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List of Counties in Arkansas

This page written and copyright 2008 by Will Johnson. I am a professional genealogist. If you'd like to hire me you can email me at



Prior to 1819 there was no state or territory called Arkansas. In the below narrative, when I say "Arkansas" for any time before 1819, I mean that area which was in 1819 created as the Arkansas Territory.

Prior to 1800, Arkansas was owned by Spain. From 1800 to 1803, Arkansas was owned by France. In 1803, by the Louisiana Purchase, Arkansas and much more, were bought by the United States.

In 1804, Arkansas was called New Madrid, in the Louisiana District of Indiana Territory. In 1805 the Louisiana District of Indiana Territory became the Louisiana Territory. In 1812, part of the Louisiana Territory was renamed the Missouri Territory. In 1813, Arkansas County was created in the Missouri Territory, encompassing all of lower Arkansas, while upper Arkansas was still called New Madrid. In 1815, Arkansas County was divided into two parts, the upper part called Lawrence County and the lower retaining the name Arkansas County. The new Lawrence County encompassed almost all of the old New Madrid, while New Madrid was left as only a small eastern-most section of what it had been, along the Mississippi River. The dividing line between Lawrence County and Arkansas County, was the Arkansas River. On 2 Mar 1819 the president approved the bill which created the Arkansas Territory, carved from part of the Missouri Territory. A small part of Lawrence County was left in Missouri, as was the majority of New Madrid county. Arkansas Territory was legally born, under the provisions of the act of March 2, on 4 Jul 1819, as Josiah Shinn states.

Josiah Shinn states that his research, based upon the 1820 census, showed that there were about ten thousand people in Arkansas at this time. The first issue of the Arkansas Gazette (newspaper), published by William E. Woodruff appeared on 20 Nov 1819 out of the town of Arkansas Post, but from 29 Dec 1821 it began publishing from Little Rock.


In the 1850 US Federal Census, 69621 people were listed as born in Arkansas per this search on I arbitrarily broke the total into the following groups:

  • Born in 1845 +/- 5 years, 47701
  • Born in 1834 +/- 5 years, 16529
  • Born in 1823 +/- 5 years, 4465
  • Born in 1812 +/- 5 years, 705
  • Born in 1801 +/- 5 years, 131
  • Born in 1790 +/- 5 years, 33
  • Born in 1779 +/- 5 years, 21
  • Born in 1768 +/- 5 years, 7
  • Born in 1757 +/- 5 years, 3, the first of these William Fannerr b 1756 is a transcription error, the image shows he is 26, not 96. The second one, Geo W Ford is the same error; the image shows he is 26, not 96. The third and last one, Thomas B Peebler is 13, not 93.
  • Thomas Smith, alledgedly born in 1739 in Arkansas (clearly impossible), and again checking the underlying image directly, we see that he was 11, not 111.
  • Astute readers adding up the above numbers will see that there are 20 missing records. My assumption is that in those cases, there is either no birthyear specified or transcribed.

Post Offices

In 1819 there were only two post-offices in the Territory, one at Arkansas Post and the other at Davidsonville. By 1820 four more were created: Cadron, Clark Court House, Hempstead Court House and White River. There was only one road, running from Davidsonville in Lawrence County to Ouachita in Louisiana.


Counties with articles here


Further reading

  • "Arkansas Volunteers of 1836-1837 : History and Roster of the First and Second Regiments of Arkansas Mounted Gunmen 1836-1837 and a Roster of Captain Jesse Bean's Company of Mounted Rangers United States Army 1832-1833", by James Logan Morgan. Reprinted by Arkansas Research of Conway, Arkansas. ISBN 0941765792
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