-photos by Leroy Blair, 2002
This is one of White County’s most historic and forgotten cemeteries. Beeler’s Ferry was once an important crossing on the Little Red River. Today the area is marked by the basement of the Beeler house that was built about 1840, and the cemetery where members of the Beeler family are probably buried. The Batesville-Little Rock road that was built after Searcy was established as the county seat in 1837 crossed the Little Red due north of Searcy, near a spot called Moccasin Bend. The road had sufficient use that by May of 1839 the county court granted a license to John Beeler for a ferry across the river. Beeler died only four years later but his widow Hannah continued to operate the ferry. The Beeler house was located on the north side of the river on the SE ¼ of the NW ¼ of Section 23. The house faced east and was no doubt a way stop for travelers. The house must have been substantially built because it had a basement or full cellar under it. The hole of the basement remains today, marking one of the oldest located home sites in the county.
About one-fourth mile west behind the house site is the cemetery. The
cemetery has several graves marked with rocks, as well as some 20 graves marked
with tombstones. The oldest marked grave is 1860, with the last date on a marked
grave being 1923. When the cemetery was visited by members of the White County
Historical Society in 1986 and again in 2000, it was not easily accessible by
vehicle. The fence was down, and no attempt at upkeep was being made. But at the
direction of White County Judge Bob Parish, a gravel road to the cemetery was
built in the summer of 2002. The cemetery was subsequently fenced.
Cloie Presley of the WCHS described the cemetery as "located on the Hans Keller farm in the N ½ of SW ¼ Section 23, Township 8 North, Range 7 West. The whole farm is overgrown and unattended and it is almost impossible to find the cemetery unless the exact location is known." Helping her prepare the listing on April 6, 1986, were her husband Leister
Beeler’s Ferry was the site of a Civil War skirmish June 6, 1864, witnessed by 18-year-old Nancy Cullum, as recounted in the 1987 White County Heritage and March 17, 1998, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (page 4E). Descendents of Nancy Cullum still lived in the area in 1999. According to a taped statement from Albert Lowery of Judsonia, descendent of Nancy Cullum Lowery (and father of Jim Lowery), there are others buried in this cemetery – including four Yankee soldiers that Nancy saw killed in the skirmish with Confederates on the Batesville-Searcy road in front of the Joe Hoofman farmhouse. Albert Lowery told his son Jim that Nan helped bury the Federals. He also stated that he knew Samuel J. Lowery, William Calvin Lowery (son of Samuel J.), Bruce H. Cullum and a child of Albert and Leo Lowery who died December 22, 1923, are buried here.
The section of the Searcy-Batesville Road and Beeler Ferry was abandoned with the construction of a bridge a mile and a half downstream about 1915.
The cemetery was visited by Leroy Blair of the White County Historical Society September 13, 2000. Following is his report: "It was very hard to find. To get to it from Searcy go out Salem Church Road to Moccasin Bend Road. Turn left and go to the grass sod farm. Moccasin Bend Road will turn to the right. Don’t turn – go straight down a dirt road through the sod farm. You will come to a small creek. After you cross the creek turn at the next road to the left. It will run by the wood line for a short distance. It will then enter the woods as a logging road. After you enter the woods you will need an ATV or walk. The cemetery is on the left about one-quarter mile into the woods. You will have to look very carefully or you will miss it. A gentleman who lives in the area took me to it. He had been to the cemetery several times but he had trouble finding it. The cemetery is in very bad condition. I did not find the following graves which were listed before: C.O., carved on a rock; Keller, Herbert – September 14, 1911 – September 25, 1911; Vanmeter, Mary, wife of A.V. Vanmeter. There are a lot of unmarked graves. It is very hard to tell just how many due to the heavy amount of leaves on the ground."
The White County Historical Society received information in June 2002 from Wilma Sneddon of Joplin, Missouri, which indicated that the Mary Vanmeter buried here was Mary Emeline Beeler, the daughter of John and Hannah Beeler. She was married at age 19 to Americus Vespucius VanMeter in White County on September 9, 1852, but died the following year and was buried here. There are no known children from this marriage. A.V. VanMeter married again on September 14, 1853, and lived at Judsonia. [See VanMeter Cemetery.]
The number in parenthesis indicates the gravesite position on the Presley list, which is alphabetized here:
If you have corrections or additions to this list or other information on this cemetery, contact the White County Historical Society, P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.
|Beals, George Westley (11)||March 8, 1877|
|Beals, Oliver (9)||June 2, 1881||Co. K. Ill. Inf. USA|
|Beals, Sarah E. (10)||March 4, 1856||23-Dec-03|
|Butler, David (1)||March 9, 1838||March 30, 1899|
|C.O. ? (7)||carved on a rock.|
|Cullum, B.H. (18)||died November 27, 1860||age 28 years|
|Cullum, Christopher C. (14)||August 10, 1865||9-Jan-11|
|Cullum, infant||no dates|
|Cullum, Infant (12)||July 17, 1893||only date||son of C.C. & Sarah Cullum|
|Cullum, Nellie Myrtle (13)||August 28, 1896||June 22, 1897||daughter of C.C. and S.J. Cullum|
|Cullum, Phebe Ann (17)||died 1860 (1865?)||age 19 years - Leroy Blair was also unable to read this date|
|Fife, Homer (4)||7-Apr-03||12-Dec-19|
|Keller, Herbert (6)||14-Sep-11||25-Sep-11|
|Lowery, infant||died December 22, 1923||no marker - child of Albert and Leo Lowery|
|Lowery, Samuel J.||no dates||no marker|
|Lowery, William Calvin||no dates||no marker - son of Samuel J. Lowery|
|Shaver, George W. (15)||July 4, 1864||1-Jun-23|
|Stephens, Florence A. (2)||7-Dec-15||20-Feb-16|
|Vanhoose, Effie (5)||June 29, 1892||26-Oct-17|
|VanMeter, Mary Emeline (Beeler) (8) - information on stone almost gone-but family records indicate she was born in Tennessee c1833 - married Americus Vespucius VanMeter September 9, 1852 - died at Judsonia in 1853 - daughter of ferry operators John and Hannah Beeler|
|Webley, George (11)||March 8, 1877||June ?, 1891||after looking closely at this stone, Leroy Blair of the WCHS thinks this name from the Presley list is probably Beals, George Westley, which he has listed above|
|? (16)||nothing can be read||Old funeral home marker|
|?? (3) - Funeral home marker||old. Nothing can be read.|
* listed by Jane Goodwin, 201 Wilkerson Drive, Newport, AR 72112, and published in the White County Heritage in 1978.
Mrs. Presley noted that Phebe Ann Cullum’s stone was "almost buried and in very bad condition. I read died 1860. Goodwin read December 1865."
If you have additional information on this cemetery or any of the people buried here or events described above, contact the White County Historical Society, P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.
Historical Society’s Leroy Blair found this house near the remote Beeler Cemetery.