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