Happy Birthday to Pulaski County – 201 Years Old

On December 15, 1818, the Territory of Missouri created Pulaski County.  The same day, Clark and Hempstead Counties were also created.

The original Pulaski County includes both the present day entity bearing that name as well as all or part of Crawford County and Conway County (both created in 1820), Jefferson County (created in 1829), Scott County (created in 1833), White County (created in 1835), Saline County (created in 1835), Prairie County (created in 1846), Faulkner County (created in 1873), and Lonoke County (created in 1873).  Today, Pulaski County comprises 771 square miles.

The first County government met on May 24, 1819. It met at the home of Samuel McHenry, the first Pulaski County Judge.

Fourteen years after creating a Pulaski County in what is now Arkansas, the State of Missouri created its own Pulaski County.

Happy 188 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.

Town of Little Rock becomes City of Little Rock on Nov. 2, 1835

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.

199 years ago, Little Rock named capital of Arkansas

On 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 just 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 $432,000 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.