Woodruff County was formed in 1862, after Arkansas seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. It was formed out of land taken from St. Francis and Jackson counties. The county initially proposed by Robert Anthony (of Augusta) was “Mallory County” to honor the St. Francis County representative in the legislature. The permanent name selected, however, was Woodruff County. It was named in honor of William E. Woodruff, editor of the first paper published in Arkansas, the Arkansas Gazette, first published at Arkansas Post, in 1819. He was one of the most distinguished pioneers of the State, and died in Little Rock, at a very advanced age.
The organization of the county was not fully completed until 1865, after the war between the states ended. The first temporary county seat was Cotton Plant, and the first permanent county seat was Augusta. The first courthouse erected at Augusta was a one-story frame building, on the west side of second street and the second courthouse was a residence with two rooms (frame), and stood on the northwest corner. It was purchased by the county, but used only a short time, until the present courthouse was occupied. The latter house was built before the Civil War, by Thomas Hough, for a residence, and was used as such by his family, through the war and later. On April 21, 1870, Mr. Hough for the consideration of 18,000.00 conveyed the realty on which this house stands, consisting of a full block of ground, according to the plat of that part of town, to the county for a courthouse and public square. The building is a large, two-story brick structure, and though built for a residence, it answers very well for a courthouse. It stands in the northern suburbs of the town. Soon after this property was purchased, a stone jail was erected on the southeast corner of the square, and was afterward set on fire by prisoners and destroyed. The present jail is in a brick building which was built in 1973, the Woodruff County Annex Building consists of county offices and the jail is under the south end of the building.
Many early travelers entered the area on the White River, which forms most of the county’s western border and is known for year-round floating and fishing. The Cache River (French for “Hidden” River) flows through the Rex Hancock Black Swamp Wildlife Management Area in the center of the county and is nationally known for duck hunting. The Cache River Natural Area includes some of the state’s finest river swamp and bottomland hardwood forests, including some of its largest, most magnificent bald cypress and tupelo trees and majestic, record-size oak. Today Woodruff County is known for its cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat, and other farm commodities, and some industries. The territory of Woodruff County was originally an unbroken forest of timber, large and dense. The varieties of timber are white, red, black, and overcup, bur and swamp oak, gum, ash, walnut and hickory. A number of sawmills and extensive factories were in operation.
Agriculture, horticulture and the raising of livestock are the principal resources and will be permanent. The soil is well adapted to the growing of cotton, corn, oats, millet, clover, the tame grasses, and all kinds of vegetables.