May 1863

Page from Goodrich Diary, Arkansas History Commission

Page from Goodrich Diary, Arkansas History Commission

May 1, 1863

Boys took a holy day. Mrs. Jordan, Johnson’s sister came to see if I would give her lessons in arithmetic and Latin. Could not. (Paid $1.00 for cider. Paid $40.00 for April and May rent.)

May 2, 1863

Saturday. Down the street. Reading & writing.

May 3, 1863

Sunday. At Catholic church. Writing. Began [reading] Gil Blos again.

May 4, 1863

In school. Two new scholars. Several left. (Paid $25.00 for board and $3.00 for mending shoes.)

May 5, 1863

In school. Mrs. Caldwell is complaining that I am not a good teacher, that her boy says he does not learn, and that he fools me.

May 6, 1863

In school.

May 7, 1863

In school. Called on Mrs. Knapp, Eustace Officer’s mother.

May 8, 1863

In school. Two men were shot for desertion today.

May 9, 1863

Saturday. Down the street.

May 10, 1863

At church. Bishop [Lay] here.

May 11, 1863

In school. At Mrs. Caldwell’s [where I heard some] awful stories about [my school]boys [and how they] don’t like me, &c. She says Mr. Sauter will take all [of] Mathews scholars. He will do well & ruin me.

May 12, 1863

Another pistol affair. Louis George had it.

May 13, 1863

In school. The boys are outrageous.

May 14, 1863

In school. At church.

Arkansas Governor Henry Massie Rector

May 15, 1863

In school. I had occasion to take Juba Rector to task & he disobeyed & I struck him with my whip. He got up and swore outrageously to me. I shoved him out and told him I turned him from school. Outdoors he swore terribly at me, went home, and soon his father [Henry Rector] came and wanted to see me. We went out at the back of the building and he wanted to know the difficulty that I had with [his son] Juba. I told him and when I got to [the part of the story about] where I struck him, he struck me on the side of the head with his fist & nearly knocked me down. And before I got straight, he hit me again and said,

“Just as I strike you, you God damned son of a bitch, you damned stinking Yankee, you Yankee dog. You strike my son like I would a negro, you God damned miserable Yankee dog.”

He had his hand on his pistol and if I had endeavored to make any resistance, he would have shot me. I got out of his way & said, “You cowardly dog, you will hear from this” and ordered him off. The blows were hard and I felt them severely.

May 16, 1863

Went fishing with [Capt.] Syberg in the river.

May 17, 1863

Sunday. Sam Adams came to see me. Mrs. Adams wants me again as a private tutor. At church.

May 18, 1863

In school. Called on Mrs. Adams. Saw Wassill.

May 19, 1863

In school.

May 20, 1863

In school. Nothing new.

May 21, 1863

In school.

May 22, 1863

In school. Dodge’s family here tonight.

May 23, 1863

Sick all last night, all day with diarrhea.

May 24, 1863

Sunday. Sick. Sent letter home yesterday.

May 25, 1863

In school. Feel sick.

May 26, 1863

In school.

May 27, 1863

In school.

George Plattenburg

May 28, 1863

In school.

May 29, 1863

In school. [George] Plattenburg is going to begin [teaching] school. Takes a good many of my boys. Fay and Lee Hempstead left [my] school today.

May 30, 1863


May 31, 1863

Sunday. Got shoes. Paid 15 dollars.


Louis George was the 14 year-old son of Louis George – a 59 year-old German grocer in Little Rock. This diary entry presumably refers to an incident in which Louis brought a pistol to school.

Henry Juber Rector was the 15 year-old son of the former Governor Henry Massie Rector. This incident of Goodrich’s pistol-whipping by Ex-Governor Rector is also described in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. See the last paragraph in Rector’s biography. The following account of the incident was also reported in the Arkansas News:

Student’s Father Beats Little Rock Headmaster

Ralph Goodrich, headmaster at the Little Rock Boys’ School reported to the Arkansas News this morning, May 15, 1863, that he was roughed up by the father of a student outside the school building. It appears that Goodrich had admonished the lad for disobeying, at which point the student began to swear at Goodrich.

As swearing is unquestionably against the school rules, Goodrich preceded to gather up his riding crop and strike the misdirected boy. He then ordered him out of the building.

Quite soon afterwards, Goodrich says that the boy’s father arrived, and insisted that they go behind the building. The father, a not so gentlemanly man by the name of Rector, commenced to hitting Goodrich with his fists on the side of Goodrich’s face.

From Goodrich’s accounts Rector called him several insulting names, not the least being a “miserable yankee dog.” For those citizens of Little Rock who might not be familiar with Mr. Goodrich’s background, the gentleman is from the state of New York.

Probably John Wessell, a 50 year-old native of England who was in the lumber business in Little Rock. He had school age boys who probably attended Goodrich’s school.

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