Extracted from a book, Chancery Court Records, Volume 1 by Carolyn Hanna and used here with her permission. Chancery files were transcribed from records at the Scott County courthouse. The depositions in this court case contain information about the land and early history of the Bush Cemetery.

July 1894, School District #64 and W. Thomas Redding, J.V. Reese, John Jenkins & J.L. Redding v. J.M. Hise

Depositions taken 6 Aug 1894 at office of Free Malone in Waldron
(Note: Large amount of depositions taken-- Have been condensed only to pertinent info not mentioned in other depositions or for personal information.)

My name is R.A. Castleberry and I am 48 years old. I settled near that location in 1873. A school house was built on the land in controversy about 1876. I was present and assisted in the building. Thomas Redding was also present and assisted in building the house. He said he would give us three acres at that place for a district school house and grave yard and would give us a deed for that purpose. It is my understanding he did make a deed but I was not present. It was the only district school house we had at that time and the public free schools were taught there each year afterwards. I think it is about four miles from the location in controversy to the Jenkins school house. R.A. Castleberry “X”

My name is W.T. Redding and I am 66 years old. I am a resident of the Cherokee Nation. I deeded in 1876 to School Dist. 14, a piece of land, I do not remember the section, 3 acres more or less on a tract of land sold to Mr. Hise by me... for a school house and burying ground. The consideration was $5.00. I went and pointed out to the directors the parcel of land that I sold to them. As far as I know the directors have had possession ever since. There was a school house built on this ground and a graveyard established. It was some two years after the above sale that I sold the remainder of the tract of land to Mr. Hise. I did not sell the 3 acres to him. I showed him the land I had sold to the school dist. and told him about it. I do not know what the no. of the district is at present. There is one thing of which I am certain. That the land in controversy is the land I deeded to School District No. 14. I do not know whether there was a mistake in the deed I made to the district or not. The land was covered in timber when I sold it. I looked at it last Thursday. A part of the ground is now occupied by a graveyard. Most of the land is cleared up and is planted in cotton this year. The land is cleared up to the graveyard now. I do not know who cleared it or whose crop is on it. For my part, I would not have had the land cleared for $200. The bad feature of it was that the dead were there. I would not count that the district was damaged over $100. The school directors were Mr. Bush, Tom Laramore and I do not remember the other one. I gave the deed while the house was being built. I moved to the Nation about 2 years after I deeded the land. I have only been back here but twice until now. I stayed about a week one time and the other time, about two weeks. I was in the Nation five years before I returned here the first time and was here about two years ago. I did not find a house on the land the first trip. It had been torn down and moved away. I arrived at the conclusion that the directors were in possession because they had the deed and were using it as a burying ground. The house is not in the land I deeded now. Part of the ground I sold to the district is in a field. I sold the tract of land, 200 acres, for $1050 except the part I sold the district. The community still bury their dead there. W.T. Redding “X” His mark.

George Burns, being sworn, says I am 47 years old and a resident of Ross Creek, Scott Co. Ark. I live in the school district which the piece of land is in controversy. I have lived there nearly 3 years. This ground has been used for school and burying purposes ever since I have lived there. There is no school house on this particular piece of land. It was covered in timber when I first knew it 3 years ago but is not now. It has been cleared, fenced and put in cultivation by Mr. J.M. Hise. I cleared the land with my son-in-law for Mr. Hise and fenced it or rope fenced it. I was present at the time the fence was made next to the graveyard. The fence is in 10 feet of the graves in the nearest places but is on only one side of the graveyard. The fence comes up near the graveyard and then makes a bend around and comes up near it again. There is not space enough left between the fence and graves to pass through without getting on the graves with a wagon. The timber on this land was good young timber. I made some rails out of the timber. We made about 2070 rails for Mr. Hise and the greater part were made on this land, I think. I am pretty sure that is correct. The remainder of the timber was destroyed or deadened. The school district was damaged by the destruction of this timber and encroachment for $150. This land was cleared last fall was a year ago. Two crops have been raised on it. There had been some timber cut off this land before I cut any. The district was damaged by spoiling a mighty pretty burying ground and the timber. I do not know what the land is worth. I think it is worth $25 an acre for farming land. I was living on Mr. Hise’s place last year and made a crop there. There was some bad feeling between Mr. Hise and myself. I live on Mr. Satterfield’s place this year. He is one of the plaintiff’s in this case. I think the land to be worth $50 an acre for burying purposes aside from the value of the timber that was on it. I consider the timber worth $50 for the purpose for which it might be used for and I consider the encroachment on the graveyard to be worth $100. There was no house on this land and it was not used for school purposes. It is my understanding that it was controlled by the school directors but I do not know if it was used as a public burial ground. If there is any bad feeling between Mr. and myself now I do not know it. There is none with me. Mr. Hise seemed to be in control of the land at the time we cleared it and we cleared about all the district claimed. G.W. Burns

Depositions taken 12 Feb 1895 in clerk’s office in Waldron.

J.M. Hise, being sworn, says: I live in Scott Co and am 46 years of age. I have lived in Scott Co. fifteen years. I moved on the land in controversy about one year after I came to Scott Co. The title I received for the land was from James L. Evatt by deed 20 Jan 1890. The original deed was made by Jas. L. Redding, acting under the power of attorney for W.T. Redding and Eliz. C. Redding, his wife. The deeds show no reservation of any of the lands for any purpose. At the time of the execution of the deed, I had bought the land from Redding myself but the deed was made to Evatt because Evatt had advanced me some money to pay for the land. Before the deed was executed, Redding told me he wanted me to keep the place where the grave yard now is as a public graveyard. Redding told me he had given a deed for some land in the NE corner of the NE forty but that tract is not the forty on which the graveyard is situated. He said the deed given by him, Redding, as a graveyard was no account. He said he had a good title he conveyed to Evatt for me. I went into possession of the land and have had it since that time and have paid taxes on it. At the time I moved on the place, there was an old log house on the land in controversy. The house was moved away in the spring after the winter in which I moved there. This house was a split log house and I suppose it was about 20 feet long. They moved the house to Mr. Bush’s place something over a mile away and entirely off my land. Mr. Bush came to me and asked if I would let them move the house down to his place so they could divide the school and have school one year at his place and at the Jenkins school house another. Mr. Bush was a school director. I told them they could have the house if they wanted it. I took my wagon and team and helped them move the house and put it up. The house has never been put back on the land from which it was removed, nor has another house been put up on the land. The graveyard as far as I have ever heard has always been open to the public. If there has ever been any complaint about it, I have never heard it. I have cut timber for rails and firewood off and on ever since I have been there. The graveyard is not now enclosed by a fence and has never been. At the time I made improvements on the land, there was no protest by the directors or other persons. Mr. Hisaw, one of the directors, lived about 1/4 mile from the improvement and Mr. Satterfield, another director, lived about a half mile from it. My residence on the land was about 1/4 mile from the graveyard and on an adjoining forty acre tract. My lot, barn and stables was on the forty on which the graveyard is situated. There were some 4 or 5 acres cleared on the forty the graveyard is on. There is now 10 to 15 acres of land cleared there. The fence around the field is a little over eleven feet from the nearest grave. I have never tried to prevent anyone from burying their dead on that graveyard. It has been free for anybody to bury there. I have proposed several times to put a fence around the graveyard and furnish a spool of wire and do as much work as anyone would. I have four children and also a brother buried there. All of this graveyard claimed by the plaintiff is not on my land. A part is on Mr. Bodiford’s land that adjoins mine. People have buried on both pieces of land ever since I moved on the place. There is plenty of room there for burying purposes. When the last clearing was done, I hired Mr. Burns to do it and I was living here in Waldron. I told him not to clear up too close to the graveyard. I told him to leave 20 or 25 feet so there would be plenty of room for burying for several years. I was out here at times and did not know how near Burns had cleared to the graveyard until after it was already done. At the time I bought this land, there was a house on it but I don’t know what it was built for. The first year I lived in that neighborhood, there was a little subscription school taught in the house. I suppose this house was about 20 feet long and 18 feet wide. There was a few benches in the house. There was preaching at the house a few times the first year I was there. This house was never used for a dwelling as far as I know. From the looks of the graveyard and the house, I judge they had been there several years. The house did not look very old. As Mr. Redding and I were looking over the land in trade, he told me he wanted the graveyard kept for a public graveyard but did not say how much land he wanted kept for it. J.M. Hise “X” His mark

A. Bodiford, being sworn, says, I am 47 years old. I think there is about 3/4 of the graveyard in controversy on my land. I have been living inside of a mile of the graveyard for about seven years. There have been eight or nine people buried there since I have been living there. The oldest graves are on my land. They are said to be the graves of the Wolf family and to be the first graves made there. There is plenty of room there for a burying ground for people on Ross Creek for a great many years to come. Mr. W.T. Redding came to me while he was here at the last term of this Circuit court and took me around Mr. Evatt’s storehouse and told me that this deed which Mr. Hise had was ahead of anything he could do except give his evidence as a witness in this case. He says I want to buy the land from you where my folks are buried. I told him the land was not to sell, and that it belonged to the dead. That me and my wife intended to donate plenty of land there for burying purposes but not to the district. That I did not think the district had anything to do with the graveyard. A. Bodiford “X” His mark.

Depositions taken 26th Feb 1895 at office of Free Malone in Waldron

A.L. Holland, being sworn, says: I am 52 years old and a resident of Hickman Twp. Says J.M. Hise built his fence right on the line up to the graves and then circled around to the left until he got above the graves and came to the line again. This fence was on the school land of Dist. 64. I suppose he enclosed about 2 acres of school land. He has been cultivating the land. I think he has grown two crops in 1893 and 1894. I do not know whether he knew the land belonged to the school district or not. I have seen a deed to the land but do not remember the date on it. The district has been damaged $200 I consider by the clearing and cultivation and destruction of the graveyard and turning it into a field. I have lived there 4 years. The schoolhouse was built near this land in 1891. I think the land is worth $5.00 for farming purposes. The fence was built in 15 feet of the graves. I do not think he cut any timber where the graves are. I have been a director since 1891. Was out a while and was elected last May again. this is a split log house and was an old house when we moved it. It think it is about 20x30. We moved it from Mr. Addison’s 1 1/2 or 2 miles. It is nearer the center of the district now than it was before we moved it. A.L. Holland

T.B. Addison, being sworn, says I am 57 years old and a resident of Hickman twp. I came here 9 years ago. I found at my house a deed calling for 2 acres, more or less, given by Tom Redden to Dist. #14 calling for a burial ground and school house. The deed did not call for where the school house and burial ground was. The deed called for 1 corner of a 40 and the graveyard was in the other. It was in my possession for a while. I told my wife to get the deed and give it to the directors as there was some talk of moving the house. My wife gave the deed to Mr. Hisaw. I told the directors they would have to get the deed changed and they went to work to do so and I reckon this is the way to do it. I was a director the reason I kept the deed. The graveyard is on the west side of the 40. Mr. Hise cleared up about an acre and 3/4, I should say. There is something near a 1/4 acre not cleared. Part of the land in controversy is in a farm Mr. Hise made 2 crop on it. The school district has been damaged $150-200 by the cutting off of the timber. The fence is in 12 or 13 feet of the graves. District 14 has been divided and 64 formed out of part of it. I do not know if Mr. Hise knew this land was claimed by the district. The district claimed the land but the deed was wrong. The school house was at my house when I moved there 9 years ago. This was used as a burying ground ever since I have lived there. The deed was found by my wife among her former husband’s papers. He was a director at the time of his death. They talked of moving the house some time before they did. I moved to town in the fall of 1890. I told my wife to give the deed to Mr. Hisaw about that time. I lived in town when the house was moved. Five years after I moved there the house was moved off. I think the land worth $5.00 per acre. I consider the land worth for burial ground $150 or 200. It is not customary to clear up and cultivate graveyards or school grounds. I am on good terms with the defendant Mr. Hise. The school house is not on the land claimed by Mr. Hise. T.B. Addison

J.C. Hisaw, being sworn, says: I am 45 years old and live in Hickman Twp. I am a director of School Dist 64. I don’t know much about the cause except what the deed shows. I have lived in the district 9 or 10 years. The district has held a deed to the land all the time. It has been used for a burial ground all this time but not for school purposes. I do not know when Mr. Hise cleared the land. That part (1/4 acre) occupied by the graves is not cleared. It is not more than 10 or 12 feet from the fence to the graves. I think the burying grounds has been damaged $150-200. When I came to the country 14 years ago the school house and graveyard was there and is still used as such. District # 14 and 64 lies side by side. Dist. 64 was cut off of 14 and 18. When I went there, the house was on this land. They moved it to Mr. Addison’s. It remained there several years and was moved back to where it is now J.C. Hisaw

Jas. Redding, being sworn, says: I am 35 years old and a resident of Hickman Twp. I heard my father say that he had made a deed to some land for school purposes and burial ground. I do not know the dimensions, I think 2 or 3 acres. The land given on the west side where the graveyard is and the land described in the deed is on the opposite side of the 40 on the east side. There was a school house on this land... that was moved. I do not know how many years or whether it was free or subscription. I went to school there and seems they had a school there every year. The ground has been used for a burial ground since 1876 and is still so used. My father sold the balance of the land to J.M. Hise in 1880. It was the general rumor that the district gave no permission for the house to be moved. It remained near the Bush place about 6 years or longer. The talk was that they wanted to build a house there. I met Mr. Hise and we talked about the trouble about the land and after this, he agreed to give 2 acres down the road rather than have any further trouble. I told him we wanted to build a church house. I suppose he understood it. James Redding

Jas. House, being sworn says: I am 28 years old and a resident of Hickman Twp. There was a house on land and I think it was built in 1876 and think it remained there about 5 years. There were schools taught there. I went to school there, some, not much. I think the house was moved off in 1881 or 1882. I know when Mr. Redding sold his place to Mr. Hise. I heard Mr. Redding tell my mother he had made a deed to the district for about 2 acres. I heard him say that he reserved this land when he sold the place. This was about 15 years ago. I was about 13. The graveyard has been used since 1876. I think 1/2 acre is covered by the graves. J. L. House

Jas. Satterfield being sworn, says: I am 49 years old and a resident of Hickman Twp. I have lived her 14 or 15 years. I am a director of Dist. 64 and have been for 3 years. The district was formed in 1891 out of Dist. 14. The deed does not contain a description of the land. The school dist. has claimed this land all this time and we did not discover the mistake in the deed for some time. We found the deed about 10 years ago. I had a talk with Mr. Hise about this but it was after we had decided to take some action. Mr. Hisaw told me that Mr. Hise had refused to let a house be built there. We then decided to take the matter to court. I asked Mr. Hise if he would make a deed to the land we already thought we had a deed to, and he refused. He said he had told Mr. Redding that he would give a deed to a piece of land down on the road. This land is mostly cleared now, all but a small portion, and in cultivation. J.T. Satterfield

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