The Rogers Family Cemetery was located south of Spring Park and east of the T.J. Rogers home (the southeast corner of South Spring and Woodruff Streets). When the Lion Service Station was built at the corner of South Main and Woodruff about 1950, the graves were removed to the Rogers family plot at Oak Grove Cemetery.
Former Searcy Mayor Albert R. Yarnell is a great grandson of Thomas J. Rogers. In 2003 he said he remembers the original graves and when they were removed to Oak Grove. Yarnell Ice Cream Company, of which he is chairman, has been located within eyesight of the corner since 1932. His son, Rogers Yarnell, the president of the ice cream company, owes his first name to this pioneer family.
Thomas J. Rogers was a successful pioneer merchant who was active in community affairs. His life was chronicled in detail in Goodspeed Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas published in 1890, three years before his death. T.J. Rogers came to White County in 1848 with his brother Robert J. Rogers and settled within three miles of Searcy, which at that time had only a few supply stores and a blacksmith shop. T.J. Rogers was the sixth of 10 children born to Absolom and Hannah (Johnson) Rogers in Chatham County, North Carolina. Absolom moved his family to Tennessee to carry on "agricultural pursuits." He died while living there but was buried in North Carolina, where his wife returned and later died.
After obtaining an education in the subscription schools of Tennessee, Thomas Rogers tried farming for a year then moved to Searcy. Here he clerked for Bond and Maxwell general merchants. He moved into management in 1851 and the following year purchased the business, which he continued until 1862, when during the Civil War "everything was taken from him." He had married Susie M. Lewis in White County in 1859. They moved to Urbana, Illinois, for the duration of the war. When they returned in 1865, Thomas entered into the real estate business and by 1890 owned 20,000 acres in White and Cleburne counties. He had 20 improved farms in those counties and was renting out land. He owned a large body of timber in White River and Red Bayou near Des Arc.
Goodspeed called Thomas Rogers "the father of the Prohibition Party in White County." He joined the Sons of Temperance in 1852 and in was sent as a delegate to the National Prohibition Party convention in Cleveland in 1880 and in Indianapolis in 1888. He reportedly bought and distributed Temperance pamphlets "by the thousands" at his own expense.
He was also a leader in civic affairs. When Searcy was bypassed by the Cairo-Fulton Railroad in 1870, town fathers quickly formed the Searcy Branch Railroad, of which T.J. Rogers was named vice president. (Among the directors were his brother Robert J. Rogers and W.A. Yarnell.) It was T.J. Rogers who made the motion in 1878 that gave the city of Searcy public streetlights for the first time. A stained glass memorial in First Methodist Church, where he taught a Sunday School class, bears the names of Thomas and Susie Rogers.
Thomas and Susie had seven children. Five were living in 1890: Thomas Bradley, Angie (who married J.M. Jones of Memphis), Hal B., Susie Mallie and Norma. The identities of those two children who died before 1890 is unknown. It is possible that they were also buried in the family cemetery at the Rogers home on Spring Spring and Woodruff. The corner of South Spring and Woodruff is occupied by Simmons First National Bank.
If you have corrections or additional information, contact the White County Historical Society, P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.
Rogers, Susie M. - November 3, 1844 - June 22, 1877 - wife of Thomas J. Rogers
Rogers, Thomas J. – 1822 – 1893