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Interesting Bentonville Facts

Mirrored sign spelling out the name BENTONVILLE
Have you seen this sign across from the library south of the Square? Courtesy Cynthia Maggard

Whether you’re new to the area, or if you’ve been here a while, this post is for you. While everyone knows Bentonville as the home of Walmart, our history in the century or so leading up to the establishment of what would become the world’s largest retailer can be something of a mystery. Even though we drive by the old buildings downtown and can see their construction dates stamped on them, we may not know the events leading up to their establishment. Read on for a quick primer of Interesting Bentonville Facts. 

Although Native Americans had been traveling into and through what is now Northwest Arkansas for quite some time, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, a group of Missouri Osage, relocated from land along the Mississippi River following the Louisiana Purchase, used Bentonville as their hunting ground starting around1808. 

The town itself was established in 1837, with the post office being established a year earlier, and the courthouse a year later. 

One group of Cherokee being relocated along the Trail of Tears was routed through Bentonville on the way to Indian Territory. You’ve likely noticed the historical markers along North Walton Boulevard. 

Most of Bentonville was burned to the ground during the Civil War, just before and after the Battle of Pea Ridge. Both the Union and the Confederacy did their share of destruction, mostly to make sure the other side couldn’t settle in and use the buildings. 

Photo of an alleyway in Bentonville, AR with a neon sign that spells out the word MODERN
Photo Courtesy of Brad on Unsplash

The town was incorporated in 1873. At that time, only about a dozen houses remained. 

Tobacco was the main crop grown in the 1870s and 1880s, with Apples taking over in the 1890s

When apples began to fail due to disease, broiler chickens replaced them as the main economic driver of the area in the 1930s, with apple growers adapting their businesses to raise chickens. 

Louise Thaden was a local aviator who was born and raised in Bentonville. She received her pilot’s license in 1928 - signed by no less an aviation pioneer than Orville Wright. In 1936, she became the first female pilot to win the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race, as well as setting numerous air speed records. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick history lesson on the City of Bentonville. This article relies heavily on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. We invite you to visit their site, and all the links included herein as you continue to learn more about Bentonville and our history. 


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