Desha County, Arkansas Genealogy

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United States
Desha County

Guide to Desha County, Arkansas ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Arkansas City
Organized: December 12, 1838
Parent County(s): Arkansas and Chicot[1]
Neighboring Counties
Arkansas  • Bolivar (MS)  • Chicot  • Drew  • Lincoln  • Phillips  • Washington (MS)
See County Maps
Desha County Arkansas Courthouse.jpg
Location Map

County Information


County Courthouse

Desha County Courthouse
Robert Moore Avenue
PO Box 188
Arkansas City, AR 71630
Phone: 870.877.2323
Desha County Website

County Clerk has marriage records from 1865 and probate records;
Clerk Circuit Court has divorce, court and land records.[1]

Desha County, Arkansas

Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1914* 1865 1914* 1840 1839 1852
*State birth and death records began in 1914. Limited compliance until 1920's

Record Loss

  • 1860s - A courthouse fire destroyed some records.

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

Boundary Changes

  • 1838--Desha County was created 12 December 1838 from Arkansas and Chicot Counties.
  • County seat: Arkansas City[1]

For animated maps illustrating Arkansas county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Arkansas County Boundary Maps" (1813-1925) may be viewed for free at the website.

Populated Places

The following are locations in Desha County, Arkansas:

  • Arkansas City
  • Dumas
  • McGehee
  • Mitchellville
  • Reed
  • Tillar
  • Watson

History Timeline

Emphasis for this timeline is on events that affected migration, records, or record-keeping. Unless otherwise mentioned, the events below were taken from the Desha County page on the website, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. [3]

  • 1838 December 12 - Created by legislative act , Desha County was detached from Arkansas and Chicot counties.
  • 1860-1865 - During the war, county records were moved by wagon to Richland Township and later to Clarksville, Texas. Some records were never recovered.
  • 1927 - Desha County’s greatest tragedy came in the spring of 1927, when a flood inundated 478,000 acres after levee breaks occurred on the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. Many of the county’s 26,684 citizens were forced to flee to hill counties or to live on second floors, in tent cities, and in boxcars on the levee.
  • 1930-1931 - The Drought of 1930–31 and the Great Depression, with unemployment over thirty percent, added to economic woes.
  • 1940-2010 - The population of Desha County peaked in 1940 at just over 27,000. By 2010, it had dropped to 13,000.

Additional Information
Desha County is Arkansas's 40th county, formed on December 12, 1838, and named for Captain Benjamin Desha who fought in the War of 1812.


Bible Records


Business, Commerce, and Occupations


Cemeteries of Desha, Arkansas online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
TombstoneTranscriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Arkansas Cemeteries for more information

Census Records

1840  Federal Census Index  -  USGenWeb Project Archives

1850 Federal Census Index  -  USGenWeb Project Archives

Church Records

Dumas Churches  -

McGehee Churches  -

Court Records


Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups

African Americans

Funeral Homes



Land and Property Records

Desha County Federal Land Records  -  USGenWeb Archives Project

Local Histories

Local histories are available for {{{1}}} County. They may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. Click for a brief Timeline History of the county. For more about local histories, see Arkansas Local Histories.

Riverboat History -  Desha County ARGenWeb

Goodspeed's History  -  Desha County ARGenWeb

  • Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing, 1890. Online at: ($)

Maps and Gazetteers

Click on a neighboring county to go to the wiki page.
Desha CountyChicot CountyAshley CountyDrew CountyLincoln CountyJefferson CountyArkansas CountyPhillips CountyMonroe CountyCleveland CountyBradley CountyUnion CountyWashington CountyBolivar CountyARDesha.JPG


Military Records

War of 1812

Military Land Grants War of 1812 (partial list)  -  USGenWeb Project Archives

Civil War

Regiments. Men in Desha County served in various regiments and companies. Those listed below were specifically formed in this county:

- 3rd Regiment, Arkansas Infantry (Confederate), [5]
- 5th Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Confederate)
- 6th Regiment, Arkansas Militia (Confederate) , Napoleon Cavalry
- 8th Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Confederate)
- Carlton's Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Confederate)

Online Records

World War II

Rohwer Relocation Center  -  Desha County ARGenWeb

World War II Enlistees A-F  -  USGenWeb Project Archives

World War II enlistees G-L  -  USGenWeb Project Archives

World War II Enlistees M-R  -  USGenWeb Project Archives

Naturalization and Citizenship


Finding More Arkansas Newspapers Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Desha County, Arkansas Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

Desha County Newspapers  -  Desha County ARGenWeb


Other Records


Probate Records

Online Probate Records

School Records

Tax Records

Vital Records





Research Facilities


Family History Centers

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.





  • ARGenWeb. Free. Data may be submitted by individuals or complete transcriptions
  • USGenWeb Archives. Free. Data may be submitted by individuals or may be complete transcriptions
  • RootsWeb. Free. Data may be submitted by individuals or may be complete transcriptions
  • Linkpendium. Free. Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)
  • CyndisList. Free. Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)
  • FamilySearch Catalog - The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection.  Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records

Research Guides


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002).
  2. Alice Eichholz, Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Pub., 2004), 65-67. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004.
  3. Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, ( : accessed January 13, 2016), “Desha County.”
  4. 4.0 4.1 FamilySearch Wiki contributors, "Arkansas County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)," in FamilySearch Wiki.
  5. Calvin L. Collier, They'll do to Tie To: the story of the Third Regiment, Arkansas Infantry, C.S.A.,(Little Rock, Arkansas: Civil War Round Table Associates, 1959) p. 10. FHL book 976.7 M2c