Arkansas Highway 59


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