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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Independence 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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Elisha Baxter, ex-governor of the State of Arkansas and whose name has been famous before the nation for many years, was born in Rutherford County, N. C., September 1, 1827. His father was William Baxter, born in Ireland about the year 1759, and a weaver by trade, who emigrated to America in the year 1789, settling for a time in Mecklenberg County, N. C. where he soon afterward married Miss Sarah Berryhill. This happy union gave them four daughters and five sons whose names are Margaret, James, Joseph, William, Andrew, Thomas, Sarah, Caroline and Mary. After his marriage he removed to Rutherford County, N. C., where he resided until his death, in 1852, leaving a very large estate behind him, the result of his energy and good business ability. About the year 1810 he married his second wife, Catherine, daughter of James Lee, of Virginia, and from this marriage were born three daughters and five sons: Jane, Elizabeth, Esther, John, David, George, Elisha and Taylor. John became a very prominent attorney, and for several terms was elected a member of the North Carolina legislature and speaker of the house in 1852. He moved to Knoxville, Tenn., in 1854, and was a member of the constitutional convention that adopted the present constitution of that State. He was appointed United States circuit judge by President Hayes in 1878 for the States of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, and was one of the most brilliant men of his time. John died at Hot Springs, Ark., March 2, 1887; David perished at sea on an ocean voyage to Australia in 1851, and George died in 1854. Taylor became a prosperous farmer in Kansas, while Elisha was one of Arkansas’ most noted governors. Elisha Baxter received a good moral training in his youth, but, much to his regret in after life, he did not have the facilities for attending the higher schools and academies that are now within the reach of every young man in America. In 1848 he commenced his mercantile career at Rutherfordton, in company with his brother-in-law, Spenser Eaves, and in 1849 he was united in marriage to Miss Harriet, daughter of Col. Elijah Patton, of Rutherford County. He shortly afterward withdrew from commercial life and farmed for two years, and in the fall of 1852 moved to Arkansas. In the early part of 1853 he again entered into business, this time at Batesville, in company with his brother Taylor, under the firm name of E. Baxter & Bro. He had not been a merchant at Batesville very long before he found that the nature of trade and the habits of the people were essentially different from those of North Carolina, and this, in connection with his love of politics and activity in that direction, soon led to disastrous results. In 1855 they suspended, giving up all of their property, and paying their debts in full, and ended their business career as honorably as they had conducted it. This unfortunate occurrence did not break the spirit of these determined men, however, and the brother, who had never been compelled to do a day’s labor before, at once mounted a building, just before the store they had vacated, and began learning the carpenter’s trade. In this he succeeded, and soon regained part of his fallen fortune. Elisha repaired to the office of the Independent Balance, a newspaper published at Batesville, by U. E. Fort, and edited by M. Shelby Kennard. Here he found employment for twelve months, and devoted his leisure hours to the study of law under the supervision of the Hon. H. F. Fairchild. He soon afterward was admitted to the bar, and since then has practiced his profession, except when filling office. He was a Whig in politics, and a strong adherent of that party until it disbanded, in 1855. Mr. Baxter then attempted to co-operate with the Democratic party, but could not agree with them on the question of secession. As a Whig, he was elected and served as mayor of Batesville, in 1853, and in 1854 was elected a member of the legislature from Independence County, which had not elected a Whig to any position for twenty years. In 1858 he was again elected to the legislature as a nonpartisan, and in 1860 was defeated for prosecuting attorney of the Third judicial district by F. W. Desha. When the war came on he tried to be neutral and loyal to the government of the United States, so that when Curtis came into Batesville with 20,000 Federal troops, in the spring of 1862, his position enabled him to do a great deal of good for the citizens of Batesville; and during the two months that the place was occupied by the Federal army he was incessantly engaged in reclaiming property, collecting vouchers, and procuring the release of prisoners, without the hope or prospects of reward. At that time he believed his course would be appreciated, but Curtis had scarcely left when he was notified by some friendly Confederates that he could not safely remain in the country. Accordingly, he left on short notice, with but very little provision made for himself and family. Overtaking Curtis at Jacksonport, he was tendered the command of the First Arkansas Federal regiment, then just ready to be organized, but declined, and as he said to General Curtis: Not because I think you ought not to whip the rebellious, but because I feel that I, who am Southern born and raised, ought not to take arms against my neighbors and friends. He did not get to see or hear from his family for almost a year, and in the spring of 1863 he was captured by a squad of Southern cavalry commanded by Col. Newton. On arriving at headquarters he received such courtesy from Col. Newton, and discovered in him such military genius, that afterward, when he became governor, and felt it his duty to appoint a major-general for active operations in the field, he did not hesitate to bestow the commission on Col. Newton, who had paroled him at Fredericktown, Mo., with an escort of two men, and required him to report to Gen. Holmes at Little Rock. He had scarcely left Newton’s camp when he came in full view of the Federal army, in which one of his friends urged him to join them, but he replied that he had given his pledge of honor to report at Little Rock, which he did, and Gen. Holmes unceremoniously turned him over to the civil authorities, who assigned him to the Pulaski County jail to await an indictment for treason against the Confederate States. In due time the indictment was found, and he was arraigned before Judge Ringold, William M. Randolph acting as district attorney. The case was continued until the next term of court, and through the agency of some friends he managed to escape from jail, and after concealing himself for eighteen days near Little Rock, without any shelter and barely enough food to live, he succeeded in making his way into the Federal army, then at Little Rock, Gen. Steele having captured and occupied that place on September 10, 1863. In all this time he was abused, verbally and through the press, being branded as a coward by the True Democrat, of Little Rock, citing his refusal to take command of the First Arkansas Federal Regiment, when tendered him by Gen. Curtis, as a proof. Stung by these reflections, he made haste to apply to Gen. Steele for authority to recruit a regiment for the Federal service. Armed with such authority, he proceeded to Jacksonport and recruited the Fourth Arkansas Mounted Infantry, and reported to Gen. R. R. Livingston, at Batesville, where he commanded the post until the spring of 1864, when, under the organization of the Murphy or war government, he was elected a member of the supreme court. Under the constitution of 1864 he could not hold two offices at one time, so, after much hesitation, he resigned his command of the regiment, which devolved upon his brother as senior captain, as well as by order of Gen. Steele. Fourteen days after becoming a member of the supreme court of the State, he was elected, over his protest, to the senate of the United States for the long term. He repaired to Washington, taking his family with him for safety as far as Illinois, and presented his credentials, under the State government then existing in Arkansas, but was not permitted to qualify as senator. After the war was over he returned with his family to Batesville, and resumed the practice of law. In 1868, upon the suggestion of the Hon. H. C. Caldwell, he was appointed register in bankruptcy for the First Congressional district of Arkansas, by the Hon. Salmon P. Chase, then chief justice of the United States. During the same year he was appointed judge of the Third judicial circuit for four years, by Gov. Clayton. In 1872 he was nominated by the Republican party for governor, upon a platform pledging him to do what he could to enfranchise all such persons as had been disfranchised on account of their participation in the rebellion. He accepted the nomination, and, after the most laborious and extensive canvass ever made in the State, he was elected by a majority of 3,242 votes over his competitor, Joseph Brooks, perhaps the most able debater ever known in Arkansas. His election was duly declared by the senate of the State, the only tribunal that had any authority to count, or in any manner control the returns. He was qualified as governor early in 1873, and undertook to redeem his pledges to the people and give them an honest government. His administration was certainly the most eventful and fruitful of any State government in the United States. This remarkable epoch in the history of Arkansas, known as the Brooks-Baxter war, is too long for narration in this sketch, and indeed pertains more to the history of the State than to these two individuals. In 1878 at the earnest solicitation of people from all parts of the State, he became a candidate for United States senator, but was defeated by the Hon. J. D. Walker, a Democrat. He was called to fill the office of governor of Arkansas, at the most trying period in the history of that State. The conflict that culminated during his administration, was not the question as to which of two contestants should be governor of the State for a single term; but in reality it was a representative struggle between principles of the utmost importance to the welfare of the State, and Gov. Baxter held firm to his pledges and principles throughout the entire struggle. During the trouble, when President Grant suggested that both he and Brooks act as governor jointly, Mr. Baxter replied: I am either governor or I am not governor, and I will consent to nothing that will, in whole or in part, recognize Mr. Brooks as governor. In his profession of the law, Gov. Baxter has achieved a splendid reputation, although not entering it until his maturer years, and being subject to many interruptions. He is a man possessing a strong natural moral disposition, and has a dread of violence and bloodshed, as was manifest throughout his administration. Gov. Baxter and wife are the parents of six children: Millard P., Edward A., Catherine M., wife of N. M. Alexander; George E. and Hattie O., and Fannie E., who died in childhood. The Governor has been a member of the Methodist Church since 1844, and, by act of their separation, has become a member of the Southern branch.

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This family biography is one of 158 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Independence County, Arkansas published in 1889.  View the complete description here: Independence County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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

View a map of 1889 Independence County, Arkansas here: Independence County, Arkansas Map

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