Green Cemetery (Ouachita County)
The Green Cemetery, located about two miles northwest of Stephens (Ouachita County), is a family cemetery holding eighteen known graves, with the earliest dating to 1853. Holding the remains of members of one of the early prominent families in the southern part of the state, the cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 5, 2017.
The Green family, led by Simon and Esther Green, moved to Ouachita County around 1845 and settled near the community of Seminary (Ouachita County). Located about eighteen miles southwest of the county seat at Camden (Ouachita County), Seminary was a small farming village. The name of the settlement comes from an early school for female students that operated in the area. A post office opened in the community in 1848, and the town continued to grow over the next several decades. The opening of the Cotton Belt Railroad to the southeast in 1882 led to the decline of the town. The new town of Stephens was established in 1883, and most commercial activities moved to the new settlement. The post office closed in 1905.
Simon Green and his family were significant landowners in the area. The family name is spelled on legal documents and on cemetery markers as both Green and Greene. Simon was born in North Carolina in 1788, and he and Esther married in the same state. The couple had at least six children in North Carolina, while two more children likely died early in life. The family moved to Georgia in the 1820s, where four more children were born. After the family moved to Arkansas in 1845, Simon began to acquire land in Ouachita County. In just a few years, he owned 240 acres received from the federal government. In the 1850 census, Green owned fifty-three slaves, and his son Alexander owned two. Simon owned about $4,000 of real estate at that time. By 1860, Alexander owned more than 320 acres of land.
Upon his death on June 23, 1853, Simon was the first member of the family to be buried in the cemetery. His grave is covered with a chest tomb, a false crypt placed over an in-ground burial. The tomb was likely purchased from John Stroud, a marble dealer in New Orleans, as an inscription with that name is visible on the tomb. When Esther died on August 20, 1866, a similar chest tomb was placed over her grave next to Simon. Her tomb bears the mark of James Reynolds, a marble dealer and tombstone maker in New Orleans.
Six of the children of Simon and Esther Green are buried in the cemetery, along with several spouses. At least four of their grandchildren are also buried in the cemetery. The other grave markers in the cemetery include a number of iconographic details. Three graves, all of children under the age of fifteen, include doves. The last member of the family to be interred in the cemetery, Elizabeth Greene, has a closed book on her marker as well as an open gate motif. Elizabeth was buried in 1913, marking the end of burials in the cemetery. It is likely that unmarked graves are present in the cemetery.
In the twenty-first century, the cemetery is owned by the Weyerhaeuser Company, with the surrounding area being used for timber growth. It serves as an example of an Arkansas cemetery holding several generations of the same family.
For additional information:
“Green Cemetery.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/OU0300_nr.pdf (accessed June 6, 2020).
Poindexter, Kenneth. “Neglected, Forgotten Cemetery All That Remains Today of Historic Old Seminary.” Ouachita County Historical Society Quarterly 19 (Fall 1987): 16–17.
Henderson State University
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