--Photo courtesy of Bob Highsmith
This water tank wagon was used to wash down the streets of early Judsonia.
Driver is Charles Marion Highsmith, and his rider is grandson Glen Highsmith.
In general, the best aid to local historical research is a stack of old newspapers. One of the most highly prized books in my library is a bound volume of the Judsonia Advance for 1887-88. At that time the Advance, which is still published today under the name of the White County Record, was being edited by the Briggs brothers, Bert and Flavel. It was started in 1880 by E.C. Kinney and Pendleton Green. Kenney became the sole owner in 1881, but sold a half-interest in the shop to Bert Briggs in 1882 and the other half in 1883. The Briggs brothers published the paper for six years, selling it back to Kinney in 1889. The following items are copied from the volume:
Cool lemonade, soda water and ice cream always on hand at Elliott’s Ice Cream Parlor … Joseph Wetzel will finish burning his kiln of brick this week and our citizens will not be bothered in the future to secure brick for flues and well curbing … Owing to the sickness of a number of the members of the Light Guards the regular semi-weekly concerts in the Park Pavilion have been dispensed with for a few weeks. (8/24/1887)
The Light Guards played a few pieces on the street Friday night. The new drums were heard four miles in the county … Some of our young people are again indulging in amateur telegraph lines. One has recently been established between the houses of T.B. Drake and F. Franceur. (9/7/1887)
E.D. McAllister, proprietor of the Pacific Hotel, has purchased a new hack to run between his hotel and the depot. It is driven by the most accommodating of drivers, Ben Key. (9/28/1887)
We want it distinctly understood that the Advance office will receive wood on subscription and if anyone has promised us wood we would like to have it. We tried keeping warm on promises once but somehow they don’t throw out heat like good dry wood. (10/26/1887)
Saturday, a horse belonging to Mr. A.T. Jones of West Point became frightened and breaking his halter ran through town apparently mad with fright. He attempted to run into two different stores in town and finally made his way toward the river; running through the sawmill before he tried to jump a deep ditch near there but failed in his attempt and fell in. He was hoisted out, having sustained a few slight injuries. (11/23/1887)
A new iron fence is being built around our court house at Searcy, which will cost $2,000. (1/18/1888)
The raftsmen up the river succeeded in getting four large rafts of pine timber nearly down last week, but the cold weather was too much for them and they were tied up about 15 miles above here. (1/25/1888)
The raftsmen started down with a raft last week but it struck on a large rock on one of the shoals here and broke up. (2/1/1888)
Our farmers are complaining bitterly that they must guard their wagons when in town to prevent depredations from loose mules and colts from eating and mutilating anything they have in their wagons in the way of baskets, sacks, hay, etc. It would become our people not to allow their stock to impose upon the rest of the community, in foraging out of wagons and in racing up and down the streets at the risk of injuring children. (3/7/1888)
Two tramp musicians were circulating on the streets Monday picking up nickels and dimes. (3/28/1888)
Floyd Coe had quite an accident with his team Tuesday which came near resulting seriously. In driving on the ferry boat the chain with which the wagon wheels were tied broke and pushed his horses into the river. Before they could be disengaged from the harness they came near being drowned. (6/6/1888)
William Ewing Orr (1911-1997) was publisher of the Judsonia Advance and twice president of the White County Historical Society. The whereabouts of his prized volume of 1887-88 newspapers is unknown.