10 Oldest Cities In Arkansas

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You might think your town is old, but it probably isn’t the oldest in the country.

That is unless you live in St. Augustine, FL. Which looks pretty good for being 454 years old.

That’s older than America for those playing at home.

So that got us thinking, what is the oldest city in Arkansas? And how old is that when you put it into perspective of St. Augustine or American Independence in 1776?

Because even if your Arkansas city or town is old, it isn’t really all that old in the grand scheme of things. For example, the Pyramids in Egypt were built around 2600 BC, a cool 4100 years before St. Augustine.

And now that we have you thinking about how the time line of your existence is really kind of unimpressive on the timeline of history, let’s drop right into the analysis.

These are the 10 oldest cities and towns in the Natural State according to their ‘date of foundation’:

  1. Pine Bluff (Photos)
  2. Van Buren (Photos)
  3. Jonesboro (Photos)
  4. North Little Rock (Photos)
  5. Russellville (Photos)
  6. El Dorado (Photos)
  7. Bentonville (Photos)
  8. Conway (Photos)
  9. Malvern (Photos)
  10. Rogers (Photos)

For being 179 years old, Pine Bluff doesn’t look a day over 40. And the newest city in Arkansas? That would be Sherwood — a brand spanking 10 years old.

Read on for a look at the oldest places in Arkansas or feel free to check out the best places to live in Arkansas or the safest.

How We Determined When A City Was Founded In Arkansas… Or Is It Settled?

Surprisingly, there’s not a definitive data set that contains the dates of incorporation or settlement for cities in America. Put differently, there’s no official data set from the Census that contains when every place in America was founded.

So what did we do instead?

Use the internet’s version of official government data — Wikipedia of course!

For the majority of cities in Arkansas, Wikipedia offers data on some kind of ‘date of foundation’ in the infobox. Unfortunately, because it’s Wikipedia and not a sprawling government bureaucracy, that can take the form of any of the following nomenclature (plus others):

  • Founded
  • Settled
  • Incorporated
  • Approved
  • Chartered

And then even more stuff — for example Atlanta has a ‘Terminus’ date, whatever that is.

If no ‘date of foundation’ was found in the infobox, we looked to the general text in the History section of the city for ‘Founded in XXXX’.

All in all, we were able to collect data on 49 out of 65 in Arkansas with over 5,000 people. That’s good for a 75.4% completion rate.

We then ranked them from oldest to newest with Pine Bluff turning out to be the matriarch of Arkansas at the ripe old age of 179.

Here’s a look at the top ten and a snippet of their history from Wikipedia.

1. Pine Bluff

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Population: 44,509
Founded: 1839
Age: 179
The area along the Arkansas River had been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples of various cultures. They used the river for transportation as did European settlers after them, and for fishing. By the time of encounter with Europeans, the historical Quapaw were the chief people in the area, having migrated from the Ohio River valley centuries before.[citation needed]

2. Van Buren

Van Buren, Arkansas

Population: 23,135
Founded: 1845
Age: 173
The area was settled by David Boyd and Thomas Martin in 1818. After Arkansas became a territory in 1819 Daniel and Thomas Phillips constructed a lumber yard in the community to serve as a fuel depot for traffic along the Arkansas River. In 1831 a post office was constructed for the community, at the time known as Phillips Landing. This post office was named after the newly appointed Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren.

3. Jonesboro

Jonesboro, Arkansas

Source: Public domain

Population: 73,581
Founded: 1859
Age: 159
The Jonesboro area was first inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. At the time of European encounter, historic tribes included the Osage, the Caddo, and the Quapaw. The name of the state of Arkansas comes from the Quapaw language. French and Spanish traders and trappers had relations with these groups.

After the United States acquired this territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, American settlers eventually made their way to the area where Jonesboro is located. They began exploring, hunting, trapping, and trading with the local Indian tribes. A permanent settlement of Jonesboro was set up shortly after 1815.

4. North Little Rock

North Little Rock, Arkansas

Population: 66,144
Founded: 1866
Age: 152
North Little Rock has a long history, dating back to the Burial Mound People. It was once known as Argenta, a name that currently applies specifically to downtown North Little Rock. In 1890, Little Rock annexed the unincorporated Argenta community as its Eighth Ward, preempting a competing petition to incorporate Argenta. A neighboring area was incorporated as the Town of North Little Rock in 1901 as part of a plan to reclaim the Eighth Ward from Little Rock. By 1904, the Arkansas Supreme Court allowed the town to annex the Eighth Ward; the modern City of North Little Rock considers this its founding date. The combined city adopted the Argenta name by 1906, but reverted to North Little Rock in October 1917. A remnant of the city’s earliest years can be found in North Little Rock City Hall (constructed in 1914), which still contains plaques referring to ‘Argenta’, and contains ‘C of A’ (City of Argenta) ornamental designs.

5. Russellville

Russellville, Arkansas

Population: 29,147
Founded: 1870
Age: 148
Before the town was named Russellville, it was known as Chactas Prairie, The Prairie, or Cactus Flats. In the early 19th century, Osage from Missouri hunted frequently in the valley where Russellville is located. Between 1818 and 1828, the area was within a Cherokee reservation, but after 1828 the Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and the land became available for white settlement. The first settler in the area was P.C. Holledger in 1834.

6. El Dorado

El Dorado, Arkansas

Population: 18,201
Founded: 1870
Age: 148

7. Bentonville

Bentonville, Arkansas

Population: 44,601
Founded: 1873
Age: 145
The area now known as Bentonville’s first known use by humans was as hunting grounds by the Osage Nation who lived in Missouri. The Osage would leave their settlements to hunt in present-day Benton County for months at a time before returning to their families. White settlers first inhabited the area around 1837 and named their settlement ‘Osage’. By this time, the Osage had ceased using the area for hunting, and the white settlers began to establish farms. Upon establishment of Benton County on September 30, 1836, Osage was deemed a suitable site for the county seat, and the town square was established as the home of county government the following year. Osage was renamed Bentonville in honor of Thomas Hart Benton, a senator from Missouri who strongly supported Arkansas statehood. The Osage post office was established on December 31, 1836, and renamed Bentonville on January 3, 1906.

8. Conway

Conway, Arkansas

Population: 64,481
Founded: 1875
Age: 143
The city of Conway was founded by Asa P. Robinson, who came to the area shortly after the Civil War. Robinson was the chief engineer for the Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad (now the Union Pacific). Part of his compensation was the deed to a tract of land, one square mile, located near the old settlement of Cadron. When the railroad came through, Robinson deeded a small tract of his land back to the railroad for a depot site. He laid off a town site around the depot and named it ‘Conway Station’, in honor of a famous Arkansas family. Conway Station contained two small stores, two saloons, a depot, some temporary housing and a post office. Despite being founded as a railroad town, there currently exists no passenger service. The disappearance of passenger rail service in the region is attributed to the emphasis placed on the automobile.

9. Malvern

Malvern, Arkansas

Population: 10,830
Founded: 1876
Age: 142
Named after Malvern Hill, Virginia, Malvern was founded in 1870 by the Cairo and Fulton Railroad as a city site 21 miles (34 km) southeast of Hot Springs. On October 15, 1878, Malvern officially became the county seat of Hot Spring County. The original inhabitants of the county were Native Americans, trappers, hunters, and farmers.

10. Rogers

Rogers, Arkansas

Population: 63,411
Founded: 1881
Age: 137
Rogers was named after Captain Charles Warrington Rogers, who was vice-president and general manager of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, also known as the Frisco. The town was established in 1881, the year the Frisco line arrived; it was at this time the area residents honored Captain Rogers by naming it for him. The community was incorporated on June 6, 1881.

Oh How Time Flies For The Oldest Towns And Cities In Arkansas

So there you have it, a look at some of the oldest places to live in Arkansas. If we missed your city’s ‘date of foundation’, let us know in the comments. Or feel free to take a look at the table of the oldest places in Arkansas.

And now, let’s raise our glasses, to the next 100 years of existence for these cities and towns in the Natural State.

And for those wondering, here are the newest additions to Arkansas:

  1. Sherwood (Founded in 2008)
  2. White Hall (Founded in 2008)
  3. Magnolia (Founded in 2008)
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  • Detailed List Of The Oldest Cities In Arkansas

    City Rank Age Year Founded
    Pine Bluff 1 179 1839
    Van Buren 2 173 1845
    Jonesboro 3 159 1859
    North Little Rock 4 152 1866
    Russellville 5 148 1870
    El Dorado 6 148 1870
    Bentonville 7 145 1873
    Conway 8 143 1875
    Malvern 9 142 1876
    Rogers 10 137 1881
    Siloam Springs 11 137 1881
    Little Rock 12 114 1904
    Warren 13 114 1904
    Batesville 14 114 1904
    Arkadelphia 15 114 1904
    Forrest City 16 114 1904
    Greenbrier 17 114 1904
    Fort Smith 18 114 1904
    Cabot 19 113 1905
    Berryville 20 113 1905
    Alma 21 113 1905
    Mena 22 113 1905
    Farmington 23 113 1905
    Morrilton 24 113 1905
    Trumann 25 113 1905
    Heber Springs 26 113 1905
    Osceola 27 113 1905
    Beebe 28 113 1905
    Lowell 29 113 1905
    Stuttgart 30 113 1905
    Greenwood 31 113 1905
    Searcy 32 113 1905
    Monticello 33 113 1905
    Fayetteville 34 113 1905
    Springdale 35 113 1905
    Helena-West Helena 36 113 1905
    Centerton 37 113 1905
    Camden 38 113 1905
    Pea Ridge 39 113 1905
    Marion 40 113 1905
    Harrison 41 113 1905
    Blytheville 42 113 1905
    Jacksonville 43 113 1905
    Paragould 44 113 1905
    Maumelle 45 113 1905
    Hope 46 113 1905
    Magnolia 47 113 1905
    White Hall 48 54 1964
    Sherwood 49 10 2008

    About Chris Kolmar

    Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

    He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

    If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

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