Counties

Entry Category: Counties

Arkansas County

Arkansas County, located in southeast Arkansas, has two county seats—DeWitt and Stuttgart. It is one of the state’s original counties and lies in the Delta. Arkansas County is an agricultural county; rice and soybeans are the main crops. Pre-European Exploration It is likely that Native Americans of the Tunica tribe resided in what is now Arkansas County before 1700. The Quapaw arrived in the area between 1543 and 1673. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Menard-Hodges Site near Nady was occupied during parts of the Woodland and Mississippian periods, and perhaps later. European Exploration and Settlement Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto traveled the Mississippi River from 1541 to 1543. At one point, he and his party reached Anilco, a village on …

Ashley County

  Ashley County is located in southeast Arkansas and is part of both the Mississippi Alluvial and West Gulf Coastal plains. Soil in the eastern Delta region of the county is conducive to the cultivation of the great cash crops of the state: cotton, rice, and soybeans. The western part of the county, being mainly upland forests, developed into the city of Crossett in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, becoming home to one of the largest industrial enterprises in Arkansas: the Crossett Lumber Company, later to become Georgia-Pacific Corporation (GP). At its peak, GP owned some 800,000 acres in southeast Arkansas and northeast Louisiana, and Crossett billed itself as “The Forestry Capital of the South.” Ashley County—formed out …

Baxter County

  Governor Elisha Baxter formed Baxter County as the sixty-eighth county in Arkansas just prior to the Brooks-Baxter War. It is a county important to Arkansas history because of its flood control projects and its early educational institutions. Most of the land in Baxter County is hilly and rocky, typical of the Ozark Plateau on which it lies. Pre-European Exploration and Settlement Hundreds of prehistoric sites, representing various time periods and traditions, are found in Baxter County. The Old Joe site, which includes two prehistoric rock art images, is located near Norfork and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. By the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the Osage claimed control over the area, but they relinquished their …

Benton County

Located in the northwest corner of Arkansas, Benton County borders Missouri and Oklahoma and is part of the Ozark Plateau. The county has grown from a Native American hunting ground and a timberland and fruit resource to one of the fastest-growing and most economically vibrant counties in the country. Pre-European Exploration Evidence of Mississippian Culture in what is now Benton County can be seen through findings from the Goforth-Saindon Mound Group. Evidence suggests that the people living at the site were influenced by Caddo culture to the south. The Goforth-Saindon site is one of three known Mississippian Period mound centers in the Western Ozark Highland region. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the …

Boone County

Located in the Ozark Mountain highlands, Boone County has endured struggles from its creation. Political, racial, and union conflicts have drawn national attention, often overshadowing the contributions of the county’s residents and businesses. Pre-European Exploration Archeological examinations of sites in Boone County indicate that Native American groups from a variety of time periods either lived or worked in the area. An examination of the Chaney-Crawford Site included points from the Archaic and Woodland periods, with a few from the Mississippian period. Evidence supports the idea that the site was occupied seasonally rather than permanently and served as a location to make tools. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Although they had no communities in the area, the Osage had claims to …

Bradley County

  Bradley County, located in southern Arkansas in the West Gulf Coastal Plain, has become known nationally as one of the prime production areas for tomatoes. The “Bradley Pink” variety is the standard for quality for the entire tomato market in the United States. The tomato has been labeled “Arkansas’s gift to the nation,” and the pink tomato is the official fruit and vegetable of the state. The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival draws thousands of visitors each year. The county is bounded on the west by Calhoun County, with Moro Bayou the dividing line, and on the north by Cleveland County. To the east is Drew County, the dividing line being the Saline River. The Ouachita River divides the …

Calhoun County

Located in south-central Arkansas, with its southernmost border about twenty-five miles from the Louisiana state line, Calhoun County has the smallest population of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties. Hampton is the only town with more than 1,000 residents. Thornton, Harrell, and Tinsman are the only other incorporated communities. The economic base is timber, sand, and gravel. The majority of the workforce is employed in manufacturing. Pre-European Exploration There are about 350 archaeological sites known in Calhoun County, testifying to the habitation of Native Americans in the region for thousands of years. Two prehistoric mounds—Boone’s Mounds and the Keller Site—believed to be from the Coles Creek culture of the Late Woodland Period,are preserved near Calion (Union County) and are on the National Register of Historic …

Carroll County

Changing boundary lines, the massacre of a California-bound wagon train, and the power of healing springs have extended Carroll County’s impact far beyond its borders. While retaining its rural status, Carroll County has successfully merged its history with the changing times to create a county that draws a diverse group of residents as well as tourists. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Louisiana Territory, Missouri Territory, and finally Arkansas Territory were names given to the land that became Carroll County. The Osage hunted the land until they ceded their rights to northwest Arkansas in an 1808 treaty. In 1818, the United States government established a reservation for the Western Cherokee. The northwest boundary of the reservation ran diagonally through what is …

Chicot County

Chicot County is the southeasternmost county in Arkansas. It is bounded by Louisiana to the south and the Mississippi River to the east. The county is located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta; therefore, it is a prime location for agriculture, with some of the richest soils in the state. Because of this, the county continues to have strong ties to the land and is consistently one of the largest producers of cotton in Arkansas. With Lake Chicot as the largest natural lake in Arkansas and the largest oxbow lake in North America, the county provides residents and tourists with ample opportunities for year-round fishing. According to the 2020 Census, the county had a population of 10,208, with three …

Clark County

Clark County was founded on December 15, 1818, as part of Missouri Territory. One of the original five counties composing Arkansas Territory when the territory was established in 1819, Clark County included all or parts of at least fifteen counties in present-day Arkansas and parts of six counties in what is now Oklahoma. The county was named for Missouri territorial governor William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The county is part of two of Arkansas’s natural regions—the Ouachita Mountains and the Gulf Coastal Plain—and its physical characteristics made the area ideal for farming and hunting. Before Europeans arrived, Native Americans, particularly the Caddo, inhabited the land containing heavy forests, abundant game, rich soil, clear streams, and salt. Archaeological …

Clay County

Clay County is a predominantly rural area with small cities and towns located in northeastern Arkansas. Light industry in the area supplements the agriculture-based economy. Hunting, fishing, and boating are the area’s primary recreational offerings. Clay County lies within the Mississippi River Alluvial Plain. The county is divided into unequal halves by Crowley’s Ridge, following a northeast to southwest direction. In general, soils in the county range from sandy to clay and gravel, and lignite deposits can be found along Crowley’s Ridge. Eastern Clay County has petrified wood, pieces of which can be seen outside the courthouse in Piggott and have even been used to make tombstones. The St. Francis, Cache, Black, and Current rivers flow through the county. Approximately …

Cleburne County

Although it was the most recent of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties to be formed, Cleburne County has proved to be a tourist mecca for the state. Thousands of Arkansans and visitors are attracted to Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River for fishing, swimming, and other water sports. Even before the lake was formed, summer visitors were attracted to the mineral springs in Spring Park in Heber Springs, the county seat, and to the waterfalls and unique rock formations in the surrounding hills. Cleburne County has a generally rugged terrain with elevations ranging from 270 feet above sea level in the river bottomland of the southeast part of the county to 1,400 feet in the northwest section. The valleys have …

Cleveland County

Cleveland County was created on April 17, 1873 as Dorsey County, named after Republican congressman Stephen Dorsey, but the name was changed to honor President Grover Cleveland on March 5, 1885. The Saline River bisects the county from near the northwest corner to near the southeast corner. Moro Creek forms much of the western boundary. When the area was first explored, trees covered a major part of the county. Much of the economy centered on their harvest. The timber industry is still important to the county. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Fossils of sea crustaceans have been found along Salty Branch, as it is known locally, which crosses Arkansas Highway 8 just east of Highway 97. According to an 1818 …

Columbia County

Natural resources have been the mainstay of the Columbia County economy, from cotton in the nineteenth century; timber, oil, and gas in the mid-twentieth century; and later bromine. The county’s fortunes have also been closely tied to the evolution of Southern Arkansas University (SAU). Columbia County, named after the female personification of America, wielded significant political influence in Arkansas during the first half of the twentieth century, with family and business ties to governors Thomas McRae, Sidney McMath, and Ben T. Laney, Lieutenant Governor Lawrence E. Wilson, State Auditor T. C. Monroe, U.S. representatives Robert Minor Wallace and Wade Kitchens, and businessman Harvey Couch. Columbia County is typified geographically by low, rolling hills and is heavily forested. Pre-European Exploration through …

Conway County

Conway County was established by an act of the territorial legislature on October 20, 1825, from land taken from Pulaski County. It was named for Henry Wharton Conway, a member of the Arkansas Territory’s delegation to Congress. At the time, it comprised 2,500 square miles and included most of the present Conway, Faulkner, Van Buren, White, Cleburne, and Perry counties and part of Yell County. Located in the Arkansas River Valley, Conway County’s geographic structure ranges from the ridges of the Ozark foothills in the extreme northwest to the rich lowlands near the Arkansas River—a quite varied topography. The county’s native hardwood and pine forests have been a resource for the timber and recreation industries. Cotton was grown in the …

Counties

Counties are administrative and political sub-units of a state. Some states, particularly Alaska and Louisiana, use the terms “borough” and “parish,” respectively, to designate the same type of entity. The county government is based within a community designated the county seat and typically consists of a county judge (who serves as the chief executive officer), county clerk, circuit clerk, assessor, sheriff, coroner, and the legislative body known as the quorum court; some counties have or had other positions such as county superintendent, surveyor, or collector. Some counties possess dual county seats due to local geographical conditions making travel to a single county seat difficult at certain times of the year, as with some counties that are divided by a river. …

Craighead County

Craighead County is located in northeast Arkansas and was created as Arkansas’s fifty-eighth county in 1859. It is unusual not only in the circumstances of its creation and naming but also in that it has two county seats, Jonesboro and Lake City. The unique formation called Crowley’s Ridge runs through its center. Along with Jonesboro and Lake City, Craighead County also includes the towns of Bay, Black Oak, Bono, Brookland, Caraway, Cash, Claunch, Egypt, and Monette. It is the home of Arkansas State University (ASU), one of the state’s largest universities. Pre-European Exploration Of significance for early habitation of Craighead County is Crowley’s Ridge, a crescent-shaped outcropping running roughly from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Helena-West Helena (Phillips County). It rises …

Crawford County

Crawford County is situated in northwest Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains. The Boston Mountains on the north and the Arkansas River Valley on the south provide a diverse landscape and play an important role in the economy of the past and present. The county is centrally located within the nation, thus allowing desirable north-south and east-west transportation networks to support industrialization, manufacturing, and tourism growth. Pre-European Exploration The area that became Crawford County has been inhabited since the end of the Ice Age, about 12,000 BC. Paleoindians hunted and gathered wild plants and other resources, residing in open air campsites and occasionally using rock shelters. Agricultural settlements began to be established during the Mississippian Period (AD 900—1600). Pictographs (paintings on …

Crittenden County

Crittenden County is located in east-central Arkansas. Its eastern and southern boundaries are the Mississippi River. To its west are Lee, St. Francis, and Cross counties. Mississippi County and Poinsett County form its northern borders. According to historian Margaret Woolfolk, “Crittenden is entirely on the bottom land of the Mississippi River….Total thickness of the sediment exceeds 100 feet.” Because of its astonishing fertility, the area became an obvious location for agricultural development. In the modern era, it has also become a major transportation thoroughfare. European Exploration and Settlement Artifacts found in Crittenden County—including effigy pipes, stone ear plugs, and ornaments—testify to a long habitation of the area by Native Americans. Some archaeologists place the location of Pacaha, visited by the …

Cross County

Cross County is one of the state’s leading producers of soybeans and rice, the location of the only copper tube mill in Arkansas, and the home of two state parks: Village Creek State Park and Parkin Archeological State Park. Created during the Civil War, the county was largely shaped by railroad development during the Gilded Age, with small industry and tourism becoming more of a focus in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Geologically, the county is divided roughly into thirds. Crowley’s Ridge, a glacial age erosional remnant covered with a unique loessal topsoil, traverses the county north to south, rising seventy-five to 100 feet above ancient deltaic alluvial floodplains on either side. The eastern third is drained primarily …

Dallas County

Dallas County is a rural county, dominated in its early days by farming, mostly cotton, and then railroads and timber; these industries have accounted for the majority of economic sustenance for residents and landowners throughout its history. Many communities that exist in the county today owe at least some part of their development to the construction of either a nearby railroad, mill, or both. Pre-European Exploration Just prior to European exploration and settlement, Native American tribes, primarily Caddo and Quapaw, lived, traveled, and hunted in the area now known as Dallas County. Several sites identified as burial or other sacred sites have been identified in southwest Arkansas, and some were explored by archaeologists earlier in the twentieth century, including some …

Desha County

Hardwood forests, alluvial soil, and flooding rivers marked the Native American territory that became Desha County. Lying at the confluence of the Arkansas, White, and Mississippi rivers, fertile land with abundant game provided sustenance for the Quapaw. Today, Delta soil and ample water make Desha County a leading agricultural producer. European Exploration and Settlement Explorers Hernando de Soto; Father Jacques Marquette; Louis Joliet; René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle; and Henri de Tonti visited area Indian tribes. Marquette and Joliet stopped in 1673 at the Indian village of Mitchagama, in the vicinity of the Arkansas River mouth. La Salle, visiting Indians in 1682, set up a cross in the same area. Frenchman Francis D’Armond erected a trading post on the …

Drew County

Drew County is located at the edge of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (the Delta) in the West Gulf Coastal plains region. Bayou Bartholomew, the longest bayou in the world, runs along the eastern edge of Drew County. The Saline River forms the southwestern border. The Monticello Ridge uplands extend from north of Star City (Lincoln County) through Drew County into Louisiana. The county is home to the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM), whose School of Forest Resources is the only such institution in the state, as well as SeaArk Marine, Inc., and other industries. European Exploration and Settlement Native Americans lived in southeastern Arkansas, including Drew County, for many years before European exploration into the region. By the late …

Faulkner County

Faulkner County was one of the last counties formed in the state of Arkansas. Sparsely populated in its early years, it had become the fifth-most-populous county in the state by 2020. Faulkner County is home to the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), Hendrix College, and Central Baptist College. Lake Conway, a large man-made lake, lies in the southern part of Faulkner County. Much of the county consists of rolling hills and river valleys, but flat prairie lands can be found in the northern part. European Exploration and Settlement The first European explorers in the area were the group traveling with Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe, who traveled up the Arkansas River from Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) in 1722. A fur …

Franklin County

Franklin County, bisected by the Arkansas River into a forested northern section and a southern section primarily of farmland, was formed on December 19, 1837, from Crawford County. It is rich in minerals and had one of the first oil strikes in Arkansas. European Exploration and Settlement The area that became Franklin County has been inhabited since the end of the Ice Age, about 12,000 BC. Paleoindians hunted and gathered wild plants and other resources, residing in open air campsites and occasionally using rock shelters. Agricultural settlements began to be established during the Mississippian Period (900—1600 AD), raising corn and other domesticated plants. The Osage used lands to the north of the Arkansas River as hunting grounds, although their villages …

Fulton County

Fulton County, located in the Ozark Foothills of north-central Arkansas, borders the Missouri state line on the north, Sharp County to the east, Izard County to the south, and Baxter County to the west. The population in the 2020 census was over 12,075, while the county seat, Salem, claimed 1,566 residents. The rolling, forested hills of Fulton County are well suited for pasture, moderately suited for woodland use, and poorly suited for cultivated crops. Past residents of Fulton County turned to the timber and livestock industries as substantial sources of income. Fulton County has four incorporated cities: Mammoth Spring, Salem, Cherokee Village, and Viola. Fulton County is home to Spring River, a popular canoeing site, and the famous baseball player …

Garland County

Garland County, in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, is home to the nation’s first federal reservation, which later became Hot Springs National Park. It has a diverse economy supported by strong tourism, forestry, manufacturing, and regional medical facilities. Pre-European Exploration The first inhabitants of the area to be called Garland County arrived about 12,000 BC, and this region was occupied by native people until about AD 1600. Although they had left the area before the first white American pioneers arrived, artifacts indicate that the native residents were related to historic Caddo Indians. Pioneer archaeologist Mark R. Harrington dug into several sites along the Ouachita River. At some locations, he found burned buildings buried under low mounds that were built …

Grant County

Grant County, located in central Arkansas, is best known for its timber industry. Numerous logging operators are located in the county. The logs are transported to the International Paper Company mill in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and to sawmills in Leola (Grant County), Benton (Saline County), and nearby towns. The county’s largest community celebration, Timberfest, is held each October in Sheridan, the county seat. Other cities in the county include Grapevine, Prattsville, Poyen, and Tull. Sheridan has attracted some large manufacturing plants in the past forty years. Pre-European Exploration through Early Statehood The common occurrence of prehistoric archaeological sites in Grant County testify to the early presence of Native Americans, who dwelt in the area for thousands of years before …

Greene County

For many years, Greene County’s main attraction, Crowley’s Ridge, was isolated because of swamplands on three sides: the St. Francis River bottoms to the north and east, and the Cache and Black River lowlands on the west. But drainage of the swampland led to growth in the area, and, in starting in the mid-twentieth century, many industries set up shop in the county. Its county seat of Paragould has been labeled as the safest city in Arkansas by the Arkansas Crime and Information Center. Pre-European Exploration Beginning about 18,000 years ago, the melt water from the Laurentide glacier that covered much of North America created a sluiceway that “washed out” much of the soft sedimentary soil of the old Gulf …

Hempstead County

Hempstead County, located in the southwest corner of the state, was organized in 1818, before Congress established Arkansas Territory. The Missouri territorial legislature had created three counties from Arkansas County—Hempstead, Clark, and Pulaski. The county was named for Edward Hempstead, the first delegate to Congress from Missouri Territory. It has been the home of four Arkansas governors: Augustus H. Garland, Daniel Webster Jones, William Jefferson Clinton (later a U.S. president), and Michael Dale Huckabee. European Exploration and Settlement Early Spanish and French explorers traded with the Indians, and it is possible that Hernando de Soto’s 1539–1542 expedition visited this area. Archaeologists have found evidence of Caddo Indian villages and mounds. The Caddo were known to hunt along the Red River …

Hot Spring County

Hot Spring County was established by an act of the territorial legislature in 1829 with land taken from Clark County. Located southeast of the Ouachita National Forest, Hot Spring County is bisected by the Ouachita River and includes landforms ranging from mountains to lowlands once covered in hardwood and pine forests. The combination of rock types and fault lines is responsible for the hot spring that provides the name for the county. This county, located in the southwest region of the state, has a diverse economy based on timber, manufacturing, mining, and agriculture (corn, cotton, and some rice). Ironically, the spring for which Hot Spring County is named is no longer within the county limits. Garland County was created in …

Howard County

Howard County encompasses the Ouachita Mountains to the north and the Coastal Plain to the south. It was created in 1873 from portions of Pike, Polk, Hempstead, and Sevier counties. Nashville in eastern Howard County was the birthplace of the Dillard’s department store chain. Howard County was also the location of one of the state’s most notorious race riots. European Exploration and Settlement The first accounts of the inhabitants from this area come from the chronicles of the Hernando de Soto expedition in the sixteenth century. The area is known to have been inhabited by the Caddo tribe. By the mid-1800s, however, the U.S. government had relocated the Caddo to what is now Oklahoma. This area was also part of the …

Independence County

Independence County, one of the “mother counties” of the state of Arkansas, originally contained all or part of fifteen modern counties of the state. The county’s history is tied closely to its strategic location—it sits astride the White River where it flows from the Ozark upland into the Mississippi Alluvial Plain; the river bisects the modern county from west to east, and the original Southwest Trail crossed it from northeast to southwest along the Ozark escarpment. Independence County was a dominant cultural force in Arkansas from its beginning through the nineteenth century. Pre-European Exploration The White River, which lies between the Arkansas and Missouri Rivers, is one of two major drainages of the Ozarks region. That crucial geographic trait made …

Izard County

In the nineteenth century, Izard County served as a gateway to settlement across northern Arkansas and was the parent county of seven other counties. Later, Izard County’s virgin yellow pine forests provided lumber to other parts of the state. Today, the county houses a state prison and is a tourist and retirement destination. Izard County has not changed a great deal since the settlers first arrived. Then and now, oak and pine forests cover much of the southern Ozarks hills. The county’s highest elevations are in the Boswell and Sylamore area. These include Brandenburg Mountain (1,099 feet), Thompson Mountain (1,124 feet), and Pilot Knob (1,123 feet). The county has sixty-eight named streams, all of which flow eventually into the White …

Jackson County

Jackson County is in northeastern Arkansas. Although the land rises somewhat in the west, most of the county is flat, low river bottom. Since the late 1800s, the county’s largest town has been Newport, the county seat. European Exploration and Settlement Native Americans called this area home as far back as 10,000 years ago. Evidence of their existence is found in the nearly 600 archaeological sites known to exist in Jackson County. Some researchers have claimed that famed explorer Hernando de Soto passed through the area that would become Jacksonport and that he spent the winter of 1541–42 there , though current research places his winter camp on the lower Arkansas River. French and Spanish trappers hunted in what would …

Jefferson County

Named for former president Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson County has survived devastating floods, economic depression, and the Civil War. It is home to the Pine Bluff Arsenal and the National Center for Toxicological Research, and it was the home of Willie Mae Hocker, the designer of the official state flag. Jefferson County began as the state’s major entry point for early European explorers and steamboat travel up the Arkansas River, and a major railroad route went through it into the heart of the state. Towns that make up the county are Altheimer, Humphrey, Pine Bluff, Redfield, Sherrill, Wabbaseka, and White Hall. European Exploration and Settlement On June 18, 1541, Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto led the first Europeans into southeast Arkansas. …

Johnson County

Johnson County has been the location of much of the state’s coal mining as well as one of the centers of the state’s peach industry. The northern section of Johnson County is located within the Boston Mountains, which consists of the entire southern boundary of the Arkansas Ozarks, and within the boundaries of the Ozark National Forest. It is characterized by mountains, thickly forested landscape, and streams and rivers. The southern region of the county is located in the Arkansas River Valley and consists of lowland bottom lands. Johnson County has five creeks/rivers: Horsehead, Little Piney, Mulberry, Spadra, and Big Piney. The county is also home to the University of the Ozarks. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Native American rock …