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HISTORY OF
PLEASANT RIDGE CEMETERY
MARION CO AR
SUBMITTED BY MAX PARNELL

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       The Pleasant Ridge Cemetery is just south of the Ralph Community and is around six miles south of Yellville, Arkansas. The Pleasant Ridge United Methodist Church is adjacent to the cemetery. A marker at the main entrance to the cemetery indicates that the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery was begun in 1836 and that the Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church was founded in 1848. The same 1848 date is painted above the entrance to the United Methodist Church. The marker at the cemetery entrance also notes that the land was donated by W. H. and Sally Doshier. In the History of Marion County, by Earl Berry, an article on the history of the Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church by Mrs. Mae Patterson and Mrs. J. V. Turnquist indicated that Jerome Dixon deeded the land for the church and cemetery. An obituary for Sylvester Cheek printed on January 26, 1938, states that "many years ago he donated the five acre tract of land to the Pleasant Ridge church and cemetery."
       On June 1, 1997, the Pleasant Ridge United Methodist Church celebrated its 150th anniversary at the annual homecoming or decoration day. At that time, a history of the church and cemetery was read. That history brought together the various dates and donors. According to that history, about the year 1848, a church was organized at Pleasant Ridge. Lay preachers and circuit riders held the first services, perhaps under a brush arbor. Then later a log building was erected on the spot of ground just west of the present building. That building served both as a meeting house and school house and was heated by two fireplaces, one at each end of the structure. Lights were tallow or grease lamps. The seats were split logs.
       According to the history that was read June 1, 1997, Jerome Dixon originally owned the land on which the church building stands and also the original marked cemetery land. He deeded the land to his son-in-law and daughter, William H. Doshier and Sarah E. Dixon "Aunt Sally" Doshier, with the understanding that they deed the land on which the church stands and the cemetery land to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. They followed his instructions and the deed was made to the Church Trustees: Calvin Summers, Jonathan Doshier, William Watts, James P. Smith, Robela Tatum, William A. Sims, and John D. Mayers. The record of that deed was burned in the fire that destroyed the Marion County Courthouse in August 1887. Another deed was filed on October 30, 1902, from Sylvestor and Martha Cheek to the Pleasant Ridge Church, South. That deed included some additional land that was donated by the Cheeks.
       At first glance, what appears to be the oldest marked grave is that of J. M. Bearden. His grave is marked with a military marker indicating that he served as a Corporal with the Tipp Co. Tennessee Volunteers in the Indian Wars. Only one date is shown and that is 1836. Many of the older military markers listed no dates or only one date, and that date was normally the death date. This would make it appear that J. M. Bearden died in 1836 which could mean that his was the first burial in the cemetery; however, an obituary in the February 7, 1890 issue of The Mountain Echo, has a story about the death of "Uncle John" Bearden. The Bearden family history shows his death date as January 26, 1890. As a result, it would appear that the 1836 date might be his discharge date from the military. In that case, the oldest marked grave is that of Jonathan Doshier who died May 27, 1877. There were probably others buried there prior to Jonathan Doshier, but without headstones.
       The Pleasant Ridge Cemetery holds an annual decoration day on the first Sunday in June. It is not known when the first decoration day was held, but an article in the June 6, 1902, issue of The Mountain Echo tells of the "Children's Day" at Pleasant Ridge. Children's Day was obviously much the same as decoration day since the graves were decorated. The article implies that the 1902 event was not the first, so it is probable that the graves at Pleasant Ridge have been decorated on the first Sunday in June for over 100 years.
       The following survey contains 867 listings. Not all of those are burials, but, at the same time, not nearly all of the burials are marked. A member of the cemetery board related that unfortunately during a thorough cemetery cleaning a number of years ago, fieldstones that had been the only markers for many graves were removed and discarded. That would mean that many other graves are actually in existence throughout most of the older part of the cemetery. The 866 listings includes two which were shown in Lester and Marian Burnes' book, Cemeteries of Marion County, that were either overlooked in 1993, 1995, and again in 1997 or have disappeared since the Burnes made their survey. The list also includes 27 burials for which there are not any marked graves, but which were mentioned in obituaries printed in The Mountain Echo or The Baxter Bulletin. One listing is made for a grave that was marked with a funeral home marker in 1993 and 1997, but no marker could be located for the grave in 1999. The list also includes all markers in place on October 2, 1999, which included numerous markers that were in place reserving places for future burials. It also includes individuals whose obituaries have appeared in The Baxter Bulletin since October 2, 1999. Since the surveyor was not familiar enough with families in the area, all markers without death dates were shown as "no date" instead of trying to differentiate between individuals that were still living and graves where the death date had not been inscribed. There are 84 listings where no death date is shown, but obituaries have been collected that correspond to 12 of those listings. It is obvious that many of the 72 others represent burials and not just reservations for future burial plots. As an example, some of the 72 are for "child of _____" or "infant of _____".
       (A special thanks is extended to Mrs. Martha Brace Ott, who furnished a copy of the history that was presented at the 150th anniversary of the Pleasant Ridge United Methodist Church.)

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Linda Haas Davenport