Greene County, Arkansas

Old Salem
written in 1957

Located in the southern part of Greene County about two miles southwest of Lorado, is a old cemetery started perhaps one hundred twenty five years ago, and which was abandoned as a burying ground at about the beginning of this century.

When that part of the county began to be settled, perhaps in the 1830's, the Methodist people established a church there and named it Salem, from which Salem Township got it's name. The church grew rapidly and in the fifties and sixties it was one of the outstanding churches of northeast Arkansas. Many people brought their dead for miles around to bury in the cemetery.

In that day big camp meetings were in vogue. Old timers used to tell how they as boys attended these meetings. Folks would come from distant places in their ox carts after crops were done to spend weeks at these prolonged services. Uncle Jimmy Waldrum, who lived about one-half mile north, butchered ten head of cattle to feed the hungry worshippers at one summer's gathering.

One of the outstanding pastors, or circuit riders, of that happy day was Rev. Porter Powell. During his years in the ministry he preached at other placs over this part of the state. He was pastor at what is now Trinty, near Bono, when Porter Tyler, an ancestor of many prominent Craighead County people, was born on June 6, 1846. So they named the baby Porter Powell Tyler.

Uncle Billy Horton, long diseased, remembered Rev. Powell best by the long white robe, or tunic, that he wore in the pulpit. This was perhaps a custom in that day.

Reverand Powell established a home there and left two sons: Allen and Ebebezer by names. Allen married and settled about one mile south of Salem Church. Ebenezer went about five miles west to Shady Grove community. Allen lived and died on this farm he developed. Gus H. Powell who was a Greene County teacher, County Court Clerk, bank official, and who now is in the State House at Little Rock is a son of Allen. Ermon Powell of Jonesboro is Gus's son. Ebenezer spent his life in the Shady Grove (Fontaine) community. He at one time represented Greene County in the legislature at Little Rock.

Now getting back to the church and cemetery at Old Salem; There is no record as to whom or why the church was abandoned. But one can surmise that it was when the Pleasant Hill and the Cross Roads Methodist Churches were organized not far away; perhaps in the 1870's. But, the cemetery was still used as a burying ground, in a diminishing degree, for a number of years thereafter. The last adult that anyone remembers being interred there was old Uncle Labe Lamb who lived on a farm midway between Lorado and Fontaine. His is one of the few tombstones which stands. Inscribed on this monument is "L.C. Lamb, Born October 13, 1831. Died July 1, 1900." Nathan Lamb who lives two miles southwest of Jonesboro is a sone of Uncle Labe. William Perkins, merchant here in Jonesboro, is a grandson.

William O'Dell, Zack Pribble, Borgie Clayton made a special trip to visit this historical spot. There is no road to the place now, so they parked the car at the Waldrum old place on the Lorado - Fontaine road and walked thru the woods about one - half mile south. They hardly knew when they got there for the years had been unkind to this once scared place. Trees, underbrush, and vines covered the graves. Quite a few of the tombstones had been covered up or carried off. Many were broken and down with the inscriptions were unreadable.

This is a story of a once flourishing center which thriugh the march of time because decadent and finally came to an end; and is today completely abandoned. No doubt the sons and daughters of these fine people who lay buried there looked after their graves and held in their hearts a fond recollection of an Old Salem in the heydays of her glory. But these sons and daughters too have died and are buried elsewhere. With them went the tender care and devotion that they had given to the graves of their parents. The grand and great grand children who followed them did not inherit an interest in those they never knew who lay buried buried.

So, on this hill at Old Salem, in unkept and forgotten graves sleep the mortal remains of a once proud and happy people. The briars and the brambles entwine the tombs of those which still retain their markers. Through the trees which have grown over their graves the winds echo a sad requiem of a day that is past and gone. The trod of feet are heard no more. The spirit of the past is over. How fast the wheels of time speed on! How soon the world forgets!

Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin

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