Phillips County, Arkansas Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Helena
Organized: May 1, 1820
Parent County(s): Arkansas and Hempstead[1]
Neighboring Counties
Arkansas  • Bolivar (MS)  • Coahoma (MS)  • Desha  • Lee  • Monroe  • Tunica (MS)
See County Maps
Location Map

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county was named for the first white settler and representative to the first Territorial Legislature of the Arkansas Territory, Sylvanus Phillips. It is located in the southeast central area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Phillips County Courthouse
600 Cherry Street
Helena, AR 72342
Phone: 870-338-5505
Phillips County Website

County Clerk has marriage records from 1831 and probate records from 1850;
Clerk Circuit Court has divorce, court, and land records from 1820.[3]

Phillips County, Arkansas[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1914 1831 1914 1820 1820 1850 1830
*State birth and death records began in 1914. Limited compliance until the 1920s

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

  • 1820--Phillips County was created 1 May 1820 from Arkansas and Hempstead Counties.
  • County seat: Helena[5]

One factor that must be taken into account in conducting research pertaining to Phillips County is that the Mississippi River has, on occasion, changed course.

In addition, parts of Phillips County later became other counties:  Crittenden in 1825, St. Francis in 1827, Monroe in 1829, and Lee in 1873.

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[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit Hometown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[6]

Unincorporated communities
  • Big Creek
  • Cleburne
  • Cleveland
  • Cypress
  • Hickory Ridge (Marvell)

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Emphasis for this timeline is on events that affected migration, records, or record-keeping. Unless otherwise mentioned, the events below were taken from the Phillips County page on the website, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture[7] and several other sources.[8][9][10][11]

  • 1797 - Sylvannus Phillips, was living in what is now Phillips County , having come from North Carolina.
  • 1820 May 1 - The Arkansas territorial legislature established Phillips County out of Arkansas County, with St. Francis as the county seat. It is believed that sometime in the next decade the city's name changed to Helena.
  • 1820 November 19 - First deed recorded in Phillips County.
  • 1829 & 1873 - Phillips County was reduced in size twice: first when Monroe County was established, and later when Lee County was established.
  • 1830 - The town of Helena officially named as the county seat.
  • 1852 - A fire nearly destroyed the town of Helena.
  • 1855 - A yellow fever epidemic hit the town of Helena.
  • 1862 - The town became occupied by the Union army under General Samuel Curtis.
  • 1863 July 4 - The Battle of Helena took place, with the confederate troops unsuccessfully attempting to take the town.
  • Today (2010) - Phillips county is one of the few Arkansas counties where African Americans outnumber whites. They do so close to 2 to 1.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

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


Individual Cemeteries:

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1830 1,152
1840 3,547 207.9%
1850 6,935 95.5%
1860 14,877 114.5%
1870 15,372 3.3%
1880 21,262 38.3%
1890 25,341 19.2%
1900 26,561 4.8%
1910 33,535 26.3%
1920 44,530 32.8%
1930 40,683 −8.6%
1940 45,970 13.0%
1950 46,254 0.6%
1960 43,997 −4.9%
1970 40,046 −9.0%
1980 34,772 −13.2%
1990 28,838 −17.1%
2000 26,445 −8.3%
2010 21,757 −17.7%
Source: "".

Church Records[edit | edit source]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

African Americans[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Phillips County deed records from 1886 to 1906 were microfilmed by the Arkansas History Commission in cooperation with the Arkansas History Commission. This was a part of a project which was completed in 2007. The filming project is discussed in an Internet news item in the Arkansas History Commission website.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Phillips County. They may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more about local histories, see Arkansas Local Histories.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Monroe CountyLee CountyArkansas CountyDesha CountyBolivar CountyCoahoma CountyTunica County250PX
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

  • Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions. Washington, D.C., 1852. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969, and 1991. Reprints include "an Added Index to States." FHL Collection 973 M24ur; digital version at Ancestry

Civil War[edit | edit source]

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

- 13th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry (Confederate),
- 2nd Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Union)
- 3rd Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Union)

Online Records

Civil War Battle

The following Civil War battle was fought in Phillips County.

Map showing Civil War battles in Arkansas.

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

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

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Online Probate Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

See also How to order Arkansas Vital Records

Birth[edit | edit source]

Birth Records reveal
Yes or Maybe
 Y  M
Name of Child Green check.png  
Birth Date and Place Green check.png  
Parent's Names Green check.png  
Mother's Maiden Name   Green check.png
Parent's Ages Green check.png  
Father's Occupation Green check.png  
Current Residence Green check.png  
Name of Doctor or Midwife Green check.png  

In 1877, a few county and city clerks[13] started keeping birth and death records.

In 1914, the state law required all county clerks to record births and forward them to the state.


See also: • Arkansas Online Genealogy Records, • How to Find Arkansas Birth Records and • Arkansas Vital Records—Birth.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Voter Records[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Phillips County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Arkansas Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Phillips County. For state-wide library facilities, see Arkansas Archives and Libraries.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Phillips County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Arkansas Societies.

  • Tri-County Genealogical Society, PO Box 580, Marvell, AR 72366, covers Lee, Monroe, and Phillips Counties, Arkansas. The society publishes Tri-County Genealogy.

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • 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 resources. 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[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002).
  2. Genealogy Trails History Group, “Phillips County, Arkansas Genealogy and History”,
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002).
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Phillips County, Arkansas. Page 69 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 66.
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002).
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Phillips County, Arkansas," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Arkansas, accessed 13 September 2018.
  7. Billy Steven Clifft, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, ( : accessed January 15, 2016), “Phillips County.”
  8. Paul T Hellmann, Historical Gazetteer of the United States: Helena. New York: Routledge, 2005,, visited 11 July 2017, p. 63.
  9. James D. McCabe, A Comprehensive View of Our Country and its Resources': Helena', Philadelphia: Hubbard Brothers, 1876,, visited 11 July 2017, , p. 992.
  10. Josiah Hazen Shinn, Pioneers and Makers of Arkansas, Vol. 1, Washington: Genealogical and Historical Publishing Co., 1908, pp. 117-131,, visited 11 July 2017.
  11. Robert Whitaker, On the Laps of Gods: The Red Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice that Remade a Nation, New York: Random House, 2008,, visited 11 July 2017.
  12. Heritage Preservation Services, [ Civil War Battle Summaries by State, (accessed 2 August 2012).
  13. such as Sebastian County (Fort Smith) and Pulaski County (Little Rock) (No entry in FamilySearch Catalog found for Pulaski County nor for Little Rock, Aug 2014)
  14. FamilySearch Wiki contributors, "Arkansas County Marriages - FamilySearch Historical Records," in FamilySearch Wiki.
  15. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at