(Photo taken May 2001 - D L Yates)
Transcriptions, 1999 - 2016, by Deborah Lunsford Yates
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
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
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
In 2004, funds had been raised by the
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
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.
The following was taken from the "Earle Epic"
compiled by Jane Speed and committee members, 1981
One of the oldest historical spots in
The following from “A History of
had been attending the
The earliest date found on a visible stone
appears to be that of Susie Cloar, wife of J. F. Cloar, who died
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.
Last Updated Monday, April 18, 2016