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Mith242

History of Northwest Arkansas

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Certain aspects have been mentioned elsewhere so I thought maybe I'd start a topic and give some basic early history of the area. Later on maybe we can discuss other historical topics. Fayetteville was founded in 1828. As far as I can tell it is the oldest town settled in the Arkansas Ozarks. The only other city older in the area was Ft Smith down in the Arkansas River Valley in 1817. Ironically Fayetteville was technically in Osage territory when Ft Smith was founded. But in 1818 the area of northwest Arkansas that had been Osage territory was finally signed over in the Osage Treaty. Two other old towns settled in the area was Cane Hill and Carrolltown in 1834. Cane Hill still exist but never developed into a city, it still lies in southwest Washington County. (Maybe I can get over there sometime and see if there's anything particularly old still standing worth taking a pic of.) Carrolltown doesn't exist anymore as far as I can tell. It existed somewhere in east Carroll County or west Boone County. fayetteville lies on the edge of the Boston Mtns and the flatter Springfield Plateau. Northwest Arkansas contains the only sizeable amount of good agricultural land in the Arkansas Ozarks. Corn and wheat were two major crops back then that was grown. One of the earliest roads in the area was the Carrolltown Road. It was mainly an east-west road that started off the old Southwest Trail in Lawrence County in northeastern Arkansas. It went westward to Carrolltown then to Fayetteville. Then it went westward over a little into what is now Oklahoma then curved back around southwest and then southeast to Ft Smith past the most mountanous terrain. I've already mentioned the Boston Mtns. It's believed they got their name because at the time the word Boston was also slang for dangerous. The Boston Mtns might not look impressive on a map and you see the elevations but the area is extremely rugged terrain. Bandits and crooks could easily hide in the rugged Boston Mtns. In the first half of the 1800's the Ozarks were generally settled by settlers from Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri. In the later half of the 1800's settlers mainly originated from Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Mississippi. Unlike the rest of Arkansas the Ozarks were never settled much by Afro-Americans. Mainly because at the time almost all Afro-Americans were slaves and the land in the Ozarks was not suitable for agriculture.

More info on the late 1800's including the Civil War later. :D

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There were also European settlers in the state too. Germans made up the biggest group. At one point there were 20 German settlements in the state. Most have disappeared although Stuttgart still remains but it's lost a lot of it's German heritage. There was a German settlement called Hermannsburg in Washington County around the Lake Weddington area. There was also one in Benton County. I haven't been able to find out it's name but I think it was somewhere northeast of Rogers. The most well known settlement is Tontitown. In 1895 562 Italians left Genoa and went to New Orleans. From there they ended up at the Sunnyside Plantation in extreme southeastern Arkansas in Chicot County. Conditions were not very good and after they fulfilled their contracts father Bandini led them to Tontitown's current location. The area is supposed to more resemble their homeland. With them grapes became a big crop in northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas was the strongest area of the state opposed to succeeding in the Civil War. There were very few slaves and no plantations in northwest Arkansas. Maybe you could also argue that northwest Arkansas has in many ways been the least 'southern' area of the state. That's not to say there weren't people for succession in northwest Arkansas or people against succession in other areas of the state. But Union loyalties were strongest in northwest Arkansas. In March of 1861 they held a convention in Little Rock. Those loyal to the Union were able to put off any immediate action. After Ft Sumter however things changed. Those who had been against succeeding still didn't want to succeed but they weren't ready to send forces to President Lincoln either. Eventually the state decided to succeed in May of 1861. The first battle in the state was in northwest Arkansas. There was a small battle in August of 1861 near Oak Hills/Wilson's Creek. The Confederates repelled the Union forces but weren't able to end the threat of Union forces entering the state through the northwest. There were two major battles in northwest Arkansas. The Battle of Pea Ridge/Elkhorn Tavern occured in March of 1862. Union troops had moved into the area and were waiting for more forces to arrive. The Confederate forces decided to attack before more forces arrived. 26,000 were involved witht he battle. Eventually the Confederates ran low on ammo and withdrew. It basically saved Missouri from possibly falling to Conderates forces. At this point this left northwest Arkansas basically to Union forces. I do know there were a number of smaller battles in the area including Fayetteville. Confederate leaders weren't ready to simply let northwest Arkansas slip to the Union so in December of 1862 they sent forces again. Another major battle was fought at Prarie Grove just southwest of Fayetteville. During the battle both forces basically held their ground. But eventually the Confederates began to run low on food, supplies and ammo so they eventually withdrew. Not only did it leave northwest Arkansas to Union forces but also left Van Buren and Ft Smith vunerable to Union forces to the south. The Battle of Pea Ridge was the biggest battle west of the Mississippi. After the Civil War the few Afro-American in the Ozarks left the area. Generally after the War there was a trend of Afro-Americans moving to the cities.

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One thing that has certainly defined the city of Fayetteville is the university. Otherwise Fayetteville wouldn't have become what it is today. I don't know all the details but different cities were competing to have the university in their city. Little Rock being a major player in the competition. I believe Fayetteville was able to raise more money for the university so it was selected as the city to get it. The McIlroy family donated part of their hilltop farm for the land. It was founded in 1871 as the Arkansas Industrial University. It changed it's name to the University of Arkansas in 1899. Old Main was constructed between 1873 to 1875. Clay for the red brick was dug up from the campus ground and fired in kilns west of the current building. The sandstone used for the base was also quarried near the building's location. Old Main was originally called University Hall. It was based on a building at the University of Illinois. The two towers of the building are not identical and there are rumors about that. The towers are reversed from the way they were at the University of Illinois. Some rumors say the contractor was drunk was put the towers backwards. Another rumor is that the contractor was from the North and wanted to signify that the North had won the Civil War. So he made the north tower the taller tower. There are also questions about the clock tower. It was meant to hold a clock but didn't appear to get one because of the lack of funds. But there are old pictures that show what appears to be a clock face with Roman numerals. It's believed they simply painted on the clockface. Although there's no one still around to testify whether there had been a clock at one point or not. In November of 2005 Old Main finally got it's clockface and in Decenmber the clock should finally be working. In 1981 Old Main was closed for saftey reasons. The building was really starting to show it's age. There was a lot of debate on whether to demolish it or renovate it. Luckily they decided to renovate it. The building Old Main was modeled after at the University of Illinois wasn't as lucky and it has been demolished. One interesting point is that Old Main was being renovated the same time Ellis Island was. Old Main actually has the same carpet that is now at Ellis Island. The original bell is still in Old Main although it's not used anymore, not sure why. The bell was used in 1985 and 1989. In 1949 an electronic bell system was put in. It eventually wore out and a computerized bell system is currently in place.

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I'll eventually try to post some more info on some of the other northwest Arkansas cities. But I'm most familiar with Fayetteville and it's also got the longest history compared to the other cities. Everyone else can feel free to contribute. :D

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There were also European settlers in the state too. Germans made up the biggest group. At one point there were 20 German settlements in the state. Most have disappeared although Stuttgart still remains but it's lost a lot of it's German heritage. There was a German settlement called Hermannsburg in Washington County around the Lake Weddington area. There was also one in Benton County. I haven't been able to find out it's name but I think it was somewhere northeast of Rogers. The most well known settlement is Tontitown. In 1895 562 Italians left Genoa and went to New Orleans. From there they ended up at the Sunnyside Plantation in extreme southeastern Arkansas in Chicot County. Conditions were not very good and after they fulfilled their contracts father Bandini led them to Tontitown's current location. The area is supposed to more resemble their homeland. With them grapes became a big crop in northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas was the strongest area of the state opposed to succeeding in the Civil War. There were very few slaves and no plantations in northwest Arkansas. Maybe you could also argue that northwest Arkansas has in many ways been the least 'southern' area of the state. That's not to say there weren't people for succession in northwest Arkansas or people against succession in other areas of the state. But Union loyalties were strongest in northwest Arkansas. In March of 1861 they held a convention in Little Rock. Those loyal to the Union were able to put off any immediate action. After Ft Sumter however things changed. Those who had been against succeeding still didn't want to succeed but they weren't ready to send forces to President Lincoln either. Eventually the state decided to succeed in May of 1861. The first battle in the state was in northwest Arkansas. There was a small battle in August of 1861 near Oak Hills/Wilson's Creek. The Confederates repelled the Union forces but weren't able to end the threat of Union forces entering the state through the northwest. There were two major battles in northwest Arkansas. The Battle of Pea Ridge/Elkhorn Tavern occured in March of 1862. Union troops had moved into the area and were waiting for more forces to arrive. The Confederate forces decided to attack before more forces arrived. 26,000 were involved witht he battle. Eventually the Confederates ran low on ammo and withdrew. It basically saved Missouri from possibly falling to Conderates forces. At this point this left northwest Arkansas basically to Union forces. I do know there were a number of smaller battles in the area including Fayetteville. Confederate leaders weren't ready to simply let northwest Arkansas slip to the Union so in December of 1862 they sent forces again. Another major battle was fought at Prarie Grove just southwest of Fayetteville. During the battle both forces basically held their ground. But eventually the Confederates began to run low on food, supplies and ammo so they eventually withdrew. Not only did it leave northwest Arkansas to Union forces but also left Van Buren and Ft Smith vunerable to Union forces to the south. I believe the Battle of Prarie Grove was the biggest battle west of the Mississippi. After the Civil War the few Afro-American in the Ozarks left the area. Generally after the War there was a trend of Afro-Americans moving to the cities.

Mith, here are the ordinances of secession passed by the Confederate States, which you will find interesting. Arkansas seceded with a vote of 69 to 1. Also, Pea Ridge was the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi River.

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Mith, here are the ordinances of secession passed by the Confederate States, which you will find interesting. Arkansas seceded with a vote of 69 to 1. Also, Pea Ridge was the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi River.

True.

Rogers was also founded on the railroad industry and apple harvesting.

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Mith, here are the ordinances of secession passed by the Confederate States, which you will find interesting. Arkansas seceded with a vote of 69 to 1. Also, Pea Ridge was the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi River.

Thanks for the link Arkanswayer. I wonder who the one vote was. And yes you are right, I don't know why but I keep getting Prarie Grove and Pea Ridge mixed up. You'd think now that I've lived up here a while I'd have that straightened out by now. :D

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True.

Rogers was also founded on the railroad industry and apple harvesting.

Yeah I think Rogers was founded in 1881. I think it was set up as a railroad hub for the old St Louis & San Francisco Railroad. Hence one of the reasons you see the word Frisco pop up a number of times in Rogers. The apple industry used to be very big here in northwest Arkansas. I believe before WWII this was the major apple area of the US. It seems like there ended up being some sort of disease problem or whatever it was. There were a few bad years and I think it really helped make the apple industry in Washington state take off.

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Yeah I think Rogers was founded in 1881. I think it was set up as a railroad hub for the old St Louis & San Francisco Railroad.

There's two stories on how the town was founded.

One is that it was named by Captain Will Rogers of the Army.

Second was that it was named in honor of the St. Louis Pacific (something like that) Railroad's President which was Rogers.

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There's two stories on how the town was founded.

One is that it was named by Captain Will Rogers of the Army.

Second was that it was named in honor of the St. Louis Pacific (something like that) Railroad's President which was Rogers.

Thanks for the info Matt, I didn't know that.

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Thanks for the info Matt, I didn't know that.

No Problem.

Bentonville was actually suppose to get the railroad to go through them, but they messed up and it came to Rogers.

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