Marion County, Arkansas

Marion County, Arkansas

  • Formed: November 3, 1835
  • County Population 1860: 5,931
  • Slave Population 1860: NA
  • Civil War Engagements
    – Suffered constant guerrilla warfare
Johnson’s New Illustrated Family Atlas, 1865
Image courtesy of the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Marion County was officially established on November 3, 1835 from parts of Izard County. Contained within the Ozark Mountains, the land was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Shawnee. The land flourished from its ample water sources, such as the White River, Buffalo River, Crooked Creek, and Little North Fork River.

The earliest recorded settler was A.S. Wood, who arrived from Tennessee around 1820. Other early settlers included German immigrants Mike, Jess, Solomon, and Jake Yocum. Mike Yocum opened up the first mill in the county. The land permitted these settlers to grow corn and tomatoes, and provided abundant grazing land for beef and dairy cattle.

Marion County was named after Revolutionary War General Francis Marion. Thomas Adams’ home, another prominent early settler, served as the county seat until it was formed at Yellville. The population grew steadily: from 2,308 people in 1840, to 6,192 people in 1850, to 3,979 people in 1860 on the verge of the Civil War.

When the Civil War began in 1861, most Marion County residents sympathized with the Confederacy, though Union supporters did live in the county. There was a sizable free African American population in the county at the time which served to rally the Union base. The Confederate army began raising troops early on, raising a company under Captain J.R. David. Yellville became important strategically to both armies due to its abundant saltpeter for gunpowder manufacture, its location near the meeting of two major roads, and its location near Talbert’s Ferry, the only ferry available in the area to cross the White River. After the Battle of Pea Ridge in Benton County in early March, 1862, the Marion County area was technically controlled by the Union army, but it was heavily contested by bushwhackers in the region. Reconstruction after the war was aided by railroad construction and commercial lead and zinc mining. The population grew significantly as a result: 7,907 people in 1870 and 10, 390 people in 1880.

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