Arkansas History

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The following important events in the history of Arkansas affected political jurisdictions, family movements, and record keeping.


  • 1686: The French established Arkansas Post, the first white settlement in what is now Arkansas. It was the administrative center for the French, Spanish, and United States governments until 1821 when Little Rock became the capital.
  • 1763: France ceded the region to Spain.
  • 1800: Spain officially returned the land to France, although Spanish occupancy continued until 1802.
  • 1803: The United States acquired the area that is now Arkansas with the Louisiana Purchase and it became part of the Louisiana Territory.
  • 1810: Osage and Qupaw ceded land.
  • 1812-1819: Arkansas was part of Missouri Territory
  • 1818: Quapaw Indians give up lands between the Arkansas and Red Rivers to the United States
  • 1812: The Missouri Territory was established, including Arkansas in its boundaries. After the War of 1812 the Indian population decreased, and white settlers arrived to claim bounty land.
  • 1813: The territorial legislature established Arkansas County.
  • 2 March 1819: Arkansas became a separate territory.
  • 1820: First Federal Census, all reported missing
  • 1825-1826: Quapaw and Caddo removed tro Red River Agendy on Red River west of Arkansas.
  • 1835: Most Indian tribes had been removed to Oklahoma.
  • 15 June 1836: Arkansas became a state.
  • 1837: Settlers from southern states began arriving.
  • 1861: Arkansas seceded from the Union. It was readmitted in 1868.


A useful source for studying the history of Arkansas is:

Thomas, David Y., ed., Arkansas and Its People, Four Volumes. New York, NY: American Historical Society, 1930. (Family History Library book 976.7 H2t; microfilm 934821; fiche 6051359.)

A brief bibliography of local histories of Arkansas is:

Clark, Georgia H. and Bruce R. Parham, Arkansas County and Local Histories: A Bibliography. Fayetteville, Arkansas: Mullins Library of the University of Arkansas, 1976. (Family History Library book 976.7 H23c.)

Online Resources

Arkansas History Commission

Encyclopedia of Arkansas