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LE Petit JEAN ( Arkansas 1st State Park)
The History of Le Petit Jean Mountain can be be told years before its namesake, and even before the native American Cherokee tribe settled there between 1832 and 1839, but all that is for another article for another time. This is a brief article on how and why the name came to be.
A Refusal and Exploration
It begins over 200-years-ago with a woman named, Adrienne Domont, and a young French Nobleman, they called Chavet. They were in love in their young years and inseparable to no end for their passion for one another drove deep in their hearts.
One day, however, Adrienne learned of Chavet's journey to the new world, and asked to marry right away so she could travel with him, but he refused because it was to dangerous and unknown, but if he saw favor in it he would return for her and then merry as Adrienne requested.
Unfortunately Chavet's refusal didn't go over well with Adrienne, and that is the pivot - point from why to how?
Adrienne decided to dress as a cabin-boy and applied for a position on Chavet's ship, and called herself Jean. She disguised herself so good that not even Chavet himself recognized her, as the name Petit Jean. (A name the sailors gave her, which in French means, Little John) was adopted as her name to be known through out history.
The ships crew stayed all summer long with the natives that spotted the ship, as it sailed down the Mississippi River and down the Arkansas where it dropped anchor at the foot hills of the mountain that later in 1923 would become Arkansas first state park.
Unfortunately, the night before they were to leave, Petit Jean came down with a mysterious illness that eventually led to a coma, but before that, during her illness her true identity was discovered as Chavet's love from back in France, Adrienne Dumont. She pleaded for his forgiveness, and of course he did, and decided to honor her wishes to be buried on the mountain spot she loved more then any other over looking the river.
While still in the coma that winter the Indians made a stretcher made of deerskin and sticks, and then carried her body up to the mountain before her last breath was taken at sundown.
In Her Name A National Park is Born
It wasn't until the 1840's and 50's that English speaking Americans began to settle, and in the idea of a recreational area on the mountain became the talking point of turning it into a national park, and to let the legend of Le Petit Jean live on for us all to remember to set sail for what we always yearn.