Preservation of African-American Cemeteries in
Izard County and Sharp County, Arkansas
Dr. Julie Morrow
Figure 1. Mrs. Sue Chrisco and Crew at Conyers-Hedge cemetery,
Sharp County Arkansas.
Conyers-Hedge Cemetery, 3SH247
On October 22, 2004 three cemeteries in the Ozark Uplands were photo-documented by personnel from the Arkansas Archaeological Survey-Jonesboro station. Sue Chrisco was our guide and she was accompanied by some of her helpers, husband A.D. and friends Remmel Conyers and Helen Conyers. Sue and her crew of cemetery preservationists are helping to preserve the cemeteries in Izard and Sharp Counties (Figure 1).
To Volunteer Contact:
P.O. Box 21
Sage, Arkansas 72573
One of the cemeteries, known locally as Conyers-Hedge cemetery, is located in southwestern Sharp County. Itís archeological site designation is 3SH247; first recorded by Anna Parks. This cemetery is located in Section 12 of Township 15N, Range 7W in Johnson Township. On the 1943 topographic map of Sandtown, ARK. On the 1943 topo map this cemetery is simply labeled Conyers (not to be confused with Conyers cemetery in southeastern Izard County). Located on a ridgetop, this cemetery overlooks several small creek valleys. It is rectangular (132 feet north-south x 150 feet east-west) and contains many nineteenth century headstones (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Headstone of Martha Shipley.
With a total of 22 above-ground inscribed stones, it contains predominantly African-American burials. Several interesting features include a rectangular stone walled enclosure that appears to contain perhaps 4 graves suggested by stones without inscriptions (Figure 3) and an above ground crypt (Figure 4).
Figure 3. Limestone slab enclosure with uninscribed grave markers.
Figure 4. Cover of Rebecca Martin's crypt at Conyers-Hedge cemetery, Sharp County.
Sue and her crew have provided grave markers for some of the unmarked graves. There appear to be many unmarked graves, perhaps as many as 50 to 100. The cemetery is wooded with oaks, hickories, and cedars. Irises and lilies grow on some of the graves. There is no obvious evidence of vandalism to the headstones and Sue and her crew worked hard to clear the undergrowth and weeds so that one can actually view the headstones (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Headstone at Conyers-Hedge cemetery, Sharp County, Arkansas.
The following is a listing of people buried at Conyers-Hedge cemetery, taken from the Arkansas archaeological site form filed by Anna Parks in 1992:
Name Born Died
Franklin Martin March 21, 1824 January 2, 1864
Rebecca Martin October 25, 1798 December 20, 1850
John son of John and May 3, 1789 September 27, 1864
Elizabeth Martin born in
Washington County Georgia
Aunt Ena Tate
Tabitha, wife of T.H. Horn November 22, 1824 August 17, 1877
W.C.G. age 72 years
1 month and 19 days
Henry B. Bone June 1, 1868 October 18, 1937
Genoice Crawford September 4, 1966 1 da.
Nelley Martin March 1896 120 yrs old
Peter Martin age 80 yrs. died 1880
Simon husb. of Dora Drayton February 26, 1879 February 15, 1917
Mary Drayton wife of G. E. April 28, 1840 June 21, 1913
G.E. Drayton 1811 (?) October 28, 1911
M.J. Drayton dau of December 30, 1866 December 22, 1908
*Govenor and Mary
Steven H. son of Governor November 4, 1881 March 10, 1904
Martha Shipley October 19, 1833 January 31, 1903
Sarah Elizabeth wife of February 25, 1871 July 22, 1901
Joe Green November 28, 1870 July 21, 1910
Dratton Green April 17, 1868 March 15, 1918
Mrs. Laura Green
Laura Drayton November 1, 1874 August 12, 1920
*According to the Arkansas State site form the 1900 census indicates Govenor Drayton was born in March 1827 and Susan Drayton was born in July 1885.
Sweet Home Cemetery, 3IZ226
Sue and her crew led us to two other cemeteries on October 22, 2005, both in eastern Izard County. The first was called Sweet Home cemetery. Its archeological site designation is 3IZ226; first recorded by Anna Parks in 1997. This cemetery is located in Section 26 of Township 17N, Range 8W. On the 1984 provisional topographic map of Zion, ARK this cemetery is labeled as Sweet Home cemetery. Located in a heavily wooded area, this cemetery is rectangular (95 meters north-south x 55 meters east-west) and contains many nineteenth century headstones (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Headstone of Alfred Kennard grave at Sweet Home cemetery, Izard County.
With a total of 62 inscribed stones or markers, it contains predominantly African-American burials. Many graves contain natural stone markers without inscriptions. Several interesting features include raised graves (Figure 7) and cast iron and glass grave markers (Figure 8).
Figure 7. Raised graves at Sweet Home Cemetery. Figure 8. Cast iron and glass
grave marker of Lu Harper.
Sue and her crew have provided grave markers for 24 of the at least 59 unmarked graves (Figure 9).
Figure 9. Headstones made by Sue Chrisco and her crew to mark
previously unmarked graves of individuals buried at Sweet home cemetery.
Sweet Home cemetery is sparsely wooded with elms, oaks, hickories, and cedars. In warm weather, there are irises and jonquils. Sue and her crew spent many hours trimming trees and cleaning up this cemetery. There is no obvious evidence of vandalism to the headstones (Figure 10), but some headstones are weathered and eroded. According to Anna Parks, many of the African-American families moved from this area in the 1950s and 60s. Some of them moved to Batesville. About an eight of a mile north of the Sweet Home cemetery stands a small building that was used as a Baptist church and school. A strong fence surrounds this cemetery.
Figure 10. Headstone of Delia Kennard at Sweet home cemetery.
The following is a listing of people buried at Sweet Home cemetery, taken from the Arkansas archeological site form filed by Anna Parks in 1997:
Name Born Died
Augusta Canada October 5, 1892 November 6, 1972
Lewis M. Canada December 28, 1886 August 23, 1967
Ewing Carl Canada April 20, 1928 May 31, 1991
Cornel Brooks AR PFC September 10, 1910 November 7, 1959
628 ORD AMMO Co. WWII
Lula Brooks ____ 16, 1947
Beulah Hall December 28, 1910
Verlite Darty May 12, 1911
Unitus Billingsley May 12, 1929 June(?) 6, 1980
Arvin B. Watkins November 28, 1911 May 16, 1978
Lettie M. Watkins June 2, 1918
Albert Watkins July 28, 1918 January 23, 1976
Essie Watkins March 7, 1926
Darty Hasten Dec. ___ 19___ October 5, 1972
Bernice Kennard April 18, 1915 September 6, 1973
Cornelius F. Kennard PVT 1912 1991
US Army WWII
Rudvern (?) Allison October 27, 1918 October 27, 1975
Bernice Brown PVT 1903 1985
US Army WWII
Lou Brown December 25, 1901 January 22, 1970
William O. Davidson AR PFC March 25, 1916 February 24, 1953
CoD 371 INF WWII
_____ P. Watkins (Collie) September 9, 1913 November 28, 1960
Reverand O. G. Watkins (Ollie) July 2, 1967
Clara A. Pease August 27, 1952 June 19, 1970
Clara Billingsley March 1, 1847 August 4, 1963
Boyd R. Davidson
Nancy Watkins October 7, 1956
Roxie Ann Davidson March 20, 1909 April 19, 1971
Henderson Kennard 1902
Amanda Kennard 1924
Tyree O. Kennard (Ollie) July 14, 1907 December 16, 1988
Stella Kennard November 25, 1907
Charlie Herbert AR PVT
311 Labor Bn May 10, 1940
Clyde Herbert AR PVT March 25, 1939
318 Serv Bn. OMC
R. H. Herbert May 19, 1869 December 16, 1932
Willie Wolfe August 12, 1914 March 7, 1989
Charley Liptton 1861 1947
Nancy Lippton 1860 1926
Tessie O. Darty
Kennard baby ____ 3, 1948
D. W. Watkins
Earnest Darty March 1, 1879 March 18, 1862
Lizzie Darty July 14, 1884 September 22, 1956
Rachel Billingsley, age 77 years
Lu Harper February 20, 1866 December 1893
W. A. Kennard
Delia Kennard July 15, 1858 October 27, 1916
Alfred Kennard July 21, 1847 July 15, 1919
Fannie Kennard September 1935
Reverend J. S. Kennard 1878 1966
Pearl Kennard March 17, 1889 June 9, 1946
Ewing Shaw December 24, 1887 April 24, 1950
Samuel Shaw November 5, 1885 April 24, 1950
Mary A. Harris March 20, 1866 September 16, 1942
R. L. Catherine
Ezra J. Chatherine March 18, 1904 September 11, 1967
Alma Jean Catherine May 20, 1903 October 14, 1975
Jane Catherine December 15, 1850 May 12, 1910
Lost Cemetery, 3IZ259
The third cemetery we visited is known as Lost cemetery (Figure 11). It is located in Section 1 of Township 16 N, Range 8W. Its archeological site designation is 3IZ259. Located on a gently sloping ridge above Caney Creek this cemetery consists of a small wooded area (20 meters north-south x 17 meters east-west) surrounded by pasture. At the time of our visit, there was a thick blanket of limbs and leaves on the surface of the cemetery (Figure 12). As many as 20 to 30 graves within the wooded area are suggested by the presence of small, uninscribed limestone slabs (Figure 13). Overtaken by elms and oak trees, there is no fence surrounding this cemetery. Sue Chriscoís mother told her this was an African American cemetery.
Figure 11. Lost Cemetery, Izard County, Arkansas, view looking southwest.
Figure 12. Inside Lost cemetery, Izard County, Arkansas, view looking northwest.
Figure 13. Genealogist Debbie Anderson by uninscribed stone marker at
Lost Cemetery, Izard County, Arkansas.
This website is maintained by Dr. Julie Morrow, firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was last updated on August 10, 2005