We begin with the origin of the name. The land where Argenta sits was once owned by mining magnate Thomas Newton, and the area was named for the silver mines, which were at the old Kellogg Diggins on what is now Mine Road off Kellogg Acres Road, north of the actual Argenta neighborhood. Newton’s heirs named the property, which was originally platted in 1866, and the mines were the beginning of a bit of an economic boon to the area. Unfortunately, the mines flooded in the 1920’s and operations ceased, but not until 70 short tons of silver-lead concentrates were mined at the site, between 1840 and 1926.
It’s also a little known fact that before the coming of the railroads in the 1860’s, Argenta was little more than a sparsely-populated place on the north shore of the Arkansas river, directly across from Little Rock, and it operated primarily as a ferry crossing. There were three ferry businesses operated in the area, including one at the end of what is now Magnolia Street near the Old Junction Bridge across from the “little rock” and one at the end of Locust Street across from Little Rock’s Ferry Street. It all began as a terminal for overland and river traffic. Argenta was also a major junction along the Trail of Tears during the Indian Removal of the 1830s and 1840s.
It wasn’t until 1890 that Argenta was annexed by the City of Little Rock, without annexation, and to the vexation of many Argenta and North Little Rock businessmen. Although several attempts were made to overturn the annexation, none were successful.
However, in 1902, everything changed. That year North Little Rock had expanded its boundaries to include a 12 square-block area from 15th Street on the south to modern-day Pershing Boulevard on the north, and from Pike Avenue on the west to Olive Street on the east. NLR’s next move came during the legislative session of 1903 with the passage of the “Hoxie-Walnut” Ridge bill. The ruse was that the bill apparently concerned only a proposed merger of Hoxie and Walnut Ridge in Lawrence County. The Arkansas Supreme Court held on February 6, 1904, allowed any city or town within a mile of another one to annex all or part of the other, provided voters in the two territories approved. Arkansas Governor Jeff Davis signed the bill on March 16, 1903. By May of 1903, the required number of names had been gathered on petitions, which they presented to the North Little Rock Town Council on May 11, calling for the annexation of Argenta to North Little Rock. The council set an annexation election on July 21. Little Rock unsuccessfully sued to try to stop the election, but the Supreme Court refused to halt it.
From there it became a year-long battle between Little Rock, North Little Rock and those who wanted to give Argenta autonomy as its own city. In the end, Argenta won the fight, and the first Mayor was William Faucette, a North Little Rock businessman and entrepreneur who spearheaded the original efforts to incorporate Argenta by ingeniously taking advantage of the wording in the obscure “Hoxie-Walnut Ridge” bill. Faucette was also instrumental in negotiating with Little Rock and North Little Rock through the details of Argenta’s incorporation.