Wednesday, May 30, 2018

SARA Explores the Deep Roots of Local Family

The largest of Arkansas’s counties geographically, Union County was formed in 1829 from parts of Clark and Hempstead Counties. It originally encompassed what would later become Ouachita County, and the first county court was held at Ecore Fabre, now known as Camden. By 1843, El Dorado became the county seat.

It was between El Dorado and Lisbon that James C. Goodwin purchased a plantation after he and his family had migrated there from Jones County, Georgia. Though Goodwin died only three years after settling in Arkansas, his wife and children remained and became contributing members in the area.

The collections at SARA contain two ledgers from the stores of two of the Goodwins’ sons, William Harrison Goodwin and Elisha Hamilton Goodwin. William Goodwin received a degree in medicine from Tulane in 1867, practicing in Lisbon and later in El Dorado. The larger of the two ledgers is from the T. C. Chew Drug Company that William purchased an interest in, later buying out the interest of Chew. William ran the store for another twenty-two years until his death in 1906.

The smaller of the two ledgers relates to William’s older brother Elisha, who moved to neighboring Claiborne Parish, Louisiana in the late 1850s. Elisha also practiced as a druggist until the start of the Civil War. After the war, Elisha and his family returned to Union County where he engaged in farming until his death in 1901.

Research compiled by Goodwin descendants on the ledgers and the family’s history is also among the library collections at SARA. As always, donations of original materials are welcome.  For more information, please contact Archival Manager, Melissa Nesbitt, at

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