Arnhart Cemetery: A Crossroads of History Past and Future Preservation.
The Arnhart Cemetery is located high above Archey Creek in the old Hartsuggs township in the north central part of the county just below the Searcy county line up the creek from the old Wollum community. The property is now owned by the heirs of the late Tolley Bixler family and is located in Section 14, Township 12, Range16. Not much is known about the origin or the history of how it started. We do know it is in the same geographical location as the original land patent granted to Jacob Arnhart in 1850. He states in his affidavit claiming homestead rights that he started living on the land on January 1st, 1850. Jacob had the distinction of being one of the earliest settlers to be granted a patent on land in that area. We believe the cemetery was probably established about that time. We also know Jacob was living in that area as early as 1840. He was listed in the 1840 Van Buren County Census with his family.
We do know the early settlers used the cemetery long before some of the other cemeteries were established in the area. One of our earlier markers indicates that a death occurred in 1879. With the numerous unmarked graves we know that it could have been in existence long before the death in 1879. There are approximately 90 graves marked with native fieldstones. Some contain an “initial” etched into the rock to let someone know the name of the family member buried in that particular grave. One would have to see the location of the cemetery to understand why it would have been difficult to order a marker and have it moved to this location. It is in a remote part of the county along Archey Creek, a tributary of the Little Red River, and is accessible from county road 166. Some of the original web and barbed-wire fence is still visible. Its location was originally marked with a wrought iron gate and an “Arnhart Cemetery” sign. We believe Jacob Arnhart was probably the person who made the sign, as he was a blacksmith by trade.
The Cemetery was active until the 1920’s or 30’s. The last person interred there with an identifiable marker is G.L. McCutcheon, who died on Jan 12th, 1927. We know from census information there was about 50 to 60 families living in the Hartsuggs township during the period that the cemetery was active. There are markers or information that the following families used this cemetery: Arnhart, Barnes, Copeland, Cooper, Emerson, Eskridge, Hensley, Hodges, Lott, McCutcheon, Millsapps, Moody, Pruett, Eakin and Rankin. When the Pleasant Grove Cemetery and the Archey Valley Cemetery were established this Cemetery became inactive and was neglected for many years. At the beginning of World War II and subsequent years following the war, people started migrating to other parts of the state. By the 1950’s all of the families had moved out of the area to make a better life. In leaving the area there was no thought given to who would take care of the final resting place for their loved ones left behind. From 1950 to the 1990, the cemetery was virtually abandoned and was on the verge of being lost; It had grown up with trees and brush. Some of the other cemeteries along the Creek were also abandoned and lost during this same time. Roads were being closed by property owners and made inaccessible. There was no access road. The only way in to it was by foot. I have had numerous people tell me they were not able to locate it because it had grown up with tall brush and vegetation.
It was in 1997 that we started to look for a way to try and clean up the old cemetery and to preserve this part of history that had been such an important landmark in the development of Van Buren county’s early years.
I used to visit this place and leave disillusioned with what I saw. I wondered what I could do about the situation and whether I should try and get some help. Would other people be interested in helping me? I had one thing in mind as I pondered the situation: I would not turn my back something was going to be done.
Over the past ten years, I have received my answer. Dozens of good-minded folks have spent time, energy, and hard-earned money in order to help contribute to the preservation of this important landmark. To all of these people I am grateful.
Please spend some time learning more about this cemetery and the people who have made its preservation possible.
Back to main cemetery page.|