Traveling on the internet can land local history buffs back in school, way back.
At an internet site developed by Kathy Karcher Floyd of Little Rock are Mrs. M. Hoover’s class rosters dating from the 1870s through the 1890s. The rosters list names and ages–her students were from 6 to 16–and other informative tidbits.
Mrs. Hoover taught in Little Rock for many years–at the Arsenal school, the Scott Street school, the Forest Grove school, the Union school, and the Sherman school.
She taught 8-year-old Fred Hanger, who succumbed to diphtheria in the fall, and Jessie Garrett, an 8-year-old classmate who passed away the next spring. For her work with students during that 1884-85 school year, she earned $55 a month.
Some of Hoover’s students died young, like Hanger and Garrett. Others grew up to lead the community, to have businesses named after them. Stately homes they built and lived in are now historic and bear their names.
Floyd, who owns Faded Fables antiquarian bookshop along with her husband, Paul, came across the rosters in a box slated for trash that her husband bought for $5.
He’d just finished buying some old books from a woman clearing out things stored in her home. As he was leaving, an open cardboard box with a 1930s Little Rock telephone book on top caught his eye. When he learned the box was trash that had yet to be taken out to the curb, he offered the woman $5 for the box.
“It wasn’t until he got it back to the shop that we found out what besides the phone book it contained,” Mrs. Floyd said.
She said rooting through the box was like going on an archaeological dig.
“There were bits and pieces from a couple of generations,” she said, adding that the 1930s phone book was the most recent item in the box.
Other items included photographs of William Jennings Bryan’s visit to Little Rock, postcards depicting the Confederate Veterans parade in Little Rock around 1911, high school graduation programs, and some handbooks describing the Little Rock Public School System in the 1880s.
The rosters were nestled at the very bottom of the box.
The brittle, yellowed pages are too fragile to be handled. The old fountain pen-scrawled words at times smeared and blurred. But the spidery script tells much.
Richard B. Dixon, 72, a lifelong Little Rock resident and retired University of Arkansas at Little Rock history professor, recognized several names from the lists.
Many were members of German families who settled on Little Rock’s east side in the 1870s and 1880s, Dixon said. Some were the children of grocers and shoemakers; others the children of candy makers and dry goods merchants.
Floyd considered the information too valuable to tuck away in a drawer so she began posting the rosters on the internet about a month ago.