De Witt, Arkansas

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De Witt, Arkansas
—  City  —
Location in Arkansas County and the state of Arkansas
Coordinates: 34°17′29″N 91°20′13″W / 34.29139°N 91.33694°W / 34.29139; -91.33694Coordinates: 34°17′29″N 91°20′13″W / 34.29139°N 91.33694°W / 34.29139; -91.33694
CountryUnited States
StateArkansas
CountyArkansas
Area
 • Total2.6 sq mi (6.7 km2)
 • Land2.6 sq mi (6.7 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation190 ft (58 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total3,292
 • Density1,300/sq mi (490/km2)
Time zoneCentral (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code72042
Area code(s)870
FIPS code05-18790
GNIS feature ID0048411
 
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De Witt, Arkansas
—  City  —
Location in Arkansas County and the state of Arkansas
Coordinates: 34°17′29″N 91°20′13″W / 34.29139°N 91.33694°W / 34.29139; -91.33694Coordinates: 34°17′29″N 91°20′13″W / 34.29139°N 91.33694°W / 34.29139; -91.33694
CountryUnited States
StateArkansas
CountyArkansas
Area
 • Total2.6 sq mi (6.7 km2)
 • Land2.6 sq mi (6.7 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation190 ft (58 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total3,292
 • Density1,300/sq mi (490/km2)
Time zoneCentral (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code72042
Area code(s)870
FIPS code05-18790
GNIS feature ID0048411

De Witt (or DeWitt) is a city in Arkansas County, Arkansas, United States, which also serves as the county seat of the county's southern district. The population was 3,292 at the 2010 census.[1]

Contents

History

The territorial capital of Arkansas was moved from Arkansas Post to Little Rock in 1821. However, Arkansas Post remained the Arkansas County seat. In a few years, as the result of the opening of large plantations along the Arkansas and White Rivers, the towns of Old Auburn and St. Charles became larger than Arkansas Post, which was located in the extreme southern end of the county.

Jealousy arose between these towns. St. Charles and Old Auburn, assisted by Napoleon at the mouths of the Arkansas and White Rivers, forced an election for the purpose of changing the location of the Arkansas County seat. At this election, held in 1852, these towns won over Arkansas Post, and Col. Charles W. Belknap of St. Charles and Leroy Montgomery of Keathon were appointed to select the new county seat. County Surveyor Adam McCool was elected to assist them. They selected the present site of DeWitt which is within one half mile of the geographical center of the county.

After selecting the town site, the question of naming it was discussed. Since nothing could be decided, Belknap, Montgomery, and McCool each wrote a name on a slip of paper. They then dropped the names in a hat and pulled them out. What was selected was DeWitt, McCool's choice. McCool was a great admirer of DeWitt Clinton of New York. Since there was another town named Clinton, he selected DeWitt.

Col. Belknap was later instructed by the county court to build a jail and a courthouse. He had a log courthouse erected, consisting of three buildings: one for the courtroom, another for the Clerk and Sheriff's offices, and the third for a jury room.

In 1861, the Quorum Court made provisions for the construction of a brick courthouse and appointed Col. W. H. Halliburton commissioner to secure plans and bids for its construction. He resigned before much was done, and James M. Barker was named his successor.

Geography

De Witt is located at 34°17′29″N 91°20′13″W / 34.29139°N 91.33694°W / 34.29139; -91.33694 (34.291477, -91.336983)[2].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2), all land.

Demographics

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 3,552 people, 1,419 households, and 977 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,371.7 people per square mile (529.5/km²). There were 1,552 housing units at an average density of 599.4 per square mile (231.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.93% White, 20.92% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.20% from other races, and 0.56% from two or more races. 0.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 1,419 households out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 18.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.1% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $2,545, and the median income for a family was $6,940. Males had a median income of $5,600 versus $9,052 for females. The per capita income for the city was $3,408. About 21.5% of families and 25.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.3% of those under age 18 and 21.7% of those age 65 or over.

Education

De Witt is the center of the Dewitt School District and is home to DeWitt High School. Their mascot is the Dragons, and their school colors are blue and gold.

Media

The City of DeWitt has one local newspaper, the DeWitt Era Enterprise. It is the latest product in the long history of newspapers in the town. Although the newspaper has been known under its current name for 74 years, its direct antecedents go back to 1882, and its indirect one to 1858, only five years after the town itself began.

In all, 17 different newspapers have served the town or city of DeWitt. For one reason or another, they all eventually ceased publications, some after only a few issues. The DeWitt New Era was the first to break the jinx of short-lived publications. Charles H. Spiller, who headed the operation until 1898, founded it in 1882. Then John M. Landis, a veteran newspaperman who had established a paper in Gillett, moved to DeWitt and acquired the name of the New Era.

Landis continued to edit and publish this paper for a number of years. Robert A. Barry, another Arkansas veteran editor, was its editor for several years. He was very successful and was succeeded as its publisher by a Mr. Crockett of Colorado.

The second half of the DeWitt Era Enterprise got its start 34 years after the New Era. Perlie Roberts founded the DeWitt Enterprise in 1916. C. J. Anderson conducted it until his death. Then W. W. White became its publisher and J. M. Henderson was one of its editors. Henderson later became owner of the newspaper.

A town the size of DeWitt was not really big enough to support two competing newspapers, and when the New Era's editor died, Henderson bought it and merged the two papers in 1929. Unlike previous winners of newspaper wars, he didn't want the New Era's history to die, so he combined the two papers into the DeWitt Era Enterprise.

Henderson published the newspaper until shortly after World War Two, when he sold it to M. D. Braswell, who had been working for the paper since 1940. Braswell operated the Era Enterprise for three decades before selling it to his sons James and Bill, who had grown up working for their father.

During the Braswells' tenure the technology used in producing newspapers underwent great change. In 1966, the newspaper switched to an offset press. That meant the paper would be printed with aluminum plates that weigh only a few ounces rather than lead forms that topped the scales at 200 pounds. Pictures became much clearer after the switch.

Type for the newspaper was set on computerized phototypesetters (and later computers). Another big change was that the newspaper got a new home, moving into the building formerly occupied by Young's Department Store in 1981.

In 1997, the Braswells sold the DeWitt Era Enterprise to newspaper veteran Frank Scott and his wife, Christina Verderosa.

References

External links