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Cross County Historical Society


Cross County Historical Society Museum

Cross County Museum

711 E Union Ave
Wynne, AR 72396
(870) 238-4100

Monday thru Thursday 10:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M.
Friday 10:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M.

Museum does not close during the noon hour.
Closed for all state and federal holidays

Visit the museum website at

 County History

Cross County, Arkansas traces its beginning to an act of the General Assembly passed 15 November of 1862, entitled, “An act to establish the county of Cross.” The county was taken out of Crittenden and St. Francis Counties. Cross County is bounded on the north by Poinsett, on the east by Crittenden, on the south by St. Francis, and on the west by Woodruff and Jackson Counties. Cross County is divided into twelve townships; Hickory Ridge, Mitchell, Coldwater, Twist, Brushy Lake, Searcy, Tyronza, Fair Oaks, Ellis, Bedford, Wynne, and Smith.
Cross County was named for Col. David C. Cross, a veteran of the Civil War who came to the area in the 1840’s. Eventually he owned eighty-five thousand acres of land, making him a wealthy man and the most extensive landowner in the county. Col. Cross died August 21, 1874, at the home of his friend William Perry Wilkins and is buried in the Wilkins family cemetery.

There have been five county seats. The town of Wittsburg was designated as the first county seat, but due to Union forces patrolling the area during the Civil War, county business could not be conducted there. Three commissioners were chosen to decide where the county seat should be located. On April 18, 1863, they chose Pineville as the county seat. Dr. B. D. McClaran was the first County Clerk. No courthouse was erected at Pineville. Dr. McClaran lived near Pineville and the County’s business was conducted in his home.

 In May 1865, commissioners met at Pineville and selected the town of Cleburne as the next county seat. Cleburne, named after Patrick R. Cleburne, a Confederate general from Helena, Arkansas, who had been Col. Cross’s commander in the Civil War, was located in the center of the county. Col. Cross deeded the center block in the town containing 3/5 acre to the county on which to build a courthouse. His residence on the site was used as a temporary courthouse. The county seat was at Cleburne from 1865 to 1868.

As early as 1866, petitions had been circulated asking that the seat be changed to Wittsburg. In June 1868 three locating commissioners were elected and in October 1868 they selected Wittsburg, by now a thriving river port, as the next county seat. Wittsburg was the county seat from 1868 to 1884.

In 1882 when the Helena branch of the Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad was completed, Wittsburg began to decline, as steam trains replaced steamboats. Many business and professional people were moving to Vanndale, which was located on the new railroad. An election was held and in 1884 Vanndale was declared the next county seat. The first courthouse was built there in 1888.

Meanwhile, the town of Wynne, south of Vanndale, was growing. Wynne started in 1882 when a train derailed leaving one boxcar without wheels and off the tracks. The boxcar was placed upright and designated Wynne Station in compliment to Capt. Jessie W. Wynne, a veteran of the Civil War and a prominent businessman and banker of Forrest City, Arkansas. Wynne was formally incorporated May 28, 1888. In July 1903 a petition was presented to the county court asking that an election be held to move the county seat from Vanndale to Wynne. Wynne won the election and has remained the county seat of Cross County, Arkansas.

Mrs. Jimmie S. James



View the history behind the New Hope school

New Hope School News, August 2009

New Hope School News, October 2010


July 25, 2007 – Wynne

At a meeting of the Cross County Historical Society on Tuesday, May 22, 2007, the membership voted to accept from Charlene and Leo Smith a generous gift of the New Hope School building and one acre of land on Highway 284 east of Wynne. Beginning as a one-room school and later gaining an additional room, it is one of the few remaining schools of its kind left in Arkansas.

A committee was formed to begin the legal work and the restoration of the building.

On Wednesday May 23, 2007, Brian Driscoll, Technical Assistance Coordinator with Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, joined a group of interested persons to inspect and assess the structure. The group has determined that the school was constructed as a one-room school with two front doors on the west elevation, three windows on each side, a high-gabled shake-roof building without electricity. The recorded deed showed the land to have been originally purchased by School District 25 on August 24, 1903. However, the deed was not recorded until April of 1904.

Investigation of the building shows that at some time a room was added to the north side of the building making it a two-room school. Verification of this addition has been noted by both Driscoll and Danny Ball, builder and foreman of the restoration plans; however, there have been no documents located telling when the north room was added.

An additional gift to the Historical Society’s restoration project was the surveying of the New Hope Property by Brad McDaniel. The deed to the land contributed by the Smiths was signed and recorded on July 16.

Much enthusiasm was generated by former students, teachers, and others who were eager to see this building restored. Pledges totaling over $2,075 have been made. In order for the project to receive a designated grant from the state, at least $5,000 will need to be raised. Bridget Hart was chairman of the committee. Carol McCrary was vice-chair; Donna Horton was treasurer; Cathy Hagler and Barbara Burkhart, former students of the New Hope School, were co-secretaries. Other members of the committee were Leigh Anne Chambers, Florence Halstead, Teresa McCrary and Tommy McCrary.