Arkansas Highway 59
NO POST OFFICE
Evansville was named in honor of Captain Lewis Evans. Evans
opened a store and built a mill there in 1830. Evans served as
sheriff of the County from 1828 to 1836. He was on the committee
selected to locate a County seat that selected Fayetteville. Lewis
Evans was involved in many of the land transactions in the County.
Possibly his major endeavor however was in 1849 when gold fever hit
the County. Evans was elected captain of a group of locals, including
Cherokees as well as prominent County men such as Peter Mankins and
Isaac Murphy who later became Governor of the State. The group set
out for California with forty wagons and 130 people. Some struck gold
and some did not. One person who was possibly in this group was John
Rollin Ridge, son of John and Sarah Ridge who was living in Fayetteville
after his father was killed in 1839 following the Trail of Tears. John
Rollin did not strike it rich in the gold fields but became a well
known newpaperman and author in California. Evans died in 1880 in
Gonzales County Texas where he had moved following his return from
California in the early 1850's.
The settlement of Evansville was one of the earliest in the County
and is located only a few miles from Oklahoma. A family headed by
John Latta settled in the area and began farming while the territory
was still closed to white settlers and claimed by the Cherokees. It
was part of Lovely County in the late 1820's when the Latta's settled
and developed a post office in 1829 called Vineyard. The name was
changed to Evansville in 1836.
Some of the original Latta buildings were disassembled and moved to
Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park to preserve them. They are
examples of quality craftsmanship by the Latta's and their slaves who
built most of the buildings originally. The buildings are formed into
a village-like setting at the Park along with several other buildings
from the area which were also moved there.
With it's location very near what was then Indian Territory, a great
deal of trade developed with the Cherokees after the Trail of Tears in
1838-39. A horse driven mill first ground grain and was followed by
mills driven by steam for grinding grain and driving sawmills. Other
businesses included general stores, cabinet and wagon makers.
Goodspeed's History of Washington County 1889
Washington County History by Shiloh Museum 1989
The Prairie Grove Valley and Its Communities by Willard Gatewood
Flashback Winter 2003
Lewis Evans:Washington County Pioneer by Bob Keen Flashback Summer 2006
To return to Washington County Map,click here!
Click here for a map to Evansville