Lee County was formed on April 17, 1873, from parts of Crittenden, Monroe, Phillips and St. Francis counties. The county was named for General Robert E. Lee. The county seat is Marianna. The landscape of Lee County is rolling hills in the northern tip and rich delta flat farmland in the center. Crowley's Ridge runs through the northern tip. The Mississippi River makes up the eastern border of the county, and half of the St. Francis National Forest, the smallest forest in the nation, is situated in the southeastern section with excellent hunting and fishing. Altogether Lee County has 25 lakes and 320 miles of manmade shoreline. The Louisiana Purchase State Park consists of 37.5 acres of headwater swamp. The John Patterson Memorial in Marianna marks the birthplace of the first non-native American born west of the Mississippi. His favorite riddle: "I was born in a kingdom (Spain), raised in an empire (France), attained manhood in a territory (Arkansas), and now am a citizen of a state, and have never been 100 miles from where I was born." The economy is mainly agriculture. Rich cotton and other typical delta crops are grown here. The Crowley's Ridge area grows fruit crops and pecan trees. Processing agricultural products and light manufacturing has helped the economy.
In the southwest corner of Lee County you can find a stone marker that designates the crossing lines of the "Base Line" and "Fifth Principal Meridian", the point established by the crossing of these two lines was the initial point from which all township and section lines of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota were built. This point is also the point from which measurements of land acquired by the Louisiana Purchase were officially made, accordingly points clear up into Montana and Minnesota are figured from this precise point.