Poinsett County, the thirty-ninth county created, was formed February 27, 1838.
It was named for Joel R. Poinsett from South Carolina. He was the Secretary of War under President Van Buren. Poinsett was also a scientist and a botanist who is said to have introduced the favorite Christmas flower to American horticulture. It was named "poinsettia" in his honor.
Poinsett County was formed from territory taken from the counties of Green and St. Francis. Later in 1859 Craighead County was created by taking much of the north part of the Poinsett. In 1862 Cross County was created by taking much of the south portion of the county.
The county site was named for General Simon Bolivar. In 1839 the first courthouse was built there. It was a two-story building made of hewed poplar logs. Bolivar was a typical frontier town with general stores, saloons, blacksmiths, hotels, shops, lawyers and doctor's offices. Bolivar also boasted one of the best horse racing tracks on Crowley's Ridge. The county site remained at Bolivar until the winter of 1856-57.
In the 1856 election, the citizens voted to move the county site somewhere between township 9 and 10. Benjamin Harris, Sr. donated land to have a new courthouse built and the site was moved to the western slopes of Crowley's Ridge three miles south of Bolivar. The new county town was christened Harrisburg in his honor.
A brick courthouse was built in there in 1858. This courthouse was 50 feet square and two stories high. The cost to build it was $8,800.00. The courthouse was at the center of business and society. The space in the courthouse was only needed part of the time for county business. Unused rooms functioned at various times as: a school, a church, real estate offices and even newspapers were published in the courthouse.
The interior of this brick courthouse burned in 1873 destroying all county records.
A boarding house and church served as a temporary courthouse for over a year until the structure was rebuilt by the same contractor - using the same walls. This time a vault was built to protect county records.
This courthouse was used until 1917 when it was totally destroyed by another fire. This time only one record book was destroyed.
The present courthouse was built on the same site in 1918 costing $200,000. It is one of the prettiest in the state of Arkansas and is registered as an historic landmark.
The courthouse building is constructed mainly of Bedford stone, although the large columns on the east and west entrances, as well as the other columns and accents, are sandstone. The tower clock has four faces and the tower-arches and brass trim accents the red tile roof.
The Courthouse is constantly undergoing renovations to the heating/air, electrical systems, roof, ect. to make it efficient to use. Its a lot of work, but it is well worth it to maintain the beauty of the building.
Read more at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program's Poinsett County page .