The tiny Kirkpatrick Cemetery in Bryant (Saline County) is located on the Old Stagecoach Road (Arkansas State Highway 5). It is the burial ground for the family of Saline County pioneers Paisley Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth Allen Kirkpatrick Medlock. The oldest marked burials, those of Hannah E. Kirkpatrick Thompson and Elizabeth C. Kirkpatrick, date back to July 1860.
In 2002, the cemetery was rediscovered by local resident Ben Holder during the construction of a commercial building nearby. He built a brick wall around the southern and western sides to help protect it from development. The Bryant Historical Society added an iron fence and large plaque noting its establishment in 1850. Although the original markers in Kirkpatrick Cemetery have been damaged over the years, they are still readable and otherwise preserved. The cemetery’s history reveals much about the early settlement of Saline County.
Paisley Kirkpatrick was born on October 23, 1808, in Orange County, North Carolina, while Elizabeth Allen Kirkpatrick was born on June 11, 1816. They married on March 12, 1833. The couple made the trek from North Carolina to Collegeville (Saline County), bringing the five children they had at that time: sixteen-year-old Sara Jane, nine-year-old Hannah, seven-year-old Lemuel, five-year-old Isabella, and one-year-old Joseph. Paisley purchased 725 acres of farmland in Collegeville.
The Old Stagecoach Road ran from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Little Rock (Pulaski County), down to Hot Springs (Garland County), through the territorial capital in Arkansas Post, and then on to Monroe, Louisiana. Paisley Kirkpatrick worked as a carpenter and blacksmith when he was not managing his farm, on which he raised livestock and grew crops such as cotton and wheat. According to probate documents, the Kirkpatricks owned several enslaved laborers who worked on the family farm. Paisley died at forty-three years old on August 17, 1852.
Paisley’s widow Elizabeth married Judge John Alfred Medlock in 1861. Medlock bought out the Kirkpatrick heirs and took control of Paisley’s holdings. A devout Methodist, Judge Medlock was said to have had a dedicated “prophet’s chamber,” a spare room for traveling preachers, in the old family home in South Carolina. Medlock also reportedly had one of these rooms for traveling preachers at his home in Collegeville. Elizabeth Medlock died on July 29, 1862, at forty-six. Judge Medlock died on August 27, 1894, in Collegeville; he is buried in Collegeville Cemetery in present-day Alexander (Pulaski and Saline Counties), while Elizabeth rests with Paisley and their children in Kirkpatrick Cemetery. Paisley and Elizabeth’s son Lemuel Kirkpatrick served during the Civil War as a private in Company E, First Arkansas Infantry (CS). He was killed in action in Tennessee in 1863, when he was nineteen or twenty years old. Descendants of the Kirkpatrick family continued to play vital roles in Saline County history after the war.
In the 1950s, the new highway system was built through Saline County, dividing Bryant and Collegeville. Kirkpatrick Cemetery was largely forgotten until 2002, when commercial development revealed it at the intersection of Highway 5 and Marketplace Avenue in Bryant. The site was recorded as archaeological site 3SA313 in the Arkansas Archeological Survey (AAS) database by Mary Beth Trubitt, station archeologist of the AAS. In October 2008, archeologist Meeks Etchieson and technician George Gatliff resurveyed the site. They identified seven unmarked graves and two graves marked with sandstone markers. According to Patsy Kirkpatrick Kuhn, a descendant of the Kirkpatrick family, the family home sat a few hundred feet from the cemetery until 2008 when it burned due to arson. Historian Anthony Rushing added a memorial marker for Lemuel Kirkpatrick between Paisley Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth Catherine Kirkpatrick, his father and sister, respectively.
In 2009, members of the Bryant Historical Society worked to have Kirkpatrick Cemetery listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places. The nomination committee was led by Kuhn. Kirkpatrick Cemetery was added to the Arkansas Register of Historic Places on August 5, 2009.
For additional information:
“Kirkpatrick Cemetery.” Arkansas Register of Historic Places, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. https://www.arkansasheritage.com/arkansas-register/kirkpatrick-cemetery (accessed October 22, 2021).
Cody Lynn Berry
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