The Early Days of Crawford County Arkansas According to Old Newspapers Life for the early settlers of Crawford County Arkansas was difficult at best. Crawford County, Arkansas Territory was created on October 18, 1820. There were no roads at that time and transportation was conducted on “trails, by horseback and wagons” when possible but mostly by the Arkansas River. I began my family research in 1996 and ran into many “road blocks” due to the lack of records for the county. The court house had been destroyed during the Civil War following the Battle of Prairie Grove on December 7, 1862. Neither the Union Army led by General Blunt, nor the Confederate Army led by Thomas Hindman could claim victory in that battle. During the night, the Confederate Army retreated back toward Van Buren after wrapping their wagon wheels with blankets to reduce the likelihood of being discovered. The Union Army overtook them at Dripping Springs, about 7 miles north of Van Buren, where a skirmish ensued and the Union Army continued on to Van Buren.
After arriving the Union Army took over the court house and destroyed all records on file and used the building as a barn to feed and shelter their horses. Once again in 1877, the court house was destroyed by fire. All court records were destroyed again and much angst was endured among the citizens of Crawford County over Land Records, Tax Records and all of records of great importance.
My Great great grandfather settled this area in March of 1831 when Crawford County, Arkansas Territory’s boundary extended all the way into present day Ft Gibson, Oklahoma. In the same year that he was discharged, Arkansas because a state in 1836. My research led me to Tax Records that were kept on file in Little Rock, Arkansas and the State Census of 1840 forward, but that was where my research might have ended if I had given up.
I read every book I could find about Crawford County hoping to find my ancestors and was able to find that my great grandfather fought in the Civil War as a Confederate Soldier in 22 nd Arkansas Infantry, Company G along with his older brother. The middle brother had joined the Union Army in Company K 14 th Kansas Cavalry. I decided to see if any old newspapers existed that might assist me in learning about my ancestors’ lives and times; so I purchased a microfilm reader and many microfilmed copies of all local newspapers in Crawford County, Arkansas. These books are a result of my research not only for my ancestors, but for the everyday common folks that made up the back bone of the county. Much has been written about the “Founding Fathers” of Crawford County. But I wanted to include the unsung heroes that made my home what it is today.
Many hours have been spent transcribing these microfilm copies. As any researcher can attest, it is an arduous task to undertake. But I have no regrets whatsoever! I am proud to say that this work has assisted untold numbers of others who have been able to break through brick walls.
These books include the earliest newspapers of Crawford County, Arkansas beginning in 1843 and going to the early 1900’s. They are housed in several libraries throughout the United States and all local libraries in the county. A look at the index for each book will give you names of people and headlines of events that took place in the area during that time. They all include a history of the area and its people in detail that can be found nowhere else. I am confident that you will enjoy their contents.