The pioneer settlement of Evansville (in western Washington County) was named for Capt. Lewis Evans, a local storekeeper, miller, postmaster, and the first county sheriff.
In 1827, John Conner and several families left Illinois bound for Arkansas. When they reached present-day Evansville, they found several Anglo families living there. At that time, the region was officially Cherokee land. Soldiers from Fort Gibson in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) were sent to evict the white squatters, but many of them ignored the order to leave. The Treaty of 1828 removed the Cherokees to what is now northeastern Oklahoma, legally opening this section of Washington County for settlement. Evansville soon became a center of trade.
Both the Benge and Bell routes of the Trail of Tears passed through Evansville. A Trail of Tears interpretive marker is located at the intersection of Arkansas highways 156 and 59
Early in the Civil War, Evansville was occupied by Gen. Stand Watie’s Cherokee Confederate troops.