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Pocahontas, Arkansas
Old Randolph County Courthouse in downtown Pocahontas
Old Randolph County Courthouse in downtown Pocahontas
Official seal of Pocahontas, Arkansas
Seal
Location of Pocahontas in Randolph County, Arkansas.
Location of Pocahontas in Randolph County, Arkansas.
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Randolph
Area
 • Total 7.85 sq mi (20.34 km2)
 • Land 7.64 sq mi (19.78 km2)
 • Water 0.22 sq mi (0.56 km2)
Elevation
302 ft (92 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 7,371
 • Density 965.30/sq mi (372.72/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
72455
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-56540
GNIS feature ID 0078067

Pocahontas is a city in Randolph County, Arkansas, United States, along the Black River. According to the 2010 Census Bureau, the population of the city was 6,608. The city is the county seat of Randolph County.

Pocahontas has a number of historic buildings, including the Old Randolph County Courthouse built in 1871, the St. Mary's AME Church, and the Pocahontas Colored School built in 1918, the latter of which is now home to the Eddie Mae Herron Center.

History

This city was named after the Native American from Jamestown, Virginia. A statue of her is located in Overlook Park along the Black River.

The family of Dr. Ransom S. Bettis is given the credit for being the first settlers on the land now called Pocahontas. Dr. Bettis' daughter, Cinderella, married Thomas S. Drew, and lived on 800 acres where the town of Biggers now exists. Bettis and Drew led the founding of Pocahontas as the county seat of Randolph County.

Randolph County is famous for many "firsts"; Arkansas' oldest town, Davidsonville, was established in 1815. The first Arkansas post office was built in Davidsonville in 1817, and the first state courthouse was established in 1818. The earliest land claim was in 1809 near what is now Ravenden Springs. The first actual term of court convened in Arkansas was in 1815 in a part of Lawrence County that was given over to Randolph County. And the country's first overland route, the Natchitoches Trail, went through parts of Randolph County.

In 1835, the Territorial Legislature granted the formation of Randolph County from part of the area then called Lawrence County. The county was named after John Randolph, who was one of the first settlers in the area.

Randolph County encompasses the rolling hills of the Ozarks to the west and rich, flat farmland of the Mississippi Delta to the east. Five rivers flow through the county, providing access to fishing and canoeing. Soybeans, rice, and other grains are the principal crops in the Delta region, while cattle ranching dominates the hill country. The poultry industry is also a vital part of the area economy.

The industrial base is diversified, with products such as shoes, large truck trailers, technical components for communications, picture frames, golf bags and luggage, tool boxes, wood products and more.

Pocahontas is the county seat with a population of 6,616. The other 10,407 residents of Randolph County live in rural areas and five incorporated communities - Maynard, Biggers, Reyno, Ravenden Springs and O'Kean.

Local legend holds that Pocahontas was named the county seat through an act of trickery. Supposedly, at the county meeting to determine which city would receive the title, the delegation from Pocahontas brought in large quantities of alcohol and distributed them to the other delegations. When the time came to vote, the only delegation not passed out or otherwise influenced was that from Pocahontas.

Geography

Pocahontas is located at 36°15′49″N 90°58′24″W / 36.26361°N 90.97333°W / 36.26361; -90.97333 (36.263560, -90.973349).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.6 sq mi (20 km2), of which, 7.3 sq mi (19 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (2.78%) is covered by water.

Climate

The climate is of the city is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. The Köppen climate classification subtype for this climate is "Cfa" (humid subtropical climate).

Climate data for Pocahontas, Arkansas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.8
(46)
11.1
(52)
16.7
(62)
22.8
(73)
27.2
(81)
31.7
(89)
33.9
(93)
32.2
(90)
28.9
(84)
23.3
(74)
16.1
(61)
9.4
(49)
21.7
(71)
Average low °C (°F) -3.3
(26)
-1.1
(30)
3.9
(39)
8.9
(48)
13.3
(56)
18.3
(65)
20.6
(69)
19.4
(67)
15.6
(60)
8.9
(48)
3.9
(39)
-1.1
(30)
8.9
(48)
Precipitation mm (inches) 89
(3.5)
94
(3.7)
145
(5.7)
112
(4.4)
135
(5.3)
79
(3.1)
89
(3.5)
89
(3.5)
99
(3.9)
79
(3.1)
124
(4.9)
117
(4.6)
1,252
(49.3)
Source: Weatherbase

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 325
1890 507 56.0%
1900 967 90.7%
1910 1,547 60.0%
1920 1,806 16.7%
1930 1,896 5.0%
1940 3,028 59.7%
1950 3,840 26.8%
1960 3,665 −4.6%
1970 4,544 24.0%
1980 5,995 31.9%
1990 6,151 2.6%
2000 6,518 6.0%
2010 6,608 1.4%
2020 7,371 11.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Pocahontas racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 6,028 81.78%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 106 1.44%
Native American 38 0.52%
Asian 50 0.68%
Pacific Islander 570 7.73%
Other/Mixed 326 4.42%
Hispanic or Latino 253 3.43%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 7,371 people, 2,748 households, and 1,575 families residing in the city.

Culture

A 17-block area of downtown Pocahontas has been designated a National Historic Landmark District. Pocahontas is also a Preserve America Community, and is home to the Imperial Dinner Theatre, the Studio for the Arts and the Downtown Playhouse.

Education

Pocahontas is home to the Pocahontas School District. Public schools include Alma Spikes Elementary School, M. D. Williams Intermediate School, Pocahontas Junior High School, and Pocahontas High School. Pocahontas' school mascot is the Redskins. Pocahontas is also home to St. Paul Elementary School, a private Catholic school serving pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. St Paul's mascot is the Sabers.

Pocahontas is the home of Black River Technical College.

Infrastructure

Highways

  • US 62
  • US 67
  • Arkansas 90.svg Highway 90
  • Arkansas 115.svg Highway 115
  • Arkansas 166.svg Highway 166
  • Arkansas 251.svg Highway 251
  • Arkansas 304.svg Highway 304

Medical care

  • St. Bernards Five Rivers Medical Center
  • Pocahontas Medical Clinic

Airport

  • Pocahontas Municipal Airport (M70)

Notable people

  • William Herbert Allaire Jr.- U.S. Army general
  • Larry P. Arnn, a Pocahontas native, president of Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Mich. Co-founder of Claremont Institute, Claremont, California, he served as its president from its founding in 1985 until his appointment as Hillsdale president in 2000. While studying at Oxford University, Arnn served as director of research for Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill.
  • Edwin Bethune, a former member of the United States House of Representatives, graduated from Pocahontas High School, but left the community in 1972. He was elected to Congress from the Second Congressional District in Arkansas (Randolph County falls under the First District).
  • Drew Bowers, Arkansas Republican politician and lawyer, was born near Pocahontas in 1886.
  • Jim Johnston, former composer for World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE Music Group.
  • Billy Lee Riley, Pocahontas native, was an American rockabilly musician, singer, record producer and songwriter.
  • Wear Schoonover, Pocahontas native, was the first University of Arkansas athlete in any sport named to an All-American team. Schoonover starred as a wide receiver for the Razorbacks in 1927–1929. He was named All-American in 1929, and was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967. All-Southwest Conference in basketball, he also excelled at college baseball and track and field, and achieved the highest GPA of any Arkansas athlete through the 1980s. His name is reflected in the name of the local high school basketball court (Schoonover Fieldhouse), as well as the high school football field (Schoonover Stadium).
  • Linda Collins-Smith, Republican member of the Arkansas Senate and owner of Days Inn in Pocahontas.
  • Edward J. Steimel, Louisiana political activist and researcher, was born in Pocahontas in 1922.
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