The community of Sheridan is somewhat a rarity in that it is a Southern town named for a Union general -- General Phillip Sheridan. The city’s history begins with the creation of Grant County, which was formed in 1869 from parts of Jefferson, Hot Spring and Saline counties. It was named for the newly elected president and former Union general, Ulysses S. Grant to placate the Reconstruction government in Arkansas at the time. White settlers began in the region around 1841 although the area had been popular with hunters and trappers long before that.
According to Ernie Deane’s Arkansas Place Names, after the county was formed, local businessman A.N. Harris donated a plot of land to for the location of the new town. The offer was accepted and the community was named after Sheridan, one of Grant’s more efficient generals during the Civil War.
A portion of the Civil War in Arkansas took place approximately 10 miles southwest of Sheridan at Jenkins’ Ferry on the Saline River. This was the final battle in the Red River Campaign, the Confederacy’s last stand in the state. The defeat of the Southerners at the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry allowed Federal troops to escape and regroup at Little Rock. Jenkins’ Ferry State Park, along with Poison Spring and Marks’ Mill State Parks, comprise the Red River Campaign National Historic Landmark. The state park at Jenkins’ Ferry features interpretive exhibits, picnic sites, a pavilion (no electricity), swimming area and a launch ramp on the Saline River.
Timber has long played an important role in the Sheridan economy with towering pines found throughout the region. This heritage is honored the first weekend of October with the annual Timberfest celebration. Highlight of the event is the Arkansas State Lumberjack Competition which has received national recognition.
Downtown is centered by the historic court house square featuring to the classic brick county court house, has restored buildings and older homes. The Grant County Museum and Heritage Square preserves and interprets the history of the county. It features an extensive collection of memorabilia, records and structures situated on five acres near the heart of downtown. The forestry industry is represented by a 1934 Civilian Conservation Corps fire tower on the museum grounds and models of early, stream-powered timber mills. Representation of everyday life is found in a handmade wooden bicycle from the 1890s, a doll collection, the county’s first television set and the initial town fire truck from 1939.
Adjacent to the museum, buildings contained in the square include the 1935 Toler Chapel Methodist Church, including its original pews, piano and wood stove; the Town House, a 1904 late Victorian dwelling with furnishings from the 1920s; the Mill Town Cafe, a Depression-era cafe furnished as it appeared in the 1940s and '50s; and the McCool House, a dog-trot home circa 1872. Also on display in the square are old farm implements, a variety of farm outbuildings and the remains of a whiskey still. The museum also has archives containing more than 2,000 historic photographs and genealogical records which are popular for ancestry research.
The scenic Saline River flows through portions of the county and is a popular float and fishing stream. Dense forests line the banks and wildlife can be spotted along the way. Various types of bass, Arkansas walleye, channel catfish and panfish are waiting for anglers.
Sheridan is 30 miles south of Little Rock via U.S. 167.