A Brief History of Huntsville, Arkansas

Huntsville town square ca. 1900

Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County, located in the northwest corner of Arkansas. Huntsville was named for John Hunt, considered the founder of the settlement (Wikipedia, 2019). The timber industry became central to the local economy, but otherwise, subsistence farming of the pioneer variety was the rule. The Great Depression hit all of Madison County hard. The practices common in the timber industry had led to erosion, and the hilly soil was not suited to row crops such as corn or wheat. Even the small cash crops and subsistence crops that farmers had relied upon failed or became unprofitable. Madison County had cases of rabies, diphtheria, and malaria, as well as malnutrition. The population of the county declined, the railroads were dismantled, and the timber industry collapsed. However, as demand for chickens to supplement military rations increased the need for poultry, this variety of farming began to offer hope for local agriculture. Poultry and then cattle farming became the mainstays of the area’s economy. Huntsville continues to be largely agricultural. The main industry in town is the Butterball Turkey Plant (Haden, 2017). 


Haden, Rebecca and Russell, Joy. (2017, Jul. 20). Huntsville (Madison County). Retrieved from encyclopediaofarkansas.net.

Wikipedia. (2019, Jul. 25). Huntsville, Arkansas. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org.