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Entries - Entry Category: Lee

Aubrey (Lee County)

  The town of Aubrey stretches along State Highway 121 in western Lee County. Formed early in the twentieth century when the railroad came through the area, the town was not incorporated until 1966. Although Lee County’s population is predominately African American, Aubrey remains more than two-thirds white. Lee County was sparsely populated when it was first formed in 1873. Most of the county land consisted of cotton plantations—converted from slave labor to tenant farmer labor after the Civil War—and oft-flooded lowlands. The construction of railroads changed the county’s character early in the twentieth century. The Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) Railroad, linking Joplin, Missouri, to Helena (Phillips County) on the Mississippi River, brought much commercial traffic through the county. The refueling stop that became …

Avoca (Benton County)

Avoca is a town on U.S. Highway 62 in Benton County, located between Rogers (Benton County) and Pea Ridge National Military Park. Since its incorporation in 1966, it has benefited from the general growth in population that northwestern Arkansas has experienced. In the early years of the Arkansas Territory, the Osage were frequent visitors to the forested hills of northwestern Arkansas. Three treaties moved the Osage farther west, and the area began to be developed for white settlement as Lovely County. Later, the region was renamed Washington County, and in 1836—the year Arkansas became a state—Benton County was separated from Washington County. Settlement remained sparse in the Avoca area, however, until after the Civil War. The Butterfield Overland Mail Company …

Brickeys (Lee County)

The town of Brickeys existed in Lee County for about forty years before its incorporation was allowed to lapse. Its name remains in the twenty-first century as the location of the East Arkansas Regional Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction. When Lee County was created in 1873, much of the county consisted of plantations that had been worked by slaves before the Civil War and continued to be worked by tenant farmers after the conclusion of the war. The remaining areas were wetlands, interspersed with a few spots of high ground. In 1913, the Missouri Pacific Railroad created a line connecting Marianna (Lee County) with Memphis, Tennessee. Brickeys was one of the stops along that line (known locally as the Marianna …

Haynes (Lee County)

  Haynes is a town in north-central Lee County, about one mile from the St. Francis County line and two miles from the L’Anguille River. Cotton and the railroad brought Haynes into existence, but the town’s population has varied over the years. Before Arkansas became a state, its eastern Delta region was dotted with large cotton plantations, with a slave population that largely outnumbered the white landowners. Several homes were built in the area that would become Haynes from the 1820s to the 1840s. Stores, a Baptist church, and a school for white children had already been established by 1850. The Civil War changed the economy of the region, bringing an end to slavery, but the African-American tenant farmers of the area lived much the same lives …

LaGrange (Lee County)

  LaGrange is a town in southern Lee County, between Marianna (Lee County) and Helena-West Helena (Phillips County). It is near the St. Francis National Forest’s lands that include the southern portion of Crowley’s Ridge. LaGrange appears to be one of the earliest settlements in the area; its French name translates as “the farm.” Settlers were already present when the first government land grant was given to Jonathan Howell in 1820. New Hope Baptist Church was founded at LaGrange in 1848, and a Methodist church also was built before the Civil War. A U.S. post office was established in 1852. At this time, LaGrange was in Phillips County, as Lee County was not created until 1873. By the time of the Civil …

Marianna (Lee County)

Marianna, the county seat of Lee County, is situated along the L’Anguille River in eastern Arkansas. It has long been primarily an agricultural community, a center especially for cotton production, and also has a history that highlights many of the troubles of the Arkansas Delta region, both in economy and in race relations. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Marianna was founded as the village of Walnut Ridge in 1848 by Colonel Walter H. Otey. Its name was changed to Marianna four years later, and, by 1858, the city was relocated three miles downstream on higher ground and where the L’Anguille River was navigable throughout the year. Steamboats connected the young city to important Mississippi River ports such as Memphis, Tennessee, …

Moro (Lee County)

Located at the intersection of State Highways 238 and 78, Moro is the second-largest incorporated community in Lee County, exceeded in size only by Marianna, the county seat. Despite a population of only approximately 200 residents, it has about thirty businesses in the twenty-first century. The present town of Moro is the second one in Hampton Township to carry that name. The two towns were not in the same location, and the first one vanished nearly a decade before the current town was founded. Today, that earlier village is remembered as “Old Moro.” Old Moro emerged as settlers claimed land around an intersection of military roads constructed in 1835 connecting Helena (Phillips County) to the capital at Little Rock (Pulaski …

Raggio (Lee County)

The town of Raggio existed briefly on the east bank of Alligator Bayou, about a mile from the St. Francis River, in Lee County. A logging community that was served by the railroad, the town was destroyed by fire around 1916 and was never rebuilt. Until after the Civil War, the site that would become Raggio was largely unclaimed wetland with abundant trees. Hunting and fishing occupied the few visitors to the area, and steamboats traveled the river. Following the war, a logging settlement was established at Raggio; the community was named for a local merchant who had come to Arkansas from Italy. Logs were bound together as rafts to be transported by water to sawmills. Shortly after Lee County was created, …

Rondo (Lee County)

  The town of Rondo in Lee County—not to be confused with a settlement of the same name across the state in Miller County—was laid out at the intersection of the tracks of the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad and those of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The town, founded early in the twentieth century, dwindled as a result of the mid-century improvement of roads, which caused many businesses to relocate to larger cities such as Marianna (Lee County). Rondo was established on land that had been part of Phillips County until Lee County was established in 1873. At that time, most of the land was devoted to cotton farming, although some parts were still heavily forested. Construction of the railroads facilitated …