Washington County, Arkansas Native Americans

The Indian occupation of Northwestern Arkansas presents few points of interest. This territory was first claimed by the Osages, and was frequently visited by them in their hunting tours, but it is not probable that they had any established villages in this region. As early as 1806 some of the Cherokees settled above Point Remove, on the Arkansas River, and by a treaty made July 17, 1817, acquired title to all the country west of a line from the mouth of Point Remove, on the Arkansas, to a point on White River, three miles above Batesville, thence up White River to where Dubuque now is; thence west of south to the mouth of Frog Bayou. To this country a large number of Cherokees were transferred from the country east of the Mississippi. Bands of Shawnees and Delawares also established themselves in this region, and had quite a large village near the present town of Yellville, in Marion County. Hunting parties frequently came into what is now Washington County, where they found an abundance of game. It is said that they usually encamped on the elevation south of Fayetteville, which was then destitute of trees. This isolated hill commands a view of the surrounding country for several miles, and they were there protected from any unexpected attack from their old enemies, the Osages.

By the treaty of 1828 the Cherokees exchanged the territory occupied by them, between White River and the Arkansas, for that west of the present State line, to which they were removed. This country embraced the greater part of Lovely County, which was by force of treaty abolished, and the citizens of the country removed east of the western boundary line of the State. They were indemnified from such loss, by reason of such removal, by a grant of 320 acres of land to the head of each family, to be located within the limits of the State.

Up to the year 1838 the peaceful settlements of Northwestern Arkansas were rarely disturbed by serious crimes or acts of violence. It was almost Arcadian in its virtue and simplicity. Rarely were the courts called upon to investigate anything more serious than some trivial misdeameanor, and frequently the grand jury reported that there was no business before them. In 1838 the Cherokee Indians were brought from Tennessee and Georgia, and located on the territory since known as the Cherokee Nation. This immigration brought with it a cloud of those doubtful characters that have always been found upon the extreme frontiers of our civilized settlements. They were attracted here in unusual numbers by the fact that the Indians had been paid a large sum of money for the improvements upon their old reservation, and all were flush with gold and silver. They came to sell them whisky, to gamble and to trade with them.

“Runaways from every State in the Union were collected along the Cherokee line, and preyed alike upon the whites and the Indians. For the especial benefit of these desperadoes, as it seems, groceries were erected immediately upon the line, one-half the house being in Washington County and the other in the Cherokee Nation, so that when a crime was committed in one part of the grocery, the offender had but to step across a plank in the floor, and, lo! he was in another jurisdiction, beyond the reach of legal process issued by the court on the side he had left.”*

Back to: Washington 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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