Pat Burns

 Family and Genealogy

Genealogy Research Toolbox

Arkansas Genealogy Resources

History Timeline

  • 1541 – Hernando de Soto’s Spanish expedition crossed the Mississippi River to Arkansas spending several months in the area.
  • 1673 – Two canoes from Canada voyaged down the Mississippi River to Arkansas, led by Jacques Marquette, a Catholic priest, and Louis Joliet, a fur trader. 
  • 1686 LaSalle’s expedition claimed the land for France.
  • 1686 – Henri de Toni founded Arkansas Post, the first settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley.  It served as a trading post, a way station for Mississippi River Travel, and the home of a Jesuit mission for a few years.
  • 1699 – The French later established several settlements south of the Arkansas Post, including Natchez and Orleans.
  • 1762 – France ceded to Spain both New Orleans and land wet of the Mississippi River, which eventually became the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1766 – The Spanish began governing the area, but their authority was not firmly established for several years.
  • 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase. Arkansa settlement officially came under United States jurisdiction.
  • June 1812 – Arkansas became part of Missouri Territory as a result of Louisiana’s admittance to the union.
  • 1808, 1816, 1818 & 1825 -The northern quarter of Arkansas was established as part of the New Madrid District in Louisiana Territory. Directly to the south and running to the Arkansas River, an area shaped like a mirror image of Virginia formed the District of Arkansas. Both districts became counties when Missouri Territory of created. The remaining half of Arkansas, located on the southern side of the Arkansas River, was claimed by Native Americans. the Osage and Quapaw had resided in the area from a much earlier time, while the Cherokee and Choctaw received land grants from the federal government for land in Arkansas, having been forced out of their homelands in the east. Delaware, Shawnee, Caddo, and other native tribes made Arkansas their home. The Quapaw claimed the land south of the Arkansas River for approximately 100 miles and indefinitely to the west. The Osage had claimed a large region north of the Arkansas River, and in 1808 ceded land that became part of the District of Arkansas, then still part of Louisiana Territory. Treaties with the Osage chiefs were made again in 1816, 1818, and 1825, resulting in the loss of their Arkansas land and their removal to today’s Oklahoma.
  • After 1812 – Two million acres, situated between the Arkansas and St. Francis Rivers, were offered as bounty land for military service in the War of 1812. Each veteran was gien a warrant for 160 acres, allocated b a lottery process.
  • 1818 – Osage ceded lands the had held in the northeastern section of present-day Oklahoma and a northwestern portion of today’s Arkansas, at the time still part of Missouri Territory.
  • 1819 – Arkansas Territory was organized from Missouri Territory. All of present-day Oklahoma except the panhandle was included.
  • Between 1819 and 1836 – more cession agreements between native tribes in Arkansas and the United States government opened the land to further settlement and eventual statehood.
  • 1836 – Arkansas became the twenty-fifth state. 

Arkansas Vital Records

  • February 1914 – Arkansas began statewide registration of births and deaths. Compliance was not complete for approximately three decades. 
  • 1917 Statewide registration of marriage began, but once counties were organized, most of them began recording marriages. Earlier records must be obtained from the respective county clerk where the license was issued, which is frequently the county of the bride’s residence.

Arkansas Census Records

Federal Census Records

Population Schedules

  • Indexed – 1830, 1840, 1850, 1870, 1880, 1900, 910,1920,1930, 1940
  • Soundex – 1880, 1900, 1910 (Miracode), 1920, 1930 ((You can find definition of Soundex at FamilySearch.org wiki at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Soundex).

Industry and Agriculture Schedules

  • 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Mortality Schedules

  • 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Slave Schedules

  • 1850, 1850

Territorial and State

  • 1810 Federal Territorial census records for settlements in Arkansas District of Hopefield (West Memphis), St. Francis and settlements along the Arkansas River were lost.
  • The 1820 federal territorial census included Miller County, which was organized that year by the Arkansas territorial government but actually was partially in Texas under Spanish control. This census was also lost.
  • Arkansas Territory sheriffs were directed to enumerate the citizens biennially beginning in 1823. Although these censuses were recorded in 1823, 1825, and 1827, only the 1823 schedule for Arkansas County remains of the three early enumerations. 
  • The 1829 sheriff’s census includes the name of the head of household, but only fragments remain. Those counties for which complete returns are available are Arkansas, Chicot, Clark, Conway, Crawford, Crittenden, Independence, Lawrence, Miller (old), St. Francis, and Washington. None are available for Pope or Sevier counties, and only the total number of inhabitants was submitted by the sheriffs of Hempstead, Izard, Lafayette, Phillips, and Pulasi counties. The extant 1823 and 1829 records have been published as Ronald Vern Jackson and Gary Ronald Teeples, eds., Arkansas Sheriff’s Censuses: 1823 & 1829 (Salt Lake City: Accelerated Indexing Systems, n.d.). 1

Arizona Counties Map

Arkansas Counties Map Attribute: By United States Census Bureau – US gov, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=937290.

Arkansas Resource Links

FamilySearch.org – Arkansas Online Genealogy Records
https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Arkansas_Online_Genealogy_Records

Access Genealogy – Arkansas Genealogy – Free Arkansas Genealogy
https://www.accessgenealogy.com/arkansas-genealogy

Ancestry.com – Arkansas – Data Collections
https://search.ancestry.com/Places/US/Arkansas/Default.aspx

Arkansas Genealogy and History Guide
http://www.arkansasgenealogysearch.com/

Arkansas State Archives
http://archives.arkansas.gov/

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) – State of Arkansas Records Guide
https://www.raogk.org/arkansas/

University of Arkansas – Special Collections – Genealogy Resources
https://libraries.uark.edu/specialcollections/research/guides/genealogy.asp

Genealoger – Family History and Genealogy Services – Arkansas Genealogy Resources
https://www.genealoger.com/genealogy/states/arkansas.htm

  1. Third Edition Red Book, American State, County, and Town Sources, Edited by Alice Eichholz Ph.D., C.G., Ancestry Publishing,The Generations Network, Inc.1989, 1992, 2004. Now digitized online at Rootsweb wiki: https://wiki.rootsweb.com/wiki/index.php/Red_Book:_American_State,_County,_and_Town_Sources.

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