Under the French governors, Sanville ( 1699), Bienville (1701), Cadillar (1713), de L’Epinay (1716), Beinville (1718), Boisbriant, Perier (1725), Bienville (1732), Vaudreuil (1742), Keleric (1753) and D’Abbadie (1763), there seems not to have been so much settlement within the limits of Jefferson County, as during Spanish reign under Govs. Ulloa (1767), O’Reilly (1768), Unzaga (1770), Galvez (1777), Miro (1785), Carondelet (1789), Lemos (1793), O’Farrell (1798) and Salcedo (1800). Even after the United States secured it, and from 1804 to 1812, when subject to the power of the governor of Indiana Territory, William H. Harrison, it is not known at what date the squatters came in, but they came, and during the seven years before 1819, when the Territory of Arkansas was a part of Missouri Territory, some settled permanently on the old hunting grounds of the Quapaws, and in 1819 the first permanent white settler located on the site of Pine Bluff. This was a French trapper and hunter named Joseph Bonne. It was in 1825 that he built a wigwam on the river bank, between Chestnut and Walnut Streets, on ground now caved in the river, near where Sarrasin had his camp, and where a rifle, canoe and dog for a long time constituted all his earthly effects.
It was at this date that John Derresseaux, of Pine Bluff, the oldest resident of the county, chose himself a plantation near Pine Bluff. A Mr. Prewett was also on the site of Pine Bluff with Joseph Bonne; their two log houses constituted the city. Among those scattered along the river on the north side were Ambrose Bartholomew, Antoine Duchesson, David Musick, Euclid Johnson, the Dardennis, the Duchessons, the Vaugines, Israel Dodge, the Widow Collar, Francis Villier, Racine (an old man), Mitchell, Mrs. Emery and son, the Masons, Mrs. Hackett, Vassar, Rigne, Barraque, Palmer and Holland; while on the south side were Bailey, Morrison, Arrington, with possibly a few others, who were chiefly engaged in hunting and the raising of a little cotton and corn to vary their extended leisure, and many of whose names are perpetuated in streets and townships.
That there were settlements made here previous to the organization of the county has been shown, but no regular land entries were made, or at least none appear on the records, before 1829, except numerous private surveys undated. Those made daring that year were by Mary DuBoyce, A. Barraque, James Scull, Joseph Prewett, Allen Miller, J. S. Kelton, J. Boutwell, Stephen Goose, Joseph Snodgrass, Susan Crump, Robert Logan, Isaac Snodgrass, J. Russell, Robert Crawford, Abraham Shelly, Solomon Prewett, Ruth Wagnon and George Ivy; in 1830 there were John Boyd, John Sherley, Robert Hammond, Charles Curtis, Abel Johnson, William Marrs, Mark Bean, Hiram Titwell, Polly Lawrence, Chester Ashley, Willis McCain, C. Aldrick, Israel Embree and Peter Kuykendall; in 1831, R. W.Smith, Thomas Trammel, Jarred Griffin, James Duchesson; in 1832, S. H. Hempstead, Martin Serano, Creed Taylor, A. Harrington ; in 1833, D. F. Vaugine, one Imbraugh, Lucy Butler, George Flinn, a man named Wall; in 1834, John Emberson, I. Harrel, Thomas Phillips, John Cureton, Thomas Warren. Sr. , Levi Cummings and S. C. Roane; in 1835, John Pope, Archibald Yell and J. B. Thompson. These were all previous to the year of statehood, and some were not residents. The entries made in a few cases were by those who kept in the van of settlement entering land all the way to the Indian Territory. Entries after 1836 were most numerous in the 50′ s, and next to that period in the 60′ s.
There were really no towns before Pine Bluff, where, after some efforts to locate it near Derresseaux’ s, Dorris’, and at another site, the county seat was placed. The first mill was built at New Gascony by Louis Gosserreaux; Stephen Vaugine opened the first store about 1825: Creed Taylor and the Vaugines built the first gin, which was patronized over a territory that would astonish the gin owners of the present day; Bradford had the first water-mill; Mr. Barraque opened an early store at New Gascony, which was named in honor of his European birth country; the first store at Pine Bluff was kept by a Mr. Fugate, and another was controlled by a Mr. Gibson. The mail, when it did come, was carried on horseback. Deer, bear and turkey made hard work almost unknown. Shooting matches for beef or money were not uncommon. The first election was held at P. B. Greenfield’s, when Mr. John Derresseaux was just under age and was not allowed to vote for his favorite candidate, Henry Clay, in consequence of which his challenger lost a vote many years later when Mr. Derresseaux assured him he was still “too young to vote ” – for him.