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Graphics by Rhio

Marion County
By: Earl Berry
Pages: 1-5

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History BookRESPECT THE COPYRIGHT: This book is still under copyright of the Marion County Historical Association and may not be used for any purpose other than your own personal research. It may not be reproduced nor placed on any web page nor used by anyone or any entity for any type of "for profit" endeveor.

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       (Page 1) Although Marion County has been a county for one hundred forty years, little attention has been given to its origin, its traditions, its history, its early settlers, and it's development.
       The first inhabitants were Indians, probably of the Osage Tribe, and as said by Elmo Ingenthron in his history The Land of Taney pg 4, "No one could doubt that the Osages held bona fide title to the Ozark Plateau. Though unwritten, the Osage's title to the land was indisputable. They had been in possession of the land so long that on one knew when they acquired it."
       It is not known when the first white men visited the territory now known as Marion County, but tradition has it that Desoto, the Spanish explorer and his party, in search of the fabled 'Fountain of Youth' came as far north, and, perhaps, encamped for some time in the winter of 1541 at what is now known as DeSoto Springs in the southern part of the county, before turning south to Hot Springs. There is nothing to indicate that Spain made any attempt to settle any of the area explored by DeSoto, and, in fact, did not claim the territory by right of discovery and exploration.
       France laid claim to territory by virtue of LaSalle's exploration in 1682, and the area was called the Louisiana Territory in honor of King Louis XIV of France.
       The area now comprising Marion county was originally a part of the Louisiana Territory owned by France from 1862 until ceded by France to Spain by the treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762. Spain governed this sparsely settled area whoes white inhabitants were largely of French decent until 1800 when Spain ceded the territory back to France. France held the Territory from October, 1800, until the whole Louisiana Territory was purchased by President Jefferson for the United States in 1803, and the Congress of the United States on October 21, 1803, ratified the purchase treaty.
       In 1812, the Territory of Louisiana by an Act of Congress became known as the Missouri Territory. The Territory of Missouri was divided into districts, later to be known as counties. New Madrid County was one of the largest counties in the Missouri Territory; and on January 15, 1815, the Territorial Legislature of Missouri formed the County of Lawrence out of New Madrid County, and the County of Lawrence so created was located in part of what is now southern Missouri and a greater part of what is now north (Page 2 Top) central Arkansas. Lawrence county remained a part of the Territory of Missouri until 1819 when the Congress of the United States created the Territory of Arkansas, and most of Lawrence county became one of the five counties that made up the newly created Territory of Arkansas. The territory comprising Lawrence County in 1819 contained more than half the area of the northern half of the present state of Arkansas and a part of southern Missouri. In area, it was the largest of the five Arkansas counties, but was not as thickly inhabited as some of the counties.
       In 1825, the Territorial Legislature created the County of Izard out of territory formerly in the western part of Lawrence County.
       In 1835, the citizens of Izard County petitioned the General Assumbly of the territory of Arkansas, " ... that all that portion of the county of Izard, beginning at a point on the Missouri State Line at the Range line between Range 13 and 14 and running South along said Range line to the White River and thence up the Buffalo Fork to the mouth of Big Creek; thence up Big Creek to where Big Creek forks some miles above what is called 'The Rock House'; thence south to the VanBuren County Line so as to include Wiley's Cove in the newly created county; thence westwardly to the Southeast corner of Carroll County; thence North along the eastern boundary line of Carroll County to the Missouri State Line, and thence East along the Missouri State Line to the place of beginning," for the formation of a new county which was to be called Marion County. However, the General Assembly at the time of the passage of the Act in 1825 changed the proposed name to Searcy County in honor of a distinguished fellow citizen, the Honorable Richard Searcy, deceased.
       On September 29, 1836, the First General Assembly of the newly admitted to the Union, State of Arkansas, by an Act of this First General Assembly in compliance with the wishes of the citizens of the area, as expressed in the original petition requesting the formation of the new county, substituted the original name of Marion in place of Searcy, and by Section I of the Act, declared that the county thereafter should be called and known as Marion County.
       The County was named in honor of General Francis Marion, a daring Revolutionary War general, referred to by the British as the "Old Swamp Fox". General Marion was born in Berkeley County, South Carolina, probably in 1732. He served with distinction in the assault on Savannah in 1779 and, due to his efforts, the British communications in the South were so disrupted that it brought about the turn of the war in the South.
       The temporary county seat of Marion County when it became a county in 1836 was established in the home of Thomas Adams and the first court was held in the log cabin of Thomas Adams. The county seat was soon moved to Yellville, not only because it was near the center of the county but also because Yellville was on the "military road" from Batesville to Fayetteville. The county seat has remained in Yellville, except for a brief time in 1870 when it was moved to the town of Sherman - located on the White River near Talbert's Ferry (Denton's Ferry). No explanation has been found as to this temporary location or the length of time Sherman was the county seat.
       The boundary lines of Marion County as described in 1836 have been changed from time to time so that the present area of Marion County is only a small part of the Marion County of 1836. Out of the original area, the (Page 3 Top) greatest part of Baxter County, practically all of Searcy County, and parts of Boone and Newton counties have been carved.
(photo: Marion County Courthouse burned early in 1943)
       On November 18, 1837, by an Act of the General Assembly of Arkansas, the western boundary line of Marion County was established as follows; "The Western boundary line of Marion County shall commence at a point on the Missouri State line four (4) miles West of the Range line between Range 17 and Range 18 and thence South ten (10) miles to the Range line between Range 18 and Range 19 and thence south along said Range line to the ridge which divides the waters of the Arkansas River and the White River."
       On December 13, 1838, most of the territory comprising the present Searcy County was taken out of Marion County, and the General Assembly by an Act declared that this area should be called and known thereafter as Searcy County.
       On Dec 18, 1846, the General Assembly amended the Act of November 18, 1837, which Act had set the western boundary line of Marion County, and the Act of 1846 set a new boundary line between Carroll County and Marion County, and this line continued practically unchanged until Boone County came into being in 1869.
       On January 18, 1855, a part of the western portion of Fulton County which had been created out of territory formerly a part of Izard County was attached (page 4 Top) (Photo: Marion County Courthouse) to and became a part of Marion County and remained so with little change until the creation of Baxter County.
       On March 24, 1873, territory theretofore included as parts of Marion County, Fulton County, Izard County, and Searcy County became Baxter County named in honor of former Governor Baxter.
       The Act creating Baxter County described the territory to be included in this newly crated county and, in general, included the territory now comprising Baxter County. There was some change made by the General Assembly by an Act of March 9, 1881, which changed somewhat the boundary line between Baxter County and Marion County, establishing the boundary line pretty nearly as it is at present.
       The boundary line between Boone County and Marion County was defined by the General Assembly on December 9, 1875. This change in the boundary line transferred back to Marion County territory described as: "Beginning at a point on White River where the West boundary line of Marion County strikes said White River on the south and running up said river with its meandering to the section line between Sections three (3) and four (4) in Township Twenty-one (21) North, of Range eighteen (18) West, thence South with said section line to the South boundary line of Boone County; thence East to the Marion County line." This change in the boundary line was brought about, perhaps, by some misunderstanding as to the territory formerly included in Marion County that became a part of Boone County. The present boundary line between the two counties remains pretty much as defined above.
       Geographically, Marion County is bounded on the north by Missouri, on the east by Baxter County, on the south by Searcy County, on the southwest by Newton County, and on the west by Boone County. It is commonly (Page 5 Top) referred to as one of the counties of North Central Arkansas. Actually, it is west of the center from East to West. It is in the Ozark Mountain region, and several ranges of hills or mountains are located therein, including Hall Mountain. Lee Mountain, Bull Mountain and others known by local names.
       The principal streams are White River which enters the county at the extreme northwestern corner and meanders circuitously generally in an easterly direction for some six or seven miles before turning north into Missouri, returning into Arkansas some two miles east of its exit into Missouri, then flowing generally southeastwardly some eighteen to twenty miles until it becomes the boundary between Marion and Baxter Counties to the mouth of the Buffalo River; Buffalo River which enters the county on the southern border of the county in Section 33, Township 17 North, Range 15 West, some nine miles west of the southeast corner of the county, running easterly for approximately one and one-half miles, thence in a northerly direction for approximately five miles, thence in a southeasterly direction for six miles, forming a big bend before turning almost due north for a little more than five miles before emptying into the White River; Crooked Creek which enters the county on the western side of the county near Pyatt a little south of the center and flowing in an easterly direction all the way across the county emptying into the White River, and the Little North Fork of White River which enters the county from Missouri flowing in a southeasterly direction for about four miles emptying into White River near Oakland.
       Topographically, the land consists of the valley land along the mentioned major streams; the level land formerly known as Flippin Barrens, the prairie land in the southwestern part of the county known as King's Prairie, and the hilly and mountainous land rich in zinc and lead ore.
       In conclusion, the territory comprising Marion County has been under the flag of France, the flag of Spain, the flag of the United States, the flag of the confederate States of America, the Territory of Louisiana, the Territory of Missouri and the State of Arkansas.
(Photo: 1890 Court House of Marion County, Arkansas, at Yellville. Built by Uncle Jim Wickersham County Judge J. S. Owen. Photo by G A Jenkins)

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Linda Haas Davenport