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Clark County, Arkansas

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Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in Clark County, Arkansas.

Among the various Indian cultures onc found here, were the Caddoan Mississippian culture, who occupied certain sites in Arkansas at different times. This was the westernmost expression of the Mississippian culture, which developed a vast network and numerous centers of development throughout the Mississippi Valley and its tributaries. Archeological evidence has established there was unbroken continuity from the Caddoan Mississippian people to the historic Caddo people and related Caddo-language speakers who encountered the first Europeans. Their descendants formed the modern Caddo Nation of Oklahoma.

At the time of European-American settlement after the United States acquired this territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the pioneers encountered three major Native American tribes: the Caddo, who lived along the banks of the Caddo River; the Quapaw on the Ouachita River, for several miles below what is now Arkadelphia; and the Lenape (known then as Delaware, who were driven to this area by European pressure from the mid-Atlantic East Coast) along the lower Ouachita to below present-day Camden. (This site had been named as Écore à Fabre, after a colonial French trader Fabre.)

Clark County was the third county formed by Americans in Arkansas, on December 15, 1818, together with Hempstead and Pulaski counties. The county is named after William Clark, then Governor of the Missouri Territory, which included present-day Arkansas.

Arkadelphia was designated as the county seat in 1842. It became increasingly important as a hub after railroads were constructed to here that connected with numerous markets. Timber harvesting became important by the end of the century. By 1890, forest products were ranked next to agriculture in economic importance. In the 20th century, continued modern technological developments established the industry's continued importance in the county's economy.

Three of the six lynchings recorded in Clark County from 1877 to 1950 took place in a mass event in late January 1879. A black man, Ben Daniels, and three of his four sons (ranging in age from 18 to 22) were arrested as suspects in an alleged robbery and assault of a white man and held in the county jail. Daniels and two of his sons were forcibly taken out of the jail by a white mob and lynched by hanging from trees in the courthouse square, without trial. One son, believed to be Charles Daniels (22), survived for trial. He was convicted and served in prison until about 1886 or 1887.

From 1920 to 1960, the county population declined. The cotton culture had been affected by the invasion of the boll weevil, which attacked the plants; and mechanization of agriculture, reducing the need for workers. In this period, many black families, who still constituted most of the farm workers, also left Arkansas and other parts of the rural South to escape Jim Crow oppression and seek better employment in Northern and Midwestern cities in the Great Migration. In the latter part of this period, some migrated to the West Coast, where the defense industry developed during and after World War II offered higher paying jobs.

At the same time, the lumber industry declined, also causing a loss of jobs. Several companies had operated sawmills and related businesses in Clark County in the early part of the century. The founders of the lumber town Graysonia, Arkansas moved to Springfield, Oregon, renaming their company as Roseboro Lumber. While manufacturing industries had entered the county, several had a downturn in the 1980s.

In the 1970s, the DeGray Dam and Lake were completed along the Caddo River, providing new areas in the county for tourism and recreation, which have become major components of the economy.

Adjacent Counties

Cities, Towns & Communities

  • Alpine
  • Amity
  • Arkadelphia (County Seat)
  • Barringer
  • Beirne
  • Boswell
  • Burtsell
  • Caddo Valley
  • Clear Spring
  • Curtis
  • Fendley
  • Graysonia
  • Greenville
  • Gum Springs
  • Gurdon
  • Halfway
  • Hollywood
  • Joan
  • Kansas
  • Lenox
  • Okolona
  • Rome
  • Vaden
  • Whelen Springs




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Arkansas Digital Archives

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