The Jacksonville - Gray township area was established in the winter of 1820-21 at the juncture of two important cross roads. The Southwest Trail ran north and south, and the Memphis-Military Road ran east and west. Stagecoaches made their appearance soon after these roads were made passable. This early community boasted a tavern, a stagecoach stop and a school.
A railroad line pushed through the small community in 1870 on the property of Nicholas W. Jackson, a depot was built, and ‘Jacksonville’ officially became a town. The population soon soared to 200 and stayed that size until an exceedingly large Ordnance Plant was built during World War II. The footprint of this plant included much of present day Jacksonville and employed upwards of 20,000 people.
With the ending of the war, the Ordnance Plant closed, leading the city fathers to seek a replacement industry. The Department of Defense needed a site for an air force base, so the community purchased the necessary land and offered it as enticement to bring the base to Jacksonville. Little Rock Air Force Base became operational in 1955 and Jacksonville quickly became the fastest growing community in the state. The city continues to be a convenient hometown with millions of dollars invested annually in new projects.