Phillips County, ArkansasEdit This Page
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Guide to Phillips County Arkansas genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
|Phillips County, Arkansas|
Location in the state of Arkansas
Location of Arkansas in the U.S.
|Founded||May 1, 1820|
|Address|| Phillips County Courthouse |
600 Cherry Street
Helena, AR 72342
Phillips County Courthouse
600 Cherry Street
Helena, AR 72342
County Clerk has marriage records from 1831 and probate records from 1850; Clerk Circuit Court has divorce, court, and land records from 1820.
Phillips County, Arkansas was formed from Arkansas County on 1 May 1820 by the territorial legislature. Located in Eastern Arkansas, the county's eastern boundary is the Mississippi River.
The county is said to have been named for Sylvanus Phillips, who became the first settler in 1820. Phillips served from Arkansas County, Phillips County's parent county, in the territorial legislature in 1820. Some sources refer to Phillips, Patterson, and Mooney as having been the earliest settlers at what became Helena. Helena, which was laid out by Sylvanus Phillips and became the county seat in 1830, is said to have been named for his daughter.
An early and influential settler was W.B.R. Horner, a lawyer who arrived in the area in 1811. Horner pushed for the division of Arkansas County into two separate counties, and as a result Phillips County was formed in 1820. Evidently the legislative act to divide Arkansas County passed in Feb 1820, but did not take effect until May 1st. Horner then served as the county's first representative in the second legislature.
Phillips County's original county seat was referred to as St. Francis. By 21 Jun 1821, The Arkansas Gazette was referring to Helena as being Phillips County's seat of government. Although the early history is not clear, it would appear that rather than moving the county seat, its name was changed from St. Francis to Helena.
The earliest Phillips County records appear to date to 1820. The earliest deed in the county was recorded 13 Oct 1820, but also though the land involved was near Helena, it was described as being in Arkansas County. The earliest deed for land recorded as being in Phillips County is dated 19 Nov 1820.
The town of Helena was nearly entirely destroyed by fire in 1852. The town was then hit by a yellow fever epidemic in 1855.
Historically, the county is perhaps best known as the site of the well-known Battle of Helena (Wikipedia), an important Civil War battle. This battle took place at Helena in Phillips County on 4 Jul 1863.
This was after the town became occupied by the Union army under General Samuel Curtis in 1862. During the Battle of Helena, Curtis' troops were attacked by three Confederate generals, Holmes, Marmaduke, and Walker, in an unsuccessful attempt to regain Helena. Helena remained in Union hands from 1862 through the rest of the Civil War.
In 1941, Helena was the scene for the beginning of the now-legendary blues radio program, "King Biscuit Time," over KFFA.
For more, see:
- Hellmann. Paul T., Historical Gazetteer of the United States. New York: Routledge, 2005, p. 63 (section headed "Helena"). online copy in Google Books
- McCabe, James D., Jr. A Comprehensive View of Our Country and its Resources. Philadelphia: Hubbard Brothers, 1876, section headed "Helena," p. 992. online copy in Google Books
- Shinn, Josiah Hazen. Pioneers and Makers of Arkansas, Vol. 1, Washington: Genealogical and Historical Publishing Co., 1908, especially pp. 117-131. online copy in Google Books
- Whitaker, Robert. On the Laps of Gods: The Red Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice that Remade a Nation. New York: Random House, 2008 (discusses 20th century racial issues and earlier plantation society in Helena and Phillips County). Google Books preview
- 1820--Phillips County was created 1 May 1820 from Arkansas and Hempstead Counties. County seat: Helena 
One factor that must be taken into account in conducting research pertaining to Phillips County is that the Mississippi River has, on occasion, changed course.
In addition, parts of Phillips County later became other counties: Crittenden in 1825, St. Francis in 1827, Monroe in 1829, and Lee in 1873.
For animated maps illustrating Arkansas county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Arkansas County Boundary Maps" (1813-1925) may be viewed for free at the MapofUS.org website.
A 1906 report by the Arkansas Historical Association (reprinted by the American Historical Association in Washington in 1908) noted that "Some few of the records have been slightly damaged by being moth-eaten, but have been recopied. The records were removed during the war, but were afterwards returned in good condition. During the time they were gone a record was kept in a volume as 'Irregular D.' No misfortune has ever befallen our records, and they are kept in a fireproof vault."
The same report also noted that "the records seem to be complete" from the first deed, dated 13 Oct 1820, the first probate record, dated 17 Jan 1821, and the first Court of Common Pleas order, dated 15 Jan 1821.
For a list of record loss in Arkansas counties see: Arkansas Counties with Burned Courthouses
For more, see:
- Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1906, Vol. 2. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1908, p. 45. online copy in Google Books
- John Hugh Reynolds, ed., Publications of the Arkansas Historical Association, Vol. 1. Fayetteville, AR: Arkansas Historical Association, 1906, p. 136. online copy in Google Books
(Most click to names of people)
(Often more complete)
More cemetery lists
- Phillips County, Arkansas Largest Slaveholders from 1860 Slave Census Schedules and Surname Matches for African Americans on 1870 Census (Tom Blake)
- 1820--Census is missing.
Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Arkansas denominations, view the Arkansas Church Records wiki page.
Land and Property
Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.
See Arkansas Land and Property for additional information about early Arkansas land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.
Phillips County deed records from 1886 to 1906 were microfilmed by the Arkansas History Commission in cooperation with the Arkansas History Commission. This was a part of a project which was completed in 2007. The filming project is discussed in an Internet news item in the Arkansas History Commission website.
Local histories are available for Phillips County, Arkansas. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see Arkansas Local Histories.
Emphasis for this timeline is on events that affected migration, records, or record-keeping. Unless otherwise mentioned, the events below were gleaned from Arkansas County - The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture 
- The Hopewell culture of the Woodland period (600 BC–AD 1000) is represented by a variety of artifacts found in Phillips county.
- Because of its location on the Mississippi River, the area was well populated long before European explorers arrived.
- 1600s (late) - French and Spanish explorers traveling the Mississippi River undoubtedly saw Phillips County and even landed on its shores, but they did not remark on it or influence it.
- 1797 - Sylvannus Phillips, was living in what is now Phillips County , having come from North Carolina.
- 1820 May 1 - The Arkansas territorial legislature established Phillips County out of Arkansas County
- 1829 & 1873 - Phillips County was reduced in size twice: first when Monroe County was established, and later when Lee County was established.
- Today (2010) - Phillips county is one of the few Arkansas counties where African Americans outnumber whites. They do so close to 2 to 1.
- Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions. Washington, D.C., 1852. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969, and 1991. Reprints include "an Added Index to States." FHL Collection 973 M24ur; digital version at Ancestry
Regiments. Service men in Phillips County, Arkansas served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Phillips County, Arkansas:
- - 13th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry (Confederate),
- - 2nd Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Union)
- - 3rd Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry (Union)
Civil War Battle
The following Civil War battle was fought in Phillips County.
- Map showing Civil War battles in Arkansas.
Finding More Arkansas Newspapers
Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Phillips County, Arkansas newspapers in online catalogs like:
- FamilySearch. Do a Phillips County, Arkansas Place-name search for these and other records in the FamilySearch Catalog (For instructions see, FamilySearch Catalog Place-name Search).
- Fayetteville Democrat at Ancestry.com ($)
- Fayetteville Daily Democrat at Ancestry.com ($)
- Daily Fayetteville Democrat at Ancestry.com ($)
- Northwest Arkansas Times at Ancestry.com ($)
- Courier Times at Ancestry.com ($)
- Constitutional Journal
- Political Intelligencer, established in 1833 at Helena, moved later that year to Little Rock
- Regional Newspapers - Phillips County, Arkansas (list)
Probate records of Arkansas have been kept by the probate or county courts. You can obtain copies of the original records by contacting the clerk's office in the county courthouse.
The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many Arkansas probate records. See Arkansas Probate Records for more information about Probate records in Arkansas, including statewide indexes.
- Probate Records 1821-1945 Part of: Arkansas Probate Records, 1817-1979 FamilySearch Historical Collections (Free, browse images)
- Includes Probate records 1821-1891; Wills 1898-1945.
Arkansas tax records replace missing censuses and provide lists of residents during years between censuses. There may be gaps of several years for some counties. For more information see Arkansas Taxation.
Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Arkansas Vital Records State Department of Health, the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred or order electronically online.
See also How to order Arkansas Vital Records
- 1820-1879 - Murray, Dorothy L. Phillips County, Arkansas, 1820-1879: Computer Indexed Marriage Records. Hunting for Bears, 1991. Google Books page
- 1831-1946 - Phillips County Marriage Books 1, A-Z, A1-N1 Index 1831-1946 in Arkansas, County Marriages, 1837-1957 at FamilySearch - free.
- 1831-1921 - Phillips County Marriage Books 1, A-Z, A1-N1 Index 1831-1921 in International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch - free.
- 1921-1951 - Phillips County marriage records from 1921 to 1951 were microfilmed by the Arkansas History Commission in cooperation with the Arkansas History Commission. This was a part of a project which was completed in 2007. The filming project is discussed in an Internet news item in the Arkansas History Commission website.
Vital Record Substitutes
Genealogy Societies and Libraries
- List of Arkansas Archives, Libraries, Publications, Historical & Genealogical Societies
- West Helena Public Library, 721 Plaza St., West Helena, AR 72390
- Tri-County Genealogical Society, PO Box 580, Marvell, AR 72366, covers Lee, Monroe, and Phillips Counties, Arkansas. The society publishes Tri-County Genealogy.
Family History Centers
| Check back often with these websites. Internet offerings are growing at record rates.
Local societies and libraries may know of other websites.
|ARGenWeb||Free||Data may be submitted by individuals or complete transcriptions|
|USGenWeb Archives||Free||Data may be submitted by individuals or may be complete transcriptions|
|RootsWeb resources||Free||Data may be submitted by individuals or may be complete transcriptions|
|Linkpendium||Free||Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)|
|CyndisList||Free||Click links. Some sites they link to may have fees ($)|
|StateofUS||Free||family history resources and government records|
Books, microfilm, or manuscripts of genealogical records
|FamilySearch catalog||Select topics. To select towns, add a comma to the search box.|
|WorldCat||To find nearby libraries that have specific items, see WorldCat Online Catalog.|
|Allen County Public Library||located in Indiana They are heavily involved in digitizing.|
|Arkansas History Commission||AR state agency involved in organizing and maintaining state and local history of AR|
|GeneaBloggers||enter "arkansas" in the search box to see a list and links to Arkansas Blogs|
|Google+||list of groups from "arkansas genealogy" search|
|list of groups from "Arkansas Genealogy" search|
|genealogy.com||Phillips County, AR Genealogy Forum|
|ancestry.com||Phillips County Message Board|
- ↑ The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), p. 69.
- ↑ Alice Eichholz, Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Pub., 2004), 65-67. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004.
- ↑ The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
- ↑ Heritage Preservation Services, Civil War Battle Summaries by State, (accessed 2 August 2012).
- ↑ FamilySearch Wiki contributors, "Arkansas County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)," in FamilySearch Wiki, accessed 18 April 2013.
- ↑ Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/images/d/d7/Arkansasnz.pdf.
- This page was last modified on 31 July 2014, at 19:01.
- This page has been accessed 11,131 times.
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