The Battle of Helena, which took place in Helena, Arkansas, in July 1863, was one of the largest Civil War battles fought in the state. Union forces were able to repel a Confederate attack, which helped secure control of the Mississippi River for the Union.
Cleveland County, located in southern Arkansas, has a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. The earliest known inhabitants of the area were Native American tribes, including the Caddo and Quapaw peoples. These native groups relied on hunting, fishing, and agriculture to sustain their communities.

European explorers and settlers arrived in the region in the 18th century. French fur traders were among the first to establish a presence in the area, followed by Spanish explorers who claimed the land for Spain. In the early 1800s, the United States acquired the territory through the Louisiana Purchase.

Cleveland County was formally established in 1873 and named after President Grover Cleveland. The county quickly became an important center for agriculture, with cotton being the primary cash crop. The construction of railroads in the late 19th century further facilitated economic growth and trade in the area.

In the 20th century, Cleveland County faced the challenges brought on by the Great Depression, which significantly impacted the local economy. However, World War II brought new opportunities, as the demand for raw materials and food increased. Today, Cleveland County remains primarily rural, with agriculture continuing to play a significant role in its economy, alongside timber and hunting tourism.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Cleveland County, Arkansas.

  • Old Cleveland County Natives were a part of the Plum Bayou Culture from 650-1050 AD.
  • French explorers visited the area in the early 18th century.
  • 1807 - The United States acquired the land as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1845 - Cleveland County was established as a county in the Arkansas Territory.
  • 1850 - The county's population was 494.
  • 1880 - Cleveland County's population reached 8,602.
  • 1902 - The railroad reached the county, spurring economic growth.
  • 1939 - The Great Flood caused significant damage to the county.
  • 1953 - A tornado struck Rison, the county seat, killing 5 people.
  • 1997 - A deadly tornado outbreak hit the county, causing extensive damage and 7 fatalities.
  • 2010 - The county's population was 8,689.