133 years and still counting


If you’ve arrived here from the Corndancer dot com photo of the week page, the story continues. If you haven’t been to the photo of the week page and want to be regaled with a couple of additional photos and the start of the story of a family that has kept it’s reunion going for 133 years, click here.

What you see here is southern potluck at it's finest. And you are seeing just a fraction of it. There are five more tables just like this one, brimming with mouthwatering cuisine from home kitchens. It's chow-time at the 133rd  Marks-Barnett Family Reunion in Cleveland County, Arkansas.

What you see here is southern potluck at it's finest. And you are seeing just a fraction of it. There are five more tables just like this one, brimming with mouthwatering cuisine from home kitchens. It's chow-time at the 133rd Marks-Barnett Family Reunion in Cleveland County, Arkansas, June 7, 2009. The total caloric value might power an aircraft carrier a respectable distance.

Remarkable people

The Marks family is truly a remarkable group in many ways. Their cemetery is the most visible evidence of their dogged determination to “do-right.” . In the early fifties, several of the family shook their heads in disgust and mused that their family cemetery, a horrible mess at best, deserved better. And that’s about all it took to spark a cemetery renaissance via no small amount of sweat equity.

Today the well kept cemetery not only is the final resting place for beloved relatives and ancestors, it is an evolving showplace of history and southern rural culture. The grounds around the cemetery are laced with nature trails, some of which follow small streams. While negotiating the trails, one will find several small, but sturdy foot bridges over gullies, and creeks where a stumble or splash might ruin an otherwise pleasant stroll through the woods.

 

Marks Cemetery, the site of the Marks Family Reunion is close enough to the site of the War Between the States Battle of Marks Mill, the creeks were red with blood during the battle. It was reported that “ ... so many horses and soldiers were killed or wounded that Salty Branch (above) ran red with blood.” Today, Salty Branch is a clear placid stream, a far cry from the violence of April 25, 1864. One of the hiking trails around the cemetery follows the trace of the stream.

Marks Cemetery, the site of the Marks Family Reunion is close enough to the site of the War Between the States Battle of Marks Mill, the creeks were red with blood during the battle. It was reported that “ ... so many horses and soldiers were killed or wounded that Salty Branch (above) ran red with blood.” Today, Salty Branch is a clear placid stream, a far cry from the violence of April 25, 1864. One of the hiking trails around the cemetery follows the trace of the stream.

A large number antique farm implements place around the grounds are visible evidence of the agrarian nature of the areas economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Plaques at every piece of equipment give evidence of  it use. This horse-drawn planter is a good example. The planter was donated to the cemetery collection in memory of  Tate “Uncle Bud” McGehee “Miss Vaughn” McGehee. Family member Edgar Colvin installed the planter at the cemetery, The plaque information, typical of the collection reveals a story. The planter was bought by Mr. McGehee in 1920. He always said, “ ... this planter is so accurate that if it drops two seeds in a hill, it will reach back and pick up one of them.”

A large number antique farm implements placed around the grounds are visible evidence of the agrarian nature of the areas economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Plaques at every piece of equipment give evidence of it use. This horse-drawn planter is a good example. The planter was donated to the cemetery collection in memory of Tate “Uncle Bud” McGehee “Miss Vaughn” McGehee. Family member Edgar Colvin installed the planter at the cemetery, The plaque information, typical of the collection, reveals a story. The planter was bought by Mr. McGehee in 1920. He always said, “ ... this planter is so accurate that if it drops two seeds in a hill, it will reach back and pick up one of them.”

James and James Boney, of New Edinburg bring their extensive collection of Civil War relics to the annual reunion. The elder James Boney found most of the collection on the battlefields of The Battle of Marks Mill. Younger James is a well-spring of Civil War information and Elder Boney is a respected source of information on the Battle of Marks Mill.

 

Left to right, (and vice-versa) James Stoney and James Stoney and their Civil War relic collection.

Left to right, (and vice-versa) James Boney and James Boney and their Civil War relic collection

I would be remiss if I did not make mention Spears Country Store, not far from Marks Cemetery. Not having been to the cemetery site before, I decided that a reconnaissance trip on Saturday before the reunion on Sunday would be a good idea. After my visit to and a few shots on the grounds, I meandered to nearby New Edinburg and dropped into Spears Country Store for what is known in southern parlance as a “cole drank.” (It is my understanding that some misguided souls call the refreshment a “soda.”) I was delighted to discover that the store offered sandwiches. I ordered a ham and turkey sandwich. It was so fine! And a hand full. Jerry Clowers would have probably said you could “ … eat one of those suckers and work all day at the saw mill.”

Spears Country Store

Spears Country Store, New Edinburg, Arkansas

Folks, there is a lot of goodness left in our world. From families to stores and sandwiches, this ol’ boy found ’em this weekend.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey

 

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16 Responses

  1. Joe,

    Great story and even greater photos! Our surname, by the way, is Boney, not Stoney. 😀

    In any case, nice job.

    James Boney the Slightly Younger

    • James, my apologies on the name. I was late at night and I suppose that my little pea brain, like my eyes, were crossed.
      Joe

  2. Great story Joe. Of course I also knew you would find a General Store! LOL!

    By the way, I assume the Marks also let you eat.

  3. Frank, my gastronomical desires were overwhelmed with Marks-Barnett culinary largess … and you are right, if there is a general store out there, I’m gonna find it. In fact, there may be a series festering about that subject. We’ll see.
    Thanks,
    Joe

  4. Wonderful pictures and great write-up! Thanks so much for making this info available! I am a descendant of the Marks brothers’ brother, Nicholas Meriwether Marks, who settled just south over the border in Bossier Parish, LA. He and his wife Rebecca Lyde Wright had a large family of boys who also fought in the Confederate Army.

    My family attended one of the remarkable Marks Reunions at the Cemetery about 20 years ago, but lost contact with the family who coordinated everything. How in the world can I please get in touch with the current Marks bunch to get information for the 2010 Reunion?

    Thanks again….Melinda Fry Moore in Brenham, TX

    • Meli, thanks for the comment. I have sent you a separate email with the info you want.
      Cheers,
      Joe

    • You can talk to Harold Marks, age 84 and the son of Paul Marks and sister to Betty Carpenter of Crossett Ar. and now deceased, Frances McMillian. He lives in Mountain Home, Arkansas and is still in good health. Harold is an Retired Army Warrant Officer who flew two mission in Vietnam and flew helicopters in and around Washington (during the time when Princess, now Queen Elizabeth of England visited our country in 1956 or 1957. His tele # is 870-425-3584. He does plan on attending the Marks-Barnett family reunion tomarrow, June 3, 2012. It takes place the first Sunday in June.

  5. Joe,

    My grandfather Thomas Grim Jr. and three of his brothers were captured by Confederate forces at the Battle of Marks Mill. They spend a year at Camp Ford and two of them died as a result. The 77th Ohio was their unit and their father Thomas Grim Sr. was in another company of the 77th. Other members of the extended family served in the 77th also. Can you send me James Boney’s email address?
    I have written a 127 page narrative of the Grim family’s experience in the war.

    Thanks in advance.

    Fred Schultz
    Waynesboro, VA

    • Mr. Schultz,

      My great grandfather, Salem Grim, son of Joseph, Grandson of Charles, and great grandson of Hessian soldier Christian Grim, was born in Monroe Co., OH, a Lt. in the WV Vol Infantry. Was born 1831, died 1899. Can you see any family relation here?

      My email is gran at granjean dot com

      • They are related. Just picked up on your message. Sorry about the delay.

        Fred

  6. These pics are great, and the commentary too! Have attended the last11 years at the urging of Pat Rhine Brown of Pine Bluff, and my cousins. T he Lord is still honored at these yearly reunions and we have a wonderful family heritage to treasure..Many thanks, Jan

    • Janet, thanks for the kind words and visiting the site. David Brown, Pats son ask me to attend. Saying yes to the invitation was one of the smartest things I ever did.
      Thanks,
      Joe

  7. […] store in town still operational, McClellan’s Country Store. This is not the first time I have visited the store to satisfy my hunger. Longnecker Barq's Root Beer and huge […]

  8. […] want to check out our previous posts on the reunion, cemetery and battle: Our first post was on June 9, 2009; our second post was on June 6, […]

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