Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
I'm Nero. Ruff! That's what winter was in 1542: rough!
November is time to start thinking about winter, and that's what the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto did in November of 1541. He paused in his exploring to settle in what is now Union County, Arkansas, to wait out the cold weather with his band of men. This was before the founding of Jamestown, considered this country's first settlement...but DeSoto's settlement didn't last. In March, things were so bad that everyone left for Florida to send to Cuba for help.
No Europeans returned to the area until two French explorers landed in the Algonquin village of Arkansas in 1673. In fact, "Arkansas" is the French spelling of a Native American name that sounds like "Akansa." That's why most people don't pronounce it like "Kansas." (I always wondered about that!)
Thomas Jefferson bought the area from France in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Arkansas became its own territory in 1819, after being part of the Louisiana Territory and then the Missouri Territory, and started publishing its first newspaper, the Arkansas Gazette, in November of that year. Arkansas became the 25th state in 1836.
I like the picture on the Arkansas quarter. It makes a nice symbol of the richness of the natural resources of "the natural state." Visitors to Arkansas can hunt for fish, ducks, and even diamonds! ...Not rice, I guess...but Arkansas grows lots of it anyway!
Arkansas gets my vote as a diamond in the ruff!