighty acres southwest of Malvern, on the Ouachita River bottom, and that amount of land in those days was considered to make a very extensive farm. The country was thickly populated with bears, panthers, wolves, buffaloes, wild cats, and in fact every species of wild animal that infested that section of the country, and the life of a pioneer in those days was by no means a sinecure. His place is known to this day as the Old Emerson place, his name having become famous throughout that section, almost as much so as Davy Crockett’s in Kentucky. With him came three brothers: Washington, Joseph and John, and four sisters; Mary, Elizabeth, Catharine and Amanda, as also the widowed mother. She, however, only survived for a few years after her arrival at the new home. The entire family resided all their lives in Hot Spring County, except Washington, who remained there but a few years, and then removed to Van Zandt County, Tex., where he lived to an advanced age. Col. A. R. Givens, of Revolutionary fame, came out from Augusta County, Va., in 1834, bringing with him his son-in-law, Porterfield Rippetoe, and about sixty slaves. He entered a large tract of land in the Ouachita bottom, and after leaving his slaves and land in charge of Mr. Rippetoe, returned to his old home. He made several trips to and fro, and in 1841 came again, bringing with him his daughter, Sara Margaret, to join her elder sister, who had preceded her. Shortly after her arrival, Samuel A. Emerson met and won her hand in marriage, and was united to her on May 26, 1842. She was a native of Augusta County, Va., born on September 17, 1821, and a devout Christian lady, as well as a kind and affectionate mother after her marriage. Her death occurred October 19, 1858, on the place now owned by Mr. J. A. Miller, and she now rests in the old Rockport cemetery. Mr. Emerson purchased largely of town lots, in what is now known as Rockport, and erected the first hotel ever built in the county. He was an active, energetic and enterprising man, always to the front in looking after the best interests of his adopted county and one of the few men who helped build up the town of Rockport. He was of an exceedingly religious character, and would allow no work, no matter what it was, to be done on Sunday, even the cooking for that day being done on Saturday. He was what is known as an old-time Methodist, and built the first church and school-house in Hot Spring County. In politics he was a stanch Democrat, and a leader of his party in that section, and always a valuable aid in putting his friends in office, although he would never accept one himself, until the year 1844, when he was elected county judge, and re-elected in 1846. In 1850 he was elected to represent his county in the legislature, and at the expiration of his term returned home, and in a conversation with his wife, told her that during the session he had grown in grace and in favor with his blessed Master, the great Author of his being. In May, 1851, he conceived the idea of building a grist-mill to be run by water, and immediately commenced erecting one down by the rocks near Rockport. During the summer months he was engaged in blasting the immense rocks at that point, and while occupied in this work, became so over- heated that in September of the same year he died, and his remains rest beside the body of his wife in Rockport cemetery. Five children were born to this union: Samuel Alexander Emerson, Jr. (born May 28, 1843, and died September 15, 1845), Mary Elizabeth (born August 25, 1844, wife of Thomas J. Thrasher, by whom she has had nine children, two of whom are deceased), Samuel Henry (the third child and second son was born in Rockport on October 5, 1846). Samuel Henry Emerson was five years old when his father died, and eleven years of age when his mother passed away. He attended school four months in 1855, and five months in the year of 1857, and in 1859 attended five months more, and from September 1, 1860, to May 1, 1861, and about that period the first bugle notes calling the men to arms was heard through the country. He left school and joined a company then being formed at Rockport; and at that time was only fourteen years old. The company numbered seventy-five men, and had as members some of the leading and most influential men in the county, their captain being Daniel A. Newman. They left Rockport on June 24, 1861, at 1 o’clock P. M. for Lynchburg, Va., arriving there on the second day of July, and went into camp at the same time with nine other companies from Arkansas. The Third Arkansas Infantry Regiment was mustered into service with Col. Albert Rust commanding, and left immediately for Northwestern Virginia, where they were added to Gen. Bushrod Johnston’s army. On January 1, 1862, the regiment was added to Gen. Lowering’s command, and was with him on his noted Romany and Bath campaigns in that section of Virginia. They were afterward held as reserve troops in Gen. McClellan’s assault on Richmond, in the battles at Chickahominy, Mechanicsville, Gaines’ Farm and Malvern Hill. Mr. Emerson was also with Stonewall Jackson at Harper’s Ferry when 11,000 prisoners, seventy-three pieces of artillery and 13,000 stands of arms were captured. Two days later, on September 17, 1862, he was in the battle of Antietam against Gen. McClellan, when the Confederate army numbered 60,000 and the Federals numbered 120,000. After this engagement his regiment was placed in with the First, Fourth and Fifth Texas Regiments, and were known as the Texas Brigade of Hood’s division, Longstreet’s corps, and on December 11, 1862, they were confronted at Fredericksburg by Gen. Burnside, whom they defeated. In May, 1863, Gen. Joe Hooker issued forth from Washington, D. C., with flying colors, to wipe Lee and Jackson from off the earth. The two armies came together at Chancellorsville, Va., Mr. Emerson’s division being held in reserve, but was never needed in that fight. In 1863 he went with Gen. Lee’s army to Pennsylvania, taking part in the great battle at Gettysburg, and for three hours Hood’s division of Longstreet’s corps fought hand to hand with the enemy in the old peach orchard near Little Round Top. As Mr. Emerson graphically describes the scene, so it will be given: “I was shot down about sundown, and five others of my company were killed. My surroundings at this point were awful to contemplate There was a calm luster in the sky as I surveyed it from the valley in which I lay. The blue expanse was untarnished by a cloud. Around me everything presented the glorious beauties of a summer’s day save the havoc of the broad battlefield, which lay bestrewed with the dead and wounded. The scene was too distressing for description. My thoughts wandered until I could trace the dawning of the sun upon our shores from the bosom of the Atlantic, and following his course until he sank in the peaceful waters of the Pacific. The enemy’s ball had passed across the crown of my head, cleaving the skull, and I had fallen to the ground blind and paralyzed. The sun was just setting in the west, and for a moment diverted my thoughts, but they returned with a paroxysm of agony as I beheld the gray twilight setting in. Great God! I exclaimed, and must I remain here all night? I dare not look around me but cast my eyes upward to the sky, which was garnished with millions of stars, and the pale moon shed a dim light around me, as floating toward the west she promised soon to leave me in utter darkness. I always loved to look upon the heavens, and mark the bright globes as they rolled through their unknown sphere in the regions of space, but a glance now filled me with horror. I closed my eyes in hopes of shutting out the appalling vision, but it hung upon me like an incubus, and occasionally the rattle of musketry and the roar of cannon came rushing over my lacerated brain like traces of fire. In vain did I attempt to calm my feelings. They were as tumultuous as the troublesome ocean. Reason was powerless, and at length I feared had forsaken me forever. I doubted the reality of all around me, and strove to shake it off as a horrible dream. Vain efforts. Wild visions floated before me. My thoughts were bewildered, and though all my sufferings were indelibly impressed upon my brain, I was mad with terror and anguish. The stars and bars were lying at my feet. By and by the storm of battle passed away. The distant mutterings of the cannons soon ceased to fall upon my ear. Then, again, all was dark. Not a star could be seen twinkling in the sky. The heavens themselves were hidden by the thick veil of gloom as well as every object. ‘O darkness, you revive my terrors.’ I had read Byron’s description of darkness, and its memory drew me within its horrid sphere. All was silence save the groans of the dying. I felt as if eternity had begun its reign, and that I was stationed in my allotted corner of endless duration. It appeared as if I were in the center of darkness, where light was never again destined to penetrate. Long and anxiously did I wait and look around to catch the first dawning of light. I could have wept with joy to behold a single star, a single spark, if it were but the transient light of the fire fly, but I saw nothing. Ages appeared to have rolled away and yet day came not. I feared that the sun had set to rise no more for me. Fluttering and incoherent thoughts of death came over my mind. Was I in my grave, I mentally inquired. Can this be death? Can these fancies be the dreams of nothingness? Vain thoughts. I could not satisfy myself. I doubted my capacity to move. I strove to remember the cause of my dissolution, and the attendance of friends at the last moment of existence, but memory was like the dim shades of night, and the mist was impenetrable. Oblivion had stretched her pall over me. Heaven and earth seemed to have passed away. Memory was dead. Recollection had forsaken me. I knew not even where I was then. At length the thick clouds of gloom began to disperse. A feeble voice seemed to call: ‘Oh, Sam!’ Judge, those who can, how intently I listened for the second call: ‘Oh, Sam!’ Yet how I trembled that it should prove a delusion. O God, it was not. It was the voice of one of my comrades, who had been sent back by the captain of my company, he knowing that several had fallen in that particular locality, the peach orchard near the stone fence, as it will ever be remembered by the survivors of the Texas Brigade. For the first time in three long years did I think of home and friends as memory came rushing back to my brain. May I never witness another such night.’’ He was placed in a wagon and hauled to Williamsport, Md., on the Potomac River, and there conveyed across the river to the Virginia side. From there he was transported to Harrisburg, Va., and then furloughed for thirty days, then going to Waynesboro, Va., and remaining with his mother’s oldest sister, Eliza Fritch, until his recovery, when he joined his company again at Chickamauga, Ga. Mr. Emerson was next with Longstreet at Knoxville, Bulls’ Gap, Morristown and Zolicoffee. In May, 1864, he was hurried back to Virginia, arriving on the battlefield of the Wilderness on the morning of the 6th of that month, and taking their position on the right of the plank road, soon drove the Federals from their position. At the second charge of his command Mr. Emerson was shot through the left foot, and was forced to return to his aunt’s house at Waynesboro. Gangrene set in his wound, and it was thought at one time that the foot would have to be amputated, but fortunately this did not happen. This, however, prevented him from taking part in the battles of Cold Harbor, Spottsylvania Court House, and several others. His wound finally healed, and he rejoined his command February 17, 1865, near Richmond, Va., and was moved with them from that city April 3, taking part in a number of skirmishes on the retreat to Appomattox Court House, where they surrendered April 9, 1865. Mr. Emerson was one of the five privates of his company who surrendered, the remainder having been killed, captured and disabled. He was paroled on the 11th of that month, and, as he remarks, “made a bee-line for home.” He reached Lynchburg, and from there footed it all the way to Greenville, Tenn., where he obtained transportation to Nashville, and from there to Devall’s Bluff, Ark. He next rode to Little Rock, and from there was compelled to foot it for forty-seven miles, reaching home May 10, 1865, after an absence of four years. Shortly after his arrival home Mr. Emerson was afflicted with the camp itch, which almost killed him. He was at that time a wild, reckless boy of nineteen years; but through the influence of Rev. A. B. Winfield, a circuit rider belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, he professed religion and joined that church, in September, 1865. October 10, 1865, he was married to Miss Mary Catherine Gill, a native of McNairy County, Tenn., G. C. Miller, Esq., performing the ceremony, at what is now known as the Kelly place. He turned his attention to farming after the war, and has continuously followed it. In the spring of 1872 he entered into business at the town of Rockport, with Mr. Joseph Guggenheimer as a partner. When the Iron Mountain Railroad was built through the county, in 1872, he moved his mercantile business from Rockport to Malvern, and was the first dry-goods house established in that town. He built his present residence in Malvern in the fall of 1876, and moved his family into it, and December 31, in the same year, sold out his business. Mr. Emerson was the first mayor of Malvern, elected in 1876, and re-elected in 1877. He was elected to represent the county in the legislature in 1880, and re-elected in 1882. He was also elected sergeant-at-arms of the lower house in 1885, and July 14, in the same year, was appointed postmaster of Malvern by the Cleveland administration, and removed when Harrison was elected, on account of his politics, on December 1, 1889. Mr. and Mrs. Emerson have had the following children born to their marriage: Miner Alexander, Fred Garland, Samuel Vancaton, Sallie Ora, John Pinkney, Elbert Lee, Edward Henry, Mary Augusta, William Foster and Ethel Waldo. Mr. Emerson is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and also of the A. O. U. W. He has never fully recovered from the wound received at Gettysburg, and his head is now sometimes afflicted by it. After Samuel Alexander came John Bowey Emerson, the third son, who was born August 16, 1848, and died June 29, 1859. The fourth and last son, Elbert English, was born June 17, 1850, and resides in his native county. He was married to Miss Georgia A. Chandler, by whom he had three children: Ernest Elbert, Alberta and Carlie. John Pinkney Emerson married a Miss Joyner, but has no children. He was a well-known Methodist preacher, and also a member of the Masonic fraternity. In politics he was a stanch Democrat, and was twice elected county clerk. His death occurred January 20, 1857, and his remains lie in the cemetery at Rockport. Joseph V. Emerson was born January 14, 1818, and married a Miss R. C. Riggs on February 2, 1847. Two children were born to this union: Martha J. and Joseph V., Jr. The first named was married to Mr. J. I. Robinson on May 14, 1866, and is now a widow with three children: Ed, Ollie and Frank. Joseph V. was married to A. M. Baker on January 10, 1879, by whom she has had one child. He was a man of great energy and enterprise, and one who loved justice. He had occasion to make a trip to Little Rock at one time, and went by wagon. On the return journey he took sick, and died before reaching home, his death occurring on January 14, 1858. He also sleeps in the Rockport Cemetery. Mary Emerson, the oldest of the daughters, was married to Mr. George C. Miller, of Augusta County, Va., who came to Hot Spring County in 1835. Two children were born to this union: Hannah E. and Martha R. The first named married Mr. Ewell Chamberlain, who died July 28, 1865, from wounds received at the battle of Gettysburg. Two children were born to this union: Eliza and Hannah, the former being now the wife of Mr. Amos H. Bassett, who shortly afterward moved to Wyoming Territory, and the latter married to Mr. D. H. Rutherford, and residing at Magnet Cove, in the northern part of the county, where she has a family of seven children. Martha R., the second daughter of G. C. and Mary (Emerson) Miller, was married to Mr. J. A. Miller on October 3, 1865, by whom she has had four children: George C., Altha, Thomas and Hattie. Their mother died September 29, 1880, and she too sleeps in the cemetery at Rockport. Elizabeth Emerson married Martin Ward on October 16, 1836, and died July 8, 1838. No children were born to their union. Catherine married Mr. Thomas Blakely, by whom she had two children: William R. and Eliza. The latter is still living, and resides in Hot Spring County, the wife of Mr. W. J. Robinson, by whom she has one child. William R. died in Little Rock on October 2, 1888. Amanda Emerson was married three times. Her first husband was Adam Blakely, who died a year after their union, leaving one son, James T. Blakely, who lived to maturity and was married to a Miss Gardner, by whom he had three children. He and wife are both deceased, while the children are cared for by the wife’s family. Amanda’s second marriage was to Mr. John F. Keith, by whom she had three children, two yet living. This husband died during the war while serving in the army. Their son, John W., was married to a Miss Jennie S. Nichols, by whom he has a family of eight children. Louis D. married James H. McCammon, who died February 10, 1888. She is now a widow with one child. Amanda’s third marriage was to Sherrell Gentry, by whom one child is living and grown, Thomas J. Gentry. She has long since died, and sleeps in the Rockford Cemetery. The remainder of this remarkable family are residing in Hot Spring County, and are among its best known and most respected people.

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This family biography is one of 52 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Hot Spring County, Arkansas published in 1889.  For the complete description, click here: Hot Spring County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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