--Photo by Shelly Keech

White County’s Cemetery of Tragedy

The following article by Claude Johnson was published by the White County Historical Society in its 1977 edition of White County Heritage. Note that he refers to Pleasant Grove as "the old Roberson cemetery." It has also been identified as "old Robinson cemetery." Johnson was president of the Historical Society in 1970 and ’71 and the author of a history of White County. He died in 1981.

The old Roberson cemetery, located alongside what is now Pleasant Grove Church, just off highway 305, three miles northeast of Floyd, White County, might be called a cemetery of tragedy. At present there are 80 marked graves, and a dozen or more unmarked graves, and 13 of those were victims of accidents or tragedy.

Dan Stroud’s death started the chain when he was killed by a falling tree on March 21, 1904. Four other members of his family were to follow over the years. Dan’s daughter Maggie burned to death in 1905. Dan’s small grandson, the son of Ira and Grace Stroud, was killed when run over by a wagon in the late teens. Finally, in 1969, Nathan Jr. and his wife Faye Stroud were victims of a murder-suicide. On Sunday, July 1, 1917, E.L. Benton was shot and killed in church by Tal Scruggs.

Homer Cofer was killed [when his car was hit by a train December 26, 1935]. Ed Woolridge met accidental death while building a bridge on Highway 305, near Harmony, in 1968.

Others in unmarked graves who met tragic death include: a little Bennett boy who shot himself in 1929, little Benton girl burned to death, Minnie Roberson burned to death, and Clarence Coffey killed by lightning. Arlie Calhoun, 19, was killed when the team and wagon he was holding ran away when a train approached the Garner station in 1906.

If you have additional information on the Pleasant Grove (Robinson/Roberson) Cemetery, contact the White County Historical Society at P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.

Pleasant Grove And Its People


Written in June 1982

The Pleasant Grove community had some settlers as early as the 1830s. At one time it had a post office, stores and a school.

Some of the very first families were of John W. Benton and William Strayhorn. Both were here in the mid-1850s. John Benton married Rachell Burkett and William Strayhorn married Mary Jane Burkett, both daughters of William and Rachell (Hughes) Burkett who were in Des Arc Township in the mid-1840s. The Benton family settled what is now where John Henry and Susie Coffey live. The Strayhorns settled on what we know as the El Benton place. They were first listed in the 1860 census. By 1870 more families had moved into the community. One was of Robert L. and Susan Roberson with four married daughters and two sons. One family was Frances, wife of Robert M. Scruggs; Mary E., wife of Sterling Brown; Ann, wife of C.W. Mardis (daughter married Ardy Johnson of Floyd); Peity, wife of John Berry. By 1880 there were many more families that had moved into the community. Hugh Bell, Caldwell, Lonnie Calhoun, W.R. Cofer, John D. Coffey, Ellenbert, Heggie, Protho, Sessums, Stroud, Taylor, Wiggs. After 1900 families were Russell, Slaten, Simpson and Washburn with some of their descendents still living here. (My grandchildren are the seventh generation of the Roberson family.)

The Stroud family: The mother Margaret was a Bradley by birth. Married first Bradley, had one daughter Eliza, second time to John Stroud, had Daniel and Isabell (m. Allen Roberson), third time to Sutton, had two children, fourth time to Bartlett, had one son Edgar. Daniel Stroud married first time to Emma Wiggs, one daughter, then he married a second time to Ann Bell, had eight children. Eliza Bradley married first Protho and then she married Henry Roberson.

Robert Washburn was three months old in the 1880 census of Gray Township, White County, Arkansas. After 1900 he moved into the community and married in 1903 to Ella Stroud. To this union 10 children were born.

Lonnie Calhoun came from Obion County, Tennessee, after the 1880 census, to visit his father’s sister, Mrs. Elvira Patty. In 1882 he married Lizzie Scruggs (one of 11 children of Robert and Frances Roberson Scruggs). Son Herbert Calhoun m. 1916 to Lottie Benton (of Steve and Martha Maxwell Benton). In 1922 daughter Jane Elizabeth was born. In 1941 she married Harvey Gassaway. (Steve Benton was one of the 13 children of John and Rachell Benton.)

THE CHURCH: An acre of land was deeded for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1877 by Robert L. and Susan Roberson. The first building was used as a church and school until about 1906, when more land was deeded by Mr. and Mrs. Emmitt Taylor. There were different religions of all the new settlers, and one Sunday of the month for one, Cumberland Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and Church of Christ. After the burning of the church building in 1917, no church was here until 1935, when one was made of logs. It was then just Cumberland Presbyterian, used until 1960 when the present one was built. The last funeral in the log church was for Ira Stroud (son of Daniel and Ann Bell Stroud.)

The church is the center of the community and in circumference from ˝ to 1˝ miles around the church.

CEMETERY: The cemetery was enlarged in 1977 of land deeds by Mrs. Carl (Lorene Moore) Washburn and Mr. and Mrs. Phil Stroud. A new fence was then put around the grounds. There are 16 tragic deaths buried in it, two in the Coffey family, five in the Stroud family, seven in the Benton-Calhoun families and one other. Three murder victims – El Benton (1917), Fay (Akin) Stroud (1968) and Nell (Gassaway) Uppole (1978). Four Civil War veterans – John W. Benton (served from this community), W.R. Cofer (Tennessee), John D. Coffey (White County) who lived near Beebe at the time, and Robert M. Scruggs (Alabama).

SCHOOL: The school was in the first building until 1906 when it was changed. It was divided between Caldwell School and the Floyd school. In 1930 Caldwell consolidates with the Floyd School System. One of the students in this school in the 1880s was Frank Heggie (also was a teacher in it). He lacked six months being 101 years of age when he died in 1980.

STORES: Two of the stores, one by Gip Protho where the McEuen home place is, and the other by Will Reddy located where the Slaten home place is. Will married Lulu Scruggs, daughter of Robert and Frances (Roberson) Scruggs.

The community has many places of interest interesting stories which will be included in the book.

One interesting story is between the Benton family and the Stroud family. They have been friends and neighbors since the mid 1870s and the first marriage between the families was in 1973 when Jan Washburn (fourth generation of the Stroud family) and Donnie Hill (fifth generation of the Benton family) were married. So now after 100 years we have some Benton-Stroud children – 13 Benton children, 9 Stroud children.

FELLOWSHIP HALL: Was just recently built and it is a joy to have fellowship with one’s friends and neighbors and relatives on the first Sunday of each month with potluck served after the morning church services.