Okie Road Trip 2019: The Sooner the Better at Norman, Okla.’s Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery, Part II

I’m back at the IOOF Cemetery in Norman, Okla. to share more stories behind the stones.

In my previous post, I mentioned that there are several Woodmen of the World (WOW) tree monuments at this cemetery. I saw far more of those than any IOOF-marked graves. During a certain span of years, WOW members could receive a marker if they paid an additional rider to their insurance policy. I don’t think the IOOF was offering such a sweet deal.

A Woodman of the World

One of the first “trees” I noticed was for Thomas Jefferson (T.J.) Wall, who was only 30 when he died in 1900. Born in 1870 in Missouri, T.J. married Katherine Grotts in 1894. Their first son, Charles, was born in 1897. Second son, Jesse, was born on Sept. 11, 1900.

Woodmen of the World provided the tree monument for Thomas J. Wall in 1900.

T.J. died on Nov. 1, 1900. His obituary tells us that his cause of death was pneumonia and that he was a fairly recent but active member of WOW. While I still find it puzzling that newspapers included such information at the time, I wasn’t surprised to see that his obit included the fact that he carried a $1,000 life insurance policy with WOW.

The Norman Democrat Topic published T.J. Wall’s obituary on Nov. 23, 1900.

Why did newspapers publish such details? My theory is that those concerned about the welfare of Thomas’ widow and two young boys, one only a few months old, would want to know. However, it truly did not need to be made public and it makes me cringe reading some of these old obituaries that mention it.

Bootleggers and Murder

I was not expecting to uncover the story I found when I started doing research on the next “tree” I found for Grover Cleveland Fulkerson. When I looked him up on Newspapers.com, I found headlines describing the young Cleveland County (Okla.) undersheriff’s murder at the hands of bootleggers on Aug. 24, 1917.

The story behind Fulkerson’s murder is complex and the trial coverage was extensive. The short version is that while conducting a traffic stop two miles from Norman, he encountered Charles Holden and John Jay. The two men had no intention of agreesng to a search, so Fulkerson jumped on the running board and reached in to turn off the car. Fulkerson attempted to subdue Holden, striking him. In the process, Fulkerson’s gun fell on the floor. Holden picked it up and allegedly shot Fulkerson in the stomach.

This is the best photo I could find of Grover C. Fulkerson.

Bleeding, Fulkerson pleaded to be taken back to Norman so he could be treated for his wound, but the pair waited an hour before doing so. Fulkerson was able to make a statement about what had happened that day before succumbing to his wounds while being taken on a train to Oklahoma City for further treatment following surgery.

Police officer Grover C. Cleveland was murdered by bootlegger Charles Holden in 1917.

Both Holden and Jay were arrested and charged with Cleveland’s murder. Holden went on trial and was found guilty of manslaughter, receiving a four-year sentence. However, he was released on a $20,000 bond pending his appeal. Only a few days later, Holden hot and killed Deputy James Coffee of the Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Department (Texas) when he stopped him for running liquor out of his county and across the Oklahoma border.

Holden was convicted of Deputy Coffee’s murder and sentenced to 99 years. To my dismay, I learned that his sentence was later reduced to 12 years and he was released in 1929. Texas authorities failed to tell Oklahoma authorities he had been released. Holden was arrested several days later in Sapula, Okla. and sent to Mcallister Penitentiary to serve his four years for Fulkerson’s murder. I believe John Jay was acquitted at the first trial with Holden. He was not involved in the Coffee murder.

A newspaper account of Grover C. Cleveland’s funeral.

Grover married Mamie Smalley in 1911 before he became a policeman. They had a son and a daughter. Sadly, the couple had just lost a son, Grover C. Fulkerson, Jr., when he died at birth on July 8, 1917. Mamie remarried in 1922 to Ben Harris and they had a daughter together in 1924.

Officer Fulkerson’s death has not been forgotten in Norman and anyone visiting the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office can see his picture on the wall. In 2015, a wall of honor was created for Norman officers who died in the line of duty and Grover is one of the three honored.

Deputy Kyle Jeney hangs a picture of Deputy Grover Fulkerson on the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office during a dedication ceremony on Apr. 2, 2015. (Photo Source: Kyle Phillips, Norman Transcript)

Memorial to Lives Lost

Finally, I wanted to include a memorial that I found while walking around the cemetery. It has 39 names on one side of it. On the other is this quote with no context of any kind to explain it.

What exactly happened on April 13, 1918?

I learned that on April 13, 1918, 40 patients died in a fire at the Oklahoma State Hospital, now known as Griffin Memorial Hospital. It was a mental institution. All but two of the victims were burned beyond recognition. The dead were buried in a mass unmarked grave. Apparently, until 2015, nobody exactly knew where that mass grave was located. But the suspected cemetery was the IOOF Cemetery.

The hospital staff first talked with the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey (OAS) at Oklahoma University in 2010 to search the suspected burial site at the IOOF Cemetery in Norman. But the technology for such a task was unavailable until 2015. OAS research faculty member Scott Hammerstedt said the equipment allowed them to see underground and confirm that the imaging shows the dirt was disrupted all those years before.

Headline from the Lehigh (Okla.) News, April 18, 1918.

The grave was not excavated to prove 100 percent that the bodies were there but evidence strongly indicates they are. Newspaper articles I found from that era say they were buried at the “Norman cemetery” and the IOOF Cemetery is the logical one to conclude that it is.

The monument I saw was unveiled on April 13, 2015 at the IOOF Cemetery in Norman, 97 years to the day of the fire. This article detailing the memorial held that day also talks about the fire, the victims, and their descendants. From what I read, 40 bodies were recovered and only one was claimed by the family. Ona Havill was identified by his brother, Charlie, and he was buried in Norman’s Independence Cemetery with family.

It was a cold, windy day and few spectators came to the graveside on Sunday, April 14, 1918. This article from the Norman Transcript provides more information. At that time, it was believed that 37 bodies were buried but 39 names are on the memorial.

Article in the Norman Transcript from April 15, 1918.

On the other side of the memorial are the names of the victims buried in the mass grave.

This marker lists the names of 39 patients who lost their lives in a fire at Oklahoma State Hospital.

Perhaps it’s wrong of me to ask questions but I have them. Why doesn’t this memorial say where the fire took place? Does the stigma of mental illness still hover so strongly that saying it was at a mental institution simply not desirable? I wonder how many people who have come across this memorial walked away scratching their head in confusion like I did.

It wasn’t just “a fire”. It was a tragedy that took the lives of a number of people who were already living on the fringes of society. I admit that I’m glad there is a memorial for these poor souls who died in an era when mental illness was little understood and often inadequately treated.

It was time to start heading for Sarah’s hometown of Lawton. But first we made two stops just north of Lawton at Elgin Memorial Cemetery and Old Elgin Cemetery.

I’ll see you there.

Princess Toadstrool (from the Super Mario Bros. video game) adorns the grave marker of Forest Sharp, who died at age 28 in 2011.

Okie Road Trip 2019: The Sooner the Better at Norman, Okla.’s Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, Part I

After I picked up Sarah at the Clinton Library, we headed to Fort Smith for the night. The next morning, we crossed the border into Oklahoma. If you are keeping score , we’d visited six cemeteries so far in three states (Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas).

This was not my first visit to the Sooner State. That was in the late 1990s when I went with Sarah to her childhood home in Lawton to visit her parents. I loved visiting Oklahoma then and again in 2019. There’s no other state like it and the people there are wonderful.

Remembering a Tragedy

During that first visit, the Oklahoma National Memorial Museum had not yet been completed. It is devoted to telling the story of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 and memorializing the estimated 168 lives that were lost that day. Sarah had already visited it so I asked if she would drop me off there while she visited some family nearby.

There are no bodies buried on the grounds of the museum. But it is a poignant memorial to those who died in what was at that time the worst act of terrorism on American soil. I felt compelled to go there to pay my respects. The museum does a respectful, thorough job of sharing the story of that day and its aftermath.

Each chair represents a life lost due to the April 19, 1995 bombing.

Outside the museum, there are 168 chairs that represent those killed on April 19, 1995. They stand in nine rows, each representing a floor of the Federal Building where the field is now located. Each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children who died.

The time of 9:03 a.m. represents when the healing began after the bombing.

There are two “Gates of Time” on each end of the reflecting pool in the middle of the chairs. According to the museum’s web site:

These monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 AM – and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The 9:01 Gate represents the innocence before the attack. The 9:03 Gate symbolizes the moment healing began.

BBQ and Cemeteries

After Sarah picked me up, we headed for Van’s Pig Stand in Norman, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Van’s is a local chain with five locations. I’m always eager to try new barbecue places and Van’s did not disappoint. I think I love visiting barbecue joints as much as I do cemeteries! I’m not loyal to any one protein. I enjoy chowing down on pork, beef, turkey, chicken, etc. You smoke it, I’ll eat it. Fortunately, Sarah didn’t mind enabling my addiction.

Van’s Pig Stand is worth a stop in Norman, Okla.

Sarah had some other kin to visit in Norman, so I asked her to drop me off at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Memory Garden Cemetery located there. I’ve written about the IOOF before but I’ve never visited a cemetery that was owned/sponsored by them. It’s a fraternal organization with deep roots that still exists today, albeit with a much smaller membership.

To refresh your memory about their history, here’s a link to the IOOF web site.

Norman’s IOOF Cemetery opened in 1891.

The IOOF Cemetery in Norman is large and includes Saint Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery, located in the middle of it. I didn’t realize when I was walking around that I was photographing graves of both without knowing who belonged where at the time.

According to Find a Grave, there are more than 16,000 memorials recorded for the IOOF Cemetery. According to the sign, it opened on Sept. 25, 1891. Norman’s first graveyard was located on public school property on the southwest corner of Main Street and Berry Road. When the IOOF cemetery opened in 1891, most (but not all) of the graves were moved there.

It remains an active cemetery. You don’t have to be an IOOF member or related one to purchase a plot there. The Norman IOOF chapter operates it. There wasn’t much information online about it. I don’t know exactly when Saint Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery opened but it is much smaller with about 1,800 burials recorded on Find a Grave.

Death of an Oil Man

One of the more curious looking structures I saw that day was this mausoleum for Melvin L. Howarth, his wife, Maybel Fox Howarth, and their daughter, Myrtle Howarth Welch. It’s definitely rustic, with what looks to be block construction, and could use some restoration work. But it made me interested enough to see who Melvin was, and what his life in Norman had been like.

The Howarth Mausoleum is more rustic than most I’ve seen.

Born in the early 1860s in Chippewa, Mich., Melvin Leroy Howarth was the son of farmer George Washington Howarth and Sophronia Godfrey Howarth. In 1886, he wed Maybel Fox in Riley, Kans. They moved to the Norman area and began farming there.

The Howarths prospered in Norman. I found an article detailing how Melvin was instrumental in bringing a dependable water system to Norman in 1902. Son Floyd was born in 1888 in Kansas, while son Carl was born in 1896, and daughter Myrtle was born in 1898 in Oklahoma.

Maybel died on Jan. 11, 1900 at age 37, a few days after giving birth to daughter Pearl. Floyd was 13, but the other children were so young. Carl, Pearl, and Myrtle went to live with their Aunt Junia (Maybel’s sister) in Los Angeles, Calif. Carl later returned to live with his father. Melvin got into the oil drilling business, using the skills he used to find water in Norman. It was that work that would end up taking his life.

On Feb. 12, 1917, Melvin was helping build an oil well in Oklahoma City for Packington & Co. when tragedy struck. According to newspaper accounts, he was up on the derrick oiling the machinery when part of his jacket got caught in the cogs. Melvin was horribly injured before it could be shut down. He died as a result at the age of 54 and is interred with Maybel in the mausoleum.

Melvin’s obituary noted that he was a Mason and a member of Woodmen of the World (WOW). I’m not entirely sure he was an IOOF member. The WOW involvement would explain the tree-shaped monument beside the mausoleum. There are a LOT of WOW markers at this cemetery.

Melvin Howarth also belonged to the Woodmen of the World, who provided this tree-shaped monument.

“Asleep in Jesus”

Daughter Myrtle married tinner Edward Welch on Christmas Eve 1918 and the couple settled in Tulsa. Floyd married in 1916 and was living there, too. Edward died in 1929 at age 33. Carl, who was wounded in World War I, died in 1926 at age 30 in Sawtelle, Calif. Floyd died in 1961 at age 73 and is buried in Glendale, Calif. Pearl died in 1973, also in California.

Myrtle died at a hospital in California on July 17, 1931, having spent a year there. She was cremated and her cremains were brought back to Norman, where she was interred with her parents in the mausoleum.

Myrtle Howarth Welch is interred with her parents at the IOOF Cemetery.

Mystery Mausoleum (Now Solved!)

I photographed a mausoleum that is a mystery to me. I only know that the last name is Berry and it is likely for a female. How do I know that?

Who is interred inside the Berry mausoleum?

There are 42 recorded Berrys with graves at the IOOF Cemetery, none in Saint Joseph’s. None of the IOOF memorials included a photo of the mausoleum. So I couldn’t tie it to anyone there.

Then I looked at the photo I’d taken of the inscription above “Berry” and saw that the deceased had been a member of the Woodmen Circle. This was the women’s auxiliary of Woodmen of the World and Norman had an active Woodmen Circle chapter. I did a little Newspapers.com dive to find out more.

Whomever is buried inside the Berry Mausoleum belonged to the Woodmen Circle.

Among the Berrys on Find a Grave was Adeline “Addie” Henry Berry, who died of heart disease on March 30, 1939 at age 65. She has her own flat marker and a surname marker she shares with husband Adolphus Andrew Berry, who died in 1916. The surname marker has a Woodmen of the World seal on it, indicating his involvement. From many articles I found, Addie was very active in Woodmen Circle and was one of the officers in Norman’s chapter.

“Beyond the Skies”

Then in researching Addie’s husband, Adolphus, I stumbled upon another potential candidate. On the same page in the Norman Transcript for Dec. 28, 1916 that published Adolphus Berry’s obit was the death notice and biography of Nora Irene Pugh Berry. They were not related. But Nora had passed away on Dec. 24, 1916 in a hospital in Oklahoma City after an operation to save her life had failed. Nora was 46 and has no memorial on Find a Grave.

As I scanned her obituary, the words “Interment will be in a vault in IOOF Cemetery” leapt off the page. There it was. I’m posting part of that death notice. Among all the tributes to her, none mentions the Woodmen Circle. It notes she was a member of the Ancient United Order of Workman (AOUW), the Degree of Honor, and Order of the Eastern Star (Masonic auxiliary for women). But nothing about Woodmen Circle.

Could Nora Berry be the person who is interred inside the Berry mausoleum?

Is it possible the vault/mausoleum wasn’t ready when Nora was buried? She died on Christmas Eve and her funeral was held only four days later on Dec. 28, 1916. I don’t think it could have been completed by then. Nora’s husband, Robert, remarried in 1919. His death in January 1940 of pneumonia and funeral was reported in several Oklahoma newspapers but none of them reported where or if he was buried anywhere. Only his funeral services were noted. If he was buried in the IOOF Cemetery, there is no Find a Grave memorial for him.

His obituary did note that he was a member of Woodmen of the World (among other fraternal organizations). Perhaps it’s through that connection that Nora’s vault was obtained. Perhaps Robert’s second wife was not keen for him to be buried with her. I don’t know.

EDIT: I called the number listed for the IOOF Cemetery’s office and left a message. A very nice young lady called me back to confirm that I was right. Nora is indeed buried in the Berry mausoleum, along with her oldest son, theater owner Ray C. Berry. He died in 1932 at the age of 40.

I’m just getting started so join me for Part II soon.

This sundial and a bench mark the McFarlin plot.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Beating the Clock at Little Rock, Ark.’s Mount Holly Cemetery, Part IV

It’s time to finish up at Mount Holly Cemetery before the gates are locked. As I often do in my final installments on a cemetery, I’m going to do a bit of show and tell rather than doing really deep dives into history.

Mount Holly has some lovely fence work.

A Lasting Legacy

The Folsom mausoleum is a bit different. You might call it a hybrid of sorts. It’s made primarily out of bricks, with the top made out of stone. The doors are metal. It makes me wonder if the plans changed once construction began.

The Folsom mausoleum has me somewhat puzzled.

There isn’t much information on the Folsoms. Born on Jan. 10, 1827 in North Carolina, Dr. Isaac Folsom he married Sallie Puckett in January 1861 in St. Francis County, Ark. They had no children. I don’t know where he received his medical degree. During the 1870s and some of the 1880s, the Folsoms lived in Lonoke, Ark., which is about 30 miles east of Little Rock.

Dr. Isaac Folsom wanted to leave a lasting legacy. (Photo source: Ancestry.com)

In January 1892, Dr. Folsom was making plans for the future. He wanted to leave $20,000 to a cause that would make an impact long after his death. He did that by establishing a free medical clinic for indigent patients. The Isaac Folsom Clinic was established at what is now the he University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). At that time, it was called Arkansas Industrial University. That would be about $650,000 today.

To this day, UAMS diplomas note that the graduate has received instruction at the Isaac Folsom Clinic. I was curious about this specific request and found a newspaper article that mentions it:

Article from the Forest City (Ark.) Times, Feb. 5, 1892 about Dr. Folsom’s bequest.

You can read more about Dr. Folsom’s clinic and the fate of the plaque that was once on the building that housed it here. That’s a sad story in itself. Dr. Folsom died on Sept. 5, 1895 at age 65. His wife, Sallie, lived another 32 years. She died on March 21, 1925.

Sallie Folsom outlived her husband by more than three decades.

Death of a Young Wife

Seeing a white bronze (zinc) marker is always a sure way to get my attention. I only saw two at Mount Holly and they were for the same family. They were for a mother who died young and two of her children.

Born in Virginia in 1846, William Pinkney Dortch, Sr. married Alice Orr in 1867 in Ohio. It appears that they met while William was attending Miami (Ohio) University. The couple settled in William’s adopted hometown of Little Rock, Ark. Daughter Daisy was born in mid-May 1869 and died three weeks later. Frederick Dortch was born on Jan. 23, 1871, and his brother, Harry Sherwood Dortch, was born on August 1873. Their mother, Alice, died on Sept. 4, 1874 for unknown reasons. She was only 26.

Alice Orr Dortch was only 26 when she died in 1874.

Harry, who was 15 months old, died on Oct. 16, 1874. He and his sister, Daisy, share a marker.

Siblings Daisy and Harry Dortch share a marker at Mount Holly.

William remarried in 1878 to Frances “Fannie” Peterson. She died sometime before 1880 because she does not appear with him and Frederick in the U.S. Census for that year. An infant daughter named Judith, however, is listed. She was born in 1879. William married again in 1885 to Nettie Steele. Together, they had five children.

Frederick Dortch grew up and attended Vanderbilt University Medical School, becoming a physician. He moved to Derider, La. to practice medicine. He died in Shreveport, La. on Jan. 1, 1909 at age 30 due to complications from surgery. His body was brought back to Little Rock for burial beside his mother and siblings.

Dr. Frederick Dortch died in Shreveport, La. (Photo source: Daily Arkansas Gazette, Jan. 2, 1909)
Dr. Frederick Dortch died in 1909 due to complications from surgery in Louisiana.

William Dortch died on Feb. 13, 1913 at age 65. He is interred with his third wife, Nellie, and four of their adult children at Oakland and Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park in Little Rock.

“My Wife”

I’ve featured round or “cradle” style grave markers before, but this one has a little surprise on the back that I thought you’d like to see.

A native of Kentucky, Louis Lawrence Mivelaz married Lula Hyacinth Meyer in Memphis, Tenn. in 1875. Both were of French descent. The couple had four children over the course of their marriage: Louis Jr. (1879-1920), Leo (1881-1932), Milton (1883), and Nannette (1884-1965). The family settled in Little Rock after Louis Jr. was born. Louis Sr. owned and operated a restaurant in the Capitol Hotel during the 1880s and advertised frequently in the local newspapers.

Lula died on May 25, 1889 at the age of 29. Her obituary states that she had suffered from a long and painful illness.

Lula Meyer Mivelaz was only 29 when she died. You can see a modern version of a cradle grave to the right of hers.

On the back, you can see this lovely carving. Ivy symbolizes fidelity, marriage, and friendship while ferns were a symbol of humility and sincerity during the Middle Ages in Europe.

Louis Mivelaz and his children moved to Memphis
after Lula died.

Louis remarried on June 16, 1890 in Louisville to Mary Anna Weiss and the couple moved to Memphis. They had several children together. Louis passed away on Oct. 14, 1901 at age 47 in Memphis. He is buried with Mary in Saint John Cemetery in Louisville, Ky.

“Our Mother In Heaven”

There are more questions than answers that go with this final grave marker for Sarah Cecelia Hughes Kinnear. But her stone haunts me and I feel I must share it.

I can only think that Sarah Kinnear died in childbirth.

Born in Ireland in 1827, Sarah married James F. Kinnear of Philadelphia, Pa. Ancestry.com says they were wed in Pulaski County, Ark. in 1847. Over the next 10 years, they had four children together: Annie (1847-1870), Cecelia Rose (1850-1937), James (1851-1938), and Josephine (1855-1922). I believe that James was in business with Sarah’s family because ads for a Kinnear & Hughes (a dry goods store and later a drug store) are frequent in the local newspapers.

Sarah died on April 6, 1857 at age 30. I could not find an obituary or death notice for her. But the carving on her stone leads me to believe she must have died giving birth or shortly afterward, and that the child also died. The motif of an angel bearing an infant aloft while holding a woman’s hand is usually what this meant. It was a common but sad fate for many women during this era.

“Our Mother in Heaven”

James remarried to Mary Elizabeth Brogan Cellars sometime before 1860. He died on May 2, 1867. From various legal postings I’ve seen, I believe it took a while to untangle his affairs and probate his will. He was 41 when he passed away. He is buried at Mount Holly.

James Kinnear died in 1867 at age 41.

You will be happy to learn that I did not get locked in at Mount Holly. As 5 p.m. approached, I made sure I was close to the gates. Sure enough, not long after that time, I saw a car driven by a woman and her children entering the cemetery gates. A sweet little girl called out to me, “You know it’s closing time, right?” I waved, smiled, and got into Sarah’s car and made a quick exit.

Thankfully, I beat the clock. It was time to move on to Oklahoma.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Beating the Clock at Little Rock, Ark.’s Mount Holly Cemetery, Part III

Today I’m continuing my series on Little Rock, Ark.’s Mount Holly Cemetery. Let’s start with this monument to two wives. But their husband isn’t buried with them. That got me interested enough to do some research. Who was R.W. Dawson and where did he end up?

It turns out he might have known some of my family back in the day.

This beautiful monument is for the two wives of British-born photographer R.W. Dawson.

A British Photographer in America

Born in Lancashire, England in 1833, Robert Wolstenholme (R.W.) Dawson was the son of Henry and Alice Wolstenholme Dawson. Sometime before 1850, the family emigrated to America and settled in Connecticut. R.W. married Lucy Freeman in Vienna, Wisc. in 1860 and settled couple in the Elgin, Ill. area.

I was surprised to find that by 1870, the Dawsons had moved to Blair, Neb. Long-time readers of this blog may remember that one of my first “hops” was in small rural Blair where my ancestor, Rufus Claar, settled during the same time period. Rufus married, farmed, raised a family, and died in Blair. It’s likely that the Claars knew the Dawsons because R.W. worked as a photographer in Blair for several years.

Ad in the York Republican, May 30, 1877 for R.W. Dawson’s photography services.

R.W. and Lucy had four children together: Clara (1861), Alva (1862), Nelson (1865), and Charles (1866). By 1880, they had left Nebraska to settle in Little Rock where R.W. opened a photography studio. Later, the boys would work with their father in his studio. You can see some of his work here.

Lucy died on April 3, 1884 at age 43. Her obituary states she’d suffered from heart disease for some time. R.W. remarried on April 28, 1886 to Laura Eldridge Robinson Hamilton. Laura died on Jan. 31, 1888 giving birth to their daughter, Irene. Sadly, Irene died on Aug. 24, 1890. Robert’s daughter, Elva, who married local pressman Robert Butler, died on April 25, 1889 at age 26. She is buried in the Dawson plot beside her mother.

Lucy Freeman Dawson died in 1884 at age 43.

I noticed that Laura’s inscription is prominently displayed on the front while Lucy’s is on the side. I believe it was likely erected after Laura’s death and the inscriptions for both were made then.

Robert Dawson’s second wife, Laura, died in January 1888 giving birth to their daughter, Irene.

R.W. eventually moved to California, perhaps wanting to escape the pain of the deaths of his two wives and two daughters behind him. He married widow Susan Kirk Neal in 1894. In 1905, R.W. fell while at his church and cut a nerve. Three years later, a stroke rendered him mostly paralyzed. R.W. died on May 18, 1910 at age 76. He and Susan are buried in Sunnyside Cemetery in Longbeach, Calif.

Wives of a Real Estate Baron

Then there are times I run into the next situation where the first wife is memorialized with a large, elaborate monument and wife #2… Well, let’s just say some may think she got the short end of the stick (or monument).

Anna Pope Green died in 1880 at age 32.

Born in Darlington, S.C. in 1846, Benjamin William Green was the son of Judge James Green and Sarah Ann Green. The family was living in Dalton, Ga. when Benjamin joined Company D of the First Georgia Infantry regiment on Nov. 1, 1863. By the time he enlisted, the regiment had become part of the forces fighting in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Green rose to the rank of sergeant major. He and his five brothers all served in the Confederate Army.

In the 1870s, the Green family moved to Arkansas, settling in Hope where Green worked as county treasurer. He owned various real estate properties, and was part owner of Cummins plantation in the Pine Bluff area. Eventually, he settled in Little Rock where he worked in real estate.

Benjamin William Green (1846-1924) in later years. (Photo source: Colin Woodward, Encyclopedia of Arkansas)

On Oct. 5, 1875, Green married Anna Leroy Pope of Nashville. Tenn. I don’t believe the two ever had any children. She died on Oct. 26, 1880 at age 32. By that time, Benjamin had added “cotton mills superintendent” to his list of titles.

Anna Pope Green’s obituary in the Oct. 28, 1880 Daily Arkansas (Little Rock) Gazette.
A statue of a beautiful maiden scattering flowers tops
the monument for Anna Pope Green.

In the 1880s, Green headed a division of the U.S. Treasury, served as major general in the Arkansas National Guard, was president of the state Sons of the American Revolution, and served in various roles in the United Confederate Veterans.

Green married Miriam “Minnie” Dodge Green, a native of Vermont, in 1887. On Feb. 3, 1888, their daughter, Alice, was born in Washington, D.C. She married cotton sales agent Robert Warren in 1908. The couple were living with Benjamin and Minnie with their children in 1920, according to the U.S. Census.

Benjamin Green died on Jan. 15, 1924 after a brief illness. Minnie died on Jan. 6, 1927 at age 67. She and Benjamin share a small marker beside Anna’s towering monument.

The small shared marker of Benjamin W. Green and his second wife, Miriam “Minnie” Dodge Green.

While Minnie’s memorial is much smaller, she does get to share it with Benjamin. Considering she was married to him for 37 years compared to the five he had with Anna, it makes sense that they would have one together.

“The Sea of Glass”

Sometimes I don’t see interesting things until later when I’m going through my pictures. In this case, it took looking at someone else’s picture to see it because mine was so poor.

I was literally running through Mount Holly that day (playing Beat the Clock, or rather Beat the Gate Locker), snapping photos here and there. The late afternoon sun made some of those photos very dark. The next few are an example of that, so I apologize for the quality.

Monument to George E. Dodge and his wife, Mattie Osborne Dodge. Their son, Edward, is buried beside them. He died in 1900 after an overdose of morphine in his hotel room.

Minnie Dodge Green had several siblings and one of them was older brother George Eugene Dodge, born in 1845. Although the Dodges hailed from Vermont, they’d moved to Arkansas a few years before that. George attended law school in Albany, N.Y., graduating in 1867. He returned to Little Rock and formed a partnership in 1871 with Benjamin S. Johnson. They represented what was then known as the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad. The firm, now known as Friday, Eldredge & Clark LLP, still exists today.

George married Madalein “Mattie” Perdue Osborne sometime before 1868. They had several children. Their son, Osborn, was born on Sept. 6, 1868. Younger son Edward nearly died of scarlet fever but was nursed back to health. Sadly, Osborn caught the illness and did not survive. He died on Jan. 26, 1881 at age 12.

Osborn Dodge died of scarlet fever at age 12 in 1881.

Only when I looked at another photo of Osborn’s handsome monument on Find a Grave.com did I see the epitaph written at the base that said, “He Walks with the Harpers by the Sea of Glass.” At first, I had no idea what that could be from but the words “sea of glass” made me think it was Biblical. I found I was right. It comes from Revelation 15:2: “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps.”

Sadly, Edward was found dead in his hotel room in St. Louis, Mo. on Jan. 23, 1900 at age 23. He had overdosed on morphine. Edward had recently moved to that city to start a new bookkeeping job. He left behind two sealed letters, one for his father and the other for an unnamed young lady. Edward is buried beside his parents.

George Dodge died in 1904 in Cincinnati, Ohio at age 58 due to heart problems. Mattie died in 1921 at age 73.

A South Carolina Hunley Connection

While going through my Mount Holly photos, I made another discovery. I had photographed a cenotaph for Seaman Charles L. Sprague. A cenotaph is a memorial stone for a person who is buried elsewhere or whose body was never recovered. Charles was born in Little Rock on Feb. 6, 1842 to the Rev. Alden Sprague and Sophronia Eldridge Sprague. They both passed away when Charles was a boy.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Charles enlisted in his cousin’s Confederate artillery battery after the Civil War broke out. Charles joined Captain John W. Eldridge’s Company of Light Artillery on May 20, 1862, at Corinth, Miss., which would become J. W. Mebane’s battery after Eldridge was removed from command during a reorganization. Sprague’s service records are divided into two groups, the first listing him as C. L. Sprague and ending with the notation “knows something about torpedoes.” That knowledge would seal his fate.

I took this photo during one of my many visits to Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, S.C., not knowing I would see Charles Sprague’s cenotaph in another cemetery.

You can read more about it here, but Charles would become a member of the second crew that piloted the ill-fated Confederate submarine, the Hunley, under the command of Horace Hunley, its inventor. On the morning of Oct. 15, 1863, the vessel set out into Charleston Harbor.

Hunley apparently erred in regulating the amount of water in the forward ballast tank, causing the vessel’s bow to bury itself in the mud. The ship partially filled with water, and its crew, including Hunley and Sprague, either drowned or were asphyxiated. All of the crew were buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, S.C., along with the dead of the earlier accident.

On Feb. 17, 1864, the Hunley attacked the USS Housatonic with an explosive device attached to a spar protruding from the submarine’s bow. The U.S. warship sank, and the Hunley and its third crew were also lost. The Hunley was located in 1995 and raised.

This cenotaph is for Seaman Charles L. Sprague, who died as a member of the second crew who perished aboard the Confederate submarine, the Hunley.

I have visited Magnolia Cemetery many times. It’s where all three Hunley crews are buried and I’ve photographed those graves. I was able to find the marker for Charles Sprague among the others in my pictures. When I took that picture (and I’m not sure when it was), I had no idea that one day I would photograph his cenotaph in Arkansas. His parents are buried near it.

Hungry for more tales from Mount Holly Cemetery? There are more coming soon.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Beating the Clock at Little Rock, Ark.’s Mount Holly Cemetery, Part II

I’m still lingering at Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, Ark.

Mount Holly has a community mausoleum that was built in 1917 by architects Charles L. Thompson and Thomas Harding, Jr. It was locked up when I was there. But there’s a single mausoleum that caught my eye that I wanted to share with you.

The Thompson mausoleum is worthy of a man noted as being one of the wealthiest in Little Rock. Someone is tending the two planters that flank the front.

The E.G. Thompson mausoleum is a handsome one. I’m not sure when it was built. But Edward Thompson’s obituary makes it clear that he was “considered one of the wealthiest men in Little Rock” and the mausoleum reflects that.

A Man of Means

Born in 1850 in Missouri, Edward Grady Thompson graduated from LaGrange College in Missouri in 1871. He joined his brother, William J. Thompson, in Augusta, Ark. The brothers married sisters. Edward married Frances “Fannie” Gregory in 1872 and William married her sister, Sarah Gregory.

Photo of Edward G. Thompson (Source: Centennial History of Arkansas, Volume 3, By Dallas Tabor Herndon)

Fannie, the younger of the two sisters, was born in 1853 at The Point, her parents William Nathan Gregory and Mary Bland Gregory’s plantation in Woodruff County, Ark. She and Edward had three daughters during their marriage: Leah (1873-1943), Helen (1883-1953), and Lottie (1857-1935).

Undated photo of Frances “Fannie” Gregory Thompson. (Photo Source: Arkansas Gazette, Feb. 24, 1935.)

In 1891, the Thompsons moved to Little Rock. Edward and William Thompson, with Rufus W. Martin, built the railroad from Brinkley to Newport, Ark., leasing it to the Rock Island system. Edward and William were also prominent bankers, planters, and merchants.

The death of Fannie on Feb. 23, 1908 was unexpected. She was staying with daughter Leah, who had become Mrs. Leah Rose. Leah had been suffering from a bad headache. When Leah awoke from a nap, she found her mother lying on the bed nearby breathing heavily. Fannie died soon after. She was only 54.

Edward remarried in 1910 to wealthy widow Erminie Waters Sager, who was 42 when they wed. Edward died on March 3, 1921 at age 70. Erminie died in 1958. She is buried at Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock. Edward, Fannie, and daughter Lottie Thompson Clise are all interred within the mausoleum.

The stained glass in the Thompson mausoleum features a dove in flight below a crown of thorns.

The stained glass window inside the Thompson mausoleum is unlike any I have seen before. At the bottom are what appear to be a field of daffodils or lilies. Above them is a dove in flight, looking down. A crown of thorns with a star in the center, superimposed over a cross, completes the picture. A chunk of the glass is missing, unfortunately. But it is still lovely to see.

In the Prime of Life

Peculiar causes of death always intrigue me. It didn’t hurt that Sydney Jordan Johnson had a large monument with his face in profile on it.

Born in 1866 in Lincoln County, Ark., Sydney was the son of Richard Henry Johnson and Anna Newton Johnson. Richard was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1860. Sydney was very close with his brothers, Allen, James, and John. Sydney got his degree from Central University in Richmond, Ky. in 1885 and returned to Arkansas. He and his brother, Allen, formed S.J. Johnson & Co. in 1893 and prospered.

In 1892, Sydney married Wilson Norfleet, a Mississippi belle. He continued to do well in business, taking on the role of director of Little Rock’s Exchange National Bank.

Many Little Rock residents were surprised by the death of banker Sydney J. Johnson. (Photo Source: Mar. 18, 1899, Arkansas Gazette)

In early February, Sydney took a break from his busy business schedule to go “coasting” on Rapley Hill with a party of friends. Amid the frivolity, he broke his leg and was confined to his home for five weeks. He seemed to be on the mend but his doctor warned that a heart ailment might pose a complication. With his brothers and wife by his side, Sydney took a turn for the worse and died on March 17, 1899 at age 33.

Sydney Johnson is buried near his parents at Mount Holly Cemetery.

Sydney and Wilson had no children during their marriage. She remarried to Georgia attorney Thomas Brailsford Felder, Jr. in 1906. His first wife, Charlotte, died in 1904. Thomas died in 1926 and is buried in Northview Cemetery in Dublin, Ga., where he served as mayor. Wilson died in 1949 at age 79 and is buried with her parents in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tenn.

A Railroad Conductor’s Family

The monument to Ransom Sylvester (R.S.) Page grabbed my attention for the visual trick it plays on your eyes. It is a broken column, carved that way on purpose. A well-known railroad conductor in Little Rock, R.S. was active in many fraternal organizations, from the Masons to the Elks to the Knights of Pythias.

R.S. Page was active in the Masons, the Elks, and the Knights of Pythias.

The broken column has significance to the Masons for a number of reasons. But in terms of cemetery symbolism it represents a life cut short. As I began to look into the lives of the Page family, this became a recurring theme.

A native of Ohio, R.S. first married Julia Dean in 1876 in Iowa. He left her in November 1882 and the marriage ended in divorce with no children. He married Louise “Lulu” Warren soon after and their daughter, also named Lulu, was born in 1882. The family settled in Little Rock. Son Ransom Jr. was born in 1885, son Harry in 1889, and daughter Opal in 1896.

Having worked for the railroad in different capacities since the age of 15, R.S. was well liked in the community and active in those earlier mentioned civic groups. But in 1898 his health began to falter and he contracted tuberculosis. He died on Dec. 23, 1899 and his funeral was held on Christmas Eve. He was 43. Several members of the local lodges he belonged to attended the funeral.

Sadly, tragedy visited the Page home again soon. Daughter Lulu died on March 6, 1900 due to the same disease that had claimed her father just three months before.

Lulu Page was only 17 when she died three months after her father on March 6, 1900. (Photo Source: Daily Arkansas Gazette, Mar. 6, 1900)

A Mother Tries to Move On

Mother Lulu was left with three children to raise. She was forced to hold an estate sale to raise funds. According to newspaper articles, she purchased property in 1903 and began to build a home for her family.

But it was not to be. Lulu died on April 23, 1904 at the home of her sister. No cause of death was stated. She is buried with R.S. and Lulu at Mount Holly. Son Harry died a few years later on April 21, 1906 at age 17. His grave at Mount Holly is unmarked.

Lulu Warren Page died at 44 in 1904.

Ransom Jr. moved to California for his health not long after his brother’s death. He married Elise Raymond in June 1909. He passed away in January 1911 at 28. Elsie remarried to Phillip Estes in 1914. I don’t know where Ransom is buried.

The only member of the family left was Opal. She married Mack Steel in 1914 but she filed for divorce in 1917 after Mack was arrested for embezzlement. Another woman had also moved into their home while Opal was gone on a trip.

Like her father and sister, Opal died of tuberculosis on Aug. 24, 1918. She was 22. Her death certificate says she is buried at Mount Holly but I did not get a photograph of her grave. Her death brought a painful end to the Page family.

There are more stories from Mount Holly Cemetery. Stay tuned for Part III.

Son of F.S. and A.B. Brown, Edward P. Brown made it to his third birthday before he died on Sept. 23, 1885.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Beating the Clock at Little Rock, Ark.’s Mount Holly Cemetery, Part I

Do you remember the old TV game show “Beat the Clock”? That’s what I was doing when I visited Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, Ark.

After visiting three different cemeteries and having a late lunch in Helena, we had a two-hour drive to Little Rock. That didn’t leave me much time to visit Mount Holly Cemetery. But when you see a sign like this, you can’t NOT visit. Right?

Mount Holly Cemetery is located in the heart of Little Rock, Ark.

Sarah wanted to visit the Clinton Presidential Library (something I would have liked to have done as well but cemeteries come first) so she let me drive her car to nearby Mount Holly after I dropped her off. After looking online, I realized I had about only an hour to explore before they locked the gates. Thus the game of “Beat the Clock” began.

According to Mount Holly’s web site:

Mount Holly has been referred to as the “Westminster of Arkansas” because of the number of famous Arkansans buried here. Arkansas governors, state Supreme Court Justices, United States senators, Confederate generals, mayors, and Pulitzer Prize winners share Mount Holly with slaves, businessmen, farmers, artists, children, doctors, church leaders, and suffragettes.

On February 23, 1843, prominent Little Rock businessmen Roswell Beebe and Chester Ashley deeded four blocks to the young city of Little Rock for use as a cemetery. Before then, the dead were buried in private family cemeteries or in a small cemetery where the Federal Building now stands on Capitol Avenue and Gaines Street.

Mount Holly Cemetery is well cared for and a place worth exploring…when you have time.

Mount Holly is not a large cemetery but it is chock full of interesting graves and is beautifully maintained. Find a Grave lists about 5,100 memorials. There are likely several unmarked that are not recorded. The cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and is operated by the Mount Holly Cemetery Association.

Death of a Cherkokee Chief’s Wife

That “small cemetery” mentioned earlier was where the first person I want to talk about was buried first. She was later moved to Mount Holly. Not only is Elizabeth “Quatie” Brown Ross historically important, she and her husband have ties to Georgia.

Quatie, an anglicized version of her Cherokee name, was the first wife of Cherokee Chief John Ross. There’s much more written about John Ross than Quatie but here’s what we know. Born 1791 in the Old Cherokee Nation in modern-day Georgia to Thomas Brown and Elizabeth Martin Brown, Quatie was a widow when she wed Ross in 1813. She had one daughter from her previous marriage. She and Ross had five children over the course of their marriage, the sixth being stillborn.

Portrait of Elizabeth “Quatie” Brown Ross. (Photo Source: FindaGrave.com)

Born in 1790 to a Scottish father and a Cherokee mother in Alabama’s Cherokee territory, Ross’ Cherokee name means Mysterious Little White Bird. I have seen so many versions of what that word is in Cherokee, I’m not going to list them all. Ross was raised to identify as Cherokee, while also learning about colonial British society. He was bilingual and bi-cultural. His formal schooling took place at institutions that served other mixed-race Cherokee.

By 1810, John Ross was acting as an Indian agent for the Cherokee people on behalf of the United States.  Soon after, Ross served as a military officer in the War of 1812 then the Creek War in 1813, under Andrew Jackson.

Cherokee Chief John Ross battled the U.S. government for decades on behalf of his people. (Photo source: The Art Archive

According to Quatie’s bio on Find a Grave, the Ross family owned one of the richest farms in North Georgia, some 200 acres, and other businesses. They were largely assimilated and owned a number of slaves.

In 1828, Ross became principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, headquartered at New Echota, Ga., under a constitution he helped draft. His defense of Cherokee freedom and property used every means short of war. As a result, he was imprisoned for a time and the Ross home was confiscated. His petitions to now-President Andrew Jackson fell on deaf ears, and in May 1830 the Indian Removal Act forced the tribes to give up their traditional lands for an unknown western home.

John Ross, Quatie, and their children were among the last Trail of Tears group of about 228 Cherokees to leave Georgia, traveling on the steamship Victoria. Legend has it that Quatie gave up her blanket to a sick child. She died of pneumonia shortly before they arrived in Arkansas on Feb. 1, 1839. Quatie was about 47 years old at the time.

Quantie Ross’ grave has two markers, the original and one erected in 1935.

Quatie’s grave at Mount Holly is marked with her original stone and another erected in 1935 by Gen. George Izard Chapter of the United States Daughters of 1812.

John Ross married again in 1844 to Mary Bryan Stapler, a Quaker from Wilmington, Del. whose religious beliefs warred with slavery. She encouraged Ross to free their slaves, which he finally did in 1856. Mary died in July 1865 at age 39 and is buried in Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery in Delaware. When John Ross died in August 1866 at age 75, he was originally buried with her. Later, he was moved to Ross Cemetery in Park Hill, Okla. Their two children are buried there, as are three of his children with Quatie.

The Brooks-Baxter War

One of the first plots I noticed when I drove into Mount Holly Cemetery was that of the Basham family. That’s reason enough to feature them but George Leftridge Basham took part in a little-known Arkansas skirmish that I only recently learned about.

Born in 1848 in Arkansas, George Leftridge Basham’s parents were Oliver Basham (I have seen it spelled Olinver in some places) and Martha Patrick Basham. Oliver served in the state legislature twice before being chosen by President Benjamin Pierce to act as registrar of the land office of the United States. He was reappointed by President James Buchanan, serving until 1860 when he became the treasurer of the State of Arkansas.

George Basham joined the Confederacy as a teen, becoming a “private in Captain McComb’s company of the regiment of which his father (a lieutenant colonel) was second in command”. He served in the Battles of Poison Spring and Marks’ Mill. Oliver Basham was killed in action on Sept. 23, 1864 at age 44 in Pilot Knob, Mo.

The Basham family plot includes George and Julia Basham, and two of their children, Pearl and Martha.

After the war, George graduated from St. John’s College in Little Rock in 1870. He studied law, eventually passing the bar in 1873. It was soon after that the 30-day Brooks-Baxter War took place in 1874.

The struggle had its roots in the ratification of the 1868 Arkansas Constitution, rewritten to allow Arkansas to rejoin the Union. The Reconstruction Acts required former Confederate states to accept the 14th Amendment (establishing civil rights for freedmen) and enact new constitutions providing suffrage to freedmen while temporarily disenfranchising former Confederates. Some conservatives and Democrats refused to participate in the writing of the constitution and ceased participation in government.

Minstrels and Brindle-Tails

The 1872 gubernatorial election resulted in a narrow victory for “Minstrel” Elisha Baxter over “Brindle-tail” Joseph Brooks in an election marked by fraud and intimidation. Brooks challenged the result, initially without success, but Baxter alienated much of his base by re-enfranchising former Confederates.

“A Plague O’ Both Your Houses!” appeared as an illustration concerning the Brooks-Baxter War of 1874 (Photo source: Harper’s Weekly, May 14, 1874)

In 1874, Brooks was declared governor by a county judge who declared the election results to be fraudulent. As a result, the “war” ensued between April 15 and May 15 as Brooks took control of the government by force, but Baxter refused to resign. Each side was supported by its own militia and a number of bloody battles ensued between them. Finally, President Ulysses S. Grant intervened and supported Baxter, bringing the affair to an end. George Basham had supported Baxter and was a member of his militia.

Two Little Girls

On Oct. 1, 1879, George Basham married Julia Parma Beall. He continued rising up the ladder as an attorney and invested in real estate. Their first child, Pearl Read Basham, was born on July 22, 1880. She died on Nov. 7, 1886 at the age of six. Martha Parma Basham was born on Dec. 3, 1882 and died on Aug. 10, 1887. Both George and Julia were so ill themselves, they could not attend her funeral.

Martha Parma Basham died less than a year after her sister, Pearl, on Aug. 10, 1887.

You might recognize the open style of the ovals from recent posts I’ve written. Both are “cradle” graves with decorative urns on at the foot. Doug Keister’s book “Forever Dixie” describes the monuments for Pearl and Martha like this:

The Basham family plot features the two little Basham girls dressed in the clothing they would have worn at the time.  The sculptures were carved in Italy for the local monument company owned by William L. Funston. When the sculptures arrived, the family wasn’t pleased with the likeness and had them sent back to Italy for a better rendering. 

Martha and Pearl’s monuments are “cradle” graves with an open circle that enables the planting of flowers in the middle. We’ve seen these before.

I didn’t know when I was visiting in May 2019 that both of these monuments and the statue to the left of it were vandalized in 2016. Apparently repairs were made to put them back in good condition.

George and Julia’s son, George Leftridge Basham, was born on July 27, 1887. That’s only two weeks before Martha died. It had to have been such a difficult time for this family. Welcoming a new baby son, mourning the loss of yet another daughter…

Julia died after having a stroke in 1911 at the age of 54. George, by then a judge, died in 1916 at age 66. Leftridge married twice, dying in 1929 at age 42 from a cerebral hemorrhage. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Hot Springs, Ark.

Please join me next time for more stories from Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery.

Philipina Cooper married jeweler Henry G. Clok on Feb. 23, 1876. They had one daughter, Edna, in 1877. Philipina died on June 8, 1878 at age 23.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Discovering Helena, Ark.’s Maple Hill Cemetery, Part III

I’m going to wrap up my series on Maple Hill Cemetery with some bits and pieces that you might find interesting. One of them is the Confederate Cemetery located within the cemetery.

Note: I’m aware that many people have strong feelings about the Confederacy and its role in the Civil War. There are many valid reasons for that. At the same time, I think it would be remiss of me to ignore the fact that a few of its prominent leaders are buried at Maple Hill Cemetery. I’m not doing so in order to celebrate or support that history. But it does exists and I plan to share some of it in the latter half.

The Man from Maine

One of the tallest monuments in Maple Hill Cemetery belongs to Henry Pomeroy Coolidge, a native of Bangor, Maine. I found a detailed biography of him from Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Phillips County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.

The Coolidge monument is the among the tallest in Maple Hill Cemetery.

Coolidge’s family moved to Ohio when H.P. was young. At 17, he moved to Louisiana where met his wife, Elizabeth Jacqueline Legier. Of French parentage, Elizabeth married Henry in 1832 In New Orleans. Their first three children were born there.

Sadly, of the many children the Coolidges had, only two lived to adulthood and only one to old age. Royal, born in 1833, only lived a year. Charles Royal, born in 1836, would outlive everyone in the family. Caroline, born in 1838, died in New Harmony, Ind. in 1841.

The Coolidges moved to Helena in 1842. H.P. became an active member of the community, serving as a probate and county judge. But his main business was owning and operating a prosperous dry goods store called H.P. Coolidge & Son. Charles helped him when he came of age.

An ad in the 1860 Southern Shield newspaper for H.P. Coolidge & Son’s store in Helena, Ark.

Suffer the Little Children

Over the years, Elizabeth and Henry watched as most of their children died. I cannot imagine the agony they experienced. Seven of them are inscribed on the Coolidge monument. Timothy lived only a few days in 1848. Emma lived almost a year, dying in 1850. Ellen lived from 1851 to 1855. H.P. Jr. lived three and a half years, passing away in late 1860.

At least six of H.P. and Elizabeth Coolidge’s children died in childhood. I suspect there may be at least one not listed here.

Evalina Coolidge, born in 1843, married Dr. Francis Noel Burke in November 1864. Irish-born Burke was a doctor in the Union Army and passed through Helena during the Civil War. Evalina gave birth to a daughter, Lizzie, on Dec. 27, 1865. Evalina died at age 23 on Jan. 27, 1867. I did not get a photo of her grave but she is buried at Maple Hill. Dr. Burke remained in Helena, raising his daughter. Sadly, Lizzie died of typhoid fever on Nov. 17, 1892. She was 26. Father and daughter share a marker at Maple Hill.

H.P. Coolidge did well in Helena, gaining friends and influence despite the fact his bio states he was a “staunch Union man” during the Civil War. He was active in the Masons and Odd Fellows. He died at age 60 on April 23, 1872.

Son Charles continued on in the family business. He purchased the monument for his father and siblings. One account says it was 29 feet, six inches tall. Another says 21 feet. Carved in Italy, the cost was an estimated $6,000 at the time. A life-size statue of H.P. tops it.

Elizabeth Coolidge died in 1886 at age 75. Oddly, her name is not on the Coolidge monument. I suspect that son Charles simply neglected to have it engraved.

H.P. Coolidge surveys Maple Hill Cemetery from a lofty height.

I couldn’t find a photo of H.P. but I did locate one of Charles R. Coolidge and his wife, Lizzie Ellis Coolidge, on Ancestry. They had several children and most of them lived long lives.

Undated photo of Charles Royal Coolidge (1836-1904) and his wife, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ellis Coolidge (1844-1908) with two of their children. Photo source: Ancestry.com

Charles did as well as his father in carrying on the business. He died on Aug. 20, 1904 at age 67. Lizzie died on July 11, 1908. She and Charles are buried together beside their daughter, Eva, and their son, Henry.

Graves of Charles R. Coolidge and his wife, Lizzie Ellis Coolidge.

The Confederate Cemetery

Located up at the top of the hill from the Coolidge monument, the Confederate Cemetery was created in 1869 by the Phillips County Memorial Association when the bodies of 73 known and 29 unnamed Confederate soldiers were moved into a one-acre portion of Maple Hill. Most of these men died at the Battle of Helena on July 4, 1863, or from wounds shortly afterward. More bodies have been moved there over the years, so there are well over 100 soldiers buried in this cemetery.

These are some of the graves in the Confederate Cemetery at Maple Hill Cemetery.
More Confederate graves.

A monument to all of the Confederate soldiers buried at the cemetery was dedicated on Decoration Day in 1892. The inscriptions list battles in which Arkansas troops saw action. I was not surprised to learn that the monument was created by Muldoon & Co. of Louisville, Ky., a firm I have written about before and that still exists today.

At 37 feet tall, the Confederate Monument is taller than the nearby Coolidge monument.

“Stonewall of the West”

I’m featuring Confederate Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne because he played a prominent role in the Civil War and was a pre-war resident of Helena. Another reason is that oddly enough, he’d been buried in three different places over the years. Here’s a short account of his career.

A native of Ireland, Patrick Cleburne served in the 41st (Welch) Regiment of Foot of the British Army after failing to gain entrance into Trinity College of Medicine in Dublin in 1846. Three years after joining the Army, he emigrated to America. Cleburne settled in Helena and was readily accepted by his adopted town. At the start of the Civil War, Cleburne sided with the Confederacy. He progressed from being a private soldier in the local militia to a division commander.

Major General Patrick R. Cleburne was not the typical Confederate military leader. (Photo source: Wikipedia)

Cleburne participated in many military campaigns, including the Battle of Stones River, the Battle of Missionary Ridge, and the Battle of Ringgold Gap. He was also present at the Battle of Shiloh. Known as the “Stonewall of the West”, he was killed while leading his men at the Battle of Franklin (Tenn.) on Nov. 30, 1864.

Cleburne’s remains were first laid to rest at Rose Hill Cemetery in Columbia, Tenn. At the urging of Army Chaplain Bishop Quintard and Judge Leonard Mangum (staff officer to Cleburne and his law partner in Helena), Cleburne’s remains were moved to St. John’s Episcopal Church near Mount Pleasant, Tenn., where they stayed for six years.

Major General Patrick Cleburne finally came to rest in the Confederate Cemetery in Helena.

Final Burial

On April 27, 1870, Judge Mangum and Dr. Hector Grant (whom I wrote about last week) traveled to Tennessee to bring Cleburne to Helena for his final burial. A processional through Memphis was heavily attended by many former Confederates, including Jefferson Davis. After the procession ended, pallbearers removed Cleburne’s coffin from the hearse and placed it aboard the steamer George W. Cheek, docked in the Mississippi River. It then departed for the trip to Helena.

After laying in state at Helena’s St. John’s Church, Cleburne’s remains were brought to the Confederate Cemetery for final interment.

On one side of the monument is a homage to his roots, an Irish harp.

Cleburne’s monument has an Irish harp on it as a homage to his native land.

Major General Thomas C. Hindman

Two other major Confederate figures are buried at Maple Hill but they are not in the Confederate Cemetery. Major General Thomas C. Hindman, an attorney who lived in Helena before the Civil War and a close friend of Cleburne, had a somewhat controversial military career. You can read more about that here.

During the Atlanta campaign, he received a wound at Kennesaw Mountain, on June 27, 1864, that left him partially blinded. He left his command and joined his family in Texas, to where they had moved following the Union occupation of eastern Arkansas.

Portrait of Confederate Major General Thomas C. Hindman. (Photo Source: Portrait by Aurelius O. Revenaugh, Arkansas State Archives

In June 1866, unable to secure a pardon from President Andrew Johnson and indicted by a federal district court in Arkansas for his activities during the war, Hindman and his family moved to Mexico. They returned to Helena in 1868. He was unique among conservatives in encouraging acceptance of African-American suffrage and organization of black voters into support of the conservative cause.

On Sept. 28, 1868, an assassin fatally shot Hindman through a window at his home. Nobody was ever arrested for the act. He left behind his wife, Mary “Mollie” Watkins Briscoe Hindman, and four young children. He was 40 at the time of his death. Mollie died in 1876 of tuberculosis at age 38 and is buried with him at Maple Hill.

This is Hindman’s original marker, which is only three feet tall.

Major General Thomas C. Hindman’s original marker at Maple Hill.

I don’t know who funded it or when it was placed, but the 27-foot Hindman obelisk of unadorned granite came sometime later.

The Hindman obelisk is 27 feet tall.

Also buried at Maple Hill is Confederate Brigadier General James C. Tappan (1825-1906). I did not get a photo of his grave, but it is much smaller than the Hindman obelisk or the Cleburne monument. Like Cleburne and Hindman, Tappan lived in Helena before the Civil War.

At the start of the Civil War, Tappan was commissioned Colonel of the 13th Arkansas Infantry in May 1861. He commanded the 13th Arkansas at the battles of Shiloh, Richmond, and Perryville. In November 1862, he was promoted Brigadier General and was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department. He commanded his brigade at the Battle of Pleasant Hill, La. and in the Red River Campaign of 1864.

After the war, Tappan returned to Helena and opened a law practice, where he established himself as the dean of the Arkansas bar. He died at age 80 in 1906.

Onward to Little Rock

As usual, there are many more stories I could share about those buried at Maple Hill Cemetery. But it’s time to move on to Arkansas’ capital city of Little Rock and Mount Holly Cemetery. I hope you’ll join me there next time.

Eva Burke Coolidge, daughter of Charles R. Coolidge and Lizzie Ellis Coolidge, only lived to the age of three.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Discovering Helena, Ark.’s Maple Hill Cemetery, Part II

Welcome back to Maple Hill Cemetery! I’ve got more stories to share with you and an update on a child’s grave that I mentioned in last week’s post at the end.

While doing research for this week’s post, as is often the case, a common theme began to emerge. Among the many markers and monuments I photographed while I was there, I noticed that several belonged to physicians and their families. One of the most detailed was for Dr. Hector McNeill Grant.

You’ll notice that the Grant monument says “Children of Dr. H.M. and L.J. Grant” but two of them are with his first wife, Sarah Grant.

Born in 1823, Dr. Hector M. Grant was a native of Hopkinsville, Ky.

Physician and Senator

A native of Hopkinsville, Ky. born in 1823, Hector Grant came from a large family. He followed in his brother Joshua’s footsteps and became a doctor, studying at Louisville Medical College. In 1847, he married a young widow named Sarah Epps Griffin. She had one daughter, Eugenia, from her previous marriage. Eugenia would later marry Moses Berry Scaife in 1859.

Advertisement for Dr. H.M. Grant’s office in the Sept. 2, 1865 edition of the Western Clarion. He was elected to the Arkansas Senate the following year.

Sarah gave birth to a daughter, Mary, on Dec. 2, 1847, who died a few years later on Oct. 22, 1851. She has her own marker, which I did not photograph. But her name is on the Grant monument. Daughter Sarah was born in 1853, living into adulthood and marrying a cousin, H.P. Grant. Son Joshua was born in 1854. He became a druggist and eventually operated a drugstore in Helena.

Cleburne was born on Oct. 10, 1859 and died exactly eight months later on June 10, 1860. His name is on the monument with Mary. Sarah Grant died on June 15, 1863 at age 38, for unknown reasons.

Dr. Grant injured his arm shortly before the Civil War when his horse fell on him. However, according to his obituary, he “rendered good service” by acting as a surgeon during the conflict. He married Araminta J. Blaine in 1865, who was 20 years his junior. He continued practicing medicine in Helena until he was elected to the Arkansas Senate in 1866, where he served two terms. He would serve again in 1880, serving two more terms. He also served as mayor of Helena for a few terms.

Dr. Grant and second wife, Araminta, had two children who died at birth. Daughter Lillian, born in 1875, would survive and live a long life.

Dr. Grant and Araminta had two children. Alexander was born on Oct. 18, 1866 and died a few months later. Addy, born on Sept. 19, 1867, died the same day. Their third child, Lillian, was born on Oct. 27, 1875. She married Leonce Landry in 1896 and had two daughters, Lillian and Ruth. She died in 1942 and is buried in Oakridge Cemetery in Clarksdale, Miss.

Dr. Grant died on April 6, 1905 at age 82. He left most of his estate to Araminta and Lillian. Unfortunately, I’m couldn’t find out when Araminta died. I did not photograph two sides of the monument, which had more information. She has her own single marker with her name but it is halfway submerged into the ground so no date is visible.

Dr. Frierson H. Rice

I couldn’t find a great deal of information about Dr. Frierson Hopkins Rice until I made the connection that his daughter, Emma, was the wife of Edward Pillow. I wrote about them last week and that their names were on the pillars of Maple Hill’s gates that were donated in 1914 when Emma died. You will see the name Frierson again.

Margaret “Fannie” Rice’s monument is much grander than that of her husband, Dr. F.H. Rice.

Born in 1823 in Alabama, Dr. Rice married Margaret “Fannie” Cabber sometime around 1850. Emma was born in 1853, followed by Sue, Thomas (nicknamed “Hinchy”), and Ralph. Thomas is buried at Maple Hill but I’m not sure what happened to Ralph. There is an undated marker at Maple Hill for a Sue P. Rice.

Fannie died on September 28, 1870, I think she was about 42. I don’t know her cause of death.

Little is known about Margaret “Fannie” Cabber Rice.

Dr. Rice remarried to widow Mary Lambert on April 18, 1871. The wedding took place about a month after daughter Emma married Thomas Pillow on March 16, 1871. Dr. Rice died sometime in 1875 at about the age of 50. I could find no obituary for him and I don’t know when Mary died.

A Tale of Two Doctors

The last doctors I’m going to tell you about have been written about by many others over the years. If you want the fully documented story with references, I’m going to point you (again) to the wonderful blog of Cliff Dean. But I’ll give you the shorter version.

If you go up the hill toward the Confederate Cemetery, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Moore family monument and the smaller one beside it. The obelisk you see below is for John Petty Moore and his wife, Martha Ann Harris Moore. The marker topped with a dog to the right is for their murdered son, Dr. Emile Overton Moore.

The Moore monument dominates the family plot but Pedro is always waiting nearby.

John and Martha, who married in Mississippi in 1853, moved to Helena with son Overton. Son Frierson (sound familiar?) was born in 1856. Sallie arrived in 1860 and Lela was born in 1863. John operated a successful stable, along with other business interests in Helena. By the 1880 U.S. Census, Overton and Frierson (who both attended Kentucky University, which is now Transylvania University) were living with their parents but both practicing medicine in Helena. I believe they are connected in some way with the Rice family but I’m not sure how.

A Tragic Argument

Overton married Jenny Wright and started a family. But his marriage soured and his reputation began to tarnish in Helena. On Feb. 16, 1893 Captain Dan Peck, a well known builder, either had his arm or leg broken in an accident. Dr. Moore was sent for, but they couldn’t find him so a message was sent for Dr. Charles R. Shinault, who arrived soon after.

Dr. Shinault was treating Peck’s injury when Overton arrived. The two men argued. Moore summoned Shinault outside where he called him a “vile name.” Reaching into his coat and warning Dr. Shinault that he would “fix him”, Overton advanced. Shinault pulled out his .38 revolver and fired, killing him instantly. Dr. Shinault gave himself up to the sheriff and Overton’s body was removed to his father’s home.

The incident made headlines across the country. Some thought Dr. Shinault was jealous of Overton and had plotted his demise. But another newspaper stated that “Moore was a wild and reckless man and was the terror of Helena and had been in several scrapes.” Needless to say, John P. Moore defended his son’s reputation and blamed Overton’s death squarely on Dr. Shinault.

To add to the chaos was this story that made the rounds, that Overton had a premonition of his death two days before and shared it with his sister, Sallie. It was reported in the Daily Arkanas Gazette:

Did Dr. Overton Moore know he was going to die? From the Feb. 25, 1893 edition of the Daily Arkansas Gazette.

Courtroom Woes

Dr. Shinault was acquitted of Overton’s murder under the belief that he fired in self defense, a verdict that greatly upset the Moores. It didn’t help that Dr. Shinault’s success in Helena was little diminished by the incident. He married Josephine Pillow in 1894 and they later moved to Little Rock in 1904 where he was elected president of the Arkansas Medical Association. He was also president of the state board of examiners.

Matters got worse for the Moores when a battle errupted over Overton’s life insurance. While still married to his wife, Overton had become engaged to Helena school teacher Minnie Robertson. He made her the beneficiary of his insurance policy instead of his children.

The first trial awarded the policy to Robertson. Overton’s children appealed and the Arkansas Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled that no person should receive the insurance because Dr. Moore started the fight that led to his death.

I think there was also a break between John P. Moore and his son, Dr. Frierson Moore. I found a court case involving father again son in regard to Overton’s estate. I also noticed a number of social events reported in the Helena newspaper hosted by Frierson and his socialite wife, Annie, and Mrs. Shinault was often among the attendees. John P. Moore must have been furious.

A Doctor and His Dog

It is thought that not many attended Overton’s funeral but his dog, an Irish Setter named Pedro, would not leave his master’s grave. The story goes that people nearby would hear him howling in the cemetery at night over the next two years. They brought the dog food and snacks when they could.

Eventually, the howling stopped and neighbors went to check on Pedro. The dog, waiting for his master, had finally died. He was buried nearby. Along with John P. Moore, friends provided what they felt was a fitting monument to Overton and his dog.

Local lore has it that loyal dog Pedro waited for his master. Dr. Emile Overton Moore, to return and would not leave.

It would be an understatement to say that John P. Moore’s feelings were given free rein in the words chosen for his son’s monument. They are written on different sides but here it the total of them.

He is now beyond the reach of blame or praise.

And love with hope and faith

will trust that he has felt the joy

that is felt when there are no fears

and no grave.

His errors were the errors of a man

And they stand out in bold contrast

with the time serving, two faced hippocrites

who conspired to have him murdered.

He possessed marked individuality

He was incapable of dissimulation.

Let us remember

that after midnight cometh morn.

I don’t think John P. Moore ever got over the death of his son. He died on Sept. 11, 1913 at the age of 83. His wife, Martha, died on April 12, 1914.

John P. Moore and his wife, Martha, died less than a year apart.

Their monument is covered in words, which isn’t surprising knowing John Moore’s penchant for sharing his thoughts. But the words below his and Martha’s names were not his. They come from “Oration at a Child’s Grave” by Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899): “Every cradle asks us whence, and every coffin whither.”

Also on the monument is an inscription for the husband of daughter Sallie, who married Joseph H. Jackson in 1879. He died of apoplexy at the age of 30 on Dec. 15, 1890. He also has his own marker.

It’s not often I see a morning glory carved on a grave marker. But both Jackson and Sallie have one on theirs.

Sallie remarried to newspaperman Fred Kraft. Sadly, she died of lockjaw at age 38 on Aug. 31, 1898 at her home in East St. Louis, Mo. Her mother, Martha, was at her side. She was brought home for burial beside Jackson at Maple Hill.

Sallie Moore Jackson Kraft died at age 38 from lockjaw.

Dr. Frierson Moore died on May 26, 1917 of alcoholic paresis at the age of 60. He left behind his wife, Annie Laurie Graves Moore, his daughter, Virginia, and son Dr. Fontaine Moore.

Dr. Frierson Moore died at age 60 of alcoholic paresis.

Fontaine would die only three years later of pneumonia at age 34 on Nov. 27, 1920. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tenn. Wife Annie died at age 93 in 1960 and is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Long Beach, Calif.


Here’s the promised postscript to this story. In reading the obituary for Sallie Bee Moore Jackson Kraft, I discovered that her sister Lela Moore had married F.G. Millette. That means she was the mother of little Evelyn Ray Millette, who I featured last week.

Lela died on Dec. 9, 1949 at age 86. In looking at my pictures, I realized that Evelyn was buried right beside her parents, close to the Moore monument. Dr. Overton Moore and Dr. Frierson Moore were little Evelyn’s uncles. It’s yet another example of the family connections you can make in a cemetery.

I’ll be back for Part III from Maple Hill Cemetery.

Jesse Jackson was the son of Joseph H. Jackson and Sarah Bee Moore Jackson Kraft. His birth and death dates are unknown.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Discovering Helena, Ark.’s Maple Hill Cemetery, Part I

Going from Magnolia Cemetery to Maple Hill Cemetery was a bit of a jolt. Located very close to Magnolia, Maple Hill is bigger, grander, and has a lot more markers. Maple Hill covers about 37 acres. Immediately adjacent to it is St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, which I did not have time to visit. The Confederate Cemetery is on a hillside in the northwest corner of Maple Hill. I’ll talk about that in a later post.

The entrance to Maple Hill Cemetery. According to Wikipedia, the wrought iron archway’s posts were given in 1914, and the arch was given in 1975. You can see Sarah in the background.

In a previous post, I explained how Magnolia Cemetery was once part of Evergreen Cemetery. Maple Hill is the name Evergreen eventually took in 1898. Here’s what I found on Find a Grave.come about it:

Helena’s existing cemetery (called Graveyard Hill) was destroyed by the shells and gunfire of the Battle of Helena, on July 4, 1863. In the first years of the cemetery’s existence and when its newly drawn lots were being purchased, the remains of many were removed from the shattered cemetery and from places of burial in private yards and re-interred in the new cemetery. The earliest death date on a headstone is 1827 (Section 2-A), and this stone was probably moved from Graveyard Hill.

About 78 stones in the cemetery proper (excluding the Confederate Cemetery) have death dates prior to 1865; some are “moved” stones and some are stones set later with early dates. On part of the site of the new cemetery of approximately 35 acres, had been the home of the Davis Thompson family and even now articles turn up occasionally which are attributed to the materials of the house or outbuildings. Originally the cemetery was called Evergreen Cemetery and was enclosed by a fence of evergreens. In 1898, it was reorganized as Maple Hill Cemetery.

The Pillow Family

The posts to which the front entrance arch is attached got my attention. The names of the Pillow family (Thomas, Emma, Thomas Jr., William, and Camille) are engraved into it, so I suspect they donated the arches after Emma Pillow died in 1914.

Emma Rice Pillow has her own grave marker within the cemetery as well.

Born in 1846 in Tennessee, Thomas Pillow joined the Confederate Army as a teenager and reached the rank of captain. He married Emma Rice in 1871 and became a successful planter. When I looked up his memorial on Find a Grave, I was stunned to find that I had photographed the beautiful monument of his sister, Cynthia Saunders Pillow Bethell, at Fairmount Cemetery in Denver, Colo. back in 2017.

Thomas Pillow enlisted in the Confederate Army at age 15, attaining the rank of captain by the end of the Civil War. (The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.), Feb. 13, 1913)

Emma and Thomas had three children, William (1873), Edward Rice (1877) and Camille (1886). Edward died at the age of seven in 1884. William, who married Malinda Bridget in 1895 and served in the Spanish-American War, died in 1905 at age 32 after a fall from a porch. Camille married in 1910 to Robert Gordon and died in 1965. Hers was the last name engraved on the post. Like her parents, she has a marker in the cemetery. Edward Rice and William do not as far as I know but I surmise they are buried there.

Brothers William and Edward do not have markers in Maple Hill Cemetery but their names are engraved on the pillars of the front gates.

Edward (the father) died on Feb. 10, 1913 at age 66 and Emma died less than a year later on Dec. 10, 1914 at age 61.

The Barlow Angel

One of my favorite monuments at Maple Hill is the Barlow angel. It has its own steps leading to it. As I researched the family’s past, some tragic stories emerged.

Joseph Cantrill Barlow outlived both of his wives.

Born in 1836 in Kentucky, Joseph Cantrill Barlow moved to Helena around 1859. In April, 1861, he enlisted as a private in Gen. Patrick Cleburne’s command. I mention Gen. Cleburne because he’s buried in the nearby Confederate Cemetery. He then joined the 2nd Arkansas Battery and served under Maj. F. A. Shoupe until that officer was transferred to the Army of Tennessee. The battery was part of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s command. Captain Barlow served with Gen. Forrest until within a few months of surrender.

Mary Harrell Grant Barlow died in 1897.

Barlow married Mary J. Porter in 1870 but she died in 1872. I don’t know where she is buried. He started as a clerk in a dry goods store but eventually acquired a hardware store of his own to operate. He married Mary E. Harrell Grant in 1876. They had three children together, Fannie (1877), Harrell (1879) and Joseph Jr. (1880).

Mary died on May 26, 1897 from congestion. She was only 50 at the time.

Harrell Barlow died under curious circumstances in 1904.

Harrell died in March 1904 at age 24. I found a rather cryptic newspaper article about how he died. Apparently, he attempted to ride his horse into a dry goods store in Trenton, Ark. where he lived and was shot by the owner, Ira Krow. He is referred to as “Harold” in the article.

(Photo source: The Osceola Times, April 9, 1904.)

I don’t know if Ira Krow was ever held accountable for his actions but I did find his name mentioned in a society article as visiting Helena with his sister, Bertha in January 1905. So I’m guessing he wasn’t. He died in 1951 and is buried at Helena’s Beth El Cemetery.

Joseph Barlow served as Helena’s mayor several times and eventually lived with daughter Frances and her family. He died on Sept. 17, 1920 at age 84. He is buried beside Mary and Harrell. Perhaps it was better that he was already dead when tragedy struck the Barlows again.

Joseph Jr. became sheriff of Phillips County. His death certificate tells a sad story. While searching for a still on Sept. 18, 1931, he passed out due to heat stroke. It affect his brain and he died on Sept. 30, 1931, leaving behind a wife and five children.

(Photo source: The Hope Star (Hope, Ark.), Sept. 30, 1931)

Frances, the oldest Barlow child, wed architect Andrew Pomeroy Coolidge in 1899. They had three children together. Andrew died in 1934 at age 58 and Frances died four years later on April 7, 1938 at age 60 due to a cerebral hemorrhage. She, Andrew, and one of their children, Mary, are buried with her parents and uncle.

The top row of stones is Harrell Barlow, Joseph Cantrill Barlow, Sr., and Mary Harrell Grant Barlow. The bottom row of stones is Andrew P. Coolidge, Frances Barlow Coolidge, and Mary Coolidge Miles.

Two Little Boys

Children’s graves always draw me in. I came across the grave of a little boy named Homer Chambers. Oddly, it was erected by his uncle and not his parents. He had no memorial on Find a Grave, so I created one for him.

According to the marker, Homer was born in Augusta, Ark. on April 16, 1900 and died on Feb., 22, 1910 in Helena. Homer was only nine when he died. Augusta is about 90 miles northwest of Helena.

This marker for Homer Chambers was erected by his uncle, J. Ross Chambers.

Homer was the son of Lutie E. Chambers, a carpenter and mill hand, and Louise Chambers. They had a younger son, William, who was two years younger than Homer. Louise died in 1939 of heart disease. Lutie remarried and died in 1962.

I have no idea what happened to Homer. I couldn’t find anything about him beyond a 1900 U.S. Census record of him living with his parents as an infant. No death record. No newspaper article. Nothing. Was he visiting family in Helena and died in an accident? Did he get sick? I wish I knew.

Homer must have been special to his Uncle J. Ross. I found J. Ross Chambers buried in Augusta Memorial Park Cemetery in Augusta, where Homer was from. J. Ross Chambers died on July 12, 1931 at age 51.

Turner C. Shelton died almost a year after Homer Chambers.

Next to Homer’s grave is the one for Turner Clark Shelton, who died at the age of 3 in Helena on Feb. 11, 1911. That’s almost a year after Homer died. I did find a small obituary in the Memphis newspaper noting that Turner was the youngest son of grocer Gentry and Ida Shelton of Memphis. Again, I was curious as to how the boy died but could find nothing. There is a W.H. Shelton buried at Maple Hill but I don’t know if they are related.

Turner had no Find a Grave memorial either. I made one for him as well. He is indeed “gone but not forgotten”.

“Little Evelyn Ray”

The last marker I’m going to mention is for Evelyn Ray Millette. Her exact date of birth is unknown. But she died on Aug. 30, 1892. I suspect she was the daughter of F.G. and Lela Millette, who are also buried at Maple Hill. Evelyn was only 21 months old when she died.

Evelyn Ray Millette did not live to see her second birthday.

The sweetness of Evelyn’s marker is undisputed. But I am featuring it for another reason. She was born in 1890 and died in 1892. Because most of the U.S. Census records for 1890 were destroyed in a fire, there is no record of Evelyn that I could find. She may have a birth certificate but it is not online. This is the only evidence left of her precious, short life. It makes her marker even more important.

Like Homer and Turner, little Evelyn Ray is also “gone but not forgotten”. Rest in peace, little one.

Next week, I’ll have more stories from Maple Hill Cemetery.

Beautiful ginkgo tree at Maple Hill Cemetery.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Visiting Helena, Ark.’s Magnolia Cemetery, Part III

I’ve got a bit more left to share with you about Magnolia Cemetery. I was able to learn a little bit more about why it looks the way it does.

This is all that’s left of what was once a handsome plot.

As you make the left turn into the cemetery, there’s an area to the left with grave markers in a half circle around a flagpole.

Several grave markers encircle half of this flagpole, including several veterans’ markers.

A plaque nearby (see photo below) helped explain why the arrangement of grave markers at Magnolia in several places seemed off kilter. It’s because several are displaced or missing.

One of the interpretive panels at the front gate also stated that “stream bank erosion and water moving under the soft soil exposed graves and caused headstones to topple. Stones were taken or damaged by thieves and vandals.” As a result, concerned Helena residents Para Conner and Cleo Dunnings formed the Magnolia Cemetery Association in 1989. Since then, work has been done to “remedy erosion, improve drainage, and repair damage.

A number of grave markers at Magnolia Cemetery are displaced or missing.

I didn’t go past the bend in the road in the cemetery where it disappears into the woods. I was a little uneasy about going into an area that I couldn’t see. That’s happened during a few of my other cemetery visits in rural areas. Some might consider that silly, but I always prioritize my personal safety above my curiosity when cemetery hopping.

There are five government-issued markers for World War I veterans near the flagpole. All of these men served in World War I in varying capacities. None had memorials on Find a Grave so I created them. One fellow emerged among them with a story I want to share with you.

The Pioneer Infantries of World War I

When America entered World War I in April 1917, many African-Americans rushed to enlist. On July 5, 1917, over 700,000 African-Americans had registered. They were placed mostly into service units, which meant being assigned different labor-intensive tasks. These units were not trained to fight. Sadly, some feared that if these men were trained and armed, they might challenge white supremacy. Several of these regiments were called Pioneer units and consisted of engineers and construction managers. They primarily built bridges and roads, while maintaining railroads right behind the front lines.

The son of Helena resident Patsie Gibbs, Anderson Rasberry (living in Rolling Fork, Miss.) reported to his local draft board and was sent to Camp Funston in Kansas in July 1918. A railroad worker, Anderson was about 30, and had a wife and son. He would join the 805th Pioneer Infantry, Supply Company.

If you want an in-depth history of the 805th and their service in France, you can read it all here in this publication, “Victory: History of the 805th Pioneer Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces” by Paul Southworth Bliss. Known as the Bearcats, the 805th landed in France in July 1918 and served in Europe until July 1919. The division saw 39 days of action.

The RMS Saxonia was a ship of the British Cunard Line before being turned into a troop ship to transport soldiers during World War I. After the war ended, the Saxonia returned to commercial service. This photo was taken around 1900. (Photo Source: Detroit Publishing Company)

After spending a few months at Camp Funston (some of the 805th left for France earlier), Anderson and his fellow Supply Company soldiers left in September 2018 from Quebec, Canada on the Saxonia, a former passenger ship of the British Cunard Line. I wonder what Anderson was thinking as the ship pulled into the ports of Liverpool and Southampton, England, before arriving in Le Havre, France. The soldiers were then sent to Clermont-en Argonne.

The Supply Company spent most of its time in and around the hill known as Butte Ste. Anne. It was their job to keep the soldiers supplied with everything from proper garments to food to equipment. I don’t know specifically what Anderson did or if he was treated well by the white officers in charge of the companies within the 805th. I did read that in general, American black soldiers were treated better by the French soldiers and locals than their white American military counterparts.

This is the best picture I could find of the 805th Supply Company. I don’t know where Anderson is located among the group.

(Photo Source: “Victory: History of the 805th Pioneer Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces” by Paul Southworth Bliss)

Return to America

The 805th began its journey home on June 17, 1919 on the USS Zeppelin, originally a German passenger liner that came into American military possession during World War I. I found an article from the July 9, 1919 edition of the Dispatch-Republican (Clay, Kansas) describing the warm welcome the 805th and 806th received from Kansas-based military officials when they arrived in New York City. White Naval aviators were also returning that day on the Zeppelin, the article points out, so the festivities were likely primarily for them.

The 805th and 806th soldiers were taken to Camp Upton in Long Island for a celebration. I am posting just a portion of the article here. The Bearcats jazz band, which had received glowing reviews while in France, performed to show their appreciation.

(Photo Source: The Dispatch- Republican (Clay, Kansas), July 9, 1919.)

Anderson returned to Mississippi and his family, getting a job in a cotton mill, according to the 1920 U.S. Census. I wonder if he often shared his war stories with family and friends over the next years.

The only other record I could find for Anderson was his death certificate. Anderson died on Dec. 26, 1940 in the hospital at Helena due to a ruptured peptic ulcer. He was 51 years old.

Anderson Rasberry died at age 51 in 1940 as a result of a ruptured peptic ulcer.

Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World

Several markers at Magnolia Cemetery bear the insignia of the Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World (RCF). Here’s one of them. Until I visited Magnolia, I had never seen one before.

James King died at age 60 of dysentery on Feb. 6, 1924.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, the Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World was an African-American fraternal organization founded in 1909 in Helena. Its purpose was to supply insurance to African-Americans, but the RCF was also dedicated to the moral, physical, social, and economic welfare of its members. Men and women were equal members. The RCF grew rapidly across the Southern states and spread across the nation.

The first recruitment meeting of the RCF was held in Helena September 1–3, 1909 with a joining fee of $2.50. Dues were $1 every quarter, and $300 was paid at the death of a member. Other benefits included sick pay from $1 to $5 a week. The RCF also supplied a distinctive headstone for members, featuring a lion sitting atop a triangle with the letters RCF in the points of the triangle.

RCF stones at Magnolia Cemetery.

In 1910, RCF founding president Dr. Richard A. Williams started a newspaper, the Royal Messenger, published twice a month. By 1911, there were 300 lodges, called circles, scattered throughout Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.

By 1918, the organization had outgrown its Helena facilities, and Dr. Williams moved operations to Chicago. There, the group built its Supreme Temple and expanded facilities. In 1921, the RCF opened two hospitals for African-Americans, one in Memphis, Tenn. and the other in Little Rock, Ark. Members received free care at the hospitals.

This is a group of female members of a Royal Circle of Friends (RCF) lodge who were visiting the Grand Lodge in Helena, Ark. in 1916. (Photo Source: Encyclopedia of Arkansas/Harold Gray.)

Dr. Williams died on Sept. 27, 1944. The Chicago Defender reported that the RCF had more than 100,000 members and over $500,000 in assets. This may not have been accurate because on Oct. 12, 1947, the RCF was in bankruptcy. The Supreme Temple was auctioned off as part of the liquidation of assets.

One Stone, One Life

As I did research on some of the RCF markers at Magnolia, I found very little information about the people whose names were on the stones. For some like Maria Moore and Arthur Whittaker (see photos below), there was no information at all.

It’s sobering to think that a single stone could be the only evidence remaining of a life lived. Yet here they are, some of them over 100 years later. By joining the RCF, they were guaranteed a marker. A little piece of history that for some, is all that is left to show they were here. But it means so much.

That’s just one reason why cemeteries are still so important and must be preserved.

I could find no information about Maria Moore beyond what is on her grave marker.
There was also no information available for Arthur Whitaker, another RCF member.

Next week, I’ll be exploring nearby Maple Hill Cemetery.