Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.
view all


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

Official Website

At the time of European encounter, historic tribes included the Osage, the Caddo, and the Quapaw. The name of the state of Arkansas comes from the Quapaw language. French and Spanish traders and trappers had relations with these groups.

After the United States acquired this territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, American settlers eventually made their way to the area where Jonesboro is located. They began exploring, hunting, trapping, and trading with the local Indian tribes. A permanent settlement of Jonesboro was set up shortly after 1859.

The Jonesboro Lynching of 1881 took place at midnight on March 12. The Decatur Daily Republican reported that four black men—Green Harris (sometimes referred to as Hawes), Giles Peck, John Woods (sometimes referred to as Jud Woods), and Burt Hoskins (sometimes referred to as Haskins)—had been arrested and tried before magistrates Jackson and Akers at New Haven Church, eight miles north of Jonesboro. The hearing, which found that the men were guilty, was attended by several hundred people. According to this and several other reports, the accused made a complete confession. The magistrates bound them over to the grand jury, and they were ordered taken to the jail in Jonesboro. The hour being late, however, it was decided to hold them overnight in the church under a strong guard. The large crowd gradually dispersed, "muttering threats of vengeance." Around midnight, between 200 and 300 masked men surrounded the church, overpowered the guards, and broke in the doors and windows. They seized the accused, dragged them to a tree about 200 yards away, and hanged them. Once again, the crowd dispersed, "leaving the bodies of their victims dangling in the air and presenting a horrible spectacle in the moonlight." According to the Republican, "The crime and punishment form one of the blackest pages in the annals of the state.

The city set up the Jonesboro School District in 1899. In 1900, St. Bernard's Regional Medical Center was established by the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters. The Grand Leader Department Store, the first department store in the city, was opened in 1900. Woodland College and two schools within the Jonesboro School District were opened in 1904. Arkansas State College (now Arkansas State University) was established in 1909, the same year in which the first horseless carriages were driven in the city. There is a recording on a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map dating back to March 1897 of a Presbyterian Church existing at the corner of Church St. and Monroe, and a Christian church located at the corner of Union and Huntington Ave. Other early churches of the city were started in the 1910s. First Baptist Church was founded in 1911, and First Methodist Church in 1916.

Wade Thomas was lynched on December 26, 1920, in downtown Jonesboro. A large white mob seized Thomas after he allegedly shot local Patrolman Elmer Ragland during a Christmas day raid on a local dice game. He was paraded through the town and then hanged and his body riddled with bullets.

On September 10, 1931, Governor Harvey Parnell authorized the Arkansas National Guard to be deployed in Jonesboro to quell the Church War, a clash between the followers of Joe Jeffers and Dow H. Heard, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro. Jeffers' supporters also attacked the mayor and police chief, resulting in front-page coverage of the incident in The New York Times.

On May 15, 1968 an EF4 tornado struck Jonesboro, destroying 164 homes. At least 34 people died and more than 350 people were injured as a result of the tornado which struck the town without warning at 10:00pm that night.

The Westside Middle School mass shooting occurred on March 24, 1998. Two young boys (aged 11 and 13 years) fired upon students at Westside Middle School while hidden in woodlands near the school. They killed four students and one teacher, and injured 10 persons.