Lovely County

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Lovely County

From the autograph book of Francis Lorene Babb
McConaughy (then age 13) as she prepared to leave
Texas for Arkansas

Plainview, Texas
Dec. 17, 1933

“…When you are in the paradise state of Arkansas please remember me always as a good friend…”

Forever a Loving Friend


by James McConaughy

On July 9, 1816, Major William Lovely, Cherokee agent in Missouri Territory, concluded a treaty with the Osage Indians for the United States government to purchase approximately three million acres in what was to become northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma. This would provide the Cherokees with undisputed hunting territory. This area became known as "Lovely's Purchase." However, Major Lovely did not have authorization to make such a treaty and the government never approved his bargain. Two years later, the government made a treaty with the Osages which embraced substantially the same terms.

On October 13, 1827 the Arkansas territorial assembly created Lovely County out of part of what was then known as Crawford County. This new county was much larger than the original Lovely's Purchase.

Beginning at the upper Cherokee boundary line. on the north bank of the Arkansas river, thence running up and with the meanders of said river to the mouth of the Canadian fork, thence up said Canadian fork to the western limits of the territory of Arkansas, thence north with that line to the north-west corner of the territory, thence east to the south-west comer of Missouri, thence east with the line between Missouri and Arkansas, to the Fiery prairie or Brown's line, thence south with Brown's line to the Cherokee line, and thence with the Cherokee line to the place of beginning.

Early in 1828, Congress set the western edge of Arkansas Territory at its present position and on October 17, 1828, the County of Lovely was extinguished and the portion remaining in Arkansas became Washington County. All "whites" living west of this line were ordered to move east of the line and all Cherokees living east of the line were ordered to move into Indian Territory west of the line. The Cherokees were allowed to sell any improvements on their land, if they could find a buyer. "Whites" were also allowed to sell improvements on their land, if they could find a buyer and in addition the head of each family was to be granted 320 acres (half a section) in Arkansas.

Extract from an article by Mrs. Ina Gabler, "Lovely's Purchase And Lovely County," Arkansas
Historical Quarterly, Vol. 19, 1960, pp. 31-39


Washington County was established October 17, 1828.

"The first post office in Washington County was called Washington Court House, established February 9, 1829. Six months later the name was changed to Fayetteville. The first court was held March 1829, Judge James Woodson Bates presiding. They appropriated $49.75 to build a log courthouse. The first brick courthouse was built in 1838 for a cost of $5,000. The first jail was built in 1839 of stone with walls 42 inches thick for a cost of $4,460. Archibald Yell of Fayetteville became Arkansas's first Congressman in 1836. In 1840 he was elected Governor of Arkansas."

Flash Back, Washington County Historical Society, March 1953


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