CoralBecker

 

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GOLIGHTLY MOUNDS

CEMETERY

(Destroyed)

 

BBANNER

 

Turrell, Crittenden County, Arkansas

 

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Sanders, One of the Families Buried at Golightly Mounds

Reconstructed Burials at Golightly Mounds

History of Lambethville by Margaret Woolfolk

 

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EVENING TIMES - West Memphis, Arkansas - 1985

 

Family Cemetery Now Pushing Up Milo

Farm plow leveled remote burial mound

 

By Michael Kelley, Staff Reporter

 

TURRELL, ARK. --- Jerking the steering wheel back and forth on a road that might have had more potholes than pavement, Helen Hicks grew angrier the closer she drew to the burial place of her great-grandparents.

She took the graveled option at a fork in the road, wheeled up onto the Mississippi River levee and drove a quarter of a mile or so south.

"That's where it was," she said, pointing into a golden field of Milo, where the ground was almost flat. "That's where the Golightly Mound was."

Mrs. Hicks, a Turrell native who lives outside Marion now, is angry because Golightly Mound held the remains of dozens of her relatives.

Known to state archeologists as Site No. 3CT27, it was also the final resting place for other area farmers who began using what was once a wooded Indian Mound for a white man's cemetery in the 19th century.

But there are no headstones to mark it any more, and no trees -- just a field of grain being cultivated on a farm owned by the heirs of Memphian Don Wiener.

Weiner, who died in 1982, was an enterprising Obioan who moved to Memphis, founded the Donruss Co., a bubblegum manufacturing firm, during the Great Depression and sold it in 1969 to General Mills Corp.

He had extensive cotton, soybean and grain farming interests in Crittenden County that included acreage purchased in the early 1950s from a farmer named Robert Hugh Golightly.

On the Golightly property was the remains of an Indian village measuring 101-by-82 meters, according to Dr. Dan Morse, regional archeologist for the Arkansas Archeological Survey.

Three mounds on the site included one that bore the graves of 300 to 400 whites, he said.

According to a 1983 observation by a surveyor for a private contracting firm, Dr. Morse said, the site had been converted to farmland sometime since 1978.

The three mounds had measured 60 to 80 feet in diameter, rising three or four feet above the floodplain in a village occupied by Indians from the First to the 14th Century.

"We really don't know much about the site," he said. "It's not been investigated because of its function as a contemporary cemetery."

The headstones of the white cemetery had been removed by the time the observations were made in 1983, he said.

Memphis State archeologist Dr. David Dye said the white settlers' practice of burying their dead on Indian mounds is common in Eastern Arkansas.

"The Mississippi floodplain is very flat, and people like to put their relatives elevated up off that floodplain....Usually they're these burial mounds."

Mr. Hicks said until recently she has not visited the site since 1979, but her great-grandparents on both sides are buried there--the Brizendines and the Mitchussons.

"I don't remember the Mitchussons," she said, "but I do remember Grandpa Brizendine, who died in 1936. He stayed with us off and on."

The last person to be buried there was Peggy Sue Brizendine, who died in 1948, said Mrs. Hicks, who was her cousin. "They stopped burying people there because that was as many people as they could plant in it."

The Indians who built the mounds lived in tribal societies, with religious and political leadership. They traded goods with tribes that lived as far away as what is now Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Some of the Indian mounds in Eastern Arkansas rise as high as 20 feet. Round-topped mounds were used for burials. Flat-topped ones served as foundations for temples.

Many of the mounds have been destroyed, legally, by farming, Dr. Dye said. But in recent years, some states have tried to halt destruction of Indian burial sites by interpreting their state laws against grave destruction to encompass unmarked Indian graves as well as modern white graves.

Mrs. Hicks said she and other relatives who discovered the cemetery destruction during a family reunion last month tried without success to convince Crittenden County authorities to prosecute the Wieners under Arkansas Statute 41-1985, which makes it a misdemeanor to "disturb, damage or carry away" a cemetery marker.

She said they also checked with a lawyer, who said he could handle a civil suit if they put up $3,000. "I told him we didn't have that kind of money. We weren't the ones who broke the law."

"I have personally never seen the cemetery in question," said Lee Wiener, current manager of the farm.

There is "a mound or two" in the field, he said, but "nothing has been leveled to my knowledge, at all...I've never had any knowledge of any cemetery we've unearthed, or something like that. I've never seen any headstones or marker, of whatever."

Dino Pirani, who managed the farm before Wiener took over, said the site was cultivated in the late '70's, and he didn't know that it included a modern cemetery.

I always though it was just some Indian mounds," he said. "It was a grown up area, definitely less than an acre."

He said there was no road leading to the site, and he had never seen anything done to the site that resembled a cemetery maintenance.

"If there were any headstones, I never saw them. But I never really walked into the area because it was all in brambles. It was not actually wood, just what I call brush -- eight, 10, 12, maybe 15 feet tall."

Lee Wiener said he hoped to meet with Mrs. Hicks to work out a solution to the problem.

"You don't want to offend somebody," he said. "I don't anyway. Life's too short."

 

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COMMERCIAL APPEAL - Memphis, Tennessee - Friday, April 22, 1988

TRI-STATE

 

Farming ruined graves, suit says

Damages of $750,000 being sought

 

By Tom Bailey Jr., Staff Reporter

 

TURRELL, Ark -- A Memphis based farming corporation is being sued for $750,000 by a woman who claims it has farmed over and desecrated the gravesite of her grandparents and others.

PACCO Inc., which is headquartered in Memphis and has a large farming operation along the edge of the Mississippi River levee in northern Crittenden County, excavated, graded, cleared, plowed, harvested and performed other field work on the Golightly Mound Cemetery, the lawsuit charges.

PACCO and two of its officials also named as defendant, Russell and Lee Wiener, deny all the allegations in a response they filed in Circuit Court.

Juanita M. Nelson, granddaughter of Annie Laura and James Brizendine who are buried in the cemetery, and her husband, Donald L. Nelson, filed the suit in Crittenden County Circuit Court against PACCO and its officials, Russell Wiener and Lee Wiener. The Nelsons live in Tolland, Conn.

The suit also charges that PACCO built a center pivot irrigation system that crosses over the graves as it revolves around and waters the field. The Nelsons claim the farming company removed tombstones and markers on graves.

The nelsons asked the court to order PACCO and the Wieners to restore the cemetery by replacing tombstones and markers and by protecting it with some type of structure around it.

The Nelsons, whose lawyer, David Carruth of Clarendon, filed the lawsuit Feb. 4, asking for $750,000 in punitive damages for the outrageous, intentional and malicious actions."

The defendants asked the court to dismiss the suit because the three-year stature of limitations has run out. The suit also should be thrown out because the Nelsons failed to state a cause of action against Russell and Lee Wiener personally, their answer states.

The Golightly Mound Cemetery is among three mounds forming a triangle about a quarter mile from the base of the Mississippi River levee. They are Indian mounds where white settlers also buried their dead to get the graves out of the floodplain.

Arkansas law makes it a misdemeanor to disturb, damage of carry away a cemetery marker.

Helen Hicks of Marion, a niece of Mrs. Nelson's, said the family discovered the cemetery had been destroyed during a family reunion in 1985.

Lee Wiener told a reporter in 1985 that he was never aware of any cemetery in PACCO's fields.

 

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~~ Added Notes ~~

Handwritten information added to newspaper articles retained at

Woolfolk Library, Marion, Arkansas.

 

Summer 1988 - Judge refused to hear case.

August 1989 - Another avenue has opened up, letters have been written. --JMN

 

1996 - It is believed by Margaret Woolfolk that this cemetery, "Golightly Mound Cemetery" is really the old "Lambertsville Cemetery". All graves seem to be gone by now. (See Margaret Woolfolk's Crittenden History Book) We are still in process of researching this. --Pauline Miller

 

(Note: All indications are that this case went no further)

 

2004 Further Note: Information was submitted to me anonymously that employees were told to dig a hole and bury the tombstones. A concrete slab was then poured and a tractor shop erected on the site where the tombstones were buried. I have no proof or evidence to substantiate these allegations. ------ Debbie Yates

 

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Last Updated Saturday, April 02, 2016