--photo by Leroy Blair, 2001

Harris/Old Weir Cemetery

Sixteenth Section, Arkansas

This cemetery is located off Highway 267 out in a field north of Sixteenth Section Church in White County. It was in poor condition when it was first listed September 13, 1962, by a member of the White County Historical Society, Mrs. W.H. Collison of Bald Knob, and Mr. and Mrs. Delbert Strayhorn of Sixteenth Section. Their report was published in the 1972 edition of the Society’s annual White County Heritage.

The cemetery appeared abandoned when a Boy Scout troop took on its restoration in the spring of 1986 as a project to achieve Eagle Scout status. The Beebe News published an article on the effort on April 10, 1986:

"Eric O’Brien’s Eagle project to restore the abandoned cemetery near 16th Section chapel, off Highway 267, was completed Saturday, March 22, 1986. There are approximately 21 graves dating back as far as 1874. The most recent grave was December 2, 1917. Mr. Franklin Strayhorn, who lives near the cemetery, said it has been about 30 years since anyone took care of the graves. Those who assisted were Robert Osborn, former scoutmaster and current scouting coordinator for White River District, Brian Osborn, Jim Osborn, Elmer White, current scoutmaster, Pat White, Tim White, Donna White, David Bryant, Ronnie Busbea, Robbie Burton, Leanna Sherwood, Wallace Crain, Willard Crain, former scoutmaster, Brian Crain, Irene Crain and Eric Crain. If there are any relatives of those buried there living in the area, it is requested that they try to take care of the cemetery and not let it become overgrown again."

This is likely a family cemetery and there are some family ties between the Lewis, Harris and Weir families. The cemetery was called "Harris Graveyard" when the last burial was made here.

When Linda Harris of Memphis visited the cemetery in 1995, she reported, "The cemetery is off of the highway [267] several hundred yards, in the center of a pasture. One must drive as far as they can toward the cemetery [off of the highway] to an orange locked cattle gate, climb the gate then walk to the grove of trees that is in the center of the pasture. This grove of trees can be seen from the highway. Some times of the year the large tombstone of Ben W. and Mary Ellen Lewis can be seen from the road."

Mrs. Harris pointed out that Mary Ellen Hastings Lewis (pictured) was the last person known to have been buried in the cemetery, on December 2, 1917. And on her death certificate, signed by her son-in-law, Dr. V.W. Weir, the place of burial is listed as "Harris Graveyard."

Leroy Blair of the White County Historical Society visited the cemetery January 30, 2001, and found it "fairly clean but showing signs of vandalism." It was fenced with barbed wire. Blair said the cemetery is about 10 miles south of Searcy and about seven-tenths of a mile south of Weir Cemetery. He noted some broken stones and other changes and found three graves marked with rocks and five marked with red bricks.

Another Society member, Mary Reynolds of North Little Rock, provided information in April 2002 indicating that Miles Burton and three of his children were buried here in February 1860 and now lie in unmarked graves. These are the earliest known burials here. Mary Reynolds was raised in Beebe and is a great-granddaughter of Miles Burton, who came to White County from Tishomingo County, Mississippi, in the 1850s. In August 1860, six months after Miles Burton’s death, Probate Court records show his widow Mahalia still had eight children in her household between the ages of 3 and 20.

If you have additional information on this cemetery, contact the White County Historical Society at P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.

Name Birth Death Comments
Burton, Henry BradfordJanuary 3, 1838February 8, 1860son of Miles and Mahalia unmarked grave per family records
Burton, John MeridaNovember 29, 1842February 23, 1860son of Miles and Mahalia – unmarked grave per family records
Burton, Lucy CatherineFebruary 8, 1841February 26, 1860daughter of Miles and Mahalia – unmarked grave per family records
Burton, Miles R.1815February 11, 1860in pneumonia epidemic married Mahalia Ethel Derrick in Madison County, Alabama, January 15, 1837 – served as postmaster of Burtons, Mississippi, from June 24, 1841 until March 22, 1843 - unmarked grave per family records
Goad, Bertha V.18901891on double stone with Jossie Powell Goad
Goad, Jossie Powell18551892on double stone with Bertha V. Goad
Harris, R.D.January 1, 1823February 22, 1895stone separated from base
Harris, SenieApril 18, 1865September 18, 1875
Harris, Susan ElizabethOctober 28, 1835August 31, 1879on double stone with W.D.E. Harris
Harris, Wesley Dewitt EdgarJune 30, 1861September 13, 1874on double stone with Susan Elizabeth Harris – stone has broken off its base
Leehy, Mary S., October 10, 1878August 8, 1900stone is broken wife of William Leehy
Lewis, Ben W.September 28, 1828September 15, 1893on double stone with Mary E. ("Mrs. M.E.") Lewis
Lewis, Charles Boda19011905on triple stone with Iro and Lee Other Lewis
Lewis, Iro18951902on triple stone with Charles Boda and Lee Other Lewis
Lewis, J.W.October 25, 1858 April 29, 1876
Lewis, Lee Other1910
Lewis, Mrs. M.E.October 23, 1826December 2, 1917
Weir, Georgia D., July 26, 1898March 1, 1902stone is broken daughter of Dr. & Elvira Weir
Weir, L.D., February 9, 1896May 28, 1896stone is broken son of Dr. and Elvira Weir
Weir, Ollie E., March 11, 1898April 29, 1898stone is broken son of Dr. & Elvira Weir