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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.