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Fayetteville History, Arkansas

Fayetteville, the third largest city of the US state of Arkansas (after Little Rock and Fort Smith), has come a long way since it was first settled by European Americans in the 1820s. The region, which was originally inhabited by Osage Indians before becoming a part of the Cherokee Territory in 1817, is now ranked among the ‘Best American Cities to Live, Work and Play’. Here follows an interesting recap of Fayetteville history.

Fayetteville History – The Beginning

Fayetteville did not make its beginning as Fayetteville; instead, as the seat of the Washington County of Arkansas, it was initially named Washington Courthouse. This was in 1828 when the first settlers, George McGarrah and his three sons arrived. The next year, the place got its Post-Office and the name was changed to Fayetteville Courthouse. The second settlers, the Leepers, also arrived around the same time. Other settlers continued pouring in throughout the 1830s and many luminaries like Archibald Yell (who went on to become the second Governor of Arkansas) and David Walker (Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court) were among them. As Fayetteville’s population grew, schools, shops and even hotels were established. Amongst all these positive happenings, a patent for 160 acres of land for the original settlement was issued by President Jackson in 1935 and Fayetteville was incorporated as a town in 1836.

Fayetteville History – The Rest of the 19th Century

The next important occurrence in Fayetteville history was the granting of city charter by the government in 1859 but when the Civil War broke out (in which Arkansas ultimately voted for secession) the local municipal government was suspended. Fayetteville did see some real war action; it emerged as the stronghold of Confederate forces and Union forces alternately, causing much damage and destruction and the city still bears the scars.

The local government was re-appointed/re-constituted in 1868 and after a period of initial political instability, the process of town reconstruction was initiated. It all started with the opening of the Arkansas Industrial University (the name was later changed to the University of Arkansas). Railroad construction further boosted Fayetteville’s economy in this period.

Fayetteville History –20th Century to Present Times

Fayetteville participated in the wars and conflicts that took place in the early part of the 20th century, including the Spanish-American War (that was fought in 1898) to border conflicts and even the WW I. This phase of Fayetteville history also saw Fayetteville’s communication and transportation system improve a lot, with wireless telegraphy and automobiles changing the face of Fayetteville for the better.

During WWII Fayetteville’s airport was used for pilot-training purposes.

Fayetteville’s industrial park came into existence in the 1970s, around the time that the city was going through economic diversification – an economic diversification that has made present-day Fayetteville what it is today, a cultural, educational, economical and social hub.

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