It is located in the second tier of counties from the northern and western boundaries of the State, between Benton and Washington on the west, and Carroll on the north and Carroll and Newton on the east. Franklin and Johnson form the southern boundary. It had previously been part of the following counties:
Two principal routes were travelled by the earliest settlers to Madison County, one following the Arkansas River to Fort Smith, and passing through Fayetteville; the other passing through Missouri, southwesterly from St. Louis through Springfield, to the extreme northwest portion of Arkansas.
In the fall of 1828, George Tucker drove the first wagon to enter Madison County, from Cane Hill, where he previously lived, and settled on the Sheridan Bottom on Richland Creek near the border of Washington County.
In the summer and fall of 1827, Thomas Cunningham, John J. Coulter, and Henry King, of Lauderdale County, AL, made a prospecting expedition into the valley of King's River. King died (this was the first death of a white man in the county), and was buried on the bank of the stream that bears his name. The others returned to Alabama. In 1829, William King, Charles Burney, Turner Hamblet, Thomas Rogers, William Adair, Lemuel Rogers and Benjamin G. King of Alabama came in a colony to Kings River Valley.
The earliest land entry in Madison County was made by John Austin in Section 31, Township 16 north, Range 27 west, a short distance east of Drake's Creek. The entry bears the date of November 8, 1834, and covers eighty acres. See Early Land Entries
There were six townships in Madison County in 1850: Bowen, Hilburn, King's River, Prairie, Richland and War Eagle. California, Cedar Creek, Marble, Mountain, Piney, Valley and Whorton Creek were added between 1850 & 1860. Later, Boston, Union, Lamar, Independence and Kentucky were added. See Townships.
The first court in the county was held in the barn of Evan S. Polk, northwest of Huntsville about one-fourth of a mile. The barn of John Sanders was used for the same purpose.
The first court house was erected on the square in Huntsville in 1837-38, at a cost of $150, provided by a tax levied at the rate of $1.28 per forty acres of improved land.
The next court-house was built in 1845. It was a brick building, forty feet square and two stories high. the lower floor was used as a court-room. The contractor was Evan S. Polk, who burned the brick on his farm adjoining the town. The cost was about $4,000. This building was burned by northern vandals in 1863. The records were taken to Springfield, MO, and were either lost or destroyed.
In 1869, a new court-house was planned. It was contracted to Isaac Drake for the masonry, and O. D. Johnson for the frame work. The building was completed in January, 1871. It was destroyed by fire December 1, 1879.
In 1881, a contract
was awarded to W. A. Gage for a new court-house. It was built of brick,
40X50 feet, and is twenty-six feet high from the foundation to the roof.
The upper story is used as a court-room.
Goodspeed's History of Madison County, AR; Bob E. Sutton's "Early Days
in the Ozarks," 1950, reprinted in Flashback Vol V, No.3, June, 1955, Washington
County Historical Society, Fayetteville, AR.
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