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this bone handle for his sweetheart? And whose initials are these? Last names beginning with W that are associated with the site include the Walkers, cousins of the Sanders daughters, and the Wilsons, who were residents in the twentieth century. Neither of those families, however, had members whose first and second names began with G.H. Of course, there may be additional cousins from those families whose names we don’t know, but discovering the identity of G.H.W. is a mystery remaining to be solved. THE ARCHEOLOGY OF MATURE WASHINGTON ■ 117 Fig. 7. 17: A bone handle (4 views) inscribed with a spray of leaves, an arrow piercing a heart, and the initials “G.H.W.” Was this a gift to a sweetheart? If so, who was the intended recipient? Photo by Leslie Walker, Arkansas Archeological Survey. Through a combination of archeological and historical research, we have gotten to know two prominent families of early Washington, Arkansas. Their lives were similar in many respects, as they were joined by the culture of their times and through the opportunities and trials of their place in history. Their lives were also different from each other, as personal choice and circumstance led to different paths. Abraham Block and Simon Sanders would have known each other. Abraham’s purchases of land and slaves, his annual payment of taxes, his court dealings and other activities would have brought him to the Clerk’s Office to authorize and record his business affairs. Simon and Zenobia likely purchased goods at Abraham’s store. In the small town of Washington, they lived within walking distance of each other, just five blocks apart. Both men belonged to the local Masonic lodge and may have shared other interests. Zenobia Sanders and Frances Block may have been invited to some of the same ladies’ teas and social events. Abraham and Simon were both well-known men and public figures in Washington, who knew and 118 ■ Final Thoughts and Future Questions CHAPTER 8 interacted with the other important men of Hempstead County. What we can’t know is whether they were close friends or just acquaintances. There were cultural and social differences between the families that suggest they might have moved in different circles. Their children, for one, were some years apart in age. Abraham’s youngest daughter was born the same year as Simon’s oldest daughter, so most of the Block children were a good deal older than the Sanders children. The Sanders family was allied through marriage with the Walkers and Miricks in Simon and Zenobia’s generation, leading to extensive family ties throughout Hempstead County. Abraham and Fanny Block had few family connections in Hempstead County, and it wasn’t until some of their children married into the Jett, Brittin, Trimble, and Jennings families that we see their wider connections. Even so, several of their children did not marry or only did so after leaving Arkansas, and only Hester’s and David’s families left descendants in Hempstead County. The families were different economically, as well. On the one hand, Abraham was a wealthy and prosperous merchant with business connections, in part through his sons, that ranged to New Orleans and back to east coast mercantile centers. He made money not only through the sale of his general merchandise, but also through land dealings, the extension of credit, and service as a commission agent. His world extended far beyond the boundaries of Hempstead County. FINAL THOUGHTS AND FUTURE QUESTIONS ■ 119 Fig. 8.1: Reenactors celebrate springtime at the Jonquil Festival held annually at Historic Washington State Park. Courtesy of Historic Washington State Park. Simon, on the other hand, was a civil servant, whose success was directly linked to his skills as a recordkeeper . His honesty, reliability, and attention to detail earned him the trust and confidence of the county’s wealthy and important men. His opportunities came through those men, but his range of operations largely was centered in Hempstead County. There was one other major difference between the families, and that was the Blocks’ Jewish ethnicity. Even if the practice of their faith was limited to the privacy of their home—an undoubted necessity in Washington—that faith set them apart from the wider community. Certainly for Abraham and Fanny, if not for their children, it must have created a sense of isolation in the early years on the Arkansas frontier. It is no wonder they retained ties to New Orleans, the closest city with...


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MARC Record
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