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Lonoke County, Arkansas
Genealogy and History
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County Description and Early History


    By the act of April 16, 1873, sections of Prairie and Pulaski counties were cut off to form a new county, which was named Lonoke. It is said the name was derived from a "lone oak" tree which stood on the site of the present Town of Lonoke and which was used as a landmark by George P. C. Rumbough when he was surveying the lands of the county. The act creating the county designated the Town of Lonoke as the seat of justice, and George M. Chapline, Thomas Doyle and William Goodwin were appointed commissioners, who, under the direction of the county court, were to purchase lots for the county buildings. The first courthouse was a building that had been used as the courthouse of Prairie County, but which had been removed to Lonoke from Brownsville. It was destroyed by fire in 1881, but the records were saved. The square where the present courthouse stands was donated to the county by C. T. Thompson and Walton Harris in 1875.

        Lonoke is divided into the following townships: Butler, Carlisle, Caroline, Cleveland, Crooked Creek, Eagle, Fletcher, Furlow, Goodrum, Gray, Gum Woods, Hamilton, Indian Bayou, Isbell, Lafayette, Lonoke, Magness, Oak Grove, Pettus, Prairie, Pulaski, Richwoods, Scott, Totten, Walls, Ward, Williams and York.

    The county is situated in the central part of the state. On the north it is bounded by White County; on the east by Prairie and Arkansas counties; on the south by Jefferson, and on the west by Faulkner and Pulaski counties. It's area is 807 square miles, drained by numerous creeks and bayous, and the soil is generally fertile. The first rice grown as a commercial proposition in Arkansas was grown in this county. Dairying is an important industry.

    The first settlements in what is now Lonoke County were made in the northwest part. As early as 1821 Sampson Gray came from Tennessee and settled on Moss Prairie. He was followed by Francis Secrist, James Dunnaway, S. C. Moss, William Sanders, Sr., William Sanders, Jr., Drury Dobbins, James Erwin, Joseph Stillwell, John Reynolds, Hamilton Reynolds, Lot Johnson, Josephus Tucker, John Harrod and a few others, all of whom came to Arkansas while it was still a territory. Game was plentiful in early days, and the pioneers depended largely upon their trusty rifles to provide a supply of meat for their families. Andrew J. Legate, who came to the county in 1842, used to tell of killing five bears one morning before breakfast.

    The main line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad crosses the northwest corner, with stations at Austin, Cabot and Holland. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific runs east and west through the central portion, and the St. Louis Southwestern provides transportation for the southwestern part. The Pine Bluff & Northern runs southward from McCreanor on the Rock Island, six miles east of Lonoke. The population of the county in 1920 was 33,400, a gain of 5,417 over the census of 1910.

        Lonoke and England, the largest towns, are described in other chapters. Austin was incorporated on October 22, 1895, and in 1920 reported a population of only 163. Carlisle, on the Rock Island nine miles east of Lonoke, was incorporated on July 1, 1878. It is a banking town, has a weekly newspaper, foundries and machine shops, a rice mill, a telephone exchange, general stores, and a population of 602. Cabot, on the Missouri Pacific, was incorporated on February 22, 1897. It has a weekly newspaper, a bank, two nurseries, a telephone exchange, etc., and a population of 477. Keo, an incorporated hanking town on the St. Louis Southwestern, has large lumber interests, general stores, etc., and a population of 325. Butlerville, Kerra, Pettus and Tomberline are thriving villages and local trading centers.

    (Source:  Centennial History of Arkansas, contributed by Tina Easley.)

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