A Brief History of Ozark, Arkansas

Typical log house of the early Ozark settlers. Houses like this were in use from the 1840s until fairly recently. Some are still in use as hay barns and sheds. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Founded in 1836, Ozark is one of the state’s oldest cities. Ozark, from the French words “Aux Arc,” meaning “at the bend,” is located at the most northern bend in the Arkansas River, which flows through the city’s southern boundary. Local folklore claims that French explorers came up the Arkansas River in 1819. They reportedly shot an arrow and vowed to found a town where the arrow landed. The arrow allegedly landed just northeast of the present Franklin County Courthouse. Though they did not actually found a town at that time, it is claimed that they did lay the groundwork for one. The city was incorporated in 1850. The city lost its incorporated status during the Civil War when Union troops burned every business, church, and all but three homes. The city was reincorporated in 1869. New homes were built in the 1870s, and as people moved back to town, many new businesses were founded, including banks, saloons, and general merchandise stores. Ozark eventually established itself as one of the leading horse and cattle trading centers in the Arkansas River Valley (McDaniel, 2018).


McDaniel, Vernon. (2018, Jan. 31). Ozark (Franklin County). Retrieved from encyclopediaofarkansas.net.

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