Antioch Cemetery

Judsonia, Arkansas

This cemetery was organized in 1909 as Judsonia Colored Cemetery, controlled by the Judsonia Colored Burying Association. It has been closely connected to the Antioch Baptist Church, which was established in 1864. When it was listed in the spring of 1992 by Paul Miller of Judsonia, a former president of the White County Historical Society, he said many black residents of the area still called it "Colored Cemetery." Additional information was provided by Raymond Johnson, then age 80, who mowed and cared for the cemetery at that time. Their report was published by the Society in its annual history, White County Heritage, later that year. A report on the cemetery was prepared December 18, 2004, by Historical Society board member Leroy Blair. He had first visited the site in 2000 and found it in very poor condition. "However on my visit in 2004, I found that it has been cleaned up since my last visit," he reported. "The people who did the cleaning did a real nice job. Now many of the graves have flowers on them and some of the unmarked graves also have flowers. There may be several hundred graves without markings – just depressions in the ground."

"The road to the cemetery," Miller wrote in 1992, "is just a field road and no signs or directions, even an indication there is a cemetery there. Turn to Judsonia at the traffic light at Hopkins’ corner, Highway 367, and go .8 mile. Watch closely for a gate on the right. The cemetery is some distance toward the river."

Miller found the following in White County Deeds, Book 85, page 174: "T.H. Beals to Judsonia Colored Cemetery – filed March 29, 1909. $50.00 paid by Henry Word, President, R.R. Pool, Secretary, John Roach, Treasurer of the Judsonia Colored Burying Association. Beginning 32 rods west of the NE corner of the SE Ό of NW Ό of Section 4, Township 7 North, Range 6 West, go 20 rods South, West 8 rods, North 20 rods and East 8 rods; also, a right of way 8 feet wide from beginning point to land, one acre to be used for colored burying ground and for nothing else. Signed: T.H. Beals, Annie Beals, March 30, 1904."

Raymond Johnson was a veteran of World War II and a retired Missouri Pacific Railroad trackman. He lived in Judsonia with his wife Mary Trotter Johnson. His parents, Willie and Amanda Johnson, were life-long residents of Judsonia. His grandmother, Teena, was born in slavery on the Johnson Plantation near Selma, Alabama. She took the name Johnson after freedom, and moved to Arkansas.

When Blair first visited the cemetery October 7, 2000, he found three unlisted graves. Following is his 2000 report: "To get to this cemetery from Judsonia take Highway 385 toward Hopkins Corner. You will cross a small bridge. Turn at the second gate on the left past the bridge. The gate had some small flags on it. Go through the gate back to the woodline. The cemetery is on the left. It is badly overgrown. Mr. Gene Donnell, who owns the property, said that a few years ago someone bush-hogged the cemetery and it was so badly overgrown that they could not see the stones. So most of the ones on the list from Paul Miller in 1992 are broken or gone." The unlisted graves he found were Chester Freeman, Mamie Freeman and James Alexander. He found 14 other stones and "many unmarked graves." If the cemetery is locked, it may be opened by contacting Mr. Donnell at 501 729-3838.

Blair was chairman of the Historical Society’s cemetery committee and a member of the board when he visited the cemetery again on January 5, 2005, and made a few changes to the list.

The Antioch Baptist Church building, located off Van Buren Street in downtown Judsonia, is not in use at this time, but has been maintained by former members.

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

Alexander, James H. – January 21, 1908 – September, 2, 19?? – stone broken

Bailey, Cornelius – May 8, 1891 – April 10, 1965 – Arkansas Private Co. C 14 Repl. Bn. WWI

Bailey, Elizabeth – April 7, 1924 – February 4, 1972

Bailey, wife of Cornelius Bailey – this grave could not be found during the December 2004 survey

Barker, Anna – died March 22, 1913 – only date – Faithful Member of Silver Ring Circle No. 202 – stone lying on ground

Bowman, Lucy – January 1, 1865 – July 28, 1911

Brewer, J.N.F. Jr. – May 31, 1897 – January 10, 1931 – this is one of six names that are on the same stone

Brewer, J.N.F. Sr. – January 14, 1868 – January 21, 1957 - J.N.F. Brewer Sr. was a blind teacher and preacher - this is one of six names that are on the same stone

Brewer, Michial – September 9, 1910 – March 1, 1911 – this is one of six names that are on the same stone

Brewer, Rachel – February 14, 1908 – July 30, 1927 – this is one of six names that are on the same stone

Brewer, Sarah – died June 5, 1916 – only date – this is one of six names that are on the same stone

Brown, Hattie B. – died April 22, 1922 – only date - during the December 2004 survey the stone was found off its base and part of it was buried in the ground

Canady, Cinda – died August 9, 1916 – only date – age 58 years

Davis, Elizabeth – 1918 – 1970

Freeman, Chester – 1873 – 1949 – on double stone with Mamie Freeman

Freeman, Mamie – 1880 – 1948 – on double stone with Chester Freeman

Hampton, Mary – October 16, 1882 – February 23, 1926 – wife of John Hampton

Henderson, John Belton – April 14, 1901 – May 24, 1964

Johnson, Amanda – 1891 – 1943

Johnson, Willie – 1884 – 1935

Moore, Willie Frank – November 9, 1899 – August 5, 1917 – son of Ed and Sarah Moore

Poole, Mollie L. – died January 8, 1924 – Headlight Tabernacle No. 181, Newport, Ark.

Readus, Ida – December 2, 1874 – June 17, 1949 – this is one of six names that are on the same stone

Riley, Bessie Jones – September 23, 1886 – July 18, 1975 - on double stone with Will Frank Riley

Riley, Will Frank – December 9, 1884 – September 20, 1948 - on double stone with Bessie Jones Riley

Roberts, Rosetta – March 10, 1886 – January 1966 - International Order of Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor – stone is broken

Rogers, Luke – dates unknown - this was the first burial in the cemetery – it is in the northeast corner of the cemetery, but there is no marker

Trotter, Osby Z. – August 12, 1912 – November 7, 1983 – U.S. Army – WWII

Young, Arthur Sr. – April 10, 1907 – January 1,1982 – Pvt. U.S. Army WWII

The following names are of known burials in this cemetery without markers.

Bailey, Cora

Bailey, Harry, son of Cora Bailey

Bailey, no first name – Mrs. Pap Bailey.

Bailey, Pap

Blankenship, Dave

Blankenship, no first name – Mrs. Dave Blankenship.

Bowman, Bobby Joe

Bowman, no first name – daughter of Mona Bowman.

Brewer, Green

Brewer, no first name – mother of Rev. John Brewer.

Brewer, no first name – Mrs. Green Brewer.

Canada, George

Canada, husband of Cindy Canada.

Canada, no first name – Mrs. George Canada.

Foster, Bill

Foster, no first name – Mrs. Usleysee Foster.

Foster, Usleysee

Green, Alex

Green, no first name – Mrs. Alex.

Hampton, no first name – daughter of John

Hampton, John

Johnson, Dock

Johnson, John

Johnson, Lola Barkle – wife of John Johnson.

Johnson, no first name – mother of Dock Johnson

Johnson, Mrs. Willie

Johnson, Teena – born a slave on the Johnson Plantation in Alabama.

Johnson, Willie "Shortie"

Jones, Henry

Jones, Mrs. Henry

Moore, no first name – daughter of Judia Moore

Moore, Fair - daughter of Katie Moore

Moore, John

Moore, Jom

Moore, Judie

Moore, Katie

Pools, Mr. - no first name.

Pools, Mrs. - no first name.

Pools, three or four children

Skillum, Walt

Skillum, Willie – son of Walt Skillum

Trotter, Rosettia

Young, no first name – daughter of Fannie Young

Young, no first name – daughter of Fannie Young

Young, Fannie

The Judsonia Colored Colony


(From "That’s Judsonia," White County Printing Company, 1957)

Judsonia’s Negro residents are scattered over the greater part of "Depot Town." The situation is typical of the South, for here is a city within a city, divided by color, yet united in a love of its civic homeland. That there is no serious race problem is to the credit of both white and black citizens of several generations.

The colonization of Judsonia’s eastern border by the Negroes came with the end of the plantation system after the Civil War. By the time that the ex-slaves had adjusted themselves to the new order, both the Prospect Bluff and Judson Addition sections of town were filled with white landowners. The most promising home sites lay to the east, and it was there that the colored population gathered. Just as in any other community, the Negroes have their "old families," whose ancestors were here in the early days of the town. The names of Bowman, Freeman, Critz, Hampton, Wright, Brewer, Bailey and others have been associated with the colored section for many years.

Among the acknowledged leaders of the Negro section was J.N.F. Brewer, who passed away in 1956. He had lived here more than half a century of his long life. As pastor of the colored Baptist congregation, Rev. Brewer supervised the construction of his church building and taught for many terms in the Negro school.

One of the most interesting of Judsonia’s colored citizens passed away in January 1940. He was Uncle Bedford Sangster Richardson, who died at the age of 112. Uncle Bedford had little but his remarkable memory to verify his many years until Miss Virginia Lightle of Searcy, through contact with the relatives of his former master in Tennessee, was able to establish his age in 1936. His memories extended back beyond the Civil War to the plantation days of the old South and his colorful word-pictures of the period brought many people to his door.

(The writer was president of the White County Historical Society in 1962-63.)