In hot pursuit of Mt. Zion Methodist Church

roadside tombstone and american flag

After choosing the wrong road fork to find Mt. Zion Methodist Church, I happened across a nearly hidden family cemetery. Graves included two Confederate veterans. Two families were represented, the Hardcastles and the Yergans. Some of the stones were hand lettered with paint.

I was in hot pursuit of Mount Zion Methodist Church on Dallas County Arkansas Road 407.  The church would probably be a good photo opportunity since it dated back to 1881.  I say hot pursuit because the heat index at the time, according to weather sources, was in the 105 to 110° mark.  Further, when traveling with cameras in hot steamy weather, I leave the windows open and eschew the chilling north winds of the air conditioner, which causes the lens to fog immediately when you exit to shoot.  And we can’t have that.

See the family that wades together stays together on Corndancer dot Com

See the family that wades together stays together on Corndancer dot Com

Before we go too much further, I must confess that I had actually been in pursuit of some good swimming hole pictures and perhaps a line or two of verbiage. What I ran into was a great family story, “the family that wades together stays together.” See this story at the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer do com. Click here to go there.

All of a sudden the road forked. I selected left and was on Dallas County Road 408.  Who knows why.  Not finding the church, after a few miles I decided it was time to do a 180 when the next opportunity presented itself on the gravel road.  I happened on such a place, stopped, backed in, and dismounted the trusty pickup to stretch my legs and grab a cold drink.

Hark!  Across the road I spy what appears to be a tombstone.  Someone has recently placed an American flag in front of it.  Curiosity getting the best of me, which it always does, I saunter across the road to check it out.  Sure enough, it is a tombstone.  And someone has gone to the trouble of painting the name on the cement monument.  The best I can tell, the lettering reads “GRANDMA YERGAN LENUEN Mother.”

I looked further in the woods and discovered that I had happened across a small family cemetery.  I came back out and was setting up to shoot the roadside grave when I heard the telltale gravel crunching retort of an approaching vehicle.  It was late model Ford pickup with a couple of good ol’ boys on board.

hardcastle-yergen cemetery

Hardcastle graves with hand painted tombstones. Painting letters in this environment was not an easy task, but some stalwart person was equal to the job.

They stopped and I walked over to start the de rigueur conversation I initiate when I am discovered, as in caught in the act.  I explained what I was doing.  The explanation was graciously accepted with an offer of a cold beer. Those of you who know me best know why I politely declined the offer. Turns out, living in the vicinity, they had passed the location no telling how many times but had never stopped to explore the site.  I invited them to take a look.  One of them did and he was amazed at what was there.

The predominant family name on the tombstones is Hardcastle. “Makes sense,” the guy said.  “This is Hardcastle Road.”  Returning to his truck, he revealed what he had found to his companion.  As the conversation progressed, we discussed the old cabin near Grapevine I had photographed and chronicled a couple of weeks back.  He told me it was the “Killin’ House” on “Killin’ House Road.”

confederate veteran grave

The date of Corporal Yergan's death indicates that he was probably a casualty of war.

There are two Confederate veterans buried in the cemetery. One is a Hardcastle and the other is a Yergan —  Corporal Thomas Yergan, Company D, 12th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry.  He died on April 30, 1864. Though he is a Confederate veteran, there is a United States flag on his grave. Finding this is another case of the Lord taking care of fools and drunks and/or, blind hog finds acorn.

Mount Zion Methodist Church – 1881

Mount Zion Methodist Church est 1881

Mount Zion Methodist Church, Dallas County, Arkansas County Road 407, established 1881

Mount Zion Methodist Church is a well-preserved example of rural Arkansas churches of the late 19th century.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Parishioners have seen fit to replace the old roof with a metal one.  Perhaps that improvement will help the old church last another 129 years.

The old church has two front doors, originally one for men and one for women. Church real estate in those days almost always included a cemetery and Mount Zion is no different.  The cemetery is well tended, reflecting the prevailing mentality of Mount Zion parishioners who have kept the faith since 1881.

wild flower at Saline River Farindale access

Wild poesy captured at Farindale Access to the Saline River on US Highway 167.

I noticed there was a hummingbird busy with this flower. That is until I whirled the lens around to capture his cantankerous little likeness at which time he fled the scene. All in all some cool experiences on one of our hottest days this year. Why not!


Every week, we post all of the “keepers” in the weekly shoot in glorious, larger, really cool larger high-resolution. This includes pictures that are not published anywhere else. This week, see several more of the fishing and wading adventure on Corndancer’s photo of the week. Click here to go there.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey


2 Responses

  1. Some of the things to struck me.
    – I love the the wild poesy pic.
    – I’m amazed how well the engraving on the tombstone has held up.
    – Your last line about strangers and hope on Corndancer says a lot.

  2. […] shooting another story in the general vicinity, a couple local guys stopped by to chat. Eventually the conversation got […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: