The town of Marmaduke was named for Confederate Major General John Sappington Marmaduke, who later served as Governor of Missouri. Marmaduke was said to have established a camp for his soldiers near the site of the present town. The Texas and St. Louis Railroad built through the area in 1882.
Marmaduke was incorporated on August 2, 1909, and had expanded to a fair-sized town by 1914 with two drugstores, three banks, three restaurants, a Methodist and Baptist church, two barber shops, a hotel, a boarding house, and two "dime stores". The primary employers at the time were a sawmill, a lumber mill, a stave mill, and large and cut timber distributors.
Current industry included the Anchor plastics company and the American Railcar Company.
The community was severely damaged by a severe tornado on April 2, 2006. At least half of the town was reported to have been destroyed or even flattened, and nearly every structure received some degree of damage. No one was killed in Marmaduke, but at least 50 people were injured - some seriously. In 2009 a major ice storm came across the northern part of Arkansas causing the village to lose electricity for a few weeks as well as other regions. Since then the town has almost fully recovered.