Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


Happy 186 to Little Rock!

With the stroke of Territorial Governor John Pope’s pen, Little Rock was officially chartered as a town on November 7, 1831. This followed approval by the Arkansas legislature a few days earlier.

As a chartered, officially recognized municipality, the Town of Little Rock was authorized to create a government and to plan for a Mayor and Aldermen to be elected. That election would take place in January 1832 with the initial council meeting later that month.

There are several earlier and later days which could be used to mark Little Rock’s official birth (La Harpe sighting in 1722, first settler in 1812, permanent settlement in 1820, selection of trustees in 1825, chartered as a City in 1835, chartered as a City of First Class in 1875) — but it is November 7, 1831, which has been the officially recognized and accepted date.

In 1931, Little Rock celebrated her centennial with a series of events.  Likewise, in November 1981, Little Rock Mayor Charles Bussey signed and City Clerk Jane Czech attested Resolution 6,687 which recognized the Little Rock sesquicentennial.

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Little Rock Look Back: The CITY of Little Rock is established

On November 2, 1835, the Town of Little Rock became the City of Little Rock upon the signature of Territorial Governor William S. Fulton.  The Town of Little Rock had been established on November 7, 1831.

The new charter deemed that the election of officers (including a mayor and eight aldermen) would be on November 10 at the Pulaski County Courthouse. To be eligible to serve, candidates had to be free white men who were aged 30 and above.

The charter established a constable and a court system, gave the City the ability to levy fees and fines, and provided the fact that the City would not have responsibility for maintaining county roads.

This transformation cut short David Fulton’s term as mayor of Little Rock by two months. Mayor Fulton was the father of Governor Fulton. So the governor signed legislation which shortened his father’s term as mayor.  James Pitcher would be elected the first mayor of the City of Little Rock.


Little Rock Look Back: A governmental structure for Little Rock

The first permanent settlement of Little Rock started in 1820. But by 1825, it was little more than a loosely defined group of structures. One hundred and ninety-two years ago today, on October 27, 1825,Territorial Governor George Izard signed legislation which started establishing a framework for Little Rock to function as a city.

It established that Little Rock citizens could elect a board of trustees to decide matters. Those trustees would choose one of their own to be a presiding officer. Though Little Rock would not be officially incorporated until 1831, this was the first step towards incorporation. The first trustees, elected for 1826, were Robert Crittenden, Joseph Henderson, Nicholas Peay, Bernard Smith and Isaac Watkins. Smith was chosen to be the presiding officer.

Crittenden had been largely responsible for the relocation of the capitol to Little Rock, where he owned a lot of land. He was a major political force in Arkansas politics during the territorial days. Watkins was a nephew of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He had established the first tavern in Little Rock in 1821 and later he first mill in 1826. He was murdered in 1827 and the perpetrator was never captured.

Peay bought the tavern from Watkins in 1826 and continued in the tavern and hotel business the rest of his life. He later served on the Little Rock City Council and was acting mayor. His son Gordon Neill Peay served as Mayor of Little Rock. The Peay family also co-founded Worthen Bank and Christ Episcopal Church. Members of several branches of Mr. Peay’s descendants including the Worthen and Hurst families remain active in Little Rock affairs.


Little Rock Look Back: Creation of the Arkansas Territory

Arkansas TerritoryOn March 2, 1819, the Arkansas Territory was authorized by an act of Congress, to take effect  on July 4, 1819.

The Arkansas Territory was created from the portion of the Missouri Territory. It originally encompassed all of what is now Arkansas and much of what is now Oklahoma. The westernmost portion of the territory was removed on November 15, 1824, a second westernmost portion was removed on May 6, 1828, reducing the territory to the extent of the present state of Arkansas.

The Territorial capital was Arkansas Post from July 1819 until June 1821. At that point in time it was moved to Little Rock. In 1819, there was no permanent settlement in Little Rock. It would my be until early 1820 that a permanent settlement would be established.  On 1818, the Quapaw Treaty had anticipated a future settlement in Little Rock.


Little Rock Look Back: Arkansas Territory created

On March 2, 1819, the Arkansas Territory was authorized by an act of Congress, to take effect  on July 4, 1819.

The Arkansas Territory was created from the portion of the Missouri Territory. It originally encompassed all of what is now Arkansas and much of what is now Oklahoma. The westernmost portion of the territory was removed on November 15, 1824, a second westernmost portion was removed on May 6, 1828, reducing the territory to the extent of the present state of Arkansas.

The Territorial capital was Arkansas Post from July 1819 until June 1821. At that point in time it was moved to Little Rock. In 1819, there was no permanent settlement in Little Rock. It would my be until early 1820 that a permanent settlement would be established.  On 1818, the Quapaw Treaty had anticipated a future settlement in Little Rock.


Little Rock Look Back: Little Rock becomes the Capital of Arkansas

Arkansas TerritoryOn October 18, 1820, Territorial Governor James Miller signed legislation designating Little Rock as the new capital for Arkansas.  This was a mere 10 months after the first permanent settlement was established in Little Rock.

While Little Rock became the Capital, technically it was not the Capital City, since it would not be incorporated as a City until 1835. It wasn’t even incorporated as a town until 1831.

The Act provided that after June 1, 1821, the sessions of the Legislature and the Superior Court would be held at Little Rock.  This caused Arkansas Post, the first territorial capital, to fade from prominence.

The move was made based on the lobbying of Amos Wheeler, Chester Ashley and William Russell.  These men all owned land in the Little Rock area and would benefit from the move of the Capital to Little Rock. The official reason given was Little Rock’s geographical center to the Arkansas Territory and that it was elevated land less prone to flooding.

But as important, Messrs. Wheeler, Ashley and Russell promised to donate land for a capitol building and a guarantee of $20,000 for construction of a suitable building. (That would be the equivalent of $408,000 today.)

Around the time the legislation was approved, several members of the Territorial legislature purchased land around Little Rock.  When a subsequent effort to relocate the Capital upstream was launched, it failed due to the financial ties of these legislators to land in Little Rock.


Little Rock Look Back: Arkansas Territory Authorized 



On March 2, 1819, the Arkansas Territory was authorized by an act of Congress, to take effect  on July 4, 1819.

The Arkansas Territory was created from the portion of the Missouri Territory. It originally encompassed all of what is now Arkansas and much of what is now Oklahoma. The westernmost portion of the territory was removed on November 15, 1824, a second westernmost portion was removed on May 6, 1828, reducing the territory to the extent of the present state of Arkansas.

The Territorial capital was Arkansas Post from July 1819 until June 1821. At that point in time it was moved to Little Rock. In 1819, there was no permanent settlement in Little Rock. It would my be until early 1820 that a permanent settlement would be established.  On 1818, the Quapaw Treaty had anticipated a future settlement in Little Rock.