Greenock (Crittenden County)

Greenock was a promising settlement, active in the 1820s and 1830s, located near the banks of the Mississippi River in northeastern Arkansas. Before its demise, it was designated as the inaugural county seat of Crittenden County.

Alexander Ferguson, his wife, and three sons (William, Horatio, and Allen) arrived in the Arkansas Territory in 1820 and settled in present-day Crittenden County near the banks of the Mississippi River. During the next few years, the family established its own homestead and began developing plans for the founding of a town. Horatio Ferguson provided fifty acres for the sum of one dollar, with John Fooy supplying an additional five acres. In 1827, William Ferguson, who was serving as justice of the peace and county sheriff, surveyed a townsite about 900 feet west of the banks of the Mississippi River. Ferguson also served in the territorial legislature and the first Arkansas General Assembly. The town plat provided for streets of a width of about fifty feet enclosing a large town square measuring 300 feet square. The name Greenock was chosen to commemorate Alexander’s native hometown in Scotland.

Hopes ran high for the new town when, in 1826, it was named as the first Crittenden County seat of government, and a post office was established in 1827. Despite expectations that the town would become an important port on the Mississippi River, Greenock never grew to any substantial size. When a military road was built out of Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1830s, it bypassed Greenock, isolating the town from a major transportation route. An even more severe blow occurred in 1836 when the seat of government was moved to Marion (Crittenden County). Once the county seat was removed, Horatio Ferguson regained the title to most of the land he had donated for the town by an act of the legislature in 1838.

In 1846, the post office was closed. It was briefly reestablished in 1851 but moved to nearby Oldham that same year. The Civil War further damaged the town’s future, and when it was bypassed by the railroad in the late 1800s, its fate was sealed. The once promising town slowly disappeared.

One interesting story in the history of the town was the reported visit of a future president of the United States. In 1831, a young man of twenty-two traveled up the Mississippi River on a return trip from delivering cargo to New Orleans, Louisiana. Sometime along the trip north, he had been robbed of all his money and was near destitute. When the boat docked at Greenock, the Ferguson family gave the young man a job cutting wood and a place to stay in their house for a short time. The story of Abraham Lincoln’s brief stay in Greenock is poorly documented and may be no more than local legend. However, it is documented that Lincoln made such a trip to New Orleans in 1831 and would have passed by the Arkansas town.

In the twenty-first century, the only physical reminder of the town is the Greenock Cemetery, said to be one of the oldest in the area. What was once the town now lies under farm fields, frequently flooded by the Mississippi River, or is covered by the present-day community of Clarkedale (Crittenden County).

For additional information:
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1890.

Woolfolk, Margaret Elizabeth. A History of Crittenden County, Arkansas. Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1993.

Mike Polston
CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Last Updated: 12/22/2020