Prairie County, Arkansas facts for kids

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Prairie County, Arkansas
Map
Map of Arkansas highlighting Prairie County
Location in the state of Arkansas
Map of the USA highlighting Arkansas
Arkansas's location in the U.S.
Statistics
Founded November 25, 1846
Seat Des Arc, DeValls Bluff
Largest City Des Arc
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

676 sq mi (1,751 km²)
648 sq mi (1,678 km²)
28 sq mi (73 km²), 4.1%
PopulationEst.
 - (2015)
 - Density

8,291
13/sq mi (5/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Named for: Grand Prairie

Prairie County is located in the Central Arkansas region of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The county is named for the Grand Prairie, a subregion of the Arkansas Delta known for rice cultivation and aquaculture which runs through the county. Created as Arkansas's 54th county in 1864, Prairie County is home to four incorporated towns, including DeValls Bluff, the southern district county seat, and two incorporated cities, including Des Arc, the northern district county seat. The county is also the site of numerous unincorporated communities and ghost towns. Occupying 676 square miles (175,000 ha), Prairie County is the median-sized county in Arkansas. As of the 2010 Census, the county's population is 8,715 people in 4,503 households. Based on population, the county is the ninth-smallest county of the 75 in Arkansas.

The county is crossed by Interstate 40 (I-40), a major east-west Interstate highway running from California to North Carolina, as well as four United States highways (U.S. Route 63 [US 63], US 70, US 79, and US 165). Eleven Arkansas state highways run in the county. Prairie County is served by two public owned/public use general aviation airports and six potable water systems.

History

The county at first was land given to Cherokee Indians resettled from Tennessee and was the Western band of Cherokee reservation from 1812 to 1836. Even today, an estimated 2,000 residents have some American Indian ancestry.

The town of Fredonia (Biscoe) was named for the unsuccessful 1826 attempt of Arkansas Cherokee and to create the Republic of Fredonia by Arkansas Cherokee and Texan settlers in then Mexican Texas. The town of DeValls Bluff was the Western Cherokee's seat, and is now one of Prairie County's seats.

Prairie County suffered greatly during the Civil War. Des Arc was partly destroyed, and a local historian estimated that not more than 15 horses were left in the county by the war's end. The rest had been taken by soldiers of one army or the other.

Stern's Medlar, a previously unknown plant species, was discovered in Prairie County as recently as 1990. It is not known to grow anywhere else in the world. The plant is critically endangered, with only 25 known specimens, all growing within a single small wood, now protected as the Konecny Grove Natural Area.

Geography

See also: Geography of Arkansas and Arkansas Delta#Grand Prairie

The county is located between two primary geographic regions of Arkansas: Central Arkansas and the Arkansas Delta (in Arkansas, usually referred to as "the Delta"). The Arkansas Delta is a subregion of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, which is a flat area consisting of rich, fertile sediment deposits from the Mississippi River between Louisiana and Illinois. The county is often described as being within the Grand Prairie, a subdivision of the Arkansas Delta known today for rice farming and aquaculture, rather than Central Arkansas or the Delta. It is this geographic feature from which the county derives its name. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 676 square miles (1,750 km2), of which 648 square miles (1,680 km2) is land and 28 square miles (73 km2) (4.1%) is water.

Bayou near Des Arc, AR
A minor bayou crosses Highway 33 and Highway 38 east of Des Arc

Prior to settlement, Prairie County was large, flat grassland distinct from the swamps and bayous in the nearby Delta. Although cotton and other row crops grew well in the Prairie's silty loam soil, rice production changed the cultivation patterns in the county at the turn of the nineteenth century. Although some prairie and riparian areas has been preserved in conservation areas, a large portion (44 percent) of the county remains in cultivation. Another large land use in Prairie County is the Cache River NWR and Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area (WMA), owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, respectively.

The county is located approximately 53 miles (85 km) east of Little Rock and 90 miles (140 km) west of Memphis, Tennessee. Prairie County is surrounded by five other counties: White County to the north, Woodruff County to the northeast, Monroe County to the east, Arkansas County to the south, and Lonoke County to the west.

Climate

Prairie County has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa). Prairie County experiences all four seasons, although summers can be extremely hot and humid and winters are mild with little snow. July is the hottest month of the year, with an average high of 92 °F (33.3 °C) and an average low of 73 °F (22.8 °C). Temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C) are not uncommon. January is the coldest month with an average high of 48 °F (8.9 °C) and an average low of 31 °F (−0.6 °C). The highest temperature was 109 °F (42.8 °C), and the lowest temperature recorded was −5 °F (−21 °C). Record snowfall in Des Arc occurred January 7, 1912, with 18 inches (46 cm).

Climate data for Des Arc
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 80
(26.7)
82
(27.8)
88
(31.1)
93
(33.9)
98
(36.7)
105
(40.6)
109
(42.8)
109
(42.8)
104
(40)
98
(36.7)
87
(30.6)
79
(26.1)
109
(42.8)
Average high °F (°C) 48
(8.9)
53
(11.7)
63
(17.2)
72
(22.2)
81
(27.2)
88
(31.1)
92
(33.3)
91
(32.8)
84
(28.9)
74
(23.3)
62
(16.7)
51
(10.6)
71.6
(21.99)
Average low °F (°C) 31
(-0.6)
35
(1.7)
43
(6.1)
52
(11.1)
61
(16.1)
69
(20.6)
73
(22.8)
71
(21.7)
63
(17.2)
51
(10.6)
43
(6.1)
34
(1.1)
52.2
(11.2)
Record low °F (°C) −5
(-20.6)
−4
(-20)
15
(-9.4)
28
(-2.2)
37
(2.8)
55
(12.8)
48
(8.9)
34
(1.1)
23
(-5)
13
(-10.6)
−2
(-18.9)
−5
(-20.6)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.5
(89)
4.1
(104)
4.8
(122)
5.2
(132)
5.1
(130)
3.2
(81)
3.1
(79)
2.4
(61)
3.9
(99)
4.5
(114)
5.0
(127)
5.2
(132)
50
(1,270)
Snowfall inches (cm) 1.0
(2.5)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1
(2.5)
Source #1: The Weather Channel
Source #2: Weather Database

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 2,097
1860 8,854 322.2%
1870 5,604 −36.7%
1880 8,435 50.5%
1890 11,374 34.8%
1900 11,875 4.4%
1910 13,853 16.7%
1920 17,447 25.9%
1930 15,187 −13.0%
1940 15,304 0.8%
1950 13,768 −10.0%
1960 10,515 −23.6%
1970 10,249 −2.5%
1980 10,140 −1.1%
1990 9,518 −6.1%
2000 9,539 0.2%
2010 8,715 −8.6%
Est. 2015 8,291 −4.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2015
USA Prairie County, Arkansas age pyramid
Age pyramid Prairie County

As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 9,539 people, 3,894 households, and 2,795 families residing in the county. The population density was 6/km² (15/mi²). There were 4,790 housing units at an average density of 3/km² (7/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.83% White, 13.71% Black or African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.28% from other races, and 0.64% from two or more races. 0.81% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,894 households out of which 30.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.60% were married couples living together, 11.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.90% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 26.10% from 25 to 44, 25.10% from 45 to 64, and 17.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 97.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,990, and the median income for a family was $36,131. Males had a median income of $28,413 versus $18,808 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,907. About 12.20% of families and 15.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.00% of those under age 18 and 16.80% of those age 65 or over.

Communities

Downtown Hazen, AR 003
Streetside in Hazen

Two incorporated cities and four incorporated towns are located within the county. The largest city and one of two county seats, Des Arc, is located in the northern part of the county on the White River. Des Arc's population in 2010 was 1,717—well below its peak of 2,001 at the 1980 and 1990 Censuses. Hazen and DeValls Bluff (a second county seat) are located near the county's center, both along US 70. Fredonia (Biscoe), near the east side and Ulm, near the south side, are small towns, with 2010 populations of 363 and 205, respectively.

Prairie County has dozens of unincorporated communities and ghost towns within its borders. This is due to early settlers in Arkansas tending to settle in small clusters rather than incorporated towns. For example, communities like Slovak had a post office at some point in their history. Other communities are simply a few dwellings at a crossroads that have adopted a common place name over time. Some are officially listed as populated places by the United States Geological Survey, and others are listed as historic settlements.

Unincorporated communities

  • Barrettsville
  • Bay Plantation
  • Beulah
  • Brasfield
  • Buck's Landing
  • Childers
  • Crossroad
  • Edwards
  • Erwin
  • Fairmount
  • Four Mile Corner
  • Gospoda
  • Hallsville
  • Harrys
  • Hayley
  • Hickory Plains
  • Jasmine
  • Kay
  • Letchworth
  • Little Dixie
  • Lookout
  • Mesa
  • Peppers Lake
  • Peppers Landing
  • Plunketts
  • Sand Hill
  • Screeton
  • Siedenstricker
  • Slovak
  • Tarnceville
  • Tollville
  • Vaby

Historical communities

  • Balle
  • Bardill
  • Beecher
  • Cuneo
  • Enarc
  • Harrys
  • Hunterton
  • La Grue
  • Leighton
  • Mooresville
  • Nahay
  • Slovaktown
  • Spear
  • Stineville
  • Super
  • Thomas
  • Uzzett
  • Veits
  • Willard
  • Yuma

Townships

Townships in Arkansas are the divisions of a county. Each township includes unincorporated areas; some may have incorporated cities or towns within part of their boundaries. Arkansas townships have limited purposes in modern times. However, the United States Census does list Arkansas population based on townships (sometimes referred to as "county subdivisions" or "minor civil divisions"). Townships are also of value for historical purposes in terms of genealogical research. Each town or city is within one or more townships in an Arkansas county based on census maps and publications. The townships of Prairie County are listed below; listed in parentheses are the cities, towns, and/or census-designated places that are fully or partially inside the township.

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