Lewisville is the county seat of Lafayette County. Settled about the time that Arkansas became a state, but relocated by the building of railroads half a century later, Lewisville has weathered the storms of history with relative calm.
Purchase through Early Statehood
One of the earliest schools in Arkansas history was established in Lewisville. The Lafayette Academy existed at least as early as 1841 but ran short of funds and had to be closed by 1848.
War through Reconstruction
A Freedmen’s School was established in Lewisville, although the head of the school complained that students were still being mistreated by their former masters and other white neighbors. One freed slave from Lewisville, Monroe Hawkins, served in the 1868 Constitutional Convention. Hawkins had been born in North Carolina but was brought as a slave into Arkansas. At the time of the convention, he was described as a minister and farmer.
Reconstruction through Early Twentieth Century
The Populist Party was successful in electing candidates to state office from the Lewisville area until the 1890s, when the state government enacted several laws that disenfranchised many voters, especially African Americans. Beginning in 1892, the Democratic Party was firmly in control of county government in Lafayette County. Groups of African Americans met in Lewisville during that decade to discuss immigrating to Africa, according to articles published at that time in the Arkansas Freeman. Evidently, few actually chose to make that journey. In April 1917, large numbers of African Americans gathered in Lewisville to hear patriotic speeches and to pledge their loyalty to the United States and for its involvement in World War I.
Many men from the community served in the U.S. Army in World War I. Like the rest of the nation, Lewisville suffered from the economic collapse that spurred the Great Depression. A large oil pool was discovered in the area on April 25, 1939, but, by this time, the oil boom that had transformed other parts of southern Arkansas had largely run its course; the cost of drilling for oil exceeded the expected benefits in much of the region. Works Progress Administration (WPA) efforts included the construction or improvement of 151 miles of roads in Lafayette County, as well as the new courthouse, which was completed in 1940.
War II through the Modern Era
Like many other cities in south Arkansas, Lewisville began the process of desegregation of its schools only after court rulings and events in other parts of the state made such action necessary. As of the 2010 census, the population of Lewisville is 1,280, of whom 55.3 percent are black, 41.3 percent are white, and 2.8 percent are Hispanic.
Lewisville has six buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including the county courthouse, the Methodist church, and the People’s Bank Building. The most famous person to come from Lewisville is journalist Ernie Deane.
Knight, Wilda, ed. Lafayette County, Arkansas: Pieces of its Past and its People. Lewisville: Lafayette County Historical Society, 2002.
Search Lafayette County
Please send comments or suggestions to
Rasberry - Lafayette County