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Desha County, Arkansas

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


Desha County was created by the Arkansas Legislature on December 12, 1838, consisting of the lands of Arkansas County separated from the county seat by the Arkansas River and the White River, and land from Chicot County. The county was named for Captain Benjamin Desha, who fought in the War of 1812.

Located in the Arkansas Delta, Desha County's rivers and fertile soils prosperous for planters under the cotton-based slave society of plantation agriculture in the antebellum years. After the Civil War, cotton continued as the primary commodity crop into the early 20th century, and planters did well. Labor was provided by sharecroppers and tenant farmers.

But following widespread farm mechanization, laborers were thrown off the land, and Desha County had a demographic and economic transformation. Thousands of black farm workers left the area and went north or west in the Great Migration, and there was a decline in population. Farm holdings have been consolidated into industrial-scale farms, with few governmental benefits for small farmers, and the economy cannot support much activity. In the 21st century, the county is seeking to reverse population and economic losses through better education for its workforce, and developing tourism based on its cultural, historical and outdoor recreation amenities.

During World War II, the federal government established the Rohwer War Relocation Center, an internment camp for Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans it forced out of the coastal area of California, the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. The camp operated from late 1942 into 1945 and the end of the war, holding up to nearly 8500 ethnic Japanese, many American-born citizens. The Rohwer War Relocation Center Cemetery has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Adjacent Counties

Cities, Towns & Communities

  • Arkansas City (County Seat)
  • Back Gate
  • Bowie
  • Clayton
  • Dumas
  • Franklin
  • Halley
  • Jefferson
  • Kelso
  • Mississippi
  • Napoleon
  • Pea Ridge
  • Pickens
  • Randolph
  • Red Fork
  • Rohwer
  • McGehee
  • Mitchellville
  • Reed
  • Richland
  • Silver Lake
  • Snow Lake
  • Tillar (part)
  • Walnut Lake
  • Watson





AR GenWeb

Genealogy Trails

Nat'l Reg. of Hist. Places

White River Nat'l Wildlife Refuge