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Craighead County was formed February 19, 1859, from parts of Greene, Mississippi and Poinsett counties and was named from Thomas H. Craighead, who represented Mississippi and Crittenden counties in the state legislature. Craighead County has two county seats, Jonesboro and Lake City. The landscape of Craighead County is flat, fertile farmland with rolling hills with Crowley’s Ridge in the center. The courthouse in Jonesboro stands on the site of a skirmish between two companies of Confederates and a detachment of a federal regiment during the Battle of Jonesboro in August 1863. The statue of a doughboy on the courthouse lawn is the first monument erected in the South to soldiers and sailors of World War I. Another marker recognizes a county resident, Hattie Caraway, who was the first woman elected to the United States Senate, the first woman to preside over the Senate, and the first woman chairman of a Senate committee. The Lake City courthouse offices have been moved to a more modern and convenient location; however, the original courthouse building still stands. It is an all-wood; two storied with three small one-story brick wings that were added in 1934 when the companion county courthouse in Jonesboro was remodeled. A bandstand from which many political speeches have been made stands in the courtyard. Arkansas State University, which continues to grow and is the county’s largest employer, is located in Jonesboro. The Convocation Center located on the campus is used for sports, concerts, live theatre, conferences and other attractions. In historic downtown, Jonesboro’s civic auditorium, a renovated movie theatre built in 1926, provides a facility for concerts, Broadway shows, nationally known speakers, and community theatre productions. Citizens in Craighead County revel in its status as the “Capital City of Northeast Arkansas” with a Main Street Jonesboro celebration in May of each year, which brings hundreds of people into the county.
Crawford County was the largest county in Arkansas when it was established in 1820. Originally, Crawford County included part of eight counties as well as part of the Indian Territory. Crawford County is rugged terrain from the Ozark Mountains in the northern half and rolling farmlands, forested ridges and isolated mountains and lakes in the southern half. Van Buren is the county seat. The main economic base of the county is agriculture and affiliated industries, soybeans, fruit and vegetables, beef cattle and poultry. Tourism is growing steadily with the lakes, rivers, mountains, valleys and the scenic views. Crawford County's Courthouse is listed in the National Historic Register and thought to be the oldest active county courthouse west of the Mississippi River. The original portion of the courthouse was constructed in 1842. People are attracted to historic downtown Van Buren that has six blocks of restored architecture, including arts, crafts and antique shops. Several motion pictures have been filmed in Van Buren. Crawford County's 2000 census count was 53,247, a 25.3% increase since 1990.
Crittenden County was formed October 22, 1825, and was the 12th county to be formed in Arkansas Territory and was named for Robert Crittenden. The county is a rich, delta farmland with the Mississippi River forming the eastern boundary. Marion is the county seat. The Mississippi River, two interstates, and three major railroads provide transportation options with Memphis just across the river. Years ago, when the Mississippi River changed its course, a natural lake was formed and it is now called Horseshoe Lake that features boating and water skiing. Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge has 1,800 acres of freshwater impoundment that takes in a cypress-willow swamp teeming with wildlife. The largest manmade attraction in the county is the Southland Greyhound dog-racing park.
Cross County was formed November 15,1862 from parts of Crittenden, Poinsett, and St. Francis counties. It was named for Col. David Cross, a Confederate officer. Cross County has rich, flat delta farmland in the east and west and rolling hills in the center. Agriculture and related enterprises are major to the county with rice bringing in more than half the county’s revenues. Soybeans and cotton are other main crops while peaches and other fruit crops are predominate on Crowly’s Ridge. Village Creek State Park, almost 7,000 acres on Crowley’s Ridge, has two fishing lakes, hiking trails, campsites, picnic sites, playgrounds, and many recreational areas, and is a poplar tourist area. The county seat is Wynne. The courthouse courtroom is unique in that the building is arranged so that jurors sit with their backs to the spectators, focusing their attention on the judge and witness, who sit in opposite corners at the front of the room. Tourism is on the rise in Cross County. The Wittsburg Natural Area preserves a good sample of Crowley’s Ridge covered with beech and sugar maple trees, spring wildflowers, and the state’s only natural distributions of tulip trees and pennywort.
Dallas County was formed January 1, 1845, from Bradley and Clark counties and named in honor of George M. Dallas, who had been elected Vice President of the United States in 1844. Dallas County is known for its rolling hills and pine Forests. The world’s first southern pine plywood plant was built in Fordyce, and timber resources still drive its economy. Georgia-Pacific Corp. is the county’s largest employer. Tri-County Lake, where Dallas, Calhoun, and Cleveland counties meet, offers water recreation activities. The Ouachita River, the longest and largest river in the Ouachita Mountain region, forms the western county line and provides floating and fishing. The Cotton Belt route through the town of Fordyce, the county seat, brought prosperity when it arrived in Dallas County in 1882. Fordyce is Arkansas’ only single county seat to have been moved from a central location when the railroads bypassed its original site of Princeton. In April of each year, the weeklong “Fordyce on the Cotton Belt Festival” is held which draws not only the local citizens but many tourists as well.
Desha County was formed December 12, 1838, and was named for Capt. Ben Desha. Moving away from the Mississippi and its floods, the county seat has been in four different locations. The landscape of the county is rich, flat, Delta farmland and the Mississippi River forms the eastern boundary. The current county seat is Arkansas City. Desha County is rich, flat delta farmland with the Mississippi River forming the eastern boundary. It lies at the convergence of three of North America’s major rivers: the White, the Arkansas and the Mississippi, which provides the county with waterway connections from New Orleans to Tulsa. Railways, waterways, and the rich agricultural resources have made Desha County a major grain shipping and storage center. Desha County, along with Chicot County, has a 3.9 million Port and industrial park at Yellow Bend on the Mississippi. Arkansas City is a survivor of the steamboat era and the Arkansas City courthouse is one of the oldest still in operation in the state. The White River Wildlife Refuge offers a sanctuary for migratory waterfowl. The longest levee in the United States is located in Desha County on the Mississippi River.
Drew County was formed in 1846 and named for Thomas S. Drew who served as Governor of Arkansas from November 1844 to 1849. Monticello is the county seat. The landscape of Drew County is rich, flat, delta farmland in the eastern half and rolling hills in the western half. Many of the settlers came from Virginia. The name of Monticello was adopted for the county seat and the first term of court was held in October 1850. Spanish, French, U.S., Confederate and Arkansas flags have flown over the territory in Drew County. A lot of history is preserved in the county. The Historical Museum, a 14-room mansion is maintained by the county historical society. Sixty of its buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The economic base for the county is the timber industry, manufacturing of boats, carpets, furniture, and by other service industries. A branch of the University of Arkansas is located in Monticello. Bayou Bartholomew, the longest bayou in the world, runs the length of the eastern side of the county. Hunting and fishing in the area offer several recreational activities.
Faulkner County was formed on April 12, 1873, from parts of Conway and Pulaski Counties and was named for Col. Sanford C. Faulkner, a fiddle player and tall-tale teller, who was given the name of being the original “Arkansaw Traveler.” The county seat is Conway. The landscape of the county is rolling hills and farmland. Its proximity to Little Rock and to major transportation routes makes it attractive for industry such as light manufacturing. Population growth of the county is at its highest. Three institutions of higher learning are located in Conway: Hendrix College, Central Baptist College, and the University of Central Arkansas. Conway is also home to the Arkansas Educational Television Network. Woolly Hollow State Park has a lake, picnic area, hiking trails, and campsites. Lake Conway, the country’s largest Game and Fish Commission lake, has 6,700 acres of good fishing and Cadron Creek has excellent floating past scenic areas. Toad Suck Park is the site of an Arkansas River crossing dating back to 1820 and the current site of Toad Suck Ferry Lock and Dam. In May of each year “Toad Suck Daze” features toad-jumping contest and other activities that attract large crowds of local people and many visitors.
Franklin County was formed December 19, 1837, from Crawford County and named for Benjamin Franklin. The landscape of Franklin County is rugged terrain in the northern half, and rolling farmlands, forested ridges, and isolated mountains in the south because travel across the Arkansas River was so difficult in the early days of the county, two county seats were established: Ozark in the north and Charleston in the south. The county lays claim to the first oil strike in Arkansas and sits on vast fields of coal, clay, iron, shale and other minerals; however agriculture is its main economy base. Production and processing of poultry accounts for most of the jobs. Swiss-German immigrants of a century ago recognized the tops of Franklin’s mountains as a place to grow wine grapes. Altus has grown to be the winemaking capital of Arkansas. Growers such as Mount Bethel, Sax, Post, and the largest, Wiederkehr are located within the county, with Wiederkehr Winery offering tours, wine tasting, and a restaurant in the original underground cellar built in 1880 by John A. Wiederkehr and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Winefest in September each year draws a large number of visitors to the area.
Fulton County was formed December 21, 1842, from territory taken from Izard County, and is named for William S. Fulton, the last Governor of Arkansas Territory. The county seat is Salem. Landscape of Fulton County is rugged and mountainous. The well-known Mammoth Spring, one of the largest single-outlet springs in North America, is located in the county. Many recreational activities can be found around this area. Lake Norfork and Horseshoe Bend also provide water sports. Nearly half of the land area of the county is in pastureland. Beef cattle, poultry farming, and feed production are leading agricultural activities. The Fulton County courthouse, built in 1890, was restored in 1973 and has become a landmark. The Saturday night hoedown in Fulton County has been kept alive and is a favorite of local citizens as well as tourists. In May of each year, Fulton County stages an Old Timer Sailor and Marine reunion, which unites people from all over the country. Also in May several other music festivals are held.
Garland County was formed on April 5, 1873, and was named for Augustus. H. Garland, Governor of Arkansas, U.S. Senator, and Glover Cleveland’s Attorney General. Hot Springs, the county seat, has drawn visitors to the area for many years. The landscape of Garland County is rugged terrain and heavily forested Ouachita Mountains. In 1832, Hot Springs National Park became the first national reservation set aside for recreational purposes and is the only national park within a city. There are 47 springs along the base of the Hot Springs Mountain. The courthouse is the only one in Arkansas located in a national park. An Act of the United States Congress was required to acquire part of the block where the courthouse stands. Recreation and tourism have always been mainstays of the county’s economy, along with livestock production and logging. One of the largest quartz crystal mining operations in North America is located in Garland County. The famous Oaklawn Park offers thoroughbred horse racing from February through April. Three lakes, Lake Ouachita, Lake Catherine and Lake Hamilton all offer a full range of water sports and recreation facilities. New construction of homes and businesses are on the rise in Hot Springs.
The first Reconstruction Legislature from territory taken from Hot Spring, Jefferson and Saline counties formed Grant County on February 4, 1869. It was named for Ulysses S. Grant who had been elected President of the United States in November 1868. The county seat is Sheridan. Grant County is a large, rural county of rolling, pine-covered hills owned by big timber companies. The pine-covered cutover land is a sanctuary for many bird species. The Saline River winds through Grant County and into the Quachita River in southern Arkansas. Fishing and hunting are extremely popular. Jenkins Ferry State Park, a Civil War battle site, features swimming, picnicking and a boat launch ramp into the Saline River. The Grant County Museum exhibits artifacts of area history going back to the Indian cultures. The Paleo Indians, the Archaic, and the Mound Builders inhabited Grant County for some time. The Caddo and the Quapaw may have hunted the area. Displaced Cherokee and Choctaw owned land there in the early 1800s. The County Courthouse is a beautiful red brick structure. Some Materials were reused from the old 1910 courthouse. The corner markers of the old building were placed in the pillars of the new structure along with a time capsule. Also preserved from the earlier courthouse is the first public clock in the county. It was hand wound and is housed in the seventy-six foot cupola and is illuminated from within at night.
The Territorial Legislature from part of Lawrence County formed Greene County on November 5, 1833. It was named for Nathaniel Greene, an American General in the Revolutionary War. The county seat is Paragould. Greene County has rich, flat delta farmland in the eastern and western parts of the county and rolling hills in the center that includes Crowley’s Ridge. In the early days, railroads hauled timber out of the county but as more people settled in the area, agriculture replaced timber as a principal activity with top crops being rice, soybeans, and small grains. Crowley’s Ridge rises above the flat delta on both sides and is composed of ocean-bottom sand, gravel, and clay, capped with wind-blown dust. Crowley’s Ridge State Park developed in 1933 is located in a forest of hardwood and pine on the western slope. There are several recreational facilities, including swimming, canoeing and sand beaches. Also located on the grounds are a pioneer cemetery and the home site of Benjamin F. Crowley, a veteran of the War of 1812, after whom the ridge was named. Lake Frierson, Lake Hubble and the Bland and Little Rivers offer good fishing. Hunters also enjoy two wildlife management areas. The St. Francis River, which forms the county’s eastern border with Missouri and the Cache River along the western border, offers fishing and hunting. This is a very popular area for local citizens as well as many tourists. Greene County now enjoys a new courthouse that was completed in 1997. The new complex has 39,000 square feet. The building and furnishings were completed at a cost of $4.1 million. In August of 1995, the county voters approved a 1-cent, countywide sales tax to pay for the courthouse. The new courthouse has a link from the county’s earliest days with the display of the fireproof safe that dated from the 1877 courthouse at Gainesville. The safe, which weighs between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds, is located to the right of the doors on the north side of the building.
Hempstead County was formed on December 15, 1818, from parts of Arkansas County and was named for Edward Hempstead, Missouri Territory’s representative to Congress. Hempstead County was one of the first counties organized under the laws of the Territory of Missouri. The landscape is rolling hills. The economy is made up of food processing, poultry and egg production, along with beef cattle, soybeans and fruit. Each summer the Hope Watermelon Festival is held and draws not only local citizens but also hundreds of tourists. The county had two Wildlife Management Areas, Bois D’Arc and Hope, along with Millwood Lake, which features camping, picnicking, and swimming as well as hunting and fishing. The towns of Washington that includes the Old Washington State Park hold lots of history for the county. It was a stopover for Sam Houston and Davy Crockett on their way to Texas and the Alamo. A Washington Blacksmith made Jim Bowie’s famous knife and such is still being crafted at the same site. The largest magnolia tree in Arkansas, planted in 1839, grows in Washington. Hope, the county seat is also the hometown of President William Jefferson Clinton where his boyhood home has been restored and is open to the public. Hundreds of visitors pass through this town each year.
Hot Spring County was formed on November 2, 1829, by the Territorial Legislature from a part of Clark County. The county’s name came from the natural hot springs that later became world famous as a part of Garland County. The county seat is Malvern. The landscape is forested ridges, and river bottomland, with the Ouachita Mountains in the north and west and rolling hills in the southeast. Hot Spring County’s economy base is beef and dairy cattle, and cultivation of hay, soybeans and rice. Industrial development includes lumber mills, brick plants, metals, and small industry. Many residents currently commute out of the county for work. The county has many varieties (65) of valuable minerals including the nation’s greatest concentrations of novaculite and vanadium and magnet ore, which is in the roadbed of U.S. Highway 270. Malvern calls itself the “Brick Capital of the World.” In July of each year Brickfest is celebrated with arts, crafts, games, and entertainment. The county courthouse, constructed in 1936 by the WPA, is built of local brick. Lake Catherine, set in a forest of tall pines and hardwoods, offers a getaway for fishing and other water sports, and the State Park offers campsites, cabins, hiking trails, and a marina. The Ouachita River, which runs through the county, is well known for it’s fishing and floating. Many campers enjoy the area and return year after year.
This page was last updated 12/28/10