The Battle for County Seat

The next big battle to take place in Carroll County, Arkansas was more political in nature. In 1869, a large portion of land was carved from Carroll County to form Boone County. As a result, the county seat of Carrollton now found itself far from the center of the county. It wasn't long before a political battle ensued to relocate the county seat to the more central location of Berryville, which had been founded in 1850. An election was held on November 1, 1869 to decide the fate of the county seat. The results were then challenged by petition, alleging that a considerable portion of the county hadn't been included in the election. A new election was ordered on November 13, 1871. Again, a petition was submitted by the citizens of Carrollton to dismiss the election as invalid. Their request was eventually appealed to circuit court. A final election was held in 1875, and the results were very close:

557 votes to remove the county seat to Berryville
529 votes to retain the county seat in Carrollton

By July of that same year, a suitable site for the new county buildings had been purchased in Berryville. The lot was purchased from Blackburn Berry for a sum of $100, and he offered additional land for the public square at no cost. A new jail had been constructed by 1876, and in 1880, construction began on a new Carroll County Courthouse in Berryville; it was occupied by the fall of 1881. After the removal of the county seat to Berryville, the town of Carrollton slowly declined. Little is left of it today.

The Western Judicial District

Just as city officials were making themselves at home in the new brick courthouse in Berryville, the population was exploding just twelve miles west of town. Eureka Springs was the latest craze in health resorts, as the "healing spring" phenomenon swept the nation. What was once untamed wilderness in 1878 had reached a population of over 8,000 only three years later. Including the visiting transient population, that number would nearly double by 1883, when the Eureka Springs Railway established a direct connection from Seligman, Missouri. The State Legislature, likely with some prodding from Powell Clayton, soon passed an act dividing Carroll County into two districts for judicial purposes. Eureka Springs would have its own circuit, chancery, and probate courts and exclusive jurisdiction over county matters west of the King's River. A new Western District courthouse would later be built in 1908.

Berryville Loses Its Jail, But Not Its Seat

In 1887, a young inmate named Floyd Eddings set fire to the Berryville Jail and it burned to the ground. Floyd was a troublemaker and the son of a well-respected physician in Carrollton. He had been jailed in Berryville for breaking into a store in Carrollton and stealing an overcoat. In his effort to burn a hole in the wall of the jail, he was unable to escape as he had planned, and was the sole victim of the blaze. As the expenses to rebuild the jail were estimated, the citizens of Green Forest pushed for removal of the county seat from Berryville. They reasoned that the establishment of the two districts had left Green Forest in a better position to accommodate the citizens of the Eastern District, and that the costs of rebuilding the Berryville Jail could be avoided. An election was held, and Berryville retained the position of county seat.