Markham Hill Moment of History                                                       2019-12-09

Evangeline Pratt as a Girl and Single Woman
Covering 1898-1927 - Part 1 of 2

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Evangeline Pratt was born in December of 1898 in Springdale, Arkansas.  She was the youngest child of Cassius and Maggie Pratt who settled on West Mountain (now called Markham Hill) in 1900 with their four sons and two daughters, Joy and Evangeline.  Evangeline married Julian S. Waterman, founder and first dean of the UA Law School and vice president of the UA, in September 1927 when she was 28 years old. After his death, she married Laird Archer, foreign officer of the Near East Foundation. Evangeline is best known as a founding member and first secretary of the Ozark Society that helped save the Buffalo River from being dammed in the 1960s and make it the U.S.’s first National River in 1972. She worked with Neil Compton and others to accomplish this much-appreciated feat.


Evangeline Waterman Archer (nee Pratt) At Age 14
by George Rich, 1913

This weekly is Part 1 of Evangeline Pratt as a girl and single woman. The last syllable of Evangeline’s name is pronounced with a short ‘i’, as in ‘lynn’.  Among Evangeline’s interests as a girl and young woman were horseback riding, books, and piano. She also loved flowers and acting in skits in school gatherings and clubs.  Her nickname was Tooie. Two of her childhood friends on West Mountain were Lucille and Anna Fulbright, daughters of Roberta Fulbright who was president and publisher of the Fayetteville Daily Democrat/Northwest Arkansas Times from the 1920s until her death in 1953.  The Fulbright family lived in the house that Dean and Mrs. G. D. Nichols later purchased on Haskell Heights, a part of West Mountain.

Two of Evangeline’s chores as a girl were cleaning the glass on all the Pratt family’s kerosene lamps once a week and in the winter, pouring a kettle of hot water on all the bridle bits so that they wouldn’t freeze in the horses’ mouths.

Evangeline graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1915 and then attended the University of Arkansas. She received a Teacher’s Certificate in June 2017 and her B.A. in June 1919. She took courses in music, piano, French, Spanish, math, economics, English, physics, art, chemistry, civil engineering, and education.

During college Evangeline was active in the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She attended dinner and club parties. An example is described in the Fayetteville Daily Democrat on Sept 16, 1916: “Mr. Eastin Wait ... was guest of honor Thursday evening at a dansant given at the Heights by Misses Adele and Eugene Ramsey, and Miss Evangeline Pratt. About twenty couples were in attendance and music was furnished by Owen Mitchell. The dancing suite was decorated in wild ferns and yellow daisies and formed a pretty background for the weavers of intricate new steps. Mr. and Mrs. Wait and Mrs. Ramsey enjoyed the evening with the young folk.”

Evangeline was an accomplished pianist. She gave several recitals and played the piano in at least one friend’s wedding. The renovated piano in the Pratt Inn belonged to her family.

After graduation, Evangeline began working at the General Extension Division of the University of Arkansas. The Fayetteville Daily Democrat on June 12, 1922 writes, “The history of the Extension work has been one of rapid growth and a constantly enlarging sphere of usefulness. About 1912, it was decided that a few correspondence courses might be offered to non-resident students, and one of the University’s regular professors was appointed to keep the records and attend to the correspondence in his spare time. The enrollment for that first year was about fifty. In 1917-18 a differentiation was made between the General Extension Division and the Agricultural Extension work, and B. C. Riley was made director of the General Extension.  At this time, lecture and lyceum courses were arranged, the film and slide service organized, and the Arkansas High School Debating League was inaugurated. The phonograph record service and other services of a similar nature were begun the next year. In the Spring of 1919, on the day following her graduation from the University, Miss Evangeline Pratt entered the office as assistant to the director. With this small force – a half-time director and an assistant who served as secretary, clerk, stenographer, bookkeeper and office boy – the Division began to recuperate. Soon after this Mr. Riley resigned the directorship, and Dr. A. M. Harding, who at the time was registrar and examiner, and a professor in the department of mathematics and astronomy, took the position. Under his direction, the general extension work has made rapid progress. More office room was needed. Then came the move to the fourth floor of the Main building. An increased appropriation was granted in July 1921, and the office personnel was enlarged. In addition to Dr. Harding, director, and Miss Pratt, his executive secretary, four full-time stenographers and three student assistants are now working regularly in the offices.”


Evangeline attended conferences on General Extension work. An April 23, 1923 article in the Fayetteville Daily Democrat states: "Miss Evangeline Pratt, executive secretary of the University General Extension Division, and Dr. A. M. Harding, general director, took prominent part in the conference of the National University Extension Association just adjourned here. In talks before the Association both emphasized “the great need of taking the feast prepared by the universities to the hungry men and women who cannot come to the table."

“State and privately endowed universities of the United States have advanced far beyond old standards of education in conception of the fields they are to occupy and method of accomplishing work”, Miss Pratt said. “The University of today is not doing its duty or meeting its opportunity if it is not, in addition to educating the student on the campus, attempting to educate all the people all the time.”

Evangeline often sat for artists, including her sister Joy. A July 14, 1920 article in the newspaper announces: “The first 500 copies of the 20,000 edition of booklets, “Fayetteville, Southern Gateway to the Ozarks,” have been received via express by C. C. Yarrington of the booklet committee of the Chamber of Commerce and the Ozark Playground Committee.  The booklets are works of art and are the results of the combined efforts of Mr. Yarrington, W. J. Hamilton, William Steene, artist, J. H. Field, photographer, McIntosh and Son, photographic finishers, all of this place, and J. Byrnes Walker, formerly of this place, now of Chicago.  The cover, mounted on brown, is a reproduction in color of the painting by Mr. Steene and was posed for by Misses Carolyn Gregg, Anna Fulbright and Evangeline Pratt.”