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New book looks at Prairie history
By Bill Shrum   - 04/29/2008

Stuttgart Daily Leader

More Info on This Book: Arkansas County

In the newest book by Steven and Ray Hanley, "Images of America: Arkansas County" published by Arcadia Publishing in 2008, the reader will be captivated by the history of Arkansas County from the French explorer Henri deTonti at Arkansas Post to the rice mill skyline of Stuttgart.

The five chapters in the book cover the various aspects of Arkansas County such as Frontier to Civil War, Stuttgart: Queen City of the Grand Prairie, Small Towns, Villages and Hamlets, The Bounty of the Grand Prairie and Outdoor Life on Prairie and Forest and Stream.

Located in the heart of the Grand Prairie, Arkansas County is the oldest in Arkansas and is adorned with a colorful history. Though unusual, the county has a dual sea, with courthouses in DeWitt and Stuttgart.

Arkansas Post, the first semi-permanent European settlement in the long Mississippi Valley, was a trading post with the native population near the juncture of the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers.

Over the years, the settlement was relocated from time to time because of flooding on the Arkansas River. Its position was consistently strategic for the French, Spanish, Confederate and Union military.

In April 1783, Captain James Colbert led a band of British partisan and Chickasaw Indians in an attack on Arkansas Post. The engagement was the only battle of the American revolution fought west of the Mississippi River.

On Nov. 20, 1819, William Woodruff published the inaugural issue of the Arkansas Gazette, the first newspaper of the Arkansas Territory. Woodruff printed the paper until Nov. 24, 1821 when the capital moved to Little Rock.

Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post was the site for most important battle fought in Arkansas County during the American Civil War in January of 1863. Destroyed in the fighting, the town of Arkansas Post was never rebuilt. Today, it is the site of a national monument.

After the war, the towns of Crocketts Bluff, Casscoe and St. Charles became thriving river ports, thanks to the return of steamboat traffic to the White River.
Railraods eventually connected the towns of Stuttgart, DeWitt, Almyra, Humphrey and Gillett with the outside world.

Stuttgart, the largest town in Arkansas County, began as a dream of Rev. Adam Buerkle, a Lutheran minister from Stuttgart, Germany who bought the old Mitchell Plantation in 1877 with a colony of his fellow immigrants. He named the little prairie town in memory of his German town.

In 1904, rice was introduced to the Grand Prairie and the state's first rice mill was established at Stuttgart in 1907 by a group of the community's leading farmers and businessmen.

Today, Arkansas is the national and international leader in rice production. The state devotes 1.4 million acres to the crop _ 43 percent of the total acreage in the country.

Arkansas is home to the world's largest rice processing and export company.

Riceland Foods, a farmer-owned cooperative located at Stuttgart, is where Arkansas rice farming started more than a century ago.

There are more than 200 vintage photographs and accompanying stories to recall the colorful past of Arkansas County.

Ray Hanley, a lifelong resident of Arkansas, is the author of 13 Arkansas History books, including 12 Arcadia titles.

Steven Hanley, a lifelong resident of Arkansas, has a bachelor's degree in history. For nearly 20 years, he has authored a daily column in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette called "Arkansas Postcard Past." He is the author of some 10 books including two editions of the history of Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States.

The Hanley brothers will be signing their book, Saturday, May 10 at the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie during the German Heritage Festival.

For more information call (870) 673-7001.

Buy It Now: Arkansas County $19.99

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