Souvenir Edition of The Benton County Sun - Published in 1903 - Part 1
The first white men to enter the present State of Arkansas were the members of the expedition of the Spanish explorer, DeSoto, who, it is known crossed the Mississippi in 1541 and ascended White River some distance. It is barely possible that they came as far up as the region now known as Benton County.
The first permanent white settlement within the present limits of the state was made by the French in 1670 on the Mississippi, near the mouth of the St. Francis River.
In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase, comprising over one million square square miles of country lying west of the Mississippi river, was transferred to the United States by France for a consideration of $15,000.00.
In March, 1804, all that portion north of the southern boundry of the present State of Arkansas was organized by congress as the District of Louisiana.
In March, 1805, the District of Louisiana was regularly organized as a territory of the United States. In June, 1812, the country comprised within the limits of the Indiana Territory and the present State of Arkansas was organized as Arkansas Territory.
As near as can be ascertained, the first white settler was Adam Batie, who located near where Maysville now stands. From that time on, the population was gradually increased by new arrivals, the pioneers being principally from Tennessee, although a goodly number came from Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and other states.
The first churches in the county were a Cumberland Presbyterian organization near the site of Bentonville about 1830 and a Methodist Episcopal class near War Eagle in the early [Eighteen]thirties.
The Line and State Roads, two important highways, were established in an early day. The former was laid out for military purposes between Ft. Scott and Ft. Smith, and followed closely the line between the state and the Indian Territory. The latter pursued the general route of the Frisco railroad across the county, and was one of the great thoroughfares from Texas to the North before railroads were built.
On January 15, 1836, Arkansas was admitted to the Union as a state, with its boundaries the same as they are at the present time. On September 30, 1836, Benton was organized as a separate county.
The first county court, Judge George P. Wallace presiding, was held in April, 1837, at Wallace's house one and a half miles east of Bentonville, at which time the organization of the country was completed.
The three commissioners elected to select the site for the county seat, in the early fall of 1837 chose the location, laid out the town, and gave it the name of Bentonville.
The first circuit court, Joseph M. Hoge, judge, was held at the house of George P. Wallace in November, 1837. The first court house, a small log building, was erected on the north side of the public square in Bentonville the latter portion of 1837 or fore part of 1838.
The first jail, also of logs, was built about the same time a short distance east of the northeast corner of the public square In Bentonville.
During the winter of 1837-'38, the Cherokee Indians passed through Benton County on their way from Georgia to the Indian Territory.
The first general election was held in the county in August, 1838. The town of Maysville was founded in 1839.
The second court house, a two-story brick structure, was built in the center of the public square in Bentonville about 1839 or '40. The government surveys were made in the county during the latter thirties and early forties, Brightwater began its existence about the year 1840.
In 1846, a company of soldiers was raised in the county for service in the Mexican War. Only a few of its members were needed, however.
The first water power mill in the county was erected at War Eagle in 1848.
The county poor farm was acquired by both purchase and entry of government lands in 1858.
The population of Benton county in 1860 was 9,285.
In 1861, the Civil War broke out, and in the terrible years that followed the county suffered untold misery.
On March 7 and 8, 1862, occurred the great battle at Pea Ridge, or Elk Horn Tavern, as it is sometimes called. The number engaged were 10,500 infantry and cavalry, with 49 pieces of artillery, in the Union forces, and 16,202 infantry and cavalry with the Confederates troops. The loss was in the neighborhood of 2,700 killed, wounded and captured, about equally divided on either side.
During the Civil War, the brick courthouse in the square at Bentonville was burned. After the close of the war, a temporary frame court house was built a short distance east of the northeast corner of the public square.
Population in 1870 - 13,782.
The first newspaper, the "Advance", was published in Bentonville in the early seventies.
The present court house was completed in 1874, and the third story of this structure contained the second jail possessed by the county.
Population in 1880- 20,225.
The value of the medical properties of the springs at Siloam first became generally known in 1879, and in 1880, the town was laid out and was at first called Siloam City.
Cherokee City was platted in 1880. The city of Rogers was laid out in March, 1881; Lowell was laid out in 1881. Avoca and Garfield both began their existence in 1881.
The St. Louis & San Francisco railroad was completed across the county in the summer of 1881. The railroad between Bentonville and Rogers was completed in 1883.
The town of Sulphur Springs was platted in December, 1885. The present county jail in Bentonville was completed in 1889.
The Kansas City Southern railroad, then known as the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf, was completed across the county in 1894.
Decatur had been in existence for some time prior to the building of the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf road, but its recent growth dates from that time.
Gravett was founded in 1894, although the village of Nebo had existed for many years before that about a half mile east of the site of Gravett.
Gentry is an entirely new town, having been laid out at the time of the building of the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf railroad in 1894. The Rogers and Grove branch of the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad was commenced west of Bentonville in 1898 and completed in 1900, and during this time the villages of Centerton and Hiwasse were established.
Population in 1900 - 31,611.
The present population of Benton county.is not far from 33,000 [population in 1903]A.