Powhatan Gets New Archives Building

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback


The old town of Powhatan in Lawrence county was at one time the county seat for nearly half of Arkansas and a large part of Missouri.

The records from that time give an insight to a period before Arkansas was even a state.

Now these priceless records will be getting a new permanent home.

Since the old courthouse was renovated, the Lawrence County Historical Society has had to store these old documents at Arkansas State University.

But not for very much longer...a new home is coming to Powhatan for this treasure chest.

There are documents in there that date to 1815.

Dr. Brady Banta is an archivist at the Arkansas State University library. He shared a small sample of the historic Lawrence county documents that are stored there.

A criminal case for example, "A man has been charged with stealing hogs. "

Keeping these nearly 200 year old papers readable demands a certain kind of facility.

A facility that has the proper hvac system. And that facility is coming to Powhatan.

In a few weeks bids should go out for the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archive building.

Hopefully with construction beginning in the fall.

There is only one facility like this in Arkansas and it is located in the Southern part of the state.

Powhatan Historic State Park superintendent Corinne Fletcher says the plans are in the final approval stage now with bidding to come soon.

"Probably the first shovel which will be a backhoe most likely will be dug in October or November. "

Lloyd Clark, the president of the Lawrence County Historical Society, says that once the facility is built it is hoped other counties in Northeast Arkansas will contribute their records.

"It's a state law that all written records especially all handwritten records have to be preserved. And the county clerks, circuit clerks and county judges don't have room in their courthouses to keep all that."

On an economic level this facility will draw in lots of folks that will still have to buy gas and food in the local area. Hopefully their trips will be easier than early visitors.

Clark, "There is a record of a gentlemen who lived where lake Norfolk is who once got a summons to appear in court in Davidsonville. That's a long way to travel cross country when your only transportation is a horse or canoe. "

The building will take about a year to complete.

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