This week one hundred and fifty years ago, citizens of Little Rock, after reading of the various newspaper accounts of erroneous slave insurrections and whole cities laid waste in fires across the South, Arkansans did not know what exactly to believe anymore.
Taking a proactive stance in September, 1860, the citizens of Little Rock decide to hold the first annual Fireman’s ball as a fundraiser for needed equipment for any “emergency” that may arise, whether natural or man made.
The Fireman’s Ball, as the reader should make note, is scheduled for a Thursday evening. Thursdays were a good night for a gala, especially for the local militia, as the militia has set Saturdays as they day for drill and all the pomp and circumstance associated with the various military organizations in 1860 Arkansas, while Wednesdays will be reserved for the local cadets’ training at the newly-built St. John’s College.
The Fireman’s Ball is held at the Anthony House, built in 1841 and was the premiere hotel in Little Rock in 1860 located on Markham Street. Ironically, this hotel burns to the ground in 1876.
[LITTLE ROCK] WEEKLY ARKANSAS GAZETTE, September 29, 1860, p. 3, c. 3
When hissing flames around you fly,
We’ll save your house, your lives, or die.
First Annual Ball of Pulaski Fire Company, No. 2.
The Citizens, Firemen, Military and Civic Associations of Little Rock and vicinity, are respectfully invited to attend a Grand Ball given by the above named Company, on Thursday evening, November 15, 1860, at the Anthony House.
Tickets$5—to be procured from the following Managers:
Capt. N. Murphy,
J. J. Franklin,
C. E. Button,
C. A. Larrentree.
Also at the Anthony House, and from the respective members of the Company.
The military and Firemen are most respectfully invited to appear in uniform.