Union Hill History

By DON BROWN

2053 Berdan Avenue, Toledo, OH 43613

Union Hill, is a spot which means, or once meant, a church, a school and a cemetery. But it also is perhaps best described as a way of life, one that has vanished not only from White County but also from the nation. Union Hill is in the far western part of White County, and it is reached by a lane turning off a winding gravel road from Mount Vernon, about four miles south of the village and about one mile from the Faulkner County line.

It began as a cemetery, dating back to about 1858, when John William Stone died when he was about 21 years old, and was buried on the land of his parents. He was the son of Meredith and Elizabeth (Garrett) Stone, native Virginians, who moved with their eight children from Hardin County, Tennessee, in 1855, settling on government land in White County. Within four years three members of the family had died. Soon after John Williamís death, Meredith Stone died on September 26, 1859, and one of his daughters, Mary Ann (or Rebecca), died about the same time. Both father and daughter were buried near William. At the time of these three deaths, or some time later, the Stones deeded to the community for a cemetery the acre of land containing the graves. Many of the subsequent graves are those of Stone descendants, and for years the plot was called the Stone Cemetery. By the late 1800s it became known as the Union Hill Cemetery. It is still used for interment.

There had been a building nearby but about 1904 another building to house a church and public school was constructed adjacent to the cemetery. It became known as the Union Hill Baptist Church and the Union Hill School, and the cemetery took the same name. Two of the early preachers in the church were the Reverend Elijah P. Stone and the Reverend Richard D. Stone, both sons of Meredith and Elizabeth Stone. For years the Union Hill Building was the center of the religious, intellectual, and social life of the small community surrounding it. Many an all-day singing and dinner on the ground was held there, as well as revivals. And at the turn of the century there were many community events, such as recitation programs sponsored by the literary society. Many a child learned reading, writing and arithmetic in the one-room building. The last school classes, with Herbert Rea as teacher, met there about 1910 and than moved into a new building in the area. The building continued to be used as a church for a number of years. [It was still standing when Mr. Brown wrote this article and prepared a cemetery listing in 1964.] In the 1930s the inside was sealed, and either then or later brick siding was installed on the outside, but otherwise it is in its original state.

The building is used but once a year now, for the Union Hill Homecoming, which has been an annual event for possibly 50 years or more. On the third Sunday of each May a church service and dinner is held at the church, and old friends and relatives, both past and present residents of the area, meet for fellowship. The group also sees that the cemetery is cared for. Those who attend the reunion have seen many changes occur in White County and the world. Many of them have wandered away from the county, but they have never forgotten old friends and old times there. To them Union Hill remains a happy reminder of those friends and times.

[On 24th December of 1982 the church was blown away by a tornado and by donations a new church was built as near in construction as the one that was destroyed. On May 15, 1983, an annual homecoming was held and people of all the generations of Stone family were there plus many from other members of the community. When the author prepared this material on August 23, 1964, he recorded "all inscribed tombstones" in the cemetery, noting "There are a number of graves without inscribed tombstones. Most of such graves are marked at the head and foot with natural red fieldstones, as was once the custom for marking graves. There are no tombstones which are illegible, although a few of the old ones are broken in two. Also included in his list were graves with morticianís markers. There are some such markers which are impossible to read." Mr. Brown attributed much of the information for this article to his grandmother, Issie Hogan Young , the granddaughter of Meredith and Elizabeth Stone, who was born in 1877. He also consulted with Jesse Homer Adkisson of Union Hill, who was born in 1890.]

If you have additional information on Union Hill Cemetery, please contact the White County Historical Society at P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.