Organization of Benton County, Arkansas

Benton County was organized in accordance with an act of the General Assembly passed or approved September 30, 1836. In accordance with the act the first term of the county court, Judge George P. Wallace, presiding, was held in April, 1837, at the residence of said Wallace, one and a half miles east of the present site of Bentonville, when and where the organization of the county was completed. The first county officers were as follows: George P. Wallace, judge of the county court; John B. Dickson, county clerk; Gideon G. Pace, sheriff; Henry C. Hastings, treasurer; Henry Ford, coroner, and A. McKissick, surveyor.

The County Seat

According to the act creating the county, an election was held for the selection of three commissioners to select and fix upon a site for the county seat. On counting the returns it was found that Robert Cowen, Robert Weaver and Thomas Swaggerty were elected as such commissioners. On the 7th of November, 1837, they filed with the county clerk a report of their proceedings in the words and figures following, to-wit:

We, the undersigned commissioners elected under an act of the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas, after having been duly qualified, and giving the notice required by law, and having duly examined the various situations, donations and conveniences, beg leave to report that we have selected a site-to-wit: The south half of the southeast quarter of Section 30, in Township 20 north, Range 30 west of the fifth principal meridian, as presenting to your commissioners, duly considering its situation, the donations offered, and its eligibility for a county seat, more advantages and conveniences than any other situation which was presented for the consideration of your commissioners. They have, after selecting the same, in accordance with the powers vested in them as commissioners, proceeded to lay off a town thereon, leaving a square and 136 lots, and have named and called said town Bentonville; all of which is respectfully submitted to the court.

The report was addressed to the circuit court, to which tribunal the law required it to be made, and on the second day of the first term of that court, which was held in November, 1837, the report was presented to the judge thereof, and the following entry was ordered to be made of record, viz.:

And now on this day comes the commissioners elected to locate a county seat for the county of Benton, and present their report, which is approved by the court and ordered to be filed and recorded. And it appearing to the court here that a court-house will be prepared for the reception and use of the court by the next term thereof, it is therefore ordered by the court that the clerk of the Benton Circuit Court do move all the files, records and papers of his office to the town of Bentonville, the county seat so selected by said commissioners, or within one mile thereof, at least thirty days before the next term of this court. And that the town so selected be established as the seat of justice for said county, and be called and known by the name of Bentonville, in honor to the Hon. Thomas Hort Benton, and that all writs and process hereafter issued from this office, shall bear test and be made returnable at the court-house in the town of Bentonville, county of Benton.

In accordance with this order the books and papers of the court were moved to the court-house in Bentonville before May, 1838, in which month the second term of the court was held in the established county seat, which has ever since remained as such.

Lost Records

The court records of the proceedings of the court from its organization to the year 1857, and again for a number of years including the war period, have been lost or destroyed. It is thought that many of them were destroyed by soldiers during the war. In consequence of the absence of the records some important items of the proceedings of the county court, that might otherwise appear, will necessarily have to be omitted. The major part of the business of this court in the early history of the county consisted in the appointment of commissioners to lay out and establish public roads, and to accept and approve, or reject, their reports, to audit accounts, to make contracts for public improvements, to examine and approve the reports of guardians and administrators, to exercise jurisdiction over all county and probate business in general and to levy and superintend the collection of revenues for both county and State.


The loss of records prevents the formation and organization of the original municipal townships of Benton County from being satisfactorily ascertained and given. We do know something of the following two towns from records which do remain:

No further proceedings pertaining to the municipal townships appear on record until March, 1873, when the following entry was made of the proceedings of the court:

Ordered, that the sixteen political townships or voting precincts as existed in 1860, in the county of Benton, be recognized and re-established as they stood in said year 1860, and that all elections hereafter held in said county be held at the original voting precincts in each original township, respectively, as they were in 1860; and that this order take effect from and after the tenth day of March, 1873.

Ten years later, at the October term, 1883, of the court, the following order was made:

Now, on this day it appearing to the court that the records of the county court have been destroyed. showing the true boundary lines between the townships of the county. It is therefore ordered by the court that the township lines as shown by the map of Benton County, Arkansas, issued by S. B. Robertson, in 1883, be, and the same are hereby declared to be the correct and true lines between said townships of Batie, Sulphur Springs, Dickson, Osage, Mount Vernon, Sugar Creek, Roller’s Ridge, Walnut, War Eagle, Esculapia, Bright Water, Colville, Big Spring, Anderson, Wager, Ball, Flint, Hico, Round Prairie, Eldorado Springs and Wallace. That said townships be as they are hereby established and set forth. and designated in said map as published by said S. B. Robertson in 1883.

The following towns were then added subsequent to the court order:

The descriptions of the boundary lines of the civil townships above, formed since the county map was published, in 1883, have been given in full, so that the reader can trace and mark them on the map if he so chooses. The names of all the civil or municipal townships in the county, beginning in the northeast corner and going west on the north tier to northwest corner, thence east and west successively, after the manner that sections are numbered in Congressional townships, as of 1889 are as follows, viz.: Roller’s Ridge, Garfield, Sugar Creek, Mount Vernon, Dickson, Sulphur Springs, Batie, Eldorado, Wallace, Osage, Bright Water, Walnut, War Eagle, Esculapia, Anderson, Decatur, Round Prairie, Flint, Wager, Colville, Washington, Big Spring, Yell, Hico and Ball–twenty-five in all. Some of them are very irregular in shape.

Back to: Benton County, Arkansas History

Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.

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