The McCraw Cemetery, located about 300 yards east of Military Road Baptist Church at 2101 Old Military Road in Jacksonville (Pulaski County), is a historic burial ground, with its earliest interment dating to 1841. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 2006.
Brothers Jacob and Sharred Gray and their families were the earliest white settlers in the area of northeastern Pulaski County that would later become the city of Jacksonville, moving there in the winter of 1820–21. Their settlement grew after the Memphis to Little Rock Road was constructed through the area in the 1820s and 1830s.
Pleasant McCraw and his family acquired property near the new road, paying county property taxes in 1836 for land that included his homestead and the acreage that would hold the cemetery. McCraw took advantage of commercial opportunities afforded by the military road, including a sale of corn and fodder to the Bell Party in 1838 during the Cherokee removal to the Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). The McCraws prospered in the antebellum period, with Pleasant McCraw recorded as owning eight enslaved people by 1850, but in the post–Civil War era, development moved away from the military road to areas serving newly developing railroads.
The McCraw family owned the homestead and cemetery until December 27, 1880, when grocer and saloon keeper J. K. P. Harbour purchased it. He sold it to Napoleon B. Trimble two years later, and Trimble owned it until he died in 1923.
There are thirty-seven marked graves and around twenty-five unmarked graves in the McCraw Cemetery. The earliest burial is that of Elizabeth Sander, who died in 1841. Pleasant McCraw, who died in 1851, and at least four of his grandchildren are buried there, as is Trimble, his wife, and their two children. The largest gravestone marks the burials of James Henry Wood, who died in 1930, and his wife Amanda Wood, who died seven year later. Elzie Wood, a Spanish-American War veteran who died in 1935, is also buried in the McCraw Cemetery. Most of the burials ended in the 1940s, but there is one grave with a 1969 death date.
The McCraw Cemetery also has African American graves in its southeastern corner. The 1916 burial of Maria Smith is marked with a gravestone from the Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World, a Black fraternal organization.
“The McCraw Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in northeast Pulaski County,” according to the National Register nomination. “The first people buried in the cemetery were members of the pioneering McCraw family, who early in the 1830s helped settle the area….Later burials in the cemetery are those of people whose contributions to the area as merchants, farmers, and educators helped contribute to the growth of northern Pulaski County.”
By the early 2000s, the McCraw Cemetery was abandoned and overgrown. The Reed’s Bridge Preservation Society acquired the site and received a grant from Entergy to clean up the cemetery. The society continues to maintain the McCraw Cemetery in the twenty-first century.
For additional information:
Kent, Carolyn Yancey. “McCraw Cemetery.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at https://www.arkansasheritage.com/docs/default-source/national-registry/pu2879-pdf.pdf?sfvrsn=a16e76a8_0 (accessed February 18, 2021).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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