The area known as Arkansas didn’t even become part of the United States until the land was bought from the French in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. In 1812, most of the area of the Louisiana purchase (including what would eventually become Arkansas) was renamed the Missouri territory. In 1816, three years before the Arkansas Territory (originally spelled as Arkansaw) was created, Major William Lovely, who was an Indian agent for the Cherokee Indians, met with the Osage and the Cherokee because there had been a lot of aggression between the two tribes. He offered to purchase hunting ground from the Osage and to create a buffer zone between the two tribes. The area was about three million acres that would come to be known as Lovely's Purchase. This area included over half of what are now Benton & Washington Counties, as well as a little of Crawford County, and in Oklahoma it included Delaware, Mayes, Adair, Cherokee, Wagner, and Sequoyah Counties. Unfortunately, William Lovely had made this purchase without the government's approval, so it took two years until the government approved a similar treaty to that which he had made with the Indians. On September 25, 1818 the chiefs of the Osage and Cherokee got together in St. Louis and approved the treaty.
On Oct 8, 1821, all white settlers were ordered off what was Lovely's Purchase, with the exception of William Lovely and his wife Persis who had made their home in an abandoned Osage village. The terms of the treaty were very clear: all Indians were to move west of the set boundary and all whites were to move to the east. Any white settler who was caught homesteading in the Indian area would have their homes and crops burnt. In 1824, all of the area west of Lovely's Purchase was separated from the Arkansas Territory,becoming Indian Territory.
Later, as white settlers started settling near this area, they saw how good the land was in Lovely’s Purchase. It had good soil, plenty of timber, and salt springs. They thought the land was "too good to give to Indians." Then-acting Territorial Governor Robert Crittenden started sending letters to Washington concerning Lovely’s Purchase. He wanted the land included in Lovely’s Purchase to become Arkansas Territory. He called it the “The Garden Spot of the Territory”. In 1827 the Territorial Assembly, believing they had the right, took Lovely’s purchase into the Arkansas Territory, now calling it Lovely County. White settlers started moving into what was Lovely County in 1827, when the Arkansas Assembly took the land as part of Arkansas Territory. The Indians, in response, sent a delegation to Washington to complain about their land being taken away.
In 1828, a new treaty was signed with the Indians, giving most of what was Lovely’s Purchase back to the Indians. The new agreement drew a line from the Missouri border down to Ft. Smith, designating everything east of that line as Arkansas Territory. That includes what is Benton and Washington County today. Any Indian who was on Benton or Washington County land who had been displaced by the treaty would receive a good rifle, a blanket, a kettle, and 5 lbs. of tobacco when he agreed to move. Those white settlers who had moved into Indian Territory who were displaced by the treaty would receive 320 acres of public domain land in Arkansas Territory for every head of household over the age of 21 years old.
This opened the way for settlement of northwest Arkansas. Many of the early settlers in Benton County came here from the state of Tennessee.