Entry Category: Counties

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 Arkansas, originally contained all or part of fifteen modern counties of Arkansas. 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 the Independence County area, …

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 northeast 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. No single event of great importance has thrust Jackson County into a place of prominence, but it has nonetheless proven to be a crucial component of Arkansas history and culture. European Exploration and SettlementNative 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 …

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 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. Although the exact location and routes …

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 …

Lafayette County

  Lafayette County has always been important to the history of Arkansas, but it was particularly so from its first four decades as a territory through the Civil War. This was partly because one of its residents, James Sevier Conway, was the state’s first governor, but his neighbors, family, and friends, as well as the fertility of its soil, have also continued to contribute to the state’s development. European Exploration and Settlement Before the arrival of Europeans, the area’s inhabitants were mostly of the Caddo tribe. The last Caddo village on the Great Bend of the Red River was abandoned around 1778, twenty-five years before the Louisiana Purchase added this land to the United States, though the Caddo continued to …

Lawrence County

The “Mother of Counties,” Lawrence County once covered a majority of north Arkansas, an enormous stretch of land ultimately forming thirty-one counties. Present-day Lawrence County straddles the Black River, a natural boundary separating the lowlands of the Mississippi Delta from the foothills of the Ozark Plateau. Long dominated by cotton production, this agricultural county now produces rice, soybeans, corn, and sorghum. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The Osage Indians hunted in what would become Lawrence County, although they had no settlements there. The eastern portion of the county may have been visited in 1541 during a side trip of the expedition of Hernando de Soto. Arkansas became United States territory with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Named for War of …

Lee County

Located in the Delta, Lee County is bounded on its east by the Mississippi River. Two navigable rivers, the St. Francis and the L’Anguille, flow through the county. Marianna, the county seat and largest town, sits on the L’Anguille. Though the county’s fertile land and timber resources built its rural agricultural landscape, its emphasis on agriculture translated in a severe population decline as agricultural modernization occurred in the middle of the twentieth century. European Exploration and Settlement Hernando de Soto and his men were probably the first Europeans to enter what is now Lee County in August 1541. The expedition likely descended the St. Francis River and entered the chiefdom of Quiguate, which the Spaniards described as the largest of …

Lincoln County

Lincoln County lies in southeastern Arkansas, bordered on the northeast by the Arkansas River. Bayou Bartholomew bisects the county from northwest to southeast, dividing the land between the bottomland of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (the Delta) to the east and the Coastal Plain. The mainstay of the economy is agriculture. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood By the time of European exploration and settlement, very few Native Americans lived in Lincoln County, though the Quapaw technically owned the land that is now Lincoln County. County histories indicate the possible existence of a Quapaw village near the Arkansas River on land that was later settled by the McLain, Lee, and Douglass families, who established homes there in 1827 in a community called …

Little River County

Carved out of parts of Sevier County and Hempstead County, Little River County was established in 1867 by an act of the Arkansas legislature. The new county gave citizens a shorter and easier journey to their county seat of government. Because of the area’s close proximity to the Little River, which flows into the Red River near Texarkana (Miller County), it took the name of Little River County. This county is located in the southwest corner of the state and is surrounded by Sevier, Hempstead, Howard, and Miller counties in Arkansas and by counties in Texas and Oklahoma. The two rivers form major parts of the boundary of Little River County. The land in and around Little River County is …

Logan County

Logan County, located in the Arkansas River Valley in northwest Arkansas, is one of ten counties in Arkansas having two county seats: Paris and Booneville. Other incorporated towns in the county are Magazine, Blue Mountain, Caulksville, Ratcliff, Subiaco, Scranton, and Morrison Bluff. Although Logan County was not created until 1871, the area that is now Logan County has had a significant impact on the development of western Arkansas dating from territorial days. Some of the oldest settlements in western Arkansas were located in what is now Logan County. During territorial days and throughout the century, Roseville, a busy port on the Arkansas River, played a vital role in river transportation of goods and passengers. Settled around 1830, Booneville was the …

Lonoke County

  The county and its seat of government having the same name distinguishes Lonoke County from other counties in the state. Lonoke received its name from a “lone oak” tree that George P. C. Rumbough used for a landmark while surveying for the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad. In 1873, the Arkansas legislature was forming and locating counties, and a petition was introduced to the legislature to form the county of Lonoke. Governor Elisha Baxter signed the act on April 16, 1873, creating Lonoke County from the parent counties Prairie and Pulaski. The existing territorial land is divided into three sections. The northern region, in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, consists of gently rolling hills and valleys; the towns …

Lovely County

Created and abolished because of treaties, Lovely County in Arkansas Territory existed for only a year. While hostilities played a part in the county’s creation, an 1828 change in the western boundary of Arkansas Territory led to its quick demise. Many Native American tribes inhabited the land that became Lovely County. The Osage hunted the hills and fished in the streams and rivers until 1808, when their claims were given up in the Treaty of Fort Clark. The Cherokee traded their land east of the Mississippi River for land in the west in 1809. President Thomas Jefferson offered the Cherokee the former Osage hunting ground in the area between the Arkansas and White rivers in exchange for their land in …

Madison County

Madison County is a beautiful and still largely unspoiled part of the Ozarks. Forests mostly of hardwood trees cover about two-thirds of the county. Rolling hills overlook clear rivers, and open fields and valleys make up the rest of the terrain. Madison County was home to two Arkansas governors: Issac Murphy and Orval E. Faubus. Pre-European Exploration Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation in Madison County spanning the last 10,000 years. Mark R. Harrington, who did research in the area in the 1920s, wrote of “Ozark Bluff Dwellers,” but more recent research has reshaped historians’ views of these cultures. Early inhabitants lived along river and creek bottoms, in upland sites overlooking hollows, and in temporary shelters. Some of the …

Marion County

Marion County is located in north-central Arkansas on the Missouri border, within the Ozark Mountain range. The White River, the Buffalo River, Crooked Creek, and the Little North Fork of White River are the county’s principal streams. The county’s topography ranges from Kings Prairie in the southwestern portion of the county to the mountainous regions in the north. Chief agricultural products through the years have included cotton, tomatoes, and beef and dairy cattle. Lumber, including pine, cedar, and hardwoods, has also been exported from Marion County. Pre-European Exploration through European Exploration and Settlement Spear point finds indicate that early humans hunted animals native to the Ozark Plateau, including what is now Marion County, as early as 12,000 years ago, although …

Miller County

  Miller County’s location in southwest Arkansas made it the “Gateway to the Southwestern United States” through its rivers, stagecoach roads, and Native American trails. It is an area of flat plains and gentle hills with an abundance of pine and hardwood forests. The northern and eastern border is marked by the meandering Red River, and the climate is moderate with a growing season of 254 days. The rich soil grows cotton, sorghum, rice, corn, and other crops. Pre-European Exploration through European Exploration and Settlement People have lived in the Miller County area for at least 10,000 years. Over 400 archaeological sites known in the county attest to Native American settlement and use. Early records suggest that the remnants of …

Mississippi County

Mississippi County, in the northeastern corner of the state, is named for the river that forms its eastern boundary. It is noted for its agricultural production (especially cotton, soybeans, rice, and corn), which has contributed greatly to the economy of the area and the state. Eight steel-related industries have located in the county in recent years, making it the largest steel-producing county in the nation. These and other industries have chosen Mississippi County because of its transportation system that combines river, rail, and interstate highway movement. Pre-European Exploration Mississippi County was home to many prehistoric cultures. As of 2007, 800 known archeological sites exist in the county. Numerous Indian mounds can be seen throughout the county, and many artifacts of …

Monroe County

Monroe County, named for President James Monroe, is located approximately halfway between Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Memphis, Tennessee. There were at one time seven incorporated towns in the county—Brinkley, Clarendon, Holly Grove, Indian Bay, Blackton, Fargo, and Roe. The public schools in the county in 2007 are Brinkley and Clarendon. Monroe County is adjacent to Arkansas, Prairie, and Woodruff counties. The White River separates Monroe and Arkansas counties, while the Cache River separates Monroe and Prairie counties. The county’s economic base is farming, and the land is among some of the most fertile in the state. About 1,500 acres in the county’s southeast corner is protected by levee, but much of the remainder is subject to flooding. The area …

Montgomery County

Montgomery County is noted for its quartz crystal deposits, the rugged beauty of the Ouachita Mountains and its sparkling, clear waters. Every year, thousands enjoy hunting, hiking, observing nature, fishing, and participating in water sports on Lake Ouachita, Arkansas’s largest lake with 48,300 surface acres, and the Ouachita, Caddo, and Little Missouri rivers; the latter drops thirty-five feet per mile in its twenty-nine-mile journey through southern Montgomery County. Pre-European Exploration through European Exploration and Settlement Montgomery County has the most registered sites on the Arkansas Archeological Survey site database. Stone spear or dart points indicate that people of the Dalton culture (ca. 8500 BC) and Tom’s Brook culture (ca. 4500 BC) inhabited the area in the Early and Middle Archaic …

Nevada County

Located in the West Gulf Coastal Plain, Nevada County has a variety of sandy loam and silty clay loam soils, as well as extensive pine and hardwood forests. The Little Missouri River, the major stream in the area, separates Nevada County from Clark and Pike counties to the north. The Reconstruction legislature formed Nevada County in 1871 from Hempstead, Ouachita, and Columbia counties. Prescott, the county seat with a population of 3,296 (as of the 2010 census), is the largest city. Other important towns are Emmet, Willisville, Rosston, Bodcaw, Falcon, Cale, and Bluff City. The reason for the selection of the county’s name has been lost. “Sierra nevada,” as in the Sierra Nevada in California, means “snowy range” in Spanish. …

Newton County

Located in the Boston Mountains, Newton County can be described as mountainous, rural, and isolated. The land, once respected and protected by Native Americans, has come full circle with a large portion being protected by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a wilderness area. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The area, rich with game and timber, was watered by the Big and Little Buffalo rivers. Until 1808, the Osage claimed the region, and between 1818 and 1828 the land was part of a reservation granted to the Western Cherokee. The county was part of Carroll County when it was created in 1833, and white settlers quickly moved in. A block of marble taken from a hillside near present-day Marble …

Ouachita County

Ouachita County, the forty-fifth county in Arkansas, was created in 1842 from land taken from the northwest parts of Union County. It was named after the Ouachita River on which the county seat of Camden, incorporated in 1844, sits on a bluff at a horseshoe curve of the river. Ouachita is the French spelling of a Native American word that is pronounced “Washita” and supposedly denoted good hunting or a river of many fish. The land in the county was covered with vast forests of pines and drained by bayous and sloughs running to the Ouachita River. The Ouachita River forms part of the eastern boundary of the county, while Clark, Dallas, Calhoun, Union, Columbia, and Nevada counties border the remaining …

Perry County

Perry County is in the Ouachita Mountains with the Arkansas River Valley flanking its eastern border and the Fourche La Fave River traversing it from west to east. It has six sub-basins and fourteen watersheds that include 836 acres of streams and lakes. The beauty of the mountains, rivers, and lakes is evident at every turn. The soil is rich alluvial in the river bottoms, and the uplands have loam with a clay foundation. The county has more than 287,000 acres of woodlands. Timber companies and the U.S. Forest Service are the major landowners. Despite its central location in the state of Arkansas, the mountains and watercourses made early settlement difficult. Flood control and better roads have made the county …

Phillips County

  Phillips County is part of the Delta region of Arkansas. Located where the St. Francis River empties into the Mississippi River, its significance touches on nearly every aspect of the state’s history. In the twentieth century, Phillips County was known for devastating flooding, harsh racial confrontations, and the development of blues music. Phillips County’s soil consists of alluvial deposits from the Mississippi River, making it prime agricultural land. The southern edge of Crowley’s Ridge provides higher land once used by Native Americans. Helena’s location on the Mississippi River gave it the potential to be an important transportation hub, although it eventually was overtaken in importance by Memphis, Tennessee. Pre-European Exploration Because of its location, the area was well populated …

Pike County

Pike County sports a greater geological diversity that any other part of the United States. It is also home to the Crater of Diamonds State Park, an ancient volcanic crater and the eighth largest diamond deposit in the world. This is the only site where the public can search and keep what they find. Pre-European Exploration through Early European Exploration About 100 million years ago, during the Mid-Cretaceous period, the Gulf of Mexico extended to the middle of Pike County. The southern half of the county was under water. A volcanic explosion occurred during this period, leaving a crater of about eighty acres in area. The turbulent rotations of the earth caused diamonds to be pushed up to the surface …