Ashdown was first known as Keller and later nicknamed Turkey Flat by earlier settlers. The city was born as a result of the construction of the Kansas City Railroad. William & Maloy Waddell originally owned the land that later became the incorporated town in 1892.
By 1904 Ashdown was a "boom town." The land was being developed rapidly. Although agriculture was the primary source of income, businesses were opening daily. There were a cotton seed oil mill, fertilizer works, sawmills, planing mills, handle factory, bottling works, brick plant, cotton gins, flour mill, motels, dry good, grocery and hardware stores, and a waterworks system by 1911.
Ashdown's first newspaper was the Ashdown Herald in 1892. It had been located in Richmond as the Little River News. The name of the paper was changed back to Little River News in 1898 and has continued through the years. Earlier publishers were R.P. West, O.T. and F.M. Graves, W.B. Coley, Sr. and W.B. Coley, Jr. Current publishers are Jim Williamson and Gerald Stripling.
Schools and churches were a very important part of the earliest development. A one-room building owned by Alex Bishop housed the first school in the community. The first indoor basketball court in the county was completed here in 1930.
Ashdown became the county seat in 1906 and constructed the present courthouse in 1907. The building is now on the historical registry. A new county jail was constructed in 1976. Other buildings comprising the complex are the courthouse annex and social services buildings. In 1958 a county-owned hospital, Little River Memorial Hospital was constructed; then, in 1963 the Little River Nursing Home was completed.
The biggest impact of the town came with the construction of the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Mill in the mid-1960's. Being one of the largest fine paper mills in the world, the "mill" has influenced the economy far and wide in the area. Nekoosa-Edwards was brought by Georgia Pacific in 1991. Domtar Industries of Canada purchase the mill from Georgia Pacific in 2001.