- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - Kendra Harris thought her co-workers were playing a prank on her.

On the ground a Native American arrowhead protruded. The Old Davidsonville park superintendent was about to pluck it out of the dirt when she suddenly stopped herself, The Jonesboro Sun (https://bit.ly/1K6mc1Y ) reported.

Heavy rains revealed the ancient arrowhead, and archaeologists confirmed it was at least 5,000 years old. History and culture have often collided at or near the Old Davidsonville Park near the Randolph and Lawrence County lines.

The story begins with Native American hunters who roamed the banks of the Black River. Archaeologists believe Old Davidsonville served as temporary campsite.

“I think the abundant wildlife brought them here,” Harris said.

Arrowheads, pottery and other artifacts have been recovered. A permanent Native American settlement has not been discovered there, according to information released.

The area remained on the edge of civilization as Europeans colonized North America. Records and artifacts indicate trappers roamed the area. A few settlers lived in the Davidsonville area prior to 1815. That year Lawrence County, consisting of present-day northern Arkansas and parts of southern Missouri, was formed.

Davidsonville was chosen to serve as the first governmental seat in the newly established county. The first courthouse, post office and land office in Arkansas were built at Davidsonville, Harris said.

Stephen Austin, the famed father of Texas, served as a judge in Lawrence County for a time, Harris said.

Every 30 days mail would arrive, and court was regularly held. Records show the town was a vibrant trading post, and there were even free blacks living in the town, according to records.

The riverfront or commons was a bustling place with flat and keel boats constantly loading and unloading wares. Goods were traded up and down the Black River, historians say.

The original courthouse and other buildings vanished a long time ago, but archaeologists have determined where the courthouse and other structure were located. The Phillips-Reeves Cemetery was also established during this era.

Davidsonville’s demise came as quickly as its ascent as the primary government seat in Arkansas. By 1830 the town was a virtual ghost town, according to historians.

Years later the Scott family established a ferry at the site. In 1957 the area was transformed into state park.

Archaeological displays, hiking trails, a lake, camp spots and other amenities are offered to visitors. Park interpreters give tours and provide visitors with a wealth of information, Harris said.

Many programs, including the “Ghosts of Davidsonville” celebration in October, are held on the park grounds. Harris hopes the park’s prominence in history will be recognized.

“It’s important … It’s where Arkansas’ first government was established,” she said.

___

Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com


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