“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)

Those who have come before

Those who have come before Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
1. Those who have come before Marker
Inscription. The Delta represents a “melting pot” of diverse cultures. And most of them got here by canoe. Canoeing is the oldest form of water transportation on the Mississippi River-at least 2,000 years old! In the Quapaw tribal history, they arrived form the Ohio River Valley in canoes-that’s why the tribe became known as “The Downstream People.”

Native Americans
American Indians were among the first people to call this area home. The earliest date back to 9,500 B. C. Numerous Indian communities continued to live off these lands, until the early 1800s. The Cherokee, Osage, Quapaw, Tunica and Koroa Indians are among the most well-known area tribes.

European explorers
Hernando DeSoto was the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River. When he got to the river he was met by an armada of American Indians, 2,500 strong.-all in dugout canoes.

Exploration of the Mississippi River
The Frenchmen Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet traveled down the Mississippi as far as the Arkansas River in 1673. Another French explorer, Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, sailed down the river to its delta in 1682. When he got there, La Salle claimed the entire Mississippi region for France.

Immigrants in the Arkansas Delta
Over the years,

Those who have come before Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
2. Those who have come before Marker
immigrants came to eastern Arkansas for many reasons. They relied heavily on the Mississippi River to get here and then later for work. Communities often emerged along the banks of the river, which provided a steady source of food and water. People who help write chapters in the Delta’s remarkable story: Irish, German, Swiss, Italian, Slovakian, Greek, Lebanese, Chinese, French, African Americans, Lydian

Fighting for control
The river’s coveted resources have sometimes been a source of contention. During the Civil War, for example, armies of the Confederate and Union States fought for control of the river. Helena was occupied by the Union Army from 1862-1865 and the Battle of Helena was fought on July 4, 1863, (the same day as Gettysburg and Vicksburg). There are 27 Civil War interpretive sites in Helena. For more information, visit the Delta Cultural Center or go to

Last stop for the Sultana
In April 1865, with the Civil War over, Union prisoners of war were sent north from Vicksburg The Sultana, overloaded with passengers and suffering from a boiler crack, stopped briefly at Helena. This photo became the last record of the Sultana. The next day an explosion tore the steamboat apart and, within minutes, the entire boat was in flames.
Location. 34° 31.467′ N, 90° 35.06′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is on Elm Street. Touch for map. Marker is located on boardwalk in Helena River Park. Marker is in this post office area: Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Explore our Top Outdoor Destinations (here, next to this marker); The Mississippi River Defines Helena (here, next to this marker); River Birds (here, next to this marker); The River Connects communities (here, next to this marker); The Helena Bridge (here, next to this marker); Does the River ever flood? (here, next to this marker); The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Helena (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); KFFA 1360 Helena (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
Also see . . .  A Time line of Arkansas's First People. De Soto dies in present-day Arkansas. His two-year expedition across the region introduced catastrophic diseases and provoked conflicts with the native peoples. It would be 131 years before another European explorer would venture to the area, but the written records de Soto and his company left behind would end the prehistoric and begin the historic era in Arkansas. (Submitted on September 1, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa.) 
Categories. DisastersExplorationNative AmericansWar, US Civil

Credits. This page was last revised on September 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 1, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 91 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 1, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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