Maple Hill Cemetery and Points South


Eva B. Coolidge

The grave of Eva B. Coolidge in Maple Hill Cemetery, north of Helena, Arkansas.

Maple Hill Cemetery, north of Helena, Arkansas is impressive in its size, large; its terrain, hilly; its age, 164 years; its condition, excellent; and the art of its gravestones, very impressive. The monument you see above is inscribed  “Eva B. Daughter of C.R. and L. E. Coolidge  August 17, 1868 – August 24, 1871 Aged 3 years – 7 days.” The monument is correct in every detail and shows that a well-studied and experienced hand created the sculpture. Little Eva’s death reminds us of one of the bad old things about the good old days, high infant and child mortality.

Photo of the Week at Corndancer dot Com

Photo of the Week at Corndancer dot Com

There’s more of Maple Hill Cemetery on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com where this story started. Click here to see three more pictures from Maple Hill Cemetery including a larger version of the dog on the tombstone, and the story about how he got there.

Maple Hill Cemetery also has a Confederate cemetery inside its confines. Markers range from simple stones with a last name only to an impressive, monolith marking the grave of a brigadier general. In 2002 some confederate soldier remains were found in the Helena vicinity. Local civil war enthusiasts interred the remains and provided a marker.

Works of art and works of simplicity

Throughout the well-kept cemetery, you will see works of art in granite and alabaster. You will also see simple markers which are little more than small hewn stones.

The barlow family plot

The Barlow family plot is marked with a skillfully carved and detailed angel sculpture. Considering the age and exposure to the elements of the Delta, the quality is clear.

But at Maple Hill, regardless of size or provenance, everyone is equal and receives the same loving care. The cemetery is impressive in one more category, that being the condition of the older monuments, which for the most part are intact, a condition not necessarily in fact at all cemeteries of this age.

Bird seed

On the return trip, south of DeWitt, Arkansas, rice farmers, taking advantage of a non-liquid day, were harvesting rice in a big way. Some say, “harvesting,” some say “cuttin’ rice” and some of the older ones will still say “thrashin’ rice.” Regardless of the semantics, the combines are rolling and the rice is coming out of the fields.

combines and egrets

A few of the flock of egrets that were following the combines like gulls follow shrimp boats.

These behemoths take in rice at one end and spit chaff and stalks out the other and in the process will include some rice in the jetsam. On this one particular farm, what appeared to be several hundred egrets, a wading bird which depends on small fish, tadpoles, frogs and other small marine critters for its meals, could not resist the temptation of food they did not have to stalk.

A fire truck, but no lake and no swans

Next stop on the way home was the small community of Swan Lake, southeast of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, my headquarters. SWan Lake has an active volunteer fire department. It’s rolling stock is garaged, but they do have an old Howe-International Harvester R 185 fire truck on display for all the world to see.

fire teucks

A retired R185 Howe-International fire truck at Swan Lake, Arkansas.

Swan Lake is an old community and one presumes that at one time, perhaps there was a lake and mayhaps a few swans, but no more. But it’s still Swan Lake.

SWan Leke

Looking down the bore. If you saw this in your rear view mirror, it was time to get your duff out of the way.

Thanks for dropping by!

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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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

 

Meandering through Louisiana and Arkansas (north and south respectively)


It's best days behind it, this old service station in Stephens, Arkansas reminds us that time stands still for no one.

Its best days behind it, this old service station at First and Onyx streets in Stephens, Arkansas reminds us that time stands still for no one.

Regular or ethyl?

If you are long of tooth, you can remember this genre of service station. If you are not long of tooth, this is a part of your forebearers’ culture. The station had only two pumps, one for regular, one for ethyl gasoline. The concrete floors were permanently lubricated with years of ground-in grease and oil. The odor was of oil and anti-freeze. The operators filled your vehicle with gas, checked your oil and coolant and wiped your windshield. The only snacks available were allegedly cold Cokes and nickel sacks of Tom’s peanuts. This old station has apparently seen a few attempts at re-birth only to arrive at this state of affairs. That it has survived this long is a testimonial to its sturdy beginnings. It served well.

This tale of a trip started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, the subject of which is the town of Athens, Louisiana. While Athens, like a lot of small towns has taken its licks, the people are resilient. See the pictures and read the story, a cool thing to do.

Remembering what’s important

Remembrance and respect knows no geographic limitations. Spring Hill Community Cemetery can be found only after a trip on a gravel road. That does not diminish the sacrifices here represented.

Remembrance and respect know no geographic limitations. Spring Hill Community Cemetery can be found only after a trip on a gravel road. That does not diminish the sacrifices here represented. Only less noticed by the crowds.

Spring Hill Community Cemetery is well cared for and well decked out with flags commemorating Memorial Day. This cemetery in Ouachita County, Arkansas will never make the six o’clock news or the front page above the fold. The families of those here interred could care less. They continue to accept and keep their responsibilities, just as their parents and grandparents before them because it is the right thing to do.

Barn with tartan

This barner is a head-scratcher until you see the sign at the field entrance.

This barn is a head-scratcher until you see the sign at the field entrance.

Somehow, you simply do not expect to see a barn with a tartan designed roof. Even less so in north Louisiana. East of Minden LA, the barn is at the entrance to Scotland Farms of Louisiana, breeders of registered highland cattle according to the entrance sign.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe

PS: As you can see, I don’t make this stuff up. :o))