Johnson County, Arkansas

County History

Johnson County was created from a portion of Pope County, by the Act of November 16, 1833, and was named Johnson honoring the first Territorial Judge of Arkansas, Judge Benjamin Johnson.  The Act creating the County, directed the temporary seat of justice should be held at the home of Elijah Alston, one of the pioneers of the County and whose home was at the Spadra Boat Landing.

In 1836 the County Seat was established in Clarksville, after Mr. Josiah Cravens offered ¼ mile square on Spadra Creek free to the Commissioners if they would locate the County Seat here.  Clarksville was named honoring Lorenzo N. Clark another large land owner of the County, and one of the Commissioners who was chosen to locate the County Seat. Clarksville was incorporated December 21, 1848.

Johnson County covers 700 square miles and there are five incorporated towns.  As early as 18258 there were a few white settlers here and still some Indians.  The main river boat landings were located at Spadra Bluff, Morrisons Bluff, and Pittsburg Landings.  Those who came in on the barges had to land at one of these places. Numerous wagon trains from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky brought many of our early settlers.  They were all looking for good farm land and plenty of water. 

Johnson County had many first in the State.  The first blind school was organized in Clarksville and the first deaf-mute school was here in 1850.  The College of the Ozarks, now called University of the Ozarks, originated in Cane Hill, Washington County in 1834, was chartered in 1852, and then moved to Clarksville in 1891.  The College of the Ozarks School of Pharmacy in 1946 was the first one in the State. 

Our first Spadra Creek Bridge was built in 1852 and the same location has been used for every bridge that has been built since.  This bridge is the bridge that ascends east hill on Main Street.  The same location has also been used for every Courthouse that has been used, the first one being built in 1838, and every Methodist Church since the first was built in 1843. 

The first free delivery of rural mail in Arkansas began in Johnson County in 1896.  We have also had one or more banks in Clarksville since 1901.  The first Educational Association organized in the State was organized in Clarksville, April 12, 1869, and was incorporated on February 23, 1881.

Many Indian signs can be found over the county.  One called “the Rock House,” is a cave of red sandstone.  On the walls are many figures of turtles, lizards, and other reptiles.  Other places too numerous to mention have turned up arrow heads and Indian relics. 

There is no region of this state where the towering ranges of the Ozarks loom up more majestically.  The Boston and Mulberry Mountains traverse the northern areas of the county to the Arkansas River.  The mountains afford the widest and loveliest prospects it is possible to conceive.  

 ~~History provided by Lillian Mickel

For more History of Johnson County please visit http://www.ar-johnsoncohistory.com/

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