Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Nevada County Created During Railroad Boom

McRae Church Records, Courtesy of SARA
Railroad construction was booming during the 1870s Reconstruction period that followed the Civil War. It was during that time Nevada County was created.

Nevada County was carved from Hempstead, Columbia and Ouachita Counties in March 1871. Because the county was sparsely settled, the first county seat was Mount Moriah, a country church. The county seat moved to Rosston from 1872 to 1877, but citizens voted to move the seat to Prescott, a newly established railroad town. The county seat remains in Prescott, which became the county’s largest city.

Notable citizens from Nevada County include Thomas Chipman McRae, who was a banker, lawyer and politician. McRae entered politics in 1876 and was a supporter of paying railroad bonds. He eventually served as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives for 18 years. He served as Arkansas’s 26th governor from 1921 to 1925. 

McRae leaned toward populism and supported efforts that eventually led to start of several national forests. Advancements under McRae also included reorganizing funding to improve state highways and the educational system, constructing a tuberculosis sanatorium for African Americans and appointing women to civil political positions.

Church Records, Courtesy of SARA
Although most of McRae’s governor papers are at the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections, a small collection was donated by Duncan Culpepper, a relative of the governor, to the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives. The collection includes political clippings, personal correspondence, poetry, quotes, speeches and other items Thomas McRae collected. The items give insight into McRae’s interests and some of his life in Nevada County.

Original archival materials are welcomed for donation at SARA. For more information, please contact Melissa Nesbitt, archival manager, at  or 870-983-2633.