Pioneer Cemetery, Mena, Arkansas

aka, Hefley-Witherspoon Cemetery

Location & Information

On top of Rich Mountain, northwest of where the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge now stands. (State Highway 88 West from Mena)
Section 10, Township 1 South, Range 32 West
Not on the Polk County Tax Roll

There are twenty three graves in this cemetery but only one has a tombstone. The others are marked with native stones.

Although no one remembers the name or dates of the first burial, some think it may have been the small Wilkerson girl. There was at least one grave and a church-school building on this one acre plot when A. Y Hays and M. M. Triplett deeded it for a church-school and cemetery in September of 1890.

The land is part of the land acquired in the original patent by James L. Witherspoon. The cemetery is in the extreme Southeast quarter of the Northeast quarter of Section 10, Township 1 South, Range 32 West, on the slope of the mountain just below the crest.

Pioneer Cemetery Sign

Pioneer Cemetery Sign, Mesa, Arkansas
Pioneer Cemetery Sign, Mesa, Arkansas

This cemetery is located on land patented by James L. Witherspoon in April 1861. After his death, his heirs sold the land to E. S. Mosher in 1897 with the exception of a 2-acre tract which was conveyed to his son, John. This tract of land would eventually be sold a total of five times before it was acquired by the Forest Service on August 21, 1923 from the Amos Handle Company.

James Witherspoon set aside the 2-acre plot to create a family cemetery. He and his wife, along with one of his children, were buried here. Over time, 20 residents of Rich Mountain were also interred at this cemetery. Marked with native stone, none of the headstones remain legible with the exception of Bill Hefley’s marble headstone. It is believed that the following individuals were laid to rest on this mountain cemetery.

Associated with this cemetery is the story told by former residents of the tragic death of the Wilkerson girl. During a particularly bitter winter, all of the Wilkerson family fell ill, except for their daughter and needing firewood, she was sent outside to fetch it. Unfortunately, the young girl came across a pack of wolves and climbed a tree to get away. The next morning her lifeless body was found frozen, still clinging to a tree limb, and with the help of neighbors the grieving family buried their young daughter at Pioneer Cemetery.

Internment

  • Davis, Betty Bowling – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Farless, Jesse – d 4/18/1894 (Child) – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Hays, A. Y. – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Hefley, Bill – 1866 to 1952
  • Keith, “Peg-Leg” – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • McSlarrow, John – Early 1930’s – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Putman, Bill – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Redbird (an Indian) – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Williams, Grandma – Date Unknown – Mother of Caleb Bowling – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Williams, Mr. – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Wilkerson (small girl) – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Witherspoon, James L – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Witherspoon, ? (child of James L.) – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Witherspoon, ? (wife of James L.) – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave
  • Wolfenburg, Mr. – Date Unknown – Native Stone Markers for Grave

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