Prairie County, Arkansas

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Prairie County, Arkansas
County
County of Prairie
Des Arc, AR 014.jpg
Prairie County Courthouse, Des Arc
Map of Arkansas highlighting Prairie County
Location in the U.S. state of Arkansas
Map of the United States highlighting Arkansas
Arkansas's location in the U.S.
Founded November 25, 1846
Named for Grand Prairie
Seat Des Arc, DeValls Bluff
Largest city Des Arc
Area
 • Total 676 sq mi (1,751 km2)
 • Land 648 sq mi (1,678 km2)
 • Water 28 sq mi (73 km2), 4.1%
Population (est.)
 • (2016) 8,251
 • Density 13/sq mi (5/km2)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Central: UTC−6/−5

Prairie County is located in the Central Arkansas region of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The county is named for the Grand Prairie, a subregion of the Arkansas Delta known for rice cultivation and aquaculture which runs through the county. Created as Arkansas's 54th county in 1864, Prairie County is home to four incorporated towns, including DeValls Bluff, the southern district county seat, and two incorporated cities, including Des Arc, the northern district county seat. The county is also the site of numerous unincorporated communities and ghost towns. Occupying 676 square miles (175,000 ha), Prairie County is the median-sized county in Arkansas. As of the 2010 Census, the county's population is 8,715 people in 4,503 households.[1] Based on population, the county is the ninth-smallest county of the 75 in Arkansas.[2]

The county is crossed by Interstate 40 (I-40), a major east-west Interstate highway running from California to North Carolina, as well as four United States highways (U.S. Route 63 [US 63], US 70, US 79, and US 165). Eleven Arkansas state highways run in the county.[3] Prairie County is served by two public owned/public use general aviation airports and six potable water systems.

History[edit]

The county at first was land given to Cherokee Indians resettled from Tennessee and was the Western band of Cherokee reservation from 1812 to 1836. Even today, an estimated 2,000 residents have some American Indian ancestry.

The town of Fredonia (Biscoe) was named for the unsuccessful 1826 attempt of Arkansas Cherokee and to create the Republic of Fredonia by Arkansas Cherokee and Texan settlers in then Mexican Texas. The town of DeValls Bluff was the Western Cherokee's seat, and is now one of Prairie County's seats.

Prairie County suffered greatly during the Civil War. Des Arc was partly destroyed, and a local historian estimated that not more than 15 horses were left in the county by the war's end. The rest had been taken by soldiers of one army or the other.[4]

On September 5, 1913, Lee Simms became the first person to be executed in Arkansas by the electric chair. He was executed for the crime of violent rape.

Stern's Medlar, a previously unknown plant species, was discovered in Prairie County as recently as 1990. It is not known to grow anywhere else in the world. The plant is critically endangered, with only 25 known specimens, all growing within a single small wood, now protected as the Konecny Grove Natural Area.

Geography[edit]

The county is located between two primary geographic regions of Arkansas: Central Arkansas and the Arkansas Delta (in Arkansas, usually referred to as "the Delta"). The Arkansas Delta is a subregion of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, which is a flat area consisting of rich, fertile sediment deposits from the Mississippi River between Louisiana and Illinois. The county is often described as being within the Grand Prairie, a subdivision of the Arkansas Delta known today for rice farming and aquaculture, rather than Central Arkansas or the Delta. It is this geographic feature from which the county derives its name.[5] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 676 square miles (1,750 km2), of which 648 square miles (1,680 km2) is land and 28 square miles (73 km2) (4.1%) is water.[6]

A minor bayou crosses Highway 33 and Highway 38 east of Des Arc

Prior to settlement, Prairie County was large, flat grassland distinct from the swamps and bayous in the nearby Delta. Although cotton and other row crops grew well in the Prairie's silty loam soil, rice production changed the cultivation patterns in the county at the turn of the nineteenth century.[5] Although some prairie and riparian areas has been preserved in conservation areas, a large portion (44 percent) of the county remains in cultivation.[Note 1] Another large land use in Prairie County is the Cache River NWR and Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area (WMA), owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, respectively.

The county is located approximately 53 miles (85 km) east of Little Rock and 90 miles (140 km) west of Memphis, Tennessee.[Note 2] Prairie County is surrounded by five other counties: White County to the north, Woodruff County to the northeast, Monroe County to the east, Arkansas County to the south, and Lonoke County to the west.

Climate[edit]

Prairie County has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa). Prairie County experiences all four seasons, although summers can be extremely hot and humid and winters are mild with little snow. July is the hottest month of the year, with an average high of 92 °F (33.3 °C) and an average low of 73 °F (22.8 °C). Temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C) are not uncommon. January is the coldest month with an average high of 48 °F (8.9 °C) and an average low of 31 °F (−0.6 °C). The highest temperature was 109 °F (42.8 °C), and the lowest temperature recorded was −5 °F (−21 °C). Record snowfall in Des Arc occurred January 7, 1912, with 18 inches (46 cm).[9]

Climate data for Des Arc
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 80
(27)
82
(28)
88
(31)
93
(34)
98
(37)
105
(41)
109
(43)
109
(43)
104
(40)
98
(37)
87
(31)
79
(26)
109
(43)
Average high °F (°C) 48
(9)
53
(12)
63
(17)
72
(22)
81
(27)
88
(31)
92
(33)
91
(33)
84
(29)
74
(23)
62
(17)
51
(11)
72
(22)
Average low °F (°C) 31
(−1)
35
(2)
43
(6)
52
(11)
61
(16)
69
(21)
73
(23)
71
(22)
63
(17)
51
(11)
43
(6)
34
(1)
52
(11)
Record low °F (°C) −5
(−21)
−4
(−20)
15
(−9)
28
(−2)
37
(3)
55
(13)
48
(9)
34
(1)
23
(−5)
13
(−11)
−2
(−19)
−5
(−21)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.5
(89)
4.1
(104)
4.8
(122)
5.2
(132)
5.1
(130)
3.2
(81)
3.1
(79)
2.4
(61)
3.9
(99)
4.5
(114)
5.0
(127)
5.2
(132)
50
(1,270)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 1.0
(2.5)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1
(2.5)
Source #1: The Weather Channel[10]
Source #2: Weather Database[9]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18502,097
18608,854322.2%
18705,604−36.7%
18808,43550.5%
189011,37434.8%
190011,8754.4%
191013,85316.7%
192017,44725.9%
193015,187−13.0%
194015,3040.8%
195013,768−10.0%
196010,515−23.6%
197010,249−2.5%
198010,140−1.1%
19909,518−6.1%
20009,5390.2%
20108,715−8.6%
Est. 20168,251[11]−5.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790–1960[13] 1900–1990[14]
1990–2000[15] 2010–2016[1]
Age pyramid Prairie County[16]

As of the 2000 United States Census,[17] there were 9,539 people, 3,894 households, and 2,795 families residing in the county. The population density was 6/km² (15/mi²). There were 4,790 housing units at an average density of 3/km² (7/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.83% White, 13.71% Black or African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.28% from other races, and 0.64% from two or more races. 0.81% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,894 households out of which 30.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.60% were married couples living together, 11.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.90% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 26.10% from 25 to 44, 25.10% from 45 to 64, and 17.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 97.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,990, and the median income for a family was $36,131. Males had a median income of $28,413 versus $18,808 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,907. About 12.20% of families and 15.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.00% of those under age 18 and 16.80% of those age 65 or over.

Economy[edit]

The economy of Prairie County is primarily agricultural (25.6%), followed by government employees (14.3%), and professional services (14.3%).[18]

Government[edit]

Prairie County, Arkansas[19]
vote by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic
2016 72.74% 2,505 23.64% 814 3.63% 125
2012 68.55% 2,153 28.02% 880 3.44% 108
2008 65.75% 2,223 31.00% 1,048 3.25% 110
2004 56.02% 2,030 43.10% 1,562 0.88% 32
2000 53.09% 1,862 44.57% 1,563 2.34% 82
1996 28.67% 1,025 61.85% 2,211 9.48% 339
1992 29.17% 1,154 59.81% 2,366 11.02% 436
1988 53.25% 1,947 46.17% 1,688 0.57% 21
1984 62.10% 2,407 37.07% 1,437 0.83% 32
1980 47.63% 1,855 49.50% 1,928 2.87% 112
1976 22.28% 813 77.72% 2,836
1972 71.46% 2,186 28.54% 873 0.00% 0
1968 19.35% 693 24.43% 875 56.23% 2,014
1964 44.59% 1,476 54.74% 1,812 0.66% 22
1960 27.85% 734 63.73% 1,680 8.42% 222
1956 37.58% 917 61.64% 1,504 0.78% 19
1952 34.28% 871 65.49% 1,664 0.24% 6
1948 15.49% 260 60.79% 1,020 23.72% 398
1944 29.34% 465 70.47% 1,117 0.19% 3
1940 23.86% 336 75.92% 1,069 0.21% 3
1936 17.56% 282 82.25% 1,321 0.19% 3
1932 8.27% 158 91.21% 1,743 0.52% 10
1928 37.82% 613 61.69% 1,000 0.49% 8
1924 32.68% 386 61.81% 730 5.50% 65
1920 45.64% 842 52.14% 962 2.22% 41
1916 38.17% 655 61.83% 1,061 0.00% 0
1912 31.70% 376 54.55% 647 13.74% 163
1908 41.13% 812 55.88% 1,103 2.99% 59
1904 49.28% 648 48.59% 639 2.13% 28
1900 36.44% 496 62.89% 856 0.66% 9
1896 35.50% 633 64.22% 1,145 0.28% 5
The Prairie County Courthouse in DeValls Bluff is the seat of county government in the southern district of the county

The county government is a constitutional body granted specific powers by the Constitution of Arkansas and the Arkansas Code. The quorum court is the legislative branch of the county government and controls all spending and revenue collection. Representatives are called justices of the peace and are elected from county districts every even-numbered year. The number of districts in a county vary from nine to fifteen, and district boundaries are drawn by the county election commission. The Prairie County Quorum Court has nine members. Presiding over quorum court meetings is the county judge, who serves as the chief operating officer of the county. The county judge is elected at-large and does not vote in quorum court business, although capable of vetoing quorum court decisions.[20][21]

Politics[edit]

Since the late 20th century, the majority-white Prairie County has traditionally supported Republican Party presidential candidates, except when an alternative from another Southern state has been present. The county supported Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton by a wide margin, as well as Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, Alabama Governor George Wallace (running as an independent), and Texas native Lyndon Johnson. Following Clinton, the county has turned increasingly Republican, supporting Donald Trump 72.7% in 2016.[19]

In Congress, Arkansas has been represented by two Republican senators (John Boozman and Tom Cotton) since January 3, 2015, ending a long history of Democratic hegemony. In the House of Representatives, Prairie County is within the Arkansas 1st district with many other agricultural Delta counties on the eastern side of the state. The Arkansas 1st has been represented by Rick Crawford since 2010.

In the Arkansas State Senate, Prairie County is within the 28th District with portions of Arkansas, Lonoke, Monroe, White, and Woodruff counties.[22] The district has been represented by Jonathan Dismang, a Republican (currently serving as President Pro Tempore of the Senate), since January 2013. In the Arkansas House of Representatives, Prairie County is entirely within District 13, which also contains portions of Arkansas, Lonoke, and White counties.[23] District 13 has been represented by David Hillman since 2013. Hillman switched to the Republican Party shortly after winning reelection in November 2016.[24]

Communities[edit]

Streetside in Hazen

Two incorporated cities and four incorporated towns are located within the county. The largest city and one of two county seats, Des Arc, is located in the northern part of the county on the White River. Des Arc's population in 2010 was 1,717—well below its peak of 2,001 at the 1980 and 1990 Censuses. Hazen and DeValls Bluff (a second county seat) are located near the county's center, both along US 70. Fredonia (Biscoe), near the east side and Ulm, near the south side, are small towns, with 2010 populations of 363 and 205, respectively.

Prairie County has dozens of unincorporated communities and ghost towns within its borders. This is due to early settlers in Arkansas tending to settle in small clusters rather than incorporated towns. For example, communities like Slovak had a post office at some point in their history. Other communities are simply a few dwellings at a crossroads that have adopted a common place name over time. Some are officially listed as populated places by the United States Geological Survey, and others are listed as historic settlements.

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Historical communities[edit]

Townships[edit]

Townships in Arkansas are the divisions of a county. Each township includes unincorporated areas; some may have incorporated cities or towns within part of their boundaries. Arkansas townships have limited purposes in modern times. However, the United States Census does list Arkansas population based on townships (sometimes referred to as "county subdivisions" or "minor civil divisions"). Townships are also of value for historical purposes in terms of genealogical research. Each town or city is within one or more townships in an Arkansas county based on census maps and publications. The townships of Prairie County are listed below; listed in parentheses are the cities, towns, and/or census-designated places that are fully or partially inside the township. [25][26]

Infrastructure[edit]

Aviation[edit]

Prairie County contains two public owned/public use general aviation airports. Both were built during World War II by the United States Army Air Forces, and turned over to local municipalities following the war. Both are predominantly used for agricultural (spraying) operations.

The Hazen Municipal Airport is located west of Hazen along US 70. For the twelve-month period ending April 30, 2014, the facility saw 32,000 general aviation operations.[27] The Stuttgart Municipal Airport is located in southern Prairie County near the Arkansas County line. For the twelve-month period ending July 31, 2014, the facility saw 35,000 general aviation operations, 3,000 military operations, and 2,500 air taxi operations.[28]

Major highways[edit]

Utilities[edit]

The Arkansas Department of Health is responsible for the regulation and oversight of public water systems throughout the state. Prairie County contains six community water systems: Biscoe Waterworks, Des Arc Waterworks, DeValls Bluff Waterworks, East Prairie County Public Water Authority (PWA), Hazen Waterworks, Southeast [White County] PWA, and Ulm Waterworks. Des Arc Waterworks has the largest retail population (3,882), followed by Hazen (1,600), and East Prairie County PWA (699).[29] All community water systems in Prairie County use groundwater as their source of raw water, except Ulm, which purchases all water from Grand Prairie Regional Water[30] and the small portion served by Southeast White County PWA.[31]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In 2015, 103.9 thousand acres of soybeans, 63.2 thousand acres of rice, 12.1 thousand acres of corn, and 3.3 thousand acres of wheat were planted in Prairie County.[7] Total acreage for those crops is 182,600. Prairie County has 648 square miles of land area, which is 414,720 acres based on 640 acres per square mile. Acreage for the total crops (182,600) divided by acreage for the county (414,720) is 44.0 percent.
  2. ^ Mileages from Prairie County to Little Rock and Memphis are based on highway miles using county seat DeValls Bluff for Prairie County.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (April 3, 2014). General Highway Map, Prairie County, Arkansas (PDF) (Map). 1:62500. Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  4. ^ Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas, (Chicago: Goodspeed Publishers, 1890).
  5. ^ a b Sickel, Marilyn Hambrick Sickel; Staff (April 27, 2016). "Prairie County". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ "National Agricultural Statistics Service County Level Data". U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Google Maps (Search for DeValls Bluff, AR)". Google. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Monthly Snowfall Averages for Des Arc, AR" (Table). Weather Database. Retrieved December 18, 2016. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Monthly Averages for Des Arc, AR" (Graph). The Weather Channel. Retrieved December 18, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  14. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  16. ^ Based on 2000 census data
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  18. ^ Staff of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension (2015). "Rural Profile of Arkansas" (PDF). Little Rock: University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Services. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b Leip, David. "Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  20. ^ Teske, Steven (March 24, 2014). "Quorum Courts". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  21. ^ Goss, Kay C. (August 28, 2015). "Office of County Judge". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  22. ^ "State Senate District Map" (PDF). Arkansas Board of Apportionment. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  23. ^ "State House District Map" (PDF). Arkansas Board of Apportionment. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  24. ^ Moritz, John. "Arkansas representative switches parties, giving GOP supermajority in House". Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Retrieved November 22, 2016. 
  25. ^ 2011 Boundary and Annexation Survey (BAS): Prairie County, AR (PDF) (Map). U. S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  26. ^ "Arkansas: 2010 Census Block Maps - County Subdivision". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 
  27. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for 6M0 (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Accessed December 18, 2016.
  28. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for SGT (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Accessed December 18, 2016.
  29. ^ "Community Water System Data". Little Rock: Arkansas Department of Health, Engineering Section. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Ulm Waterworks Annual Drinking Water Quality Report" (PDF). Consumer Confidence Report. Little Rock: Arkansas Department of Health. 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Southeast Water PWA Annual Drinking Water Quality Report" (PDF). Consumer Confidence Report. Little Rock: Arkansas Department of Health. 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 

Coordinates: 34°49′41″N 91°32′12″W / 34.82806°N 91.53667°W / 34.82806; -91.53667