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GIBSON BAYOU CEMETERY

Earle ~ Crittenden County ~ Arkansas

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(Photo taken May 2001 - D L Yates)

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Transcriptions, 1999 - 2016, by Deborah Lunsford Yates

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Introduction

Entries in blue are from visible stones, recorded 1999 2002. Additional information has been added in Italics from obituaries and from earlier information compiled by Pat Isabel Brown and by Paige and Polly Miller. Many thanks goes to Pat for her true labor of love in recording this cemetery, as well as to Paige and Polly Miller in their continuing efforts to update these records and ensure the preservation of the history of this cemetery. 

Since the original transcriptions in 1967, many newer graves have been added, a number of which have no markers, or only funeral home markers, and have since become unidentifiable.  Many stones have been added to the older graves; a few of the older stones have since been replaced with newer stones, some with changed or updated inscriptions. 

Sometime between these original transcriptions in 1967 and those in 2000-2002, a number of the stones were vandalized and destroyed, particularly those along the west side of the highway. Many of the earlier stones have disappeared completely. I personally, as a child, can remember numerous stones across the highway from the church that no longer exist.

Gibson Bayou Cemetery was established in 1865 and is the site of Gibson Bayou Church, which was originally located on the north bank of Gibson Bayou.  Wallace Fulkerson, who is buried in the cemetery, settled on government land one mile north of Gibson Bayou and helped to build the first church. This church was constructed of logs. The original church was destroyed by fire in 1886. A frame building replaced it but was later blown away by a storm. The third and present building was erected in 1898 or 1899. Famed artist, Carroll Cloar, and his family, as well as many other Earle families, were members of this church at one time. Effort is currently being made to place this landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the mid 1960's, local residents, Melvin Watson and Allison Lunsford, along with their sons, Jonathan Watson and Danny Lunsford, conducted the initial cleanup of the cemetery, clearing away many years of overgrowth. Effort was made to erect a fence around the cemetery to prevent tractors and agricultural equipment from destroying the edges of the cemetery. While attempting to dig postholes, it was found that each attempt to dig the holes resulted in unearthing gravesites. These graves were shallow and were even found in the ditches surrounding the cemetery. The effort to erect a fence was abandoned. After the initial cleanup, Mr. Clifford Chism began to care for the cemetery on a regular basis.

It is believed that many graves lie beneath the highway that was built through the cemetery, and into the gullies on the south side of the cemetery, and to the east side of the cemetery across the highway. However, there is no proof to substantiate this, and Melvin Watson (now deceased) said that he remembered as a young boy, the original gravel road went through the cemetery, which was located where Hwy 149 now lies.

The church itself has been the victim of two separate accidents in which vehicles have left the highway and collided with the building. The structure has shifted from its foundation, causing moisture damage, and is in immediate need of repairs in order to slow deterioration. Effort is currently being made to raise funds in order to finance these repairs. A separate fund has been set aside to provide for these repairs. If you would be interested in contributing towards the maintenance of the cemetery, donations can be made to:

This cemetery remains active. A sign has been erected on the north side of the church, naming the site as a Historical Landmark. Relatives of people who are buried here, and those who do not, continue to maintain this cemetery through voluntary donations. Several years ago, a fund was established to provide maintenance of Gibson Bayou Cemetery. Several local people have served as Chairman of the project, beginning with Mr. Clifford Chism (1903-1988), Bill Baker, Billy Joe McGill (1941-2001) and Jack Stepp (1943-2015). Jim Bond and members of the Gibson Bayou Committee are now in charge of the maintenance project.

A Gibson Bayou "Fun Day" is held annually, on the third Saturday in September. A number of activities are included; silent auction, bake sale, live music, Barbecue, raffles, activities for the children, and lots of fun and laughter. It's a great way to spend a day, visiting the cemetery, renewing old friendships and creating new ones. Mark your calendars, bring your lawn chair and camera, and plan to spend the day with us, whether you have loved ones buried in the cemetery, or just want to see old friends. All donations go to a great cause.

Gibson Bayou Funds

800 Highway 184

Earle, Arkansas 72331

Phone: (870) 400-7400

 

If you would like further information, you can also contact Jim Bond, at the number above, who

serves as Secretary of the Gibson Bayou Fund.

 

Gibson Bayou Cemetery is located three miles north of Earle

on US Highway 149.

Note: In 2004, funds had been raised by the Gibson Bayou Cemetery Committee, to demolish the original church and erect an exact replica. As of October 2004, the replicated church had been completed. A special THANK YOU goes to all those who contributed towards this project, both in monetary donations and through volunteer labor.

If you have knowledge of others buried in this cemetery, without markers, contact me and I will add the names to this list. You can also contact Pat Isabel Brown.

The recording of this cemetery is an ongoing project. I pass by this cemetery frequently and will continue to add the new graves as I notice them.

A very special THANK YOU goes to Mr. Jim Smothers and to Thompson Wilson Funeral in Wynne, Arkansas. They were gracious in allowing special pricing for quantities of grave markers to be placed at Gibson Bayou Cemetery. Mr. Smothers personally delivered these markers to the cemetery. To date, approximately 50 new markers have been placed on previously unmarked graves.

The service through Thompson Wilson Funeral Home is no longer available. If you are interested in purchasing a reasonably priced marker, I recommend Stone-Art Monument Co. at 5305 Apt. Drive in Jonesboro, AR. Mr. Allen Cowan is the contact and can reached at (870) 680-7183 or (870) 935-4831.

Link to Gibson Bayou Cemetery listing on Find-A-Grave

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The following was taken from the "Earle Epic"

compiled by Jane Speed and committee members, 1981

GIBSON BAYOU CHURCH

One of the oldest historical spots in Crittenden County dating back to 1869 is the Gibson Bayou Church. It was the first Methodist Church located on the north bank of Gibson Bayou about 2 miles north of Earle on Highway 149. It was constructed of enormous logs and had a dirt and stick chimney at each end. It was about 20 by 40 feet. The Gibson Bayou (Bio is the pronunciation old timers gave) cemetery surrounds the church, one of the oldest in Crittenden County. When the highway came through the oldest part of the cemetery, there was much bickering and confusion about disturbing the graves. People still bring their loved ones here to bury. Some of the monuments date back to the late 1800's. This Church has been used for various things: church Sunday school, school and a voting precinct for elections. The pulpit was constructed of rough boards. The benches consisted of split logs with holes bored in the curved part of the log with wooden pin inserts for legs. They used coal oil (kerosene) lanterns for light, with a big pot belly stove in the middle of the room to keep warm. One of the teachers who taught at Gibson Bayou in the late 1880's was named "Cotton". He lived with the Benjamin Rush family about 5 miles north of Earle near the Tyronza River.

 

The following from A History of Crittenden County by Margaret Woolfolk

GIBSON BAYOU

 

Methodists who had been attending the Gibson Bayou Church, north of Earle, and those who had been attending the community church organized a Methodist body in 1907 and a small frame church was built on Fourth Street east of its intersection with Barton. The present church, located at the northwest corner of Barton and Fourth, was completed March, 1929, and remodeled in 1962.

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The earliest date found on a visible stone appears to be that of Susie Cloar, wife of J. F. Cloar, who died January 22, 1884.  The original stone remains, on the west side of the highway across from the church, and enclosed by an iron fence.

Note: April 2002, a broken fragment was found across the highway, opposite the church, with the date of ??? 26, 1885. Unknown if this is birth or death year, but possibly the second oldest stone.

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IMAGE009 Gibson Bayou Transcriptions

IMAGE009 Gibson Bayou Miscellaneous

IMAGE009 Gibson Bayou Obituaries

IMAGE009 Gibson Bayou Unmarked Grave Locations

IMAGE009 Gibson Bayou Combined Research

IMAGE009 Gibson Bayou Newspaper Articles

 

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Deborah Lunsford Yates, 2000 - 2016

Last Updated Monday, April 18, 2016