Arkansas has an area of 53,182 square miles, and as of 1994, a population of 2,452,671.
The Bluff Dwellers were the first known inhabitants of what is now Arkansas. They lived in caves and on rock shelves in northeastern Arkansas a thousand years before Columbus. The more advanced Mound Builders flourished in southern Arkansas in later pre-Columbian times. The Quapaw, Caddo, and Osage Indians were in Arkansas when the white first began to explore the region.
The first European to explore the region was Hernando de Soto, as he made his way westward from Florida in search of gold in 1541. The French came in 1673, and the Sieur de la Salle claimed the territory for France in 1682. The Treaty of Paris (1763), ceded the area back to Spain, but it was returned to France in 1800 by the Treaty of San Ildefonso. The United States came into possession of what is now Arkansas by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
The United States took formal possession in 1804. Arkansas remained a part of Louisiana until 1812, when it became a district in the Missouri Territory. In 1819 Arkansas Territory (including what is now Oklahoma) was created, with Arkansas Post as the territorial capital. The capital was moved to Little Rock in 1821.
There were only 14,273 widely scattered settlers in 1820, but homesteaders soon began streaming into the territory, settling along the waterways. By 1835 there were some 50,000 people. In 1836 Arkansas applied for statehood and was admitted as the 25th state in the Union on June 15.
The rush of pioneer families to Arkansas from the Old South and the East increased after the financial panic of 1837. Arkansas sided with the South during the Civil War.
Ancestral lines to be found in Arkansas include Coker, Gates, Graham, Hurley, Turner, Webb, and Woodard.