Gillett, Ark. — Spanish explorer Hernan de Soto passed through what is now known as Arkansas County in 1542 followed by French missionary and explorer Father Marquette nearly 160 years later.
Later, five nations would all fly their flags within this same area. Frenchman Henri de Tonti founded the initial Arkansas Post in 1686 — the first European settlement in the lower Mississippi Vally (it predated New Orleans by 32 years). The area has since flown flags belonging to the French House of Bourbon, Castillian Spain, Republican Spain, Republican France, the United States and the Southern Confederacy.
Arkansas Post became a part of the United States in 1804 and, 15 years later, would become the Arkansas Territory capital. It wouldn’t last though. In 1821, the capital was moved to the newly founded city, Little Rock. Arkansas Post had about 1,000 residents at the height of its political importance in the 1820s and 1830s.
In January 1863, Union forces would capture the Confederate fort at Arkansas Post and destroy much of its town. The Arkansas Post is located along the Arkansas River and is now part of the national park system.