There are numerous attractions that make Arkansas a must see vacation and weekend getaway destination . Visitors can get a break from small-town life in order to pursue big-city pleasures, Memphis is less than an hour away with fine dining, opera, symphony, live theater, Blues on Beale Street, museums, art galleries, and a zoo. Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis offers daily races, and several casinos are located on the Mississippi River just south of Memphis in Tunica, Mississippi.
Evenings and Weekends by Appointment
Phone: (870) 261-1744
After hours (901)-233-8576 Address:
603 Front Street
Forrest City, AR 72335
P.O. Box 1332
Forrest City, AR 72336
The St. Francis County Museum is filled with artifacts, photographs, fossils, documents, and more, all of which paint a vivid picture of our rich history. The museum is housed in the Rush-Gates Home, built in 1906 by Dr. J. O. Rush. It was completely renovated in 1997 to house the museum.
You'll learn about the unique geological phenomenon known as Crowley's Ridge. Displays include Native American pottery and other prehistoric artifacts. Also included are displays covering the African-American history of St. Francis County, agricultural history, and our veterans of armed conflicts.
The St. Francis County Museum and Rush-Gates Historic Home is the perfect place to learn about the history of St. Francis County and Eastern Arkansas. The 7000-square-foot home contains many artifacts of the era, including a reconstruction of Dr. Rush's office.
Guided tours are offered at the museum, and the facility can also be rented for meetings and special events.
What is now St. Francis County was inhabited by Native American Indians for hundreds of years before the first white man laid any claims. No one knows when they arrived, but there is evidence of Native American settlements in Eastern Arkansas as far back as 1000 A.D. Parkin Archeological State Park preserves and interprets a 17-acre site of a Casqui Village thought to be the site visited by the expedition of Hernando de Soto.
First White Explorers
Spaniard Hernando De Soto was probably the first white man to visit what is now Eastern Arkansas. His expedition crossed the Mississippi River in May of 1541. Some historians put the river crossing near Helena; others say it was near Memphis. Regardless, De Soto chronicled a meeting with Indians in the summer of 1541 at a settlement near present-day Parkin. It is believed that De Soto's men erected a giant cypress cross in the region and were generally welcomed by the Native Americans. The expedition traveled north and west for several more weeks, but the Spanish were in search of gold. They found swamps, mainly between the Cache and White Rivers, and they decided to return down the St. Francis River, crossing near Madison. De Soto explored much of Arkansas over the next few months, but never found any gold and never left the state. He died of a fever and was secretly buried (some believe near Helena) in May of 1542.
First White Settlements
There are no more written accounts of Europeans in the region for 130 years after De Soto. In 1673, Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, French Catholic Missionaries, came down the Mississippi River from Illinois and entered the Arkansas River. In 1682, Chevalier De LaSalle reached Native American villages on the Arkansas River and took possession of all lands drained by the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The land was called Louisiana in honor of the French King. In 1686, Arkansas Post became the first white settlement in the state.
The French were never able to settle the land on a large scale and had trouble with Native American tribes, especially the Chickasaws. In 1739, the French built a fort near Wittsburg on the St. Francis River in Cross County. It was later abandoned. In 1762, the region became a Spanish territory. In 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte forced Spain to cede the land to France. Then in 1803, the territory became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase. At that time, there were fewer than 500 white settlers in what would become Arkansas. Most were French Canadians, but many English immigrants began arriving after 1810.
Becoming A County
St. Francis County was officially recognized and approved by the Arkansas Territorial Legislature on October 13, 1827. The county was named for the river, but no one knows exactly who named the river. Most historians agree it was probably named by French Catholic missionaries in the late 17th century. There is evidence of a early Jesuit mission near Helena where the St. Francis River drains into the Mississippi. The land itself was taken from part of Phillips County. At the time, St. Francis County included parts of what are now Cross, Lee, and Poinsett Counties.
The county seat started at the home of William Strong, one of the early settlers and the county's first sheriff. It was soon moved to the newly-created town of Franklin near Old Military Road. This location was about two miles from the St. Francis River - not close enough for some. In 1838, Poinsett County was formed from part of St. Francis, putting Franklin in the extreme northern part of the county. So in 1840, the county seat was moved to Madison near an old Indian village on Crow Creek. In 1855, Mt. Vernon, then a bustling community, was named the county seat, and a courthouse and jail were built. These burned in 1856, forcing the county seat back to Madison. There it remained until 1874, when the county seat was moved to its present location in Forrest City.
1101 East Broadway
Forrest City, AR 72335
Box Office Opens Mon - Thurs 6:45, Fri and Sat 6:30 and Sunday 4:15
Saturday & Sunday Matinee $5.00 Per Person
General Admission $7.00, $5.00 for children age 3-11.
Children under 3 not admitted to PG13 or R rated movies.
Senior Citizen Discount Mondays $5.00
711 Union Ave E, Wynne, AR 72396 (870) 238-4100
The extensive archival collection held by this local history organization allows visitors to engage with the rich past of Cross County, AK.
Cross County, which was founded during the bloody Civil War year of 1862, has witnessed monumental historical changes in its 150 years of existence. This small local history museum testifies to that history through a large archival collection that researchers of southern society will find irresistable. Their collection contains a number of military records, including Arkansas military grants for the War of 1812, records of the units formed in Cross County for service in the Civil War, and a muster roll of Company A - 29th Arkansas Confederate Cavalry. Their other collections comprise Cross County's court records, marriage records for 1943 to 2000, genealogical records, cemetery records, church records, land records, a list of sheriffs serving throughout the county's history, and newspapers published in the county. Given Cross County's birth amidst the ravages of war, the Historical Society is a must-visit for anyone interested the social history of the Confederacy.