Smyrna Black Cemetery

Searcy, Arkansas

The existence of a black section of the Smyrna Cemetery was known but not documented until Leroy Blair of the White County Historical Society visited the cemetery January 7, 2001. Charley Edwards of Searcy had told Blair about "an old cemetery that is in the woods between Highway 36 West and Smyrna Cemetery." When Blair visited the area, he "was surprised at how many graves are there. I found more than 100 deep depressions that I am sure are graves. They are all in rows that appear to line up with the rows in Smyrna Cemetery… I was told all of those buried here were black."

Blair found the stones for the three names listed below. He also found the foot stone for a grave with "M.A." on it. The base for the head stone was there but the stone was gone. He found one grave with a funeral home marker so old nothing was legible on it. He also found a grave marked with a small marble stone with no information on it. This grave "had some flowers covered by a gallon jar … looked like it had been there a long time."

In the spring of 2003, work parties under the direction of Linda Rockwell of the Department of Community Corrections launched a cleanup in the black cemetery, cutting underbrush and small trees. They found remnants of an old "hog wire" fence that separated the black cemetery from the main Smyrna Cemetery. Society board member Bill Leach said he was told that the black graveyard was overgrown when the 1941 burial occurred there. He pointed out that the grave is located near the highway because it was easier to clear away enough brush to find a spot for a burial. After visiting the black graveyard, White County Historical Society president Ron Busbea made the following comment: "It is remarkable to me that just a few feet from a major highway a large graveyard could remain so hidden. We have the responsibility to preserve history-all history, good or bad-for, as this graveyard illustrates, when we choose to ignore our past, it becomes overgrown and obscured."

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

Name Birth Death Comments
Cowan, CharlesJune 28, 1920September 16, 1941on double stone with Marchell Cowan
Cowan, MarchellMarch 26, 1913November 26, 1935sons of Mr. and Mrs. Dave Cowan.
Williams, RooseveltAugust 25, 1908November 13, 1908son of Julius and Nannie Williams