One of the first major developments accomplished by the Spanish explorers was the construction of the King’s Highway or El Camino Real as it was named in their language. This highway was a link betweenNew OrleansandSt. Louis. Today, the old King’s Highway is also U.S. Highway 61.
The land where Sikestonis today was first owned by Francis Paquette, a Frenchman. Later, in 1829, a family by the name Stallcup acquired the land. A gentleman by the name of John Sikes, who had married into the Stallcup family, gained control of the land and it is from his name that the name Sikestonwas given to the city that would form.
As with many communities in this region, the railroad would be the trigger for economic expansion. Mr. Sikes anticipated the completion of the Cairoand Fulton Railroad which would intersect the King’s Highway. This same rail line would make Sikestonand the surrounding area important during the Civil War for transportation of soldiers and supplies.
The economic expansion of the area would really accelerate after completion of a major land drainage project. Remember that this area was mostly swamp land. In the 1850s, work was started to drain the land so that it could be claimed for farming or other useful purposes. That first phase of the drainage project was completed in 1889. Work continued and two drainage ditches were finished in 1900 and in 1903 work was started on two more. This reclamation of land would form an area known as the Little River Drainage District and result in some of the most productive farmland in the country. After the land was fully drained, buildings and industry began to sprout making it a prosperous population center.