Transcribed and contributed by Bryce W. Self


From "Inventory of the County Archives of Arkansas, No. 63 Scott County (Waldron)"
Prepared by The Arkansas Historical Records Survey, Division of Community Service Programs, Works Progress Administration, Little Rock, Arkansas, March 1942


Scott County, with an area of 898 square miles, [1] is located in west-central Arkansas. It is bounded on the north by Sebastian and Logan Counties, on the east by Yell County, on the southeast by Montgomery County, on the south by Polk County and on the west by the State of Oklahoma. [2]

The county has an average elevation of 910 feet, with the altitude ranging from 419 feet at Cedar to 2,800 feet on Blue Mountain. [3] it has a mean annual temperature of about 62 degrees and an average of 50 inches of rainfall annually, with about 30 inches falling during the growing season. The growing season is from 210 to 220 days. [4]

Although most of the county is in the Ouachita National Forest, which occupies an area within the county of 307,603 acres, [5] the river valleys are wide and fertile. the high plateaus are ideal for growing apples. [6] A large portion of the county is too rough and broken for agriculture, but is excellent for growing timber. [7] The main streams are the Fourche la Fave, Petit Jean and Poteau Rivers. [8]


It is believed that Hernando DeSoto and his band were the first white men to visit the present bounds of Scott County. in the winter of 1541-42 DeSoto and his followers built a camp and spent the winter in the northern part of the county. The finding of old Spanish coins, minter in the sixteenth century, near Lucas bears out the story of DeSoto's visit to the vicinity. [9]

The French traders, led by De Tonti, established a settlement at Arkansas Post in 1686. From there they penetrated to all parts of the State. They paddled their canoes up the Arkansas River and some of them followed the Fourche into Scott County. The Poteau River also was used to some extent by the traders in reaching Scott County. [10]


Scott County was created on November 5, 1833, from portions of Crawford and Pope Counties. [11] The boundaries were defined more exactly in acts passed in October and November, 1835. [12] In 1838 a portion of Scott County was made a part of Crawford County. [13] why this change was made is not certain, but it is believed that in view of the fact that Scott County absorbed a part of Crawford County when it was created, the legislators were endeavoring to return a portion to Crawford County. This portion was not surveyed until 1842 and it was found to lie well inside Scott County and did not touch Crawford County. This section, as well as all the western part of Scott County, was absorbed by Sebastian County when it was created in 1851. [14] The part taken by Sebastian County south of the Poteau Mountain was restored to Scott County in 1861. [15]

The creation of Yell County in 1840 took a large portion of the eastern part of Scott County. [16] In 1871 Sarber County was created from parts of Johnson, Scott, Franklin and Yell Counties. [17] Sarber County's name was changed to Logan County on December 14, 1875. [18] A portion of Scott County was detached and added to Logan County in 1881. [19] On May 23, 1901, a new line between Scott and Polk Counties was established. [20] The boundary between Logan and Scott Counties was changed on March 2, 1903, when more territory was detached from Scott and added to Logan County. [21] The final change was made on February 21, 1925, when the boundary between Scott and Montgomery Counties was altered, with Montgomery County gaining more territory. [22]

The temporary seat of justice was located at the home of Walter Cothran by the organic act. [24] Elijah Jackson, Walter Cothran and Tandy C. Walker were appointed commissioners on October 18, 1836, to select a permanent site for the county seat. [25] They located it at Boonville (now spelled Booneville), where it remained until James F. Gaines, Walter Cothran and Wiley Tomlinson, as commissioners, voted to move the county seat nearer the center of the county. They chose a site one and a half miles northeast of the present site and named it Winfield, in honor of George Winfield Scott, a well-known figure in the early history of Arkansas. The change was approved January 5, 1843. [26] At the same time a post office known as Poteau Valley was established on the present site of Waldron, with William G. Featherston as postmaster. It remained there until August 18, 1843, when it was moved to Winfield. [27]

The first officials of Scott County were: Sheriff, Jones Riley; Judge, Elijah Baker; clerk, Silvanus B. Walker; coroner, John R. Choate. They were elected on March 29, 1834. Charles Humphrey was elected Sheriff on November 3, 1835. [28]

Postmasters at the Winfield office were: Edward H. Featherston, appointed in August 1843; John Baxter, November 27, 1844; William G. Featherston, March 31, 1846, and Thomas Cox, May 30, 1846. Shortly thereafter the post office was moved back to Waldron. [29]

The county seat site at Winfield was unsatisfactory to the public because at that time there were no main roads leading to the place. In 1846 John P. Waldron surveyed the present site and the county seat was moved there on May 28, the same year. The town was named for the surveyor.

William G. Featherston donated 10 acres on which to build the courthouse. [30] On January 27, 1862, the courthouse and all records were burned [31], and on May 23 1882, a similar incident occurred. [32] In consequence there are few sources of authentic information concerning the history of the structures or actions of the courts. the courthouse built in 1904 was so badly damaged by fire in 1933 that it had to be rebuilt. The work was completed in 1934. This building, before being remodeled, was of late nineteenth century gingerbread style of architecture. It is now of red brick and has three stories and a basement. [33]

By 1850 eight townships had been established in the county. They were: Hickman, LaFayette, Park, La Fave, Mountain, Tomlinson, Boon and Washburn. The townships of Boon and Washburn since have been detached and added to Logan County. [34] There are now 26 townships. [35] Waldron, the county seat, was incorporated on December 17, 1852. [36]

Slavery did not exist to any extent in Scott County, and a Union man, E. T. Walker, was elected to represent the county in the State convention at Little Rock to determine the policy and attitude of the State toward secession. [37] Mr. Walker, although favoring the union of the states, voted for the secession ordinance on May 6, 1861. Company D, First Regiment, Arkansas Volunteers, was organized in the county with G. W. Featherston as captain. The company took part in the battle of Oak Hill, Missouri, after which it was disbanded and its members became parts of other units. Another company was organized in December 1861, with Capt. William Patterson in charge, and a third was formed in February 1862, by Captain Featherston. The latter was merged with the 19th Arkansas Volunteers under Colonel Dawson and saw extensive service east of the Mississippi River. [38]

Gangs of bushwhackers and marauders began terrorizing the county, and a small force under Major Featherston and Capt. Isaac Bagwell was stationed at Waldron to maintain order. The Federal forces, consisting of the 14th Kansas Cavalry, captured Waldron on September 11, 1863. Major Featherston was wounded seriously during the encounter. Other skirmishes took place at Waldron on February 1 and December 29, 1864. After the capture of Waldron many Scott County residents joined the Federal forces. When the Federals evacuated Waldron they set fire to every home except those of William G. Featherston and Elijah Leming. [39]

From 1874 to 1879 a period bordering on anarchy existed during which a number of murders were committed. It was climaxed in 1877 when the sheriff was unable to control mobs and the courts were unable to secure just verdicts. During a term of circuit court in 1877, upon application of "gentlemen of responsibility," Gov. William R. Miller sent a company of militia to Waldron to protect the court. The sheriff protested this action, but fled later when an armed mob patrolled the streets. After a short time, the lawlessness gradually subsided. [40]


Scott County residents have three main sources of revenue: Timber, coal and agricultural products. In 1939 there were 7 manufacturing plants in the county employing 411 workers for wages totaling $300,649. They produced goods valued at $1,193,303. [41] The Ouachita national Forest covers 307,608 acres of the county, the largest acreage in any county in the State. [42] The timber is mostly pine and hardwood. A total of 528, 000 acres is in timber in the county. [43] Sawmills are scattered over the county. One of the three largest in the State is located at Forester and has a capacity of more than 60,000 board feet per day. [44]

In March 1887 prospectors traced a large coal vein in western Arkansas into Logan, Yell, Montgomery, Scott and Polk Counties. [45] Coal production in Scott County has varied greatly. Figures from the offices of the State Mine inspector show that no coal was produced in 1924, 1935, 1936 or 1938. The peak was in 1918 when 45,020 tons were produced. In 1940 there were 24,652 tons mined in the county. [46]

In 1935 there were 1,908 farms in cultivation in Scott County, with the majority ranging from 30 to 50 acres. The average size was 96.2 acres. There was a total of 149,150 acres in cultivation. [47] Through April 1, 1940, the number of farms had decreased to 1,546, but the average size had increased to 98.9 acres. the total valuation of farms and buildings in 1940 was $2,289,905, or an average of $1,481 per farm. [48]

Scott is one of the leading counties in the production of strawberries. In 1934 a total of 209 farms reported that 356 acres produced 351,525 quarts of berries. [49] There were 3,030 bales of cotton produced on 7,535 acres in 1939. [50]

The assessed valuation of real and personal property in the county has declined steadily from the peak of $2,654,927 in 1929 to $1,736,615 in 1939. [51]


There were no public roads as late as 1837. What few roads there were generally followed old Indian trails, and bridges were unknown. A few years later a few roads were cut through the forests, but these crude passages were dangerous because of wild animals. [52] The first post road within the present boundaries of Scott County was laid out in 1838. It began at Booneville and ran by the sites of Waldron, Parks and Zebulon, Pike County, to Washington, Hempstead County, a distance of 140 miles. Another route was established in 1845 from Fort Smith to Waldron, by way of Chocoville, now Mansfield. In 1850 the route from Waldron to Mount Ida, Montgomery County, was put in operation. [53] On February 5, 1859, the legislature approved the building of a State road through the county. It was supposed to run "from the city of Fort Smith, through the Lookout gap in the Poteau Mountain, by the head of the Fourche le Fevre creek, in Scott county; Dallas, in Polk County, and Ultima Thule, Laynespsort, on Red River, upon the most direct and practicable route." [54]

From this humble beginning the roads in Scott County have been steadily improved. U. S. Highway No. 71, one of the leading highways from the Great Lakes to the Gulf, crosses the county. It also is crossed by No. 28, and No. 270 traverses a section of the southern part of the county. The improved roads in the county include [illegible, seems to read "1.1"] miles of portland cement concrete pavement, 18.3 miles of bituminous concrete, 34.2 miles of bituminous surfacing, and 48.2 miles of gravel. [55]

The rivers of the county were used by the early trappers and traders, but outside of this there has never been any commercial river transportation of consequence.

There were 53.5 miles of railroad in the county in 1935, [56] but some of the trackage has been abandoned and dismantled. In July 1941, the Caddo and Choctaw Railroad, an extension of the Arkansas Western Railway from Waldron to Forester,was sold to the Sonken-Galamba Corporation. It was used for a time to haul logs to a lumber mill at Forester, but its rails and equipment have recently been used in national defense work. [57] The Arkansas Western, a branch of the Kansas City Southern Railway, extends from heavener, Oklahoma, to Waldron, with approximately 19 miles of the line being in Scott County. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company main line extends approximately 6 miles across the northern tip of the county. [58]


The first school in the county is believed to have been taught by the mother of P. M. Claunts. it lasted three months, and about 12 persons attended, mostly grown folk. The school was held in the yard of the Claunts home, and the pupils were taught the alphabet, how to spell a few words, write short sentences and how to sign their names. [59] In 1840 there were no academies or grammar schools, but there were 5 primary and common schools which had a total enrollment of 103 pupils. [60] In 1850 there were 6 schools, 4 in Hickman and 1 each in Mountain and Tomlinson townships. By 1860 there were 11 schools, 3 in Boon, 1 in Reveille, 3 in Tomlinson and 4 in Hickman townships. [61] by way of comparison, Scot County had 73 school districts with a total enrollment of 3,253 in 1900. [62] In 1940 the total enrollment had dropped to 3,099 of whom 57 were Negroes. The school term, however, had been lengthened to an average of 7-1/2 months. In 1941 the school system was made more efficient by the reduction of the school districts to 41. [63]


There was not a church in the county when the State was admitted to the Union in 1836. Religious services were held by itinerant preachers in the homes of the settlers. The Rev. G. W. Sorrels, Methodist minister, preached in the western part of Arkansas between 1830 and 1840 and frequently held services in Scott County. About 1842 the Rev. John Cowle was appointed to the Fort Smith circuit and established methodism in Scott, Sebastian and surrounding counties. By 1860 churches had been established in nearly every community. The itinerant preacher had been supplanted by the circuit-riding pastor. The methodists had established a church on the Fourche as early as 1842, and other denominations followed. Services usually were held in the district schools, but later log churches were erected. [64]

In 1926 the total church enrollment was 3,699. this number included 1,672 members of the Southern Baptist; 799 of the Church of Christ; 634 of the Methodist; and 102 of the Presbyterian. [65]


The population of Scott County, after its creation in 1833, began to increase rapidly. In 1838 there were 1,515 white persons and 106 slaves. By 1850 the total population had reached 3.083. Twenty years later it had more than doubled, being 7,483. At the turn of the century Scott County had a population of 13,183. [66] there was only a slight increase during the next 20 years, reaching 13,232 in 1920. From this figure it fell to 11,803 in 1930, but the county reached a new high in 1940 when 13,300 persons were enumerated. [67]


The first newspaper published in the county, the "Reformer," was established in 1874 at Waldron by W. R. Allison. After about a year it was moved to Booneville. The Waldron "News" was being published as early as 1879. The "Reporter" was founded at Waldron in 1878 by S. H. Farley. The "Reporter" and the "Advance," the latter founded in 1904 by Sam Leming, were consolidated in 1906 by Duncan & Baker. The Waldron "Citizen," a Republican newspaper, was started in 1888, but suspended August 15, 1891, and the "Reporter" bought the plant. The Waldron "Vindicator" was suspended in 1897, soon after it was started. The Waldron "Wasp" was started in 1906, but was bought by the "Advance Reporter" and suspended. The "Scott County Record" began publication in 1915 with W. E. Baker as editor and the Record Printing Company as publisher. It was soon sold to A. F. Smith. The Waldron "Advertiser" was started in 1905 by the Forester and Duncan Land Company, but it was discontinued in a short time. The Waldron "Sentinel" was started in 1910. W. E. Baker also bought that paper in 1912 and merged the plant with that of the "Advance Reporter." [68]

[1] U.S.Bureau of the Census, "Sixteenth Census, 1940, Population," p. 3
[2] Arkansas Geological Survey, "Topographic Map of the State of Arkansas."
[3] Arkansas Geological Survey, "Elevations in Arkansas," IX, 140-47
[4] University of Arkansas, College of Agriculture, U. S. Department of Agriculture, "Types of Farming in Arkansas," Extension Circular, No. 351, p. 44
[5] Hot Springs, "New Era," Feb. 1, 1941
[6] David Y. Thomas, "Arkansas and Its People," II, 771
[7] U. S. Department of Agriculture, firest Service, "Forest Resources of the Ouachita Mountain Region of Arkansas," p. 2
[8] Arkansas Geological Survey, "Topographic Map"
[9] Henry Grady McCutchen, "History of Scott County," pp. 12, 13
[10] Ibid, p. 15
[11] Terr. A. Ark., 1833, p. 98
[12] Terr. A. Ark., 1825, p. 16; "ibid.," p. 47
[13] A. Ark., 1838, p. 81
[14] A. Ark., 1851, p. 81
[15] Ordinances of the constitutional Convention, 1861, No. 91, p. 468
[16] A. Ark., 1840, p. 10
[17] Ibid, 1871, p. 48
[18] Ibid, 1875, p. 129
[19] Ibid, 1881, p. 135
[20] Ibid, 1901, p. 332
[21] Ibid, 1903, p. 74
[22] Ibid, 1925, p. 307
[23] John H. Reynolds, ed., "Publications of the Arkansas Historical Association," I, 137
[24] Terr. A. Ark., 1833, p. 98
[25] A. Ark., 1836-41, app. 1836, p. 86
[26] A. Ark., 1842, p. 195
[27] W. J. Bryan York, History of Scott County, typed
[28] Arkansas, Secretary of State, Original Record, Territory of Arkansas, 1819-1836, p. 194
[29] York, op. cit.
[30] Ibid
[31] "Arkansas Gazette, Centennial Edition," 1936, p. 119
[32] Ibid, p. 148
[33] See "Housing, Care and Accessibility of Records," p. 13 [not transcribed]
[34] McCutchen, op. cit., p. 32
[35] U. S. Bureau of the Census, "Sixteenth Census, 1940," Population, p. 10
[36] A. Ark., 1852-53, p. 252
[37] "Arkansas Gazette, Centennial Edition," June 15, 1936, p. 116
[38] McCutchen, op. cit., p. 37
[39] McCutchen, op. cit., pp. 37-40
[40] McCutchen, op. cit., pp. 44-50; John Hugh Reynolds, "Makers of Arkansas History," pp. 315-16; "Arkansas Gazette," August 17, 1877
[41] U. S. Bureau of the Census, "Sixteenth Census, 1940; Manufactures, 1939," p. 7
[42] Hot Springs, "New Era," February 1, 1941
[43] Arkansas Forestry Commission, "Wooden Riches, Arkansas Forestry Facts," Bulletin No. 10, p. 13
[44] U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, op. cit., p. 18
[45] "Arkansas Gazette, Centennial Edition," p. 152
[46] J. W. Fitzjarrell, State Mine Inspector, letter, written June19, 1941, in files of Historical Records Survey Project
[47] U. S. Bureau of the Census, "Agriculture, 1935, Arkansas," Second Series, p. 17
[48] Ibid, "Sixteenth Census, 1940, Agriculture, Arkansas," First Series, p. 15
[49] Ibid, "Agriculture, 1935, Arkansas," Second Series, p. 27
[50] U. S. Department of Agriculture, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, "Arkansas Cotton, 1928-39," p. 12
[51] Arkansas State Comptoller. "Biennial Report... 1938-39, 1939-40," p. 128
[52] McCutchen, op. cit., pp. 25-26
[53] Ibid, p. 29
[54] A. Ark., 1859, p. 123
[55] Arkansas State Highway Commission, Fourteenth "Biennial Report, 1939-40," p. 126; ibid., "Map of the State Highway System of Arkansas," 1941
[56] Ibid., Twelfth "Biennial Report 1935-36," p 47
[57] Fort Smith, "southwest American," July 6, 1941
[58] Arkansas Railroad Commission, "Official Map, 1930"
[59] P. M. Claunts, "From Memory's Scrapbook," pp. 15-16
[60] U. S. Bureau of the Census, "Compendium of the Sixth Census, 1840," p. 91
[61] McCutchen, op. cit., p. 63
[62] Arkansas State Superintendent of Public Istruction, "Biennial Report, 1899-1900," pp. 185-186
[63] Arkansas State Board of Education, and State Commissioner of Education, "Biennial Report, 1938-1940," p. 93
[64] McCutchen, op. cit., pp. 24, 25, 34, 54
[65] U. S. Bureau of the Census, "Religious Bodies, 1926," pp. 581-2
[66] Ibid, "Twelfth Census, 1900, Population," Part 1, pp. 10-11
[67] Ibid, "Sixteenth Census, 1940, Polulation," p. 13
[68] Fred W. Allsopp, "History of the Arkansas Press," pp. 405-406

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