Marianna/Lee County Chamber of Commerce
Marianna, Arkansas is at the heart of the history of the Louisiana Purchase territory.
While the first inhabitants of Lee County were Indians, the first tourists were, in all likelihood, Hernando DeSoto and his troops.
According to the DeSoto Commission, after crossing the Mississippi in 1541, the Spanish explorer spent his first summer near the confluence of the St. Francis and L'Anguille Rivers.
More than a century later, the explorers Marquette and Jolliet came down the Mississippi and spread the civilizing influence of France on this land.
When a fledgling republic bought the Louisiana Territory from France, the base point for the survey of the Louisiana Purchase was established at a point near the juncture of Phillips, Lee and Monroe County lines.
Interestingly enough, the first white child born in Arkansas was John Patterson, who claimed to have been born in a kingdom (Spain), reared in an empire (France), attained manhood in a territory,
became a citizen of state and never ventured a hundred miles from his birthplace. His grave is only a mile southeast of Marianna on Hwy. 44.
Although no significant battles were fought in Lee County during the Civil War, the sympathies of its citizenry persuaded the Arkansas Legislature in 1873
to name the county for the Commanding General of the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee. St. Francis, Monroe, Phillips and Crittenden counties yielded land for its formation.
Marianna was named for the daughter of John Harland, who provided the initial property for the establishment of the town. Its centennial was celebrated in 1970.
La Grange 8 miles south on Hwy. 1, 2 miles east on 121. Established about 1820. First post office in 1852. Postmaster, physician Jessie Everett, great-grandfather of Helen Keller. Charles Adams,
her grandfather, was one of first settlers and Kate Adams, mother of Keller, attended the first school there.
John Patterson Marker 1 mile southeast of Marianna on Hwy. 44. First Anglo-Saxon child born west of the Mississippi River.
He lived under seven flags but never left his home place on Patterson Branch. Marker is on left going east and just before the Branch Bridge.
Louisiana Purchase Survey marker. Located at the intersection of the Baseline and Fifth principal meridian in the southwest corner of Lee County. Established in 1815.
Take Hwy. 79 west from Marianna to Hwy 49. Turn left and watch for signs leading to park.
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