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The community known as Point Remove (Conway County) was located near the confluence of the Arkansas River and a meandering stream, Point Remove Creek. Both the creek and the early settlement drew their names from this “point remove” designation, marking the principal geographic point in the description of the boundary of Cherokee land in Arkansas, prior to the Cherokee population’s later relocation to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).
Prior to the decision of the Cherokee to accept this area as the initial point of their new land, the location was known as Budwells Old Place. Before the attempt to establish the Point Remove settlement, the area downstream along the north shore of the river was known as Pecaonary (present-day Sandtown). Early settlement was established along a three-mile line on the north side of the river. By the time of the 1820 federal census, about seven families had settled in the area.
The name “Point Remove” was apparently first used in a report to Colonel Return J. Meigs, Indian agent for the Cherokee. Meigs had sent his son-in-law, John Ross, to the area to assist the Western Cherokee in their investigation of the area to the “point for removal.” The name of the community may also have its origin in the necessity of removing white squatters from the land prior to Cherokee settlement. In his book Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory during the year 1819, naturalist Thomas Nuttall identifies the location as “Point Remu,” perhaps indicating that the name was a corruption of the French term for “eddy” or “whirlpool.” William Lovely used the term “Point Remove” in a public document in 1813, and the point was designated as the southeastern corner of the Arkansas Cherokee reservation. The boundary line was then drawn in a northeasterly direction to the White River at Shields Ferry near Batesville (Independence County), about seventy-one miles away. The remainder of the reservation was designed to provide the sufficient acreage to replace the lands that were to be abandoned east of the Mississippi River. However, the western boundary line was not firmly established, as many of the Western Cherokee disputed the amount of land involved. As a true demarcation point, the newly created line became the western boundary of the Arkansas Territory and the eastern line of the Cherokee reservation. The settlement that developed along the Arkansas River and the eastern shore of Point Remove Creek met the needs of people traveling to various parts of the reservation.
In 1825, Dr. Nimrod Menifee gained approval for the creation of Conway County, bringing local government much closer to the Point Remove settlement. He immediately had Point Remove designated as the first post office in the newly created county. His brother-in-law, William Lewis, established a trading post there, and the effort to develop the area as a community began. However, a permanent community failed to develop because of various factors, including the transitional population, distance from authorities, and the low-lying terrain.
In 1827, one of the important duels in Arkansas history took place in the area. The duel involved two factional leaders of the territory: Ambrose Sevier and Thomas Newton (the challenger). Neither duelist was injured, their “honor” was preserved, and both eventually had Arkansas counties named for them. However, the duel, combined with the border status of the area, fed into the area’s reputation for lawlessness.
Lewis moved his business downstream and established a ferry and trading post at the newly created Lewisburg (Conway County). The Point Remove community began a decline, as the new border of the Arkansas Territory was permanently established near Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Better river transportation methods and a dwindling migrating population of Native Americans eventually resulted in the complete demise of this early and almost forgotten settlement.
In the end, Point Remove remained a crossing-point on the Arkansas River at the Stout Ferry and was the shortest point to Petit Jean Mountain from Morrilton (Conway County) for many years. The Point Remove Bridge was built around 1893 and remains a historic site, representing bridge construction techniques of the era.
With the Arkansas highway bridge constructed as a permanent crossing of the Arkansas River near Lewisburg in 1918, the proximity to Petit Jean was no longer important, and the area was abandoned completely. Because the area was isolated but with a decent roadway, it was destined to become a dumping ground. During the period from the early 1930s to the late 1960s, it became the Morrilton City Dump. Environmental laws and the development of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigational System forced the clean-up of the dumping area.
A small, relatively unmarked park with a few picnic tables is the modern-day setting for this early settlement. A much more active and well-developed park and campsite called Cherokee Park now exists along the river a short distance downstream. The Old Cherokee Boundary Line continues to be an important land demarcation point, referenced in deed and title issues.
For additional information:Conway County, Arkansas: Our Home, Our Land, Our People. Little Rock: Historical Publications of Arkansas, 1992.
Treaty of the Cherokee Agency, July 8, 1871. GeorgiaInfo. http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/cheragen.htm (accessed June 24, 2010).
Larry TaylorSpringfield, Arkansas
Last Updated 9/1/2010
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