White County Courthouse in 1903
How the Cemetery Lists Made It To The Website

By LINDA HICKS

Searcy Daily Citizen, April 2, 2000

M any people lived to a ripe old age in the 1800s, contrary to a lack of medical know-how. That was a surprise to Kara Haile Spence of Searcy. She made the determination as a result of her work with the White County Historical Society. She has spent many hours during the past year entering information from area tombstones onto the society’s website.

“One thing I always thought, because of the lack of medical care, that women especially died young in the 1800s,” Spence said. “You see some of that – but I was surprised to find that a lot of the people lived a long life.”

However, Spence said, she has discovered that is not the case regarding many of the young children. “It sure makes you wonder,” she said. She has entered information on many small children who were buried in White County, but they were born in other countries including France and Switzerland.

“How did they end up in White County, Arkansas?” she pondered.

The first cemetery placed on-line was Center Hill Baptist Cemetery, Spence said. In addition to the information on the tombstones Spence had the opportunity to learn more while on a tour with her grandmother, Louise Butler, and her mother, Judy Haile.

“My grandmother knew and could tell me stories about some of the people buried there,” she said.

After the cemetery was placed on the Website, Spence said, word began to filter in via e-mail from around the country.

“They would know someone on the list,” Spence said. “If there was a mistake, they would help to clear it up. Some of the time, they would just tell us a story about a person.”

Eddie Best, president of the White County Historical Society, is the catalyst of the project.

“We are proud that in just one year we have transferred all of our existing cemetery listings (from the 1960s) to this Website,” Best said. “Now we are moving to the next step and trying to bring them all up to date.”