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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).  

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To Volunteer Contact:

Sue Chrisco

P.O. Box 21

Sage, Arkansas  72573

Phone:  870-346-5327

E-mail:  chrisco@centurytel.net

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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

*Susan Drayton           

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

      and Mary  

Martha Shipley                           October 19, 1833        January 31, 1903

Sarah Elizabeth  wife of             February 25, 1871       July 22, 1901

 Robert Sims                                                 

Joe Green                                  November 28, 1870     July 21, 1910

Dratton Green                            April 17, 1868              March 15, 1918

Mrs. Laura Green        

    age 92

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

Joe Brooks

Lucy Johnson

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

Lester Davidson          

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                                   

Dave Darty

Kennard baby                                      ____ 3, 1948

D. W. Watkins

Earnest Darty                                       March 1, 1879             March 18, 1862

Lizzie Darty                                         July 14, 1884              September 22, 1956

Abe Billingsley                         

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

Chester Davidson

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, jmorrow@astate.edu 

This page was last updated on August 10, 2005