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Biggest cities in Arkansas 150 years ago

Written by:
May 23, 2022
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Biggest cities in Arkansas 150 years ago

After the completion of the 1860 census and the election of President Abraham Lincoln, America imploded. Eleven southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, instigating four bloody years of the Civil War and fundamentally altering the social history of the U.S. The estimates of deaths caused by the Civil War begin around 600,000, but some claim as many as 750,000 individuals died throughout the conflict.

With so many families looking for a new start after combat finally ended and approximately 4 million Black Americans emancipated from slavery, it was time for many Americans to look for a new home to put down roots. The obvious choice for many was to move west, where there was more land to buy, settle, and cultivate. Many traveled by covered wagon, spending months on the dusty trail. Others who could afford better accommodations took a 25-day ride by stagecoach. All of them picked new cities and towns to make their homes, spreading the U.S. population more evenly across different states and territories.

On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad route across the United States was completed, ushering in a new era of transportation. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, though with the loss of many lives, including those of the many Irish and Chinese immigrants hired to work 12-hour days in the hot western sun. Riding by steam engine, passengers could cross the entire country in four days, enabling waves of Americans and immigrants to quickly occupy land that would otherwise take months to settle.

The years of Civil War reconstruction, coupled with wagon, stagecoach, and railroad passengers finding new lives across the U.S., made the urban development reflected in the 1870 census incredibly interesting. Stacker compiled a list of the biggest cities in Arkansas from 150 years ago using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By transcribing Table XXV of the Ninth Census of the U.S., which was previously only available as a PDF, it's easy to explore what the urban landscape looked like less than a decade after the end of the Civil War as America healed and grew.

The largest city in Arkansas ranked #134 among all cities nationwide in 1870. Keep reading to find out more about the historic metropolitan landscape in your home state or check out the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or

You may also like: Best counties to live in Arkansas

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Camerique/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#10. Van Buren, Crawford County

- Total population: 3,296 (#1,225 nationwide)
--- Male population: 1,693
--- Female population: 1,603
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,076
Doctor making medical rounds in horse buggy.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#9. Round Prairie, Benton County

- Total population: 3,443 (#1,105 nationwide)
--- Male population: 1,692
--- Female population: 1,751
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,243
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Detroit Publishing Company // Library of Congress

#8. Upper, Sebastian County

- Total population: 3,666 (#962 nationwide)
--- Male population: 1,869
--- Female population: 1,797
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,107
Farrier shoeing a horse with blacksmith and two other men standing nearby.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#7. Prairie, Washington County

- Total population: 3,884 (#855 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,007
--- Female population: 1,877
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,358
Men on steps of rural General Store
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#6. Big Rock, Pulaski County

- Total population: 3,990 (#818 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,094
--- Female population: 1,896
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,360
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#5. Ozan, Hempstead County

- Total population: 4,405 (#674 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,185
--- Female population: 2,220
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,506
Horse and wagon outside general store
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#4. Vaughn, Jefferson County

- Total population: 4,735 (#573 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,459
--- Female population: 2,270
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,375
Group of young women out for a trip in a horse drawn Surrey
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Transcendental Graphics // Getty Images

#3. St. Francis, Phillips County

- Total population: 5,061 (#514 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,573
--- Female population: 2,488
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,293
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#2. Osage, Benton County

- Total population: 5,384 (#464 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,805
--- Female population: 2,579
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,956
Group of mill workers seated for portrait
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#1. Little Rock, Pulaski County

- Total population: 12,380 (#134 nationwide)
--- Male population: 6,653
--- Female population: 5,727
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 3,288

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