Waldron News
May 5, 1977
A Treasure of Memory
By George W. Henderson

Present day Waldron is a pleasant, progressive, lovely city in which to live but we owe this blessing in great measure to the historical moral achievements of those who walked before us.

In the late 1870's we had a post office, court house and a few other enterprises such as the Continental and Union Hotels. The town was filling with an increasing number of immigrants which demanded certain needs. Thus, by necessity a system of roads was begun and several wood structures along with nine two story buildings evidencing their faity in the area, and this was the business section that supplied the community needs: drug stores, barber shops, cotton gin, grocery and clothing sophs, doctors, and regretfully, a saloon. Two of the business firms of the town was a blacksmith shop operated by Logan Baker, one of the oldest citizens of Scott County, and a wagon shop owned by a wheelwright named S.K. Duncan.

These two shops took care of any need relative to the only mode of travel of the time. But, we had above these, something much greater! We had churches! Formed by people of God who realized there was something more than crops of cotton and corn, farming or businesses, bonds or stocks, and highways. Something far beyond that, something that had to do with the soul!

And therein begins my tale. The humanitarian action of a church and a man. Up to this time, the burial of the dead was usually done in family plots, but with increasing population, this became quite an inadequate space for the resting place of the community's precious dead. Thus, it was the Methodist Episcopal Church South, Waldron Circuit, Fort Smith District, through their trustees: W.R. Cox, C.R. Taff, Franklin Bates, V.H. Harris, and C.H. Hough, purchased from Samuel K. Duncan and Isabella Duncan about four acres of ground in the southwest part of our town for the sum of $25.00. The deed for this property was signed on the fourth day of November 1873, and from that time forward this property has been specified as a public burial plot with the designation that no charge should be made for the use thereof.

So it was by spiritual prompting this generous action has blessed our people through these intervening years.

Somewhere, am sure, in old dusty records there is some explanation of one mystery. All our older people who might recall it for us have passed away. Thus, the matter of how and when the church again returned the land to the Duncan Estate is not available to us and becomes only an occasion for guesswork. I can assume it may have been they were touched by the generosity of another Sam K. Duncan, an attorney-at-law, whose records show donated an additional acre of land to the cemetery in 1921, thus giving it a total area of approximately five acres. The final legal record concerning this lists an act of another gracious heir, as on January 4, 1923, Dr. Frederick R. Duncan and Dora G. Duncan, for one dollar in cash, conveyed the land to the Duncan Cemetery Association and thus ends the story of why we possess it's benefits to this day.

(Article continues, but no further history of the cemetery is given.)

Another interesting article about this cemetery had been published in The Advance Reporter of November 4, 1948:

Many Graves Are Unidentified in Duncan Cemetery

The check-up cannot be considered entirely correct as it is difficult to identify all of the graves because of faulty marking, and there is the possibility that a very few are not marked at all.

The check-up brought to light again some interesting local history of the cemetery. There are graves that recall stark tragedy, violent death, self-destructive, shattered romance and the happy lives that the great majority lived. One marker contains this rather odd identification: "Showfolks." There is a section of the cemetery allotted to paupers, a throw-back to the days of the county poor farm. Only one or two of these graves are identifiable.

There is a grave about 15 inches long. It is the burial place of the foot of the late Jim Stainer's daughter. The member was mangled in a horse-drawn turning lathe and had to be amputated.

Return to Scott County Cemeteries
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