Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society
It is the objective of the Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society to collect and preserve genealogical and historical information with a focus on Washington County, Arkansas. We wish to encourage and provide training to those interested. We champion ethical and accurate research and publication of genealogical and historical information.
Folk Art and Tombstones
On March 12, 2006 Susan Young, Outreach Director of Shiloh Museum, presented an entertaining and informative program on “Tombstones in Northwest Arkansas.”
“I like to think of tombstones as folk art,” she told the members of Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society at our regular monthly meeting, “especially the homemade ones.” Over the years, some of the most unusual tombstones have been those lovingly crafted by family members to mark the final resting spot of loved ones. They are decorated with bits of colored glass, natural crystals, marbles, and hand drawn flowers. On children’s graves, favorite toys are sometimes found embedded in the homemade stones. Families use items at hand to craft the stones including rough pored concrete, cinder blocks, fieldstones or, in one case, the tank of a toilet turned upside down!
19th century tombstones made by hand were sometimes made by stonecutters who signed their work at the bottom of the stone. Many such stones are found in the cemeteries of Northwest Arkansas. The “head and shoulders” shape of stone, an upright rectangle topped with a circle resembling the head and shoulders of a person, is usually found in the oldest part of any cemetery. It is a common shape that was used throughout the 18th and 19th century.
Grave houses, which are not above ground vaults but houses built over the graves, are an old tradition that came with the settlers to the Ozarks from the Appalachian areas of Tennessee and Kentucky. They are also found in Native American cemeteries. Examples of this old tradition can be found in the Kilgore Cemetery (photo) in south Madison County and in Witts Spring Cemetery in Searcy County. The “tabletop” or stone coffin shape, also an above ground structure, is actually a centuries-old Celtic tradition. It was used to protect a grave from wild animals and/or human destruction. The Reece Cemetery in Washington County has an example of this type of tabletop stone marking the grave of Peter Mankins, a Washington County resident who died at the age of 111 years. (Editor’s note: Peter Mankins came from Illinois in 1832 when he was over 60 years of age. He was born on September 19, 1770 in Maryland and died in 1881.)
If you were born or have lived in the South, you probably know what Decoration Day is, and you have probably spent a springtime Sunday afternoon at a cemetery. Fresh flowers are placed on the graves of family and friends, and the plots are lovingly cleaned. Some families take picnic lunches and enjoy visiting with other Decoration Day participants. Some cemeteries have a “lunch on the grounds” in connection with services for the day. Local Washington County cemeteries still observe Decoration Day usually in May. [Ed. note: Photo of grave house courtesy of Shiloh Museum]
Women’s History Month
“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”
By Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Emily Dickinson, who was reclusive during her lifetime, wrote poetry that she kept private. With few exceptions, much of it was unknown until after her death.
March is Women’s History Month. The work of the three women below has helped to shape Washington County and to enhance the lives of all who live or have lived here.
Sophia Sawyer was the director of the Fayetteville Female Seminary. Shortly after Miss Sawyer died, Ann James, a teacher at the seminary wrote, “Miss Sawyer taught a primary school for years and taught thoroughly for she was not a woman to leave any work she undertook half done.”
Miss Sawyer opened the school in 1839 with 14 Cherokee girls. It was first located on the second floor of a log building on the Fayetteville Square. Tuition at the seminary was eight dollars for five months which covered classes in reading, spelling, defining, geography, history, mental arithmetic, and geometry. A more difficult course of study that included grammar, rhetoric, composition, ancient geography, ancient history, logic, natural philosophy, and astronomy cost $10. Had Sophia Sawyer chosen a more traditional course, she would probably have spent her life as a Yankee schoolmarm. Instead, she combined a passion for education with intense religious zeal to forge a career as teacher and missionary to the Cherokee.
Sophia Sawyer was born into poverty in New Hampshire in 1792. Her father, Abner Sawyer, was a farmer who settled in Rindge New Hampshire in 1797. Her intellect and ambition won the support of Congregational clergyman, Seth Payson, and others in her hometown. Clergyman Payson with another family took her in providing for her education at the New Ipswich Academy and at Reverend Joseph Emerson’s progressive female seminary at Byfield, Massachusetts. In 1821 she was still at Byfield and unsure of whether to continue her studies or to try to find a teaching position. The young woman excelled at her studies, but any ambitions she may have entertained were discouraged by poverty, and she knew it.
Two years later, she was in Georgia running a school supported by the American Board of Missions. For the next 14 years, she taught in mission schools. Sawyer’s temperament often put her in conflict with fellow missionaries, but the Cherokees seem to have accepted and appreciated her. There is no doubt that she was a fiercely dedicated teacher. For her part, she was genuinely attached to her pupils, albeit in the patronizing manner of one who was bringing enlightenment to the heathen.
In Georgia, Miss Sawyer lived with John Ridge and his wife, Sarah Northrup Ridge. Mrs. Ridge was from a conservative New England village, and her marriage had not been favorably accepted there due to the Indian blood of her bridegroom. The Ridge home in Georgia was a large, two-story house provided with every comfort. A school built by John Ridge was presided over by Miss Sawyer. In 1837, the school was discontinued because of the disturbed state of affairs in the Cherokee Nation and the forced removal of the people to the west. After the family was settled in the new Western Cherokee Nation, John Ridge provided another school building, and Miss Sawyer resumed her teaching of the Ridge children and other young people of the neighborhood. After John Ridge was murdered in a blood execution on June 22, 1839, Mrs. Ridge hastily moved her family to Fayetteville, Arkansas where she established a new home. The family was accompanied by the faithful Sophia Sawyer who started a school that proved to be one of the most popular establishments in the state at the time.
Sophia Sawyer died in 1854 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Fayetteville Arkansas.
[Photo courtesy of Shiloh Museum, Washington County Historical Society Collection]
Fulbright is a name well known in Arkansas and the nation because of the distinguished career of former Senator J. William Fulbright who served Arkansas in the U.S. House and Senate for 30 years. It was his mother, Roberta Fulbright, who challenged a governor and the state’s political establishment at the time, leading to the election of her son to congress. Some say that if it hadn’t been for this amazing lady, there might never have been a Fulbright Resolution or the creation of the United Nations.
(The Fulbright Resolution is, “That the Congress hereby expresses itself as favoring the creation of appropriate international machinery with power adequate to establish and to maintain a just and lasting peace, among the nations of the world, and as favoring participation by the United States therein through its constitutional processes,” passed by the House of Representatives September 21, 1943.)
Neither would there have been a Fulbright student exchange program and scholarship.
In the 1930’s and 1940’s, Roberta was considered the “best-known woman in Northwest Arkansas.” As a journalist, businesswoman, and political force, she was respected in her own right. Roberta Waugh Fulbright was born on February 14, 1874 in Chariton County, Missouri to J. Gillian and Patty Stratton Waugh. She was brought up in a family that valued education, attending the University of Missouri and teaching school before marrying an ambitious young man named Jay Fulbright in 1894.
Roberta and Jay Fulbright moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, with their growing family in 1906. Jay Fulbright, a good businessman, had interests in many enterprises including poultry farming, banking, lumber, and publishing. Roberta played the traditional role of homemaker and mother to their four girls and two boys and left business matters to her husband. In 1923, Jay Fulbright died suddenly. Determined to carry on, Roberta stepped into the business world. Even though she, at times, felt her competitors and others tried to take advantage of her inexperience, she proved them wrong by continuing the family’s business successes.
Her greatest interest was in the newspaper business as owner and publisher of the Northwest Arkansas Times. Beginning in 1923 and for many years thereafter, she wrote a regular column, As I See It, which expressed her independent views on local, state, and national events. Through her writings and business dealings, she became prominent in politics both locally and statewide. As a confirmed Democrat in a one-party state where personalities were more important than issues, Roberta Fulbright once said. “Our politics remind me of the pies the mountain girl had. She asked her guests ‘Will you have kivered, unkivered or cross-bar? All apple.’ Now that’s what we have; kivered, unkivered and cross-bar politics – All Democrats.” Although Mrs. Fulbright twice considered running for Congress herself, she eventually was content to influence matters through her newspaper and through the career of her son.
In 1947 she was selected Arkansas’ “Mother of the Year,” and in 1950 she was named honorary lifetime president of the Arkansas Newspaper Women, an organization that she helped to form. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, Perennial Garden Club, Altrusa Club, and the Washington County Historical Society. Roberta Fulbright died on January 11, 1953 at the age of 79. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Fayetteville beside her husband, Jay.
[Photo courtesy of Shiloh Museum, Washington County Historical Society Collection]
In 1920 when Congress ratified the 19th Amendment, there was a slight little woman in Winslow, weighing not quite 88 pounds, who took her newfound right of suffrage very seriously. Maud Dunlap Duncan was one of the first women in the state to become a licensed pharmacist, and she was the editor of the local weekly newspaper, The Winslow American. Mrs. Duncan was at the top of a carefully selected slate of candidates who would ultimately win the city election giving the town of Winslow, Arkansas, the first all woman city governing body, consisting of Mrs. Duncan and her staff of 6 alder(wo)men. After a unanimous vote on Election Day that swept the women into office, the men of the town smiled smugly and sat back to wait for frustration to begin. The awaited quick demise of the “Petticoat Government” never occurred. The ladies got right down to business in a manner that had not been the case with the previous leaders. When meetings were called, everybody was there; they cooperated and got things accomplished. They served without pay. When the first term of office was done and it was election time again, a few men offered token resistance by running against the ladies. They were soundly defeated, and the “Petticoat Government” was swept into office for a second term. At the conclusion of the second term, the ladies graciously relinquished the reins of government. They had proven their point.
Maud Dunlap Pearce Duncan was born in Washington County, Arkansas on a farm near Fayetteville on October 22, 1873 to Dudley Clinton Dunlap and Kathleen Hewitt. Her mother died when Maud was an infant, and she was sent to live with her paternal uncle, Albert Dunlap, and his wife, Virginia Cabell Schoolfield. Even though Maud considered Dr. and Mrs. Dunlap her parents, no legal records have been found proving that they ever adopted her. The family lived in Ft. Smith until Maud was 14 when they moved to Winslow.
Maud married Hallam Pearce in 1894. The couple had 2 daughters, Helen Pearce Dunlap, b. February 22, 1895 – d. September 11, 1903, and Virginia. Virginia died in infancy prior to 1900 when Maud and Helen are shown as living with Dr. and Mrs. Albert Dunlap on the 1900 Census. The census record shows that “Maud V. Pierce has had 2 children with 1 now living.” The Pearce marriage was annulled in 1901, and only one child was mentioned.
In 1908 she married Gilbert Nelson Duncan of Winslow. Soon after their marriage, Mr. Duncan purchased the monthly Winslow Mirror, changed the name to the Winslow American, and began weekly publication that continued without interruption until the 1950’s. The couple built a 2-story home in Winslow. The first floor housed the Duncan Pharmacy (previously the M. D. Pearce Pharmacy), and the newspaper was published on the second floor where the couple also established the town’s first lending library. Both Maud and G. N. exerted tireless effort and time to the war effort during WWI. Gilbert Duncan died of pneumonia early on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. Maud never remarried.
Alone, she attempted to keep the pharmacy and the weekly newspaper alive. The family fortunes dwindled to nothing, and she existed on barely a pittance. Family real estate holdings were lost to creditors. The stone home burned in 1935 destroying the newspaper press on the second floor. A smaller press was set up in a flimsy building that had insufficient heat in winter and was stifling hot in summer. Here, Maud set type by hand and published the little weekly paper. In spite of all adversity, the proud head never fell; offers of assistance were politely refused. In 1956, Maud Duncan was admitted to a retirement home in Fayetteville where she received warmth and needed care in her last years. She died January 21 1958. She is buried beside her husband and her two small children in St. Stephens Episcopal Cemetery in Winslow. [Information for this article taken from The Story of Winslow’s Maud Duncan by Robert G. Winn]
100 Years Ago or Thereabouts.
From Flashback, 1954 WCHS
In May 1907, Johnson was the scene of a train wreck. On a Saturday night came a rain that weakened a section of track barely a quarter mile north of the depot. The Sunday morning train from St Louis was derailed at this point – - that is, all but the engine, which pounded on to Fayetteville to get help. The inhabitants of Johnson gathered about the wrecked train to aid with the rescue work. No one was killed but many were injured, some seriously. The injured were taken to Fayetteville in a coach brought back by the engine. [Editor’s note: Walter J. Lempke wrote this story about the Johnson Switch train wreck for the WCHS quarterly publication, Flashback, in 1954. I tried to find a newspaper account from a newspaper of the time, but was unsuccessful. J.T., Editor, Family Links]
From The Fayetteville Democrat: May 31, 1907:
The Confederate decoration will take place on next Monday, the 3rd of June. The program will be as follows:
All who wish to join the parade will assemble at the crossing of College and Lafayette avenues at 10:30. The procession under command of W. S. Pollard, marshall of the day, and his aids will start for the cemetery at 11:00, and it is hoped that all who are willing to do so will fall into line. The order of march will be:
2. Confederate Soldiers
3. Carriages conveying orator, presiding officers, chaplain, mayor of the city and officers of the S.M.A.
4. Members of the S.M.A.
5. Daughters of the Confederacy
AT THE CEMETERY
1. Music by Band
2. Remarks by Hon. Hugh A. Dinsmore, presiding officer
3. Hymn – How Firm a Foundation
4. Prayer – Rev. Thomas D. Windiate, Chaplain
6. Reading – Mrs. Ruth Wood
8. Reading – Miss Beulah Williams
9. Decorating graves while dirge is being played by band. The Confederate soldiers will place a wreath on the headstone of each grave. All are invited to strew flowers on the graves.
10. Recalled to stand by music by band
11. Oration – Hon Stephen Bundige of Searcy.
12. Music by band
13. Hymn – “God be With You” in which everyone may join.
14. Benediction by chaplain.
[Ed. Note: Original punctuation and spelling have not been changed nor corrected.]
Did you know?
Shared by Sue Thompson
In 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark started the grueling trip back from the Pacific through the Louisiana Purchase to Washington, D.C. A few facts about the trip:
• The situation may have become desperate on March 7, 1806 when the expedition ran out of tobacco. It had run out of whiskey the previous July 4.
• The expedition started from Camp Wood, upstream from St. Louis, May 14, 1804.
• In October, the expedition built Fort Mandan near a Mandan Indian village in central North Dakota. This winter camp is where Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife, Sacagawea, joined the venture.
• On April 7, 1805 after sending men back to President Thomas Jefferson with maps, reports and Indian artifacts, the remainder of the expedition headed upstream.
• Through extreme difficulty, the expedition reached sight of the Pacific November 7, 1805 near present-day Portland, Oregon and wintered at Fort Clatsop at the mouth of the Columbia River.
• The return trip reached St. Louis on September 23, 1806.
By Mark Watson, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee:
Sources: Wikipedia, LewisClark.net
Genealogists: We Make Our Ancestors Live Again
Shared by Barbara Lewis
We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors… to put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, is breathing life into all who have gone
We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, “Tell our story!” So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us”? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.
It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to “Who am I?” and “Why do I do the things I do?” It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, “I can’t let this happen.” The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish; how they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth. Without them we could not exist, and so we love each one as far back as we can reach… that we might be born who we are…that we might remember them. And, we do so with love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence because we are they, and they are the sum of who we are.
So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those whom we had never known before.
Meet Your Officers
Barbara Carpenter Lewis served as WCAGS Treasurer in 2005 and is currently our secretary.
Barbara was born in Eugene, Oregon. At the end of her junior year in high school, she moved with her family to her mother’s childhood community of Elkins in Washington County. After graduation from Elkins High School, she attended the University of Arkansas earning 2 degrees – one in Bacteriology and Food Service.
“I have been interested in and researching family history since 1969,” says Barbara. She was the first editor of the Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society Newsletter and has published a book on George Washington Counts. She is now compiling a book on her ancestral Cloninger family.
She actively researches her families of Carpenter, Pollock, Robertson, Mathis, Cloninger, Atchison, Bart, Quarles, Smith, Rhyne and Rhoads. Most of them hail from Yell County Arkansas and the State of Tennessee. “My dad was from Yell County,” she adds. “But for my children, I am also researching the families of Lewis, Ratliff, Springston, Counts, Johnson, Thompson and Lawson. Most of them are found in Madison and Washington County.”
Barbara is currently employed by the Entomology Department at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, working with Insect, Pest Management of Fruit and Rice Pests and Insect Chemical Ecology. She lives in Elkins and has 2 children and 1 granddaughter.
The next meeting of the Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society will be on April 9, 2006 at The Headquarters House, 118 E. Dickson, Fayetteville, from 2:00 – 4:00. Be sure to mark your calendars.
Happy hunting, y’all,
Jeanne Tackett, editor
How many of you know what S.M.A was? (See article about Confederate Decoration)