Founded in 1823, Chicot County named
Vilemont as its first county seat. Vilemont was located near the
mouth of Little Boggy Bayou. Southern boundary lines of the newly
established county seat were determined by the banks of the
Mississippi River. Many pioneers, traveling by pole rafts on the
river, made the wild, wet and swampy wetlands of extreme southern
Arkansas their new home.
Mail, supplies and merchandise came by way of
river packet boats to Vilemont. People came from as far away as 60
miles in to town to pick up items needed. Vilemont was the
center of activity for Chicot County, but not all the activity was
of a good nature.
Vilemont was a rough and tumble town. River
boatmen, gamblers, thieves and even murderers were among the nearly
500 people who made up the population in the early 1840's.
The only two county officials, Sheriff
William B. Patton and County Coroner Richard Latting, were kept
busy due to the violent and often deadly crimes that occurred in
Chicot County. Crime was so bad that before any other county
buildings were constructed, the county jail was built.
As if in
judgment of the corruption in the
town of Vilemont, the Mighty Mississippi began to eat away at the
banks of the county seat. In 1847, all that remained of Chicot
County's first seat of government, crumbled and fell into the
powerful rushing waters of the Mississippi. Vilemont was no
In that same year, Columbia was named as the
new county seat. Things went well for several years, until once
again the Mississippi River again claimed its second county seat.
In 1885, the county courthouse fell into the Mississippi
County officials were a little nervous now
and decided to move the new county seat inland about 15 miles to a
place called Masona. Masona sat on the Bayou Mason. Although the
threat of losing the town to the river was no longer a problem,
things didn't fare well in Masona. It was too far away from the
river activity. It was then decided to make Lake Village the
official and permanent seat of Chicot County.