--photo by Dave Hartman, 2000

Hughes Family Cemetery

Pickens Chapel, Arkansas

This cemetery is located about three miles west of Letona on Highway 310. It is about 1/4 mile west of the Pickens Chapel Cemetery on the road to Sidon. It was originally listed by Mr. and Mrs. Leister E. Presley of the White County Historical Society, April 12, 1969, they reported seeing 10 unmarked graves. The cemetery was updated July 19, 2000,by Dave Hartman a Hughes descendant who reported the site was “overgrown and in need of attention.” He also noted there are no markers for Hughes patriarch Harden Hughes, a veteran of the War of 1812, and his wife Sarah, who are both buried here.

Leroy Blair of the Historical Society reported the cemetery was “clean for the most part” when he first visited it on March 8, 2001. He made some adjustments in spellings and dates based on what he saw on the tombstones. He found two illegible funeral home markers and five graves marked only with rocks. He was intrigued by a “Jane Doe” tombstone marking the grave of an unidentified person who died April 3, 1979. After checking with several law enforcement officials, he learned that this was a murder victim from Texas later identified as Mary Ann Gibson. Her body had been found at the bottom of a bluff beside Highway 31 near Floyd in early 1979. The case was never solved. “I thought she deserved a better headstone,” Blair said, “so I contacted Matt Bible at Bible Monument Company in Searcy. Matt donated and set a nice tombstone for her, free of charge.”

Blair returned to the cemetery on February 12, 2007, and made a new list by comparing the entire old list with information that he read on tombstones while walking through the cemetery. He added row numbers, to make it easier to locate specific graves. Row #1 is on the side nearest the farm pond. He noted there are several unmarked graves, some with unreadable funeral home markers.

If you have corrections or additions to this list or other information on this cemetery, please contact the White County Historical Society, P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.

Abington, Janis Diane 4-Sep-46 October 4, 198
Doe, Jane died April 3, 1979 (Row )
Goree, Frankie Hughes   Oct 4, 1914 died Aug. 14, 1941 26 yrs. 10 month, 10 days.9 (This grave could not be found on Feb. 12 2007
Hughes, Andrew Jackson (A.J.) July 11, 1828 Feb. 23, 1900 son of Hardin Hughes and Sallie Jones on double stone with Sarah Hughes 9 (Row 3)
Hughes, Bobby August 30, 1935 August 19, 19819 (Row 2)
Hughes, Cathrain Mar. 19, 1942 July 26, 19429 (Row 3)
Hughes, Clara May Sept. 4, 1894 Aug. 2, 1895 daughter of U. M. and M. E.Hughes (Row 3)
Hughes, Denver C. 1902 1982 on double stone with Lanie E. Hughes (Row 1)
Hughes, Garland C. Oct. 13, 1900 June 28, 1966 son of Ulysses Melvin Hughes (Row 2)
Hughes, Harden born 1791 in Dobson, Surrey, NC died 1857 at Letona husband of Sarah Jones Hughes served in War of 1812 (October 15, 1812 to October 15, 1813)
Hughes, Infant died 1925 daughter of Denver and Lanie Hughes (Row 1)
Hughes, J. A. March 17, 1896 Feb. 8, 1960 (father) (Row 2)
Hughes, Lanie E. Nov. 9, 1904 July 6, 1942 (Row 1)
Hughes, Lucy M. 1878 1939 on double stone with Thomas T. Hughes (Row 2)
Hughes, Marion F. April 13, 1904 Aug. 21, 1948 (Row 3)
Hughes, Minnie E. Wise 1871 1927 wife of U.M. Hughes (Row 3)
Hughes, Priscilla P. Feb. 20, 1901 Aug. 6, 1964 (mother) Row 2)
Hughes, Sarah "Sally" Jones born 1795 in North Carolina died 1871 at Letona wife of Harden Hughes during his July 2000 survey, Hartman found a headstone on which the word "Sarah" was legible but nothing else; he surmises this could be the location of Sarah Jones Hughes
Hughes, Sarah Marsh January 7, 1831 no other date daughter of Roland Marsh and Sarah Webb Marsh on double stone with A.J. Hughes (Row 2)
Hughes, Thomas T. 1872 1942 on double stone with Lucy M. Hughes (Row 2)
Hughes, Ulysses Melvin 1870 1928 husband of Minnie E. Hughes son of A. J. (Andrew Jackson) and Sarah Hughes (Row 2)
? , infant January 3, 1955 February 1956 no name (This marker could not be found on Feb. 12 2007

-Photo courtesy Bill Hughes

Members of the Hughes family in mid to late 1947: (from left) Thomas Floyd Hughes (2-27-1913 to 10-10-1963), John Rufus Hughes (11-08-1919 to 7-25-1990), Abner Hughes (2-25-1875 to 4-24-1948), Annie Wise Hughes (2-17-1880 to 10-10-1964), Ellen Frances Hughes (11-03-1910 to 1992) and her daughter Barbra Ann.

A New Tombstone for Jane Doe

When Leroy Blair of the White County Historical Society found a tombstone for “Jane Doe” in Hughes Cemetery on March 8, 2001, he had no idea there was a strange story behind it.

Blair is chairman of the WCHS cemetery committee. He has visited every graveyard in the county. But this was the only Jane Doe he had found. Curious, he made several inquiries and wound up reading newspaper accounts about an unidentified female whose body was found Sunday, March 18, 1979, at the foot talking of a 40-foot bluff off Highway 31 west of Floyd. She was described as being 19 to 23 years old, weighing 120 pounds and 5 feet, 8 inches tall. She had long brown hair, brown eyes and had a few distinctive marks on her body, including a tattoo of a bear and the word “BEAR” on her left leg and a tattoo of a rabbit and “BENA” on her right leg. Jane Doe was wearing blue jeans and a brightly striped sweater. She had no jewelry or identification. She had been dead several weeks.

Blair eventually contacted J.R. Howard, a law enforcement official in Little Rock, who gave him additional information. When authorities were unable to determine the woman’s identity in 1979, she was buried in the remote Hughes Family Cemetery, and the “Jane Doe” tombstone placed on the grave. Howard did not explain why this graveyard was chosen. It is located about three miles west of Letona on Highway 310. When Blair contacted him, nearly 22 years after her death, Howard had some news about Jane Doe. The state medical examiner, using dental records, established the woman’s identity a few years after she was buried, he said. She was Mary Ann Gipson from Texas.

“Mr. Howard told me that she had been murdered near McCain Mall in North Little Rock,” Blair said. “He said when he told her parents about what happened to her, their only comments were, ‘We wondered what had happened to her,’ and no effort was made to claim the body. ” Howard told Blair that the suspected murderer was already in prison for another crime and has never been charged for this murder. “I thought it would be nice if there was a tombstone with Jane Doe’s real name on it,” Blair said. When he told owners of Bible Monument in Searcy about it, they donated an engraved granite stone.

Blair personally placed the new stone on the grave. Joining him for the brief ceremony were his wife Ellen, WCHS directors Billie Willingham and Glen Majors and WCHS member Anna Beth Redmon.