Yell County, Arkansas

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Yell County
Yell County Courthouse, Dardanelle
Yell County Courthouse, Dardanelle
Map of Arkansas highlighting Yell County
Location within the U.S. state of Arkansas
Map of the United States highlighting Arkansas
Arkansas's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 34°59′54″N 93°27′09″W / 34.998333333333°N 93.4525°W / 34.998333333333; -93.4525
Country United States
State Arkansas
FoundedDecember 5, 1840
Named forArchibald Yell
SeatDanville (western district);
Dardanelle (eastern district)
Largest cityDardanelle
Government
 • County judgeMark Thone
Area
 • Total949 sq mi (2,460 km2)
 • Land930 sq mi (2,400 km2)
 • Water19 sq mi (50 km2)  2.0%%
Population
 (2010)
 • Total22,185
 • Estimate 
(2019)
21,341
 • Density23/sq mi (9.0/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district4th
Websiteyellcounty.net

Yell County is a county in the U.S. state of Arkansas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,185.[1] The county has two county seats, Dardanelle and Danville.[2] Yell County is Arkansas's 42nd county, formed on December 5, 1840, from portions of Scott and Pope counties. It was named after Archibald Yell, who was the state's first member of the United States House of Representatives and the second governor of Arkansas. He died in combat at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican–American War.

This is an alcohol prohibition or dry county. Yell County is part of the Russellville, AR Micropolitan Statistical Area.

History[edit]

Native Americans first inhabited present-day Yell County and the Arkansas River Valley for thousands of years prior to European colonization. They used the open, fertile floodplain of the Arkansas River for hunting grounds and later farming settlements. During the Thomas Jefferson and Indian Removal era, many Cherokee were voluntarily relocating from Georgia along the Arkansas River, including in Yell County, between 1775 and 1786. A large Cherokee reservation across the Arkansas River from Yell County was established in 1815 to encourage further voluntary relocation from Georgia.

The area presently encompassed as Yell County was first settled by European settlers when James Carden built a house in 1819 among Cherokee farms in the Dardanelle Bottoms, at the confluence of the Arkansas and Petit Jean rivers.[3] Lands south of the Arkansas River had been deeded to the Choctaw in the 1820s when they removed from their homelands east of the Mississippi River, but white settlement and Cherokee relocation continued apace into the 1820s. The peoples competed over the prime river-bottom lands. In 1822, the Council Oaks Treaty meeting was held under two large oak trees, reestablishing Cherokee title of 3.2 million acres (1.3 million hectares) north of the Arkansas River, which was previously granted to them in 1817 in exchange for their removing north of the river. The Cherokee who remained south of the river became known as the "Black Dutch", and largely assimilated.[4]

In 1830, the United States Congress enacted the Indian Removal Act, leading to further, forcible Cherokee settlement from the Southeast into the Arkansas River Valley. Cherokee, Muskogee (Creek), and Seminole were forcibly removed along the Trail of Tears through Yell County to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 949 square miles (2,460 km2), of which 930 square miles (2,400 km2) is land and 19 square miles (49 km2) (2.0%) is water.[5]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected areas[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18503,341
18606,33389.6%
18708,04827.1%
188013,85272.1%
189018,01530.1%
190022,75026.3%
191026,32315.7%
192025,655−2.5%
193021,313−16.9%
194020,970−1.6%
195014,057−33.0%
196011,940−15.1%
197014,20819.0%
198017,02619.8%
199017,7594.3%
200021,13919.0%
201022,1854.9%
2019 (est.)21,341[6]−3.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790–1960[8] 1900–1990[9]
1990–2000[10] 2010–2016[1]
Age pyramid Yell County[11]

2020 census[edit]

Yell County racial composition[12]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 14,710 72.6%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 226 1.12%
Native American 111 0.55%
Asian 202 1.0%
Pacific Islander 11 0.05%
Other/Mixed 799 3.94%
Hispanic or Latino 4,204 20.75%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 20,263 people, 7,503 households, and 5,542 families residing in the county.

2000 census[edit]

As of the 2000 census,[13] there were 21,139 people, 7,922 households, and 5,814 families residing in the county. The population density was 23 people per square mile (9/km2). There were 9,157 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 86.63% White, 1.47% Black or African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.69% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 8.99% from other races, and 1.62% from two or more races. 12.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 12.00% reported speaking Spanish at home.[14]

There were 7,922 households, out of which 33.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.50% were married couples living together, 10.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.60% were non-families. 23.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.80% under the age of 18, 8.90% from 18 to 24, 28.30% from 25 to 44, 22.00% from 45 to 64, and 15.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,916, and the median income for a family was $33,409. Males had a median income of $23,172 versus $18,148 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,383. About 11.70% of families and 15.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.20% of those under age 18 and 12.80% of those age 65 or over.


Human resources[edit]

Public safety[edit]

The Yell County Sheriff's Office is the primary law enforcement agency in the county. The agency is led by the Yell County Sheriff, an official elected by countywide vote every four years. Police departments in Dardanelle, Danville, and Ola provide law enforcement in their respective jurisdictions, with Bellville, Havana, and Plainview contracting with the Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services.

The current sheriff of Yell County is Heath Tate. Tate was appointed by the Yell County Quorum Court in March of 2022 and began his appointment April 1, 2022.[15]

The chief officer of the law in Yell County, as in all Arkansas counties, is the sheriff.

Yell County Sheriffs, 1840-Present
Yell County Sheriffs[16]
Name Year Elected Year Left Total Years Notable Accomplishments
Theodore P Sadler 1840 1846 6
  • First county sheriff
S. Kirkpatrick 1846 1852 6
Joseph Garrett 1852 1854 2
J. C. Herin 1854 1856 2
Joseph Gault 1856 1862 6
Lorenzo Free 1862 1863 1
O. Wood 1863 1864 1
William Henry Ferguson 1864 1871 7
Jesse George 1871 1872 1
J. A. Wilson 1872 1874 2
Reuben E. Cole 1874 1880 6
Levi L. Briggs 1880 1882 2
Joseph L. Davis 1882 1886 4
H. B. McCarrell 1886 1890 4
Joseph Haston Howard 1890 1892 2
Sam Gordon Albright 1892 1896 4
B. H. Burnett 1896 1900 6
James M. Cole 1900 1904 4
William Franklin Briggs 1904 1906 2
William L. Tatum 1906 1910 4
Theodore Riley Gault 1910 1914 4
Will T. Caviness 1914 1919 5
J. N. George 1919 1923 4
Joe D. Gault 1923 1926 3
Baxter Gatlin 1927 1930 3
Buford Compton 1931 1946 15
Earl E Lad 1947 1956 9
Herman D. McCormick 1957 1968 11
Carlos Mitchell 1969 1976 7
  • Construction of the old Danville Jail (Replaced in 2016)
  • Construction of the old Dardanelle Jail (Replaced in 2016)
Hartsell Lewis 1977 1978 1
Denver Dennis 1979 1988 9
Mike May 1989 1992 3
Loyd W. Maughn 1993 1998 5
  • Construction of Juvenile Detention Center (1997)[17]
Bill Gilkey 1999 March 31, 2022 23 Years 3 Months
  • Construction of New Law Enforcement Center and Jail (2016)
  • Longest serving sheriff in Yell Count (2017)
  • Longest current serving sheriff in the state of Arkansas (2017)

In 2017, he became the longest currently-serving sheriff in Arkansas, after 19 years in the office. He is also the longest-serving sheriff in the county's history. Gilkey has sat on state boards such as the Arkansas Crime Lab Board and Arkansas Act 309 Board.

Gilkey is credited with the creation of the Yell County Law Enforcement Center in 2016, which replaces two of the county's older jails that did not meet state standards, and houses the sheriff's office. The new building also houses CID offices, revenue office, and an updated E911 dispatch center.

Heath Tate April 1, 2022 December 2022 9 Months
  • Interim Sheriff after Gilkey’s retirement in March of 2022.

Culture and contemporary life[edit]

Photo of a stately one and a half-story craftsman-style home sits among mature trees behind a manicured lawn
Photo of a blue one-story dogtrot-style house with enclosed breezeway sits behind overgrown trees, shrubs and grass
Two homes listed on the NRHP in Yell County: the Thomas James Cotton House in Dardanelle (left) and the Mitchell House in rural Waltreak

Yell County has several historical homes, structures, and monuments dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the area. The Dardanelle Commercial Historic District preserves the historic commercial hub of Yell County along the Arkansas River. The Mt. Nebo State Park Cabins Historic District preserves ten cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The county also has seven homes, three churches, and two bridges listed on the NRHP.

Upon settlement, Yell County's varied topography created a stratified society, splitting settlers between the more fertile and productive farms of the "lowlands" and the subsistence farming of the steep and less-productive mountain soil of the "uplands".[18] A planter class emerged in the lowlands, and as Dardanelle evolved into a cohesive community, the large landowners moved to town and managed their landholdings from stately homes, similar to the model seen in the Arkansas Delta and the Mississippi Delta.[18] This left the lowlands inhabited largely by poor sharecroppers and tenant farmers, who largely shared economic fortunes with the small farms in the uplands, shifting the "upland/lowland" split to a "town-country" divide based largely on economics.

As mechanization and society evolved and Arkansas became less of a frontier, a wealthy upper class emerged in Dardanelle that came to wield societal, political, and economic power in the county. This society remained relatively closed, with separate social events and often summering on Mount Nebo with other wealthy Arkansans visiting to enjoy the cool mountain breezes.[19] With little of the industrialization that defined the Gilded Age in the Northeast and Midwest, Yell County instead retained an adjusted Old South economic model based on agriculture but adapted to a post-Reconstruction reality.[20]

Government[edit]

Yell County Eastern District Courthouse in Dardanelle

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 Yell County Quorum Court has eleven members.[21] 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.[22][23] Though Yell County has two county seats, the constitutional officers are not duplicated, with duties split between the two courthouses.

Politics[edit]

Over the past few election cycles Yell county has trended heavily towards the GOP. The last Democratic presidential candidate (as of 2020) to carry this county was Bill Clinton in 1996.

United States presidential election results for Yell County, Arkansas[24]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 5,226 77.53% 1,284 19.05% 231 3.43%
2016 4,608 71.56% 1,480 22.98% 351 5.45%
2012 4,042 67.66% 1,722 28.82% 210 3.52%
2008 3,808 63.09% 2,003 33.18% 225 3.73%
2004 3,678 55.23% 2,913 43.75% 68 1.02%
2000 3,223 49.75% 3,062 47.26% 194 2.99%
1996 2,111 31.77% 3,749 56.43% 784 11.80%
1992 2,506 32.79% 4,165 54.49% 972 12.72%
1988 3,535 55.84% 2,763 43.64% 33 0.52%
1984 4,051 59.56% 2,679 39.39% 72 1.06%
1980 3,187 44.65% 3,702 51.87% 248 3.47%
1976 1,932 25.04% 5,785 74.96% 0 0.00%
1972 3,310 66.48% 1,669 33.52% 0 0.00%
1968 1,819 34.44% 1,513 28.65% 1,949 36.91%
1964 1,527 30.86% 3,407 68.86% 14 0.28%
1960 1,303 37.96% 2,008 58.49% 122 3.55%
1956 1,381 40.70% 2,008 59.18% 4 0.12%
1952 1,243 39.54% 1,884 59.92% 17 0.54%
1948 408 16.85% 1,866 77.08% 147 6.07%
1944 489 22.94% 1,642 77.02% 1 0.05%
1940 224 9.08% 2,236 90.64% 7 0.28%
1936 318 11.78% 2,382 88.22% 0 0.00%
1932 272 11.88% 2,010 87.77% 8 0.35%
1928 802 27.65% 2,086 71.91% 13 0.45%
1924 334 19.15% 1,314 75.34% 96 5.50%
1920 1,042 34.21% 1,925 63.20% 79 2.59%
1916 781 27.12% 2,099 72.88% 0 0.00%
1912 436 17.18% 1,401 55.20% 701 27.62%
1908 1,040 34.70% 1,743 58.16% 214 7.14%
1904 913 44.32% 1,079 52.38% 68 3.30%
1900 798 33.73% 1,554 65.68% 14 0.59%
1896 812 26.32% 2,261 73.29% 12 0.39%


Education[edit]

Public education[edit]

Early childhood, elementary and secondary education within Yell County is provided by four public school districts:

Dissolved school districts[edit]

Public libraries[edit]

The Arkansas River Valley Regional Library System, is headquartered in Dardanelle and serves multiple counties and consists of one central library and six branch libraries, including the Yell County Library, a branch library in Danville.

Communities[edit]

Cities[edit]

Towns[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated 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 Yell 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]

  • Birta
  • Bluffton
  • Briggsville
  • Centerville
  • Chula
  • Compton
  • Crawford
  • Danville (Corinth, Danville)
  • Dardanelle (Dardanelle)
  • Dutch Creek
  • Ferguson (Belleville)
  • Galla Rock
  • Gilkey
  • Gravelly Hill
  • Herring
  • Ions Creek
  • Lamar (Plainview)
  • Magazine
  • Mason
  • Mountain
  • Prairie
  • Richland
  • Riley (Havana)
  • Rover
  • Sulphur Springs
  • Ward (Ola)
  • Waveland

Infrastructure[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Trivia[edit]

  • In the novel (and two movies) True Grit, the heroine Mattie Ross is from near Dardanelle in Yell County.
  • First Sergeant William Ellis of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor and bravery above and beyond the call of duty at Dardanelle. At 10 a.m. on January 14, 1865, approximately 1,500 Confederates attacked the Union forces entrenched on the outskirts of the town and a fierce four-hour battle was waged. In the end Confederate Colonel William H. Brooks was unable to overcome the Union defenders of the town and was forced to retreat. It was during this battle that Ellis held his position even after receiving three wounds and would not withdraw for medical attention until he received a fourth wound and was ordered to retire by his commanding officer.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Gleason" (2017), p. 12.
  4. ^ "Gleason" (2017), p. 13.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  6. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  9. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  11. ^ Based on 2000 census data
  12. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  14. ^ "Language Map Data Center".
  15. ^ "Post Page". www.kvom.com. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  16. ^ Yell County Court House Records
  17. ^ . January 8, 2014 https://web.archive.org/web/20140108104113/http://yellcountysheriff.org/. Archived from the original on January 8, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2018. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ a b "Gleason" (2017), p. 20.
  19. ^ "Gleason" (2017), pp. 82–84.
  20. ^ "Gleason" (2017), p. 85.
  21. ^ "Yell County". Little Rock: Arkansas Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  25. ^ 2011 Boundary and Annexation Survey (BAS): Yell County, AR (PDF) (Map). U. S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  26. ^ "Arkansas: 2010 Census Block Maps – County Subdivision". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 29, 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°59′54″N 93°27′09″W / 34.99833°N 93.45250°W / 34.99833; -93.45250