Dyess Colony was founded in 1934. The town was named after W. R. Dyess, the first WPA (Works Progress Administrator) in Arkansas.
Dyess started out as an agricultural cooperative project as part of the Roosevelt administration's Depression-era New Deal projects. The goal of the administration was to give poor farm families a chance to make a fresh start with homes and land that they could work towards owning.
Dyess Colony consisted of 15,144 acres located in the southern portion of Mississippi County, Arkansas. The town grew to a couple thousand residents and stayed within that range for a couple of decades. The businesses and public services were cooperatively owned and operated by the community. The original community included a school, hospital, cotton gin, and various service facilities.