Carroll County
Carroll County -- its beginnings

Louisiana Purchase through Arkansas Statehood and Carroll County formation

     Louisiana Territory, Missouri Territory, and then Arkansas Territory were names given to the land that became Carroll County.  The Osage Indians hunted the land until they ceded their rights to northwest Arkansas in an1808 treaty.  In 1818, the United States government established a reservation for the Western Cherokee.  The northwest boundary of the reservation ran diagonally through what is now Carroll County.  In 1828, the reservation was given up, and the land became the property of the federal government once more.
   Arkansas Territory was initially organized as the Territory of Arkansaw, as created by Congress on March 2, 1819, out of the Territory of Missouri following Missouri’s petition for statehood.  The new Territory included all of the present state Oklahoma south of the parallel 36°30' north.  The westernmost portion of the Arkansas Territory was removed on Nov. 15, 1824, a second westernmost portion was removed on Nov. 5, 1828, reducing the territory to the extent of the present state of Arkansas which was admitted into the Union as the 25th U.S. state on June 15, 1836.
     The Trail of Tears crossed the area (originally, Lawrence County and later Izard County) before the first version of Carroll County was created on November 1, 1833.  The county was named for Charles Carroll, one of the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.

     Izard county was one of the original counties of the Territory, named in honor of the then Territorial Governor, Mark W. Izard.  It embraced the present counties of Izard, Fulton, Baxter, Marion, Boone, Carroll, nearly all of Newton, and a large portion of Madison.

    The county’s boundaries changed several times.  Sections were taken in 1836 and again in 1838 to create Madison and Searcy counties.  Another portion became Newton County in 1842.  

     The creation of Boone County in 1869 resulted in reducing Carroll below the minimum square miles required for a county, so the northern part of Madison County was added to form Carroll County’s present boundaries.  At the same legislative session, Cedar and Clifty townships were included.

     Accordiing to Bradley Bunch as written in 1876: "The first settlement made west of Carrollton was at Scott's Prairie about 1830 by John Yocum, from which the beautiful "stream of Yocum Creek took its name. (Note: Scott's Prairie is now Green Forest.)"
     "The county seat of Carroll County was located at Carrollton in 1835. The first court house was built of hewn logs and was about twenty feet square, covered with clap boards.  It had two doors and one window, and the floor was loose plant sawn with a whipsaw."
     "The county court house at Carrollton was burned in 1860. As to how it took fire it is not known, but is supposed to have been fired by parties against whom an indictment had been found, the Clerk's Office being kept in a room on the second floor of the building."
     "The county seat was moved to Berryville in 1875.  In 1883, Eureka Springs was named as the co-county seat for the western county district.  A few other minor border changes were made to the county . . . ."

     According to Cora Pinkley Call as written in 1930: "The first courthouse of Carroll county was a two story log house at Carrollton, and had a huge fireplace in one end.  The second courthouse was built in 1844-45, at a cost of $53,000; also at Carrollton.  This building was destroyed by fire in 1859.  After the war, in 1865 another log building was erected and was one of the first buildings built in Carrollton after the war.  It was destroyed by fire in the following year, and what records that had escaped previous fires were then destroyed.  They had been preserved during the war in a vault in the Carrollton cemetery.  J.J. Grim was the first sheriff to serve after the war."  
     "After the formation of Boone county in 1869 an agitation for a more centrally located county seat was put on foot which finally resulted in Berryville becoming the county seat in 1875.  A temporary building was purchased, and in the year of 1880 a substantial building was erected, and is still in use."
    "Carroll County has two county seats – Berryville for Eastern District and Eureka Springs for Western District."

      Information from John Cross
June 5, 2009
"It is my opinion that Eureka Springs has never been a county seat, but was named a separate judicial district by an act dated March 12, 1883, giving the eastern district seat in Berryville and the western district seat in Eureka Springs. I have a copy of this in my courthouse historical file. Also, I have never seen where any legislation was ever passed, act or otherwise, naming Eureka Springs as a co-county seat.  Lewis Epley, a long-time lawyer here agrees with me, and he is going to go to the law library in Fayetteville and see just exactly what is what and let me know, as this rumor that Eureka Springs is a co-county seat has persisted for a long time now. "
     "After the western judicial district was created on March 12, 1883, it would be 25 years before my grandfather, Claude Albert Fuller, in his first term as mayor, would build the courthouse here in 1908, which exists to this day.  Prior to that time, meetings were held in homes, rooming houses, and wherever, they could find a place to set up, I guess.
     The Centennial Committee led the way to restore our western district courthouse, inside and out, in our Centennial Year 1979, and it has been kept up since."

John Cross
Cornerstone Bank
March 15, 2010
Re: Eureka Springs’ status as a County Seat of Carroll County Arkansas
Mr. Ellis:
Since my last e-mail to you of June 5, 2009, we have been researching, off and on, the status of Eureka Springs as a Carroll County Seat in addition to Berryville, Ark.
Growing up in Eureka Springs, I was always told that there were two county seats. However, in researching this matter several years ago, two of the leading attorneys in Eureka Springs said they did not believe it was, and in checking with the Carroll County Historical Museum, they also said they did not believe Eureka Springs was a county seat.
Since I have done quite a bit of work for, and been helpful to the folks at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, I consulted with their fact-checker (Mr. Steve Teske) to see what he could find out.   We e-mailed each other back and forth, and his comment was that Eureka Springs is a county seat, and I asked him if he could prove it.   Consequently, he did a lot of research, and I quote him in part:

“It seems to me that although the act creating the Western District of Carroll County in 1883 did not specifically name Eureka Springs a county seat, that was, nevertheless, its result.   In both common usage and legal usage, wherever a county has two judicial districts, it also has two county seats.   About the only way to make it clearer would be an act of the General Assembly clarifying the definition of ‘county seat.’   Short of that, the attached Attorney General Opinion and the Secretary of State publications are, for my purposes, decisive.”

The Attorney General Opinion that he quotes and sent me a copy of, states, in part:

“Carroll County is specifically listed by the General Assembly as a county with two judicial districts, each of which has a ‘county seat.’ In my opinion, the General Assembly intended the reference to a county that is divided into two districts with two county seats to include Carroll County, which is specifically recognized as having two districts and county seats by the General Assembly in A.C.A. # 16-17-904.”

In summary, there is nothing in Arkansas law where it is stated specifically that Eureka Springs is a county seat.  However, from the reference material, research, Attorney General’s Opinion, etc., I am now convinced, as is Mr. Teske, that Eureka Springs is a “county seat,” and will be until either the law is clarified, resulting in the county seat status being overturned or reaffirmed.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

John Cross
Cornerstone Bank

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