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History of Bentonville, Arkansas

Bentonville, county seat of Benton County, is a rapidly growing community in the heart of Northwest Arkansas, on the banks of the White River, near the Missouri border. Without a doubt, the reason that most Americans have heard of Bentonville is due to the headquarters of Wal-Mart there. In 1950, Samuel Walton opened his Walton's 5 and 10 in Bentonville. The original store still exists, although as the Wal-Mart Visitor Center rather than an active store. In 2002, Wal-Mart became the world's largest corporation in terms of sales. Benton County was created in 1836. Both the county and Bentonville are named after Thomas Hart Benton, a U.S. Senator from Missouri. Bentonville was incorporated as a town in 1873 and as a second-class city in 1905, based on the growth in its population, which had reached 2,653. During the Civil War, the Battle of Pea Ridge was fought north of Bentonville and is credited with having saved Missouri for the Union. The National Park Service now operates Pea Ridge National Military Park. The first Bentonville school was a log cabin, built in 1841. The present Old High was built in 1928, and for nearly 20 years all Bentonville students in grades one through twelve attended the school. An opera house once stood in the middle of Bentonville, but it was torn down in 1962 and replaced with the Bank of Bentonville. Over the years, Bentonville has maintained the historic character of the town. There are about 72 historical buildings and homes, including the Peel House Mansion and Historical Gardens, within its city limits. Bentonville is served by Northwest Arkansas Community College, established in 1989. The main campus of John Brown University is located in nearby Siloam Springs. Bentonville's hospital is Bates Medical Center. Other hospitals include the Northwest Medical Center of Benton County in Bentonville and St. Mary Rogers Memorial Hospital in the town of Rogers, about 10 miles away.