April 20, 2011 Edition

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Bethel Cemetery part
of county's earlier history

John Bland

As Lawrence County, established in 1815, approaches its 200th anniversary in 2015, maybe we can all learn more about our county, the "Mother of Counties" and our rich history. Part of our county's early history can be studied at the Old Bethel Cemetery.


A drive to that cemetery last Wednesday was an interesting experience. The State Review Board of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program has nominated the Bethel Cemetery at Denton to the National Register of Historic Places. (See page 9A.)

The cemetery is located on County Road 225 about a mile north off of Hwy. 117, near the Denton community, and it is located approximately eight miles west of Black Rock. I think Hwy. 117, the drive between Black Rock and Smithville, is one of the prettiest in Lawrence County. The drive contains a combination of open pastures and wooded areas and has several very nice and relatively new two-story homes.

The cemetery is one of the oldest in Lawrence County and contains a grave that dates back to 1835. The area around the cemetery is beautiful, and the monuments are a combination of old and new. Some of the older monuments have been replaced as is apparent to the early dates yet new appearance of the stones.

Gravesites of Civil War veterans and their spouses are numerous and many of the names of the interred are prominent Lawrence County family names. One marker contained the names of six children from one family, and each of the children had died at a very young age.

A marker noting probably the earliest grave states: "Nathaniel McCarroll, Pvt SC Militia Co Scout Rev War, 1765 - 1835." The "Centennial Memorial History of Lawrence County" by Walter E. McLeod states: Among the early settlers in the Strawberry (River) Country we have Nathaniel McCarroll, who is said to have come from Kentucky in 1808 and settled on the J.N. Hillhouse place just south of Smithville." I would assume this is the same man.

The map of towns in Lawrence County was obviously much different when the Bethel Cemetery was established, as towns such as Walnut Ridge and Hoxie in the eastern or flat half of the county did not yet exist. Towns such as Black Rock, Powhatan and Smithville were probably the dominant towns during these years prior to the Civil War. It's interesting to think about.

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