Early Exploration and the Fur Trade in Carroll County, AR

In the late 17th century, French trappers and priests may have been the first Europeans to visit the area, determined to convert the native population to Christianity, establish trade, and secure fur and valuable mineral exports. Early French explorers such as Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, Rene-Robert Cavelier, and Pierre Le Moyne may never have found the elusive Northwest passage to China that they were seeking, but their efforts resulted in France's claim of a massive portion of land bordering Mississippi, which was named Louisiane in honor of Louis XIV, the "Sun King" of France. During this time, the French built a number of forts and trading posts and established a trading alliance with the Osage. Some trappers even learned to speak the Osage lanugage and chose to live among them. When France lost the French and Indian War in 1763, and ceded to Spain their claim to all land west of the Mississippi River, the Osage reached an exclusive trade agreement with the Spanish.

France took possession of Louisiana once again in 1800 as part of a secret treaty with Spain. However, only three years later, Napoleon had inked a deal with Thomas Jefferson to sell the entire territory of 828,800 square miles to the United States for a total sum of $15 million. The bargain purchase doubled the size of the United States, and included all of present day Arkansas, including Carroll County. Within a year, the United States had split Louisiana into two parcels - the Territory of Orleans to the south, and the much larger District of Louisiana which included the current state boundary lines of Arkansas.