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Brief History

The Founding of Craighead County

Late in the year 1858, it had become apparent to many members of the Arkansas General Assembly that there needed to be further divisions of the existing large counties in order to govern and administer them better.

The main proponent of the move to establish another county in Northeast Arkansas was Sen. William A. Jones who was the representative from Poinsett and St. Francis Counties. Senator Thomas B. Craighead, however representing Crittenden and Mississippi counties, was stubbornly opposed to the idea since the proposed new county would include alluvial land which had been providing a lucrative source of revenue to some of his constituents in Mississippi County.

Senator Jones introduced the bill calling for creation of a new county from land in Mississippi, Greene and Poinsett counties. Each time an attempt was made to move it up on the senate calendar Senator Craighead prevented it.

A master of political strategy, Jones waited until Craighead was absent from the senate chamber to call for a final vote on the measure.

With their leader gone, the opposing forces were unable to swing the vote in their favor, and the bill passed, much to the consternation of Craighead when he found out.

In a spirit of goodwill, however, Jones moved that the new county be named after the senator who had been most opposed to its creation. Thus, Craighead County came into being on February 19, 1859.

Soon afterwards, the county seat was named Jonesboro in honor of the legislator who had worked so successfully on behalf of the new county.

Excerpts from The Story of Craighead County by Charles A. Stuck

The Founding of Jonesboro

Soon after the creation of Craighead County on February 19, 1859 a location in the center of the county was sought for the new county seat, Jonesboro.

The actual site was selected after Fergus Snoddy offered to give 15 acres. J.N. Burk, County Surveyor chose the location of the plot because there was a sort of opening in the forest at that point. A site for the county courthouse was selected as the center of the town.

The choice for the location received some opposition from area hunters. It was one of the best deer crossings in this section of the country, during the winter thousands of ducks roosted in the swampy ground east of the present Water & Light plant, the banks of Lost Creek (a little north of that point) were excellent feeding grounds for wild turkey and bear had been killed there. It was felt to build a small and probably temporary town was to destroy, for all time, one of the good hunting grounds in the area.

Progress prevailed and the underbrush was cleared. The town site was laid out by surveyor Burk, creating a large center plot to be used for a courthouse. Ninety-two town lots were then laid out around the center plot. The fifteen acres were bounded by Monroe Avenue on the north, Church street on the east, Jefferson Avenue on the south, and Madison Street on the west.

Jonesboro was first incorporated shortly after it was founded and Aden Lynch was elected the first Mayor, but interest in a formal government did not seem to appeal to the citizens. The first charter of incorporation was allowed to lapse. A second try was made and it also failed to interest the citizens. In 1882 with the prospects of a railroad coming through the town, a number of prominent citizens agreed that it should become an incorporated town with necessary instruments of government. The third charter was granted and M.A. Adair was elected Mayor in 1883.

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