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Desha County (pronounced "deh-SHAY") is located in southeast Arkansas with the Mississippi River as its eastern border. It was organized on December 12, 1838 as Arkansas' 40th county, being named after Captain Benjamin Desha, a landowner who fought in the War of 1812.
Located in the Arkansas Delta, Desha County's rivers and fertile soils proved prosperous for planters under the cotton-based slave society of plantation agriculture in the antebellum years. After the Civil War, cotton continued as the primary commodity crop into the early 20th century, and planters did well. Labor was provided by sharecroppers and tenant farmers. But following widespread farm mechanization, laborers were thrown off the land, and Desha County had a demographic and economic transformation. Thousands
of African-American farm workers left the area and went north or west in the Great Migration, and there was a decline in population. Farm holdings have continued to be consolidated into industrial-scale farms.
During World War II, the federal government established the Rohwer War Relocation Center, an internment camp for Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans it forced out of the coastal area of California and the Pacific Northwest. The camp operated from late 1942 into 1945 and the end of the war, holding up to nearly 8500 ethnic Japanese, many American-born citizens. The Rohwer War Relocation Center Cemetery has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Dumas ~ McGehee ~ Mitchellville ~ Watson
Arkansas City (county seat) ~ Reed ~ Tillar
Back Gate ~ Halley ~ Kelso ~ Pea Ridge ~ Pickens ~ Rohwer ~ Snow Lake
Desha County Courthouse is located at:
P. O. Box 188,
Arkansas City, Arkansas 71630-0188