Little Rock History: 180 years of Little Rock

Last week (November 2) marked the 1835 incorporation of Little Rock as a City.  However, today marks the 180th anniversary of Little Rock first being incorporated as a town by the Arkansas Territorial Legislature.

The first Mayor of the Town of Little Rock was Dr. Matthew Cunningham; he was elected January 2, 1832.  The first City Council meeting took place at his house.  In 1931, a plaque was installed at that site to mark the historic event. (Though it implies that the first city council meeting took place in 1831 not 1832.)

Bennett’s Military Supply is now located on the spot at what is now 3rd Street and Main Street.

Mayor Cunningham, MD

Prior to serving as the first Mayor, Dr. Cunningham had already made quite a few other “firsts” in Little Rock.  He was the first physician to take up residence in the settlement known as Little Rock arriving in February 1820.  His wife, soon joined and became the first female resident of Little Rock.  She had children from her first marriage, but after arriving in Little Rock, she and Dr. Cunningham had their first child together — Chester Cunningham, who became the first baby born in Little Rock.

Dr. Cunningham, Mrs. Cunningham and Chester Cunningham are buried next to each other in Mount Holly Cemetery.  Interestingly, Dr. Cunningham was involved in a 30 year land ownership dispute with Chester Ashley and Roswell Beebe who also donated the property on which Mount Holly sits.

Graves of Matthew Cunningham, Eliza Cunningham and Chester Cunningham