Entries - Time Period: Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood (1803 - 1860) - Starting with L

Lacy, Thomas J.

Thomas J. Lacy was a leader of the Arkansas legal community in the early days of statehood. One of the original members of the Supreme Court of Arkansas, he served for nine years before ill health forced him to step down in 1845. Thomas J. Lacy was born around 1806 in Rockingham County in North Carolina. The son of Batie Cocke Lacy and Elizabeth Overton Lacy, he was educated at what became the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reportedly graduating at the top of his class in 1825. Following graduation, he read law in the Springfield, Kentucky, office of John Pope, an ally of Andrew Jackson who would later serve as territorial governor in Arkansas. From Kentucky, Lacy …

Lafferty, John

John Lafferty was, according to several sources, the first known white settler of record in Izard County and an eyewitness to the effects of the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812 along the White River. John Lafferty was born in Donegal, Ireland, in 1759. His parents’ names are unknown. Lafferty grew up in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Lafferty signed the papers of the First Council of Safety of the Revolutionary Party in South Carolina in November 1775 and enlisted in a volunteer company of militia under Captain William Fullwood during the American Revolutionary War. For his service, he recived a land grand of 1,000 acres in the Camden District of South Carolina. At some point, Lafferty married Sarah Lindsey, who was …

Lakeport Plantation

The Lakeport Plantation house in Chicot County is Arkansas’s grandest remaining example of antebellum Greek Revival architecture. The plantation was established around 1831 by Joel Johnson, the scion of a large and prestigious Kentucky family. Johnson had sold his house and grist mill in Scott County, Kentucky, and set off for Chicot County. He purchased a tract of land southeast of Old River Lake (present-day Lake Chicot) just above a large oxbow curve in the river called American Bend. The plantation he developed there was named Lakeport after a nearby steamboat landing. For the next fifteen years, Johnson expanded his holdings in land and slaves and brought more land under cultivation. The soil produced abundantly, and slave-based plantation agriculture became …

Lay, Henry Champlin

The Right Reverend Henry Champlin Lay was the third missionary bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. The diocese was land the Church defined as also including Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) and what would later become the states of New Mexico and Arizona. Lay was also bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas when it was allied with the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. He again served the original missionary territory when the national church reunited in 1865. Henry Champlin Lay was born on December 6, 1823, in Richmond, Virginia. He was the son of John Olmsted Lay and Lucy May Lay. He was educated in Richmond and New York City. Lay graduated from the University of Virginia …

Lee, Burwell

Burwell Lee came to Arkansas Territory from Tennessee in 1830 as a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church and a missionary to the Indians. Because he organized the Methodist Society at Batesville (Independence County) in 1835, which hosted the first session of the new Arkansas Conference of the church the following year, he is referred to as one of the fathers of the Methodist Church in Arkansas. Burwell Lee was born on October 20, 1809, in Davidson County, Tennessee. His father was Braxton Lee, who had come to Davidson County from Virginia around 1796. In Davidson County records, there is a marriage for Braxton Lee to Polly Hunter on May 20, 1808, although it is uncertain if these are Lee’s …

Lindsey, Elijah (Eli)

The Reverend Elijah (Eli) Lindsey was an important figure in early Arkansas Methodism. At age eighteen, living near the present town of Jesup (Lawrence County), he traveled and organized the Spring River Circuit and is thus celebrated as the first to preach and spread the message of Methodism in Arkansas. Eli Lindsey was born in 1797 in Rutherford County, North Carolina, to James William Lindsey Jr. and Rachel Burkett Lindsey. His father fought with the patriots at the significant Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780. By 1790, these families had moved to Spartanburg County, South Carolina, and they resided in Rutherford County, North Carolina, by 1800. Lindsey’s family gradually moved to Christian County, Kentucky, where his uncle Carlton …

Little Rock Arsenal

In 1836, the same year Arkansas was admitted into the Union, the federal government requested the building of a military installation in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Under Governor James Sevier Conway and Major Robert B. Lee, a site for the Little Rock Arsenal was selected on the outskirts of the city. The site was on a former racetrack used by a local jockey club. Originally, Congress had allotted $14,000 for the arsenal, but the final cost of the building was $30,000. It incorporated timbers from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and stone from the Big Rock on the north side of the Arkansas River across from Little Rock, as well as locally made bricks. At the arsenal’s completion, the Arkansas Gazette …

Little Rock to Cantonment Gibson Road

The Little Rock to Cantonment Gibson Road was constructed between 1825 and 1828 to connect Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to the military post at Cantonment Gibson in the Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). The road was used extensively during the forced removal of Native Americans from the southeastern United States to the Indian Territory during the 1830s. On March 3, 1825, Congress approved a bill to establish a road from Little Rock to the Indian Territory, continuing the Memphis to Little Rock Road between the Mississippi River and Little Rock that was authorized a year before. In addition to the $10,000 funding, Congress appointed Arkansas pioneers Benjamin Moore of Crawford County, Morgan Magness of Independence County, …

Lost Prairie (Miller County)

The historical riverport community of Lost Prairie is located in modern-day Miller County, in an area along two oxbow lakes (First Old River and Second Old River) just off the Red River. The United States Geological Service’s designation for “Lost Prairie, Arkansas” places the community in an agriculture field near Red Chute creek, but historical documents and records describe the former community. Lost Prairie was recognized as the first permanent settlement in the area in 1816, established by Colonel Benjamin Milam on the Red River, where he opened a store and land office. Several years later, U.S. government engineers informed Milam that his land at Lost Prairie was in Arkansas Territory, not Texas, as he had believed. Milam, who served …

Louisiana Purchase

In 1803, the United States government purchased over 800,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River from France in what would become the largest land acquisition in American history, also known as the Louisiana Purchase. Named “Louisiana” after the French “sun king,” Louis XIV, the territory comprised most of the present-day western United States, including Arkansas. The Louisiana Purchase allowed the U.S. government to open up lands in the west for settlement, secured its borders against foreign threat, and gave the right to deposit goods duty-free at port cities (mainly New Orleans). In Arkansas, the Louisiana Purchase signaled an end to French and Spanish dominance as Americans filtered into the area. Between 1686 and the 1790s, the French …

Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park

Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park conserves a rare headwater swamp, located on Little Cypress Creek, and a granite monument standing in the swamp’s interior. The monument marks the “initial point” established during an original survey of lands added to the United States as a result of the Louisiana Purchase. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1972, and on April 19, 1993, the National Park Service designated the point a National Historic Landmark. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 more than doubled the size of the United States and brought all the territory that would become Arkansas under U.S. ownership. In 1815, President James Madison ordered a survey to establish a system for distributing …

Louisiana Purchase Survey

The purchase of the vast Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 practically doubled the size of the United States, yet little of it was marked off by the American land survey method, which divides land into square tracts, an orderly prerequisite for land ownership in the nineteenth century. The survey of this vast, new American West began in what would later become the state of Arkansas and is commemorated at Louisiana Purchase State Park on U.S. Highway 49 between Brinkley (Monroe County) and Helena (Phillips County). Since Arkansas was first, the survey enabled early sale of land that contributed to Arkansas’s being the third state admitted into the Union west of the Mississippi River (after Louisiana and Missouri). The survey …

Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood, 1803 through 1860

A century of French and Spanish imperial control had little permanent effect on Arkansas, leaving it with fewer than 500 European-born inhabitants when it became part of the United States. The most significant change of the eighteenth century had been the decimation of the Quapaw Indian population, which ended the period only slightly more numerous than did the white settlers who had always been their friends and allies. Even after the Louisiana Purchase, change came slowly. Arkansas became a separate territory in 1819, but not until the 1830s did it begin to grow rapidly, a process that led to statehood in 1836. By that time, it was becoming a distinctly Southern state, the production of cotton and the ownership of …

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 …

Loy Kirksey House

The Loy Kirksey House is a dogtrot house near the community of Fendley (Clark County). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 3, 1992. Fendley was popular with residents of nearby communities who visited the chalybeate spring in the area. The Kirksey family resided near Fendley by 1880. William Kirksey was born in 1874 and moved to the property around 1895. A building was standing on the property, likely dating to before the Civil War. It is likely that Kirksey lived in this building before he added on to it to create the complete home. The same year that he moved to the property, Kirksey married Lee Arena Deaton. The couple had at least four …

Lyon, Aaron Woodruff

Aaron Woodruff Lyon was an early Arkansas settler and pioneer educator who founded the first academy to be chartered by the state of Arkansas and was instrumental in the development of Batesville in Independence County and Elizabeth in Jackson County. Aaron Lyon was born on July 11, 1797, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the son of Aaron and Joanna Hatfield Lyon. During the War of 1812, he served in Captain Altman’s Pennsylvania Militia. In 1824, he graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York. He entered Princeton Theological Seminary in 1825 and completed the full three-year curriculum. After completing his studies in 1828, his health forced him to move south. Lyon accompanied Major Edward Duval to Lower Township (Crawford County), where …

Lyon, Matthew

Matthew Lyon, a six-term congressman who represented first Vermont and later Kentucky, was an iconic figure in the early American republic. Always outspoken, he frequently found himself at the center of the early battles between the Federalist Party and his own Jeffersonian Republicans (a.k.a. the Democrat-Republican Party or Republican Party). After a tumultuous multifaceted career in Congress, Lyon spent his final years in Arkansas, where he had moved in 1820 after his appointment as U.S. factor to the Cherokee Nation in the Arkansas Territory. Matthew Lyon was born on July 14, 1749, in Ireland, not far from Dublin. His father, a political protestor, was killed when Lyon was a young boy. He received his early education in Dublin, where he …