[sticky entry] Sticky: Memento Mori...

Aug. 22nd, 2015 10:10 pm
They are memorials to those who pass before us - some breathtakingly ornate, carved by master stone masons. Some are heartbreakingly simple, carved by loving hands of a father who could not pay for his baby's gravestone.

Though the histories carved on their surfaces may be brief, with only a name and a date, others are much more elaborate, including room sized structures erected to honor the dead.

They are there because someone wanted to remember.

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This blog features photography of and posts about cemeteries and the memorial art contained in them, including funerary symbolism as it has progressed throughout the years. Please feel free to add your own photos in your comments.

The majority of the photos were taken in cemeteries and family graveyards in Arkansas, where I can often be found wandering with camera in hand...

All content on this blog is copyrighted.
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I am transcribing records from old sextons' books of individuals who were buried at public expense and others whose graves may have been previously unknown. Click here for List #1.

Here is the link to digitized burial and cemetery lot deeds, hosted on FamilySearch.
Here are some of the people time may have forgotten. Name, date of burial, description of the location of the burial and other details are as noted in the record. Note: PG = Public Ground, B = Burial.

Old sextons' records 1867-1899
Bobneson, Lewis 1 Nov 1880 City
Bolding, Annie 14 Jul 1881 PG
Bone, Lula 18 Feb 1884 PG
Boneard, Oscar L.F. 14 Apr 1880 Lot #2 Grave #8 City
Boyd, Annie's Infant 20 Feb 1880 B-53 City
Boyd, Lucy 6 Jun 1879 PG B-38
Boyd, Odekiah 26 Mar 1880 City
Book, Sarah's Infant 20 May 1884 PG, City
Booker, Amelia 30 Jan 1884 PG, City
Booth, Amanda 5 Nov 1881 PG, City
Booth, Sallie 2 Sep 1884 PG, City
Bostan, Goodwin 30 Dec 1883 PG, City
Bostick, Miles 15 Mar 1884 PG, City
Bothsby, James 22 Oct 1884 PG, City
Bowen, Joseph 17 Dec 1879 PG, City B-289
Bowers, Wesley 28 Mar 1885 City
Bozes? Ed's child 6 May 1882 PG, county
Bradey, Riley 28 Jun 1884 PG, City
Bradley, Julia 14 Jan 1884 PG, City
Bragg, Mary 3 Mar 1878 City
Bragg, William 5 Aug 1879 PG, City B-139
Branaford, John 20 Feb 1885 City (Brannafore)
Branch, Tom 22 Feb 1881 Grave 21, county
Bradford, Aleck 29 Sep 1876 (Col.) B-46
Bradford, Elizabeth 12 Dec 1884 PG, City
Brandon, Jerry 11 Jul 1879 PG, City B92
Brani, Infant Apr __1883 PG, City
Brannan, Edward 26 Sep 1881 PG, City
Brath, Jno. 1 Nov 1881 PG, City
Brantly, Fred 31 Oct 1881 PG
Brazor? Bryon 13 Jan 1882 PG
Bremon, Fardinand 28 Apr 1881 City
Brewer, Child 27 Feb 1880 PG, county B-66
Brews, Jack's child 10 Sep 1881 PG
Brian, James 6 Dec 1881 PG, City
Briggs, Thomas 2 Mar 1876 (Col.) B-62
Britte, Estelle 4 Oct 1883 PG, City
Bloone, Joseph 18 Nov 1879 PG, City
Broadenax, Jane 11 Sep 1881 PG
Brock, Mathew 14 Jun 1880 Lot 13, Grave 68 PG, City
Brockmon, Hattie 22 Aug 1880 Lot 22, Grave 111 PG, City
Brooks, Bolton 20 Aug 1887 PG
Brooks, Lee 2 Aug 1879 B-136 PG
Brooks, William 2 Agu 1884 PG, City
Brookins, Mary Ann 30 Aug 1879 PG, county B-186
Bronston, P. 22 Nov 1881 PG, City
Brown, Dora 22 Apr 1882 PG, City (NOTE: According to the 1880 census of Little Rock, Dora was born about 1873 in Georgia, and was the daughter of Harriet Smith and step-daughter of Abraham Smith.)
Brown, Ella Jun __ 1881 City
Brown, Jane 7 Apr 1881 Lot 21 Grave 54 City
Brown, Jacob 20 Apr 1883 PG, City
Brown, Jennie 2 Feb 1880 PG, City B-31 (NOTE: The 1880 federal mortality census says Jennie was born about 1879 and died of debility.)
Brown, John 28 Apr 1880 Lot 5, Grave 25 City (NOTE: The 1880 federal mortality census says John was born about 1832 in Arkansas and died of dropsy.)
Brown, King's Inf 21 Jul 1879 PG, City
Brown, Luella 19 Jun 1887 PG
Brown, Mary 11 Sep 1879 PG by Co. B#202
Brown, Monroe 26 May 1884 PG, City
Brown, Nathen 4 Oct 1883 City
Brown, Noah 3 Nov 1884 PG, City
Brown, Reuben 15 Dec 1881 PG, City
Brown, Sam Oct __1881 PG, county
Brown, W's Inf 13 Feb 1880 PG, City B-44
Bryan, Jno. 7 Feb 1881 City - Grave 14
Bryant, Blanche 3 Feb 1880 PG B-34 (NOTE: The 1880 federal mortality census says Blanche was born in Jan 1880 in Arkansas.)
Bryant, ___ 23 Nov 1879 PG, B#267
Buckner, Drisida 12 Oct 1881 PG
Buffard, Willie 24 Jul 1880 PG
Bullard, W. M. 14 Feb 1880 PG, City B#47
Bullocks, Clara 22 Jan 1883 PG
Burnette, Richard 17 Dec 1881 PG, City
Burton, Auther 28 Mar 1885 City
Burton, Webster's Infant 8 Jul 1879 Lot PG B#85 (NOTE: The 1880 census of Little Rock shows Webster Burton, born about 1852 in Arkansas, married and living with wife Clara and sons Daniel and John.)
Busby, Mary (Col.) 11 May 1876 B#103
Bush, Fannie E (Col.) 13 Aug 1878 B#4
Butler, F.P. 24 Jan 1884 PG, City
Butter, Mary E 20 Mar 1883 PG, City
Cade, Willie 25 Apr 1879 PG, B-27
Caheriro, John C 7 Apr 1879 PG B-15
Caldwell, Child 26 Feb 1880 PG, Co. B-62
Calerton, Curcene 12 Jan 1884 PG, City
Cameo, Alex 2 Oct 1879 PG, City B-227
Campbell, G.W. 9 Jan 1882 PG, City
Carkson, Ella Johanna 5 Feb 1881 Grave 13 City
Carnett, Varca 21 Jun 1880 Lot 14 Grave 69 PG
Carnett, A's child 14 Jun 1880 Lot 14 Grave 69 PG
Carson, Andrew 25 Dec 1881 PG, City
Carter, Chartens 2 Dec 1881 PG, City
Cartright, John 20 Feb 1883 PG, City
Cash, Joseph 6 Feb 1883 PG, City
Cashris, Chas. 7 Jan 1883 PG, City
Casie, Barney 21? Feb 1885 City
Caster, Charles 16 Oct 1884 PG, City
Castle, Ed's Inf 24 Jul 1880 Lot 18 Grave 91 PG
Cauch, F.M. 8 Nov 1881 PG, City
Cellas, Frank 16 Sep 1882 PG, City
Champ, Geo. 9 Mar 1879 Lot 195 (NOTE: Because of the parenthetical notation about George Champ being a sexton at Oakland Cemetery, I looked to see if he had died. I found him in the 1880 census for Little Rock, with Sexton Oakland Cemetery listed as his occupation. He was living with his wife, Sarah. The 1880 federal mortality census lists Geo Jeo Champ as an 8 month old infant who died of pneumonia in March 1880. I believe the year of burial to be incorrect on this record.)
Champ, J.M. (Col.) 19 Apr 1876 B-95
Cheesboro, H's Inf 22 Nov 1881 PG
Chester, Joseph 25 Mar 1881 PG Lot 17 Grave 37
Ching, M. Wing (Chinaman) 30 May 1878 34 yrs
Chook, Lizzie 30 Nov 1881 PG, City
Clark, Alx. R 27 Jan 1884 PG, City
Clark, Daird 4 Dec 1879 PG, City (NOTE: The 1880 federal mortality census for Little Rock listed David Clark, born about 1833 in Arkansas, married and employed as a machinist. The form says he died of consumption.)
Clark, William G. 6 Oct 1873 County
Classier, J.C. 22 Aug 1887 PG
Clay, Andrew (Col.) 18 Feb 1871 Sec 4 Row 20 No. 7 B-21
Clayton, Nancy 13 Apr 1879 PG B21
Clayton, Richard 8 Aug 1880 Lot 20 PG Grave 99 City
Cline, Clarence 3 Feb 1882 PG
Cline, Walter 3 Feb 1882 PG
Clyne, Charles 15 Apr 1884 PG, City
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Excerpted from a document obtained from the City of Little Rock, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request dated 12 May 2014:

Facts documented about the Potter's Field located in Oakland Cemetery, that being a part of Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park.

The cemetery was established in 1863, but the first recorded burial is 1867. The burial records form 1867-1890 are missing, although there is a typescript, which lists names, most of which have no location. The Potters Field was recorded by various Sextons as Pauper Grounds, Stranger's Hollow, and Public Ground.

The original lot sale book, which is incorrectly labeled as 1887-1926, gives the following lot description.

Division G Paupers Grounds W&C.

West Ave - Lots 1-28

South Magnolia Ave - Lots 28-94

So. Camellia Ave - Lots 89-151

Heliotrope Ave - Lots 152-218

Center St. - Lots 219-252

Division G contains 1.87 acres

Division G was at some point covered on the 1917 map of Oakland Cemetery, but uncovered when the map was framed. Division G is not on the 2006 map of Oakland.

The Mausoleum, containing 286 burials was built in 1917 and sets within the eastern boundary of Potter's Field.

In 2000 Center Addition located on the South side of the Mausoleum from Magnolia Ave to Center St. was divided into 218 speaces, all have been sold and at this time the addition contains 73 burials.

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Here is the link to digitized burial and cemetery lot deeds, hosted on FamilySearch.
Here are some of the people time may have forgotten. Name, date of burial, description of the location of the burial and other details are as noted in the record. Note: PG = Public Ground, B = Burial.

Old sextons' records 1867-1899
Abner, Ned 9 Feb 1886 Public Ground
Ackin, Daisy 22 Jul 1878 col
Ackles, Elberta 24 Sep 1887 PG
Acree, Jane B 20 Jan 1885 PG, city
Adams, Ann 22 Jan 1881 Grave 9 city
Adams, Fannie 25 Aug 1879 Lot 238 - City B170
Adkinson, Allis 1 Nov 1882 PG, county
Adkinson, Mary 12 Feb 1885 City
African Billy 28 May 1878
Akins, ALice 9 Sep 1878 (age 28) Lot 34 colored
Albert, Louisa B 29 Dec 1882 PG, city
Albert Thos' Infant 11 Aug 1887 PG
Alexander, Anthony 9 May 1883 PG, city
Alexander Q B 26 Aug 1878 (colored)
Allen, Mattie 2 Apr 1882 PG, city
Allen, Peter 11 Jul 1880 PG, Grave 81
Anahar, Jos. C. 19 Aug 1881 PG, city
Anders, Willia 18 Nov 1884 PG, city
Anderson, Theorden (?) 27 Aug 1879 PG, city B.1
Anderson, Isaac 1 Dec 1884 PG, city
Andrew Child 20 Sep 1881 PG, city
Andrews, Rachel, 26 Apr 1879 (age 21) PG, B.8
Andy (Big Andy) 3 Jan 1873 (Prob. col.) Sec. 6 Row 4 Grave 6
Anniel, Nathan 5 Jul 1887 PG
Applewaite, Isaac 23 May 1887 PG, county
Architte, Infant 2 Sep 1884 PG, city
Armistead, Jane Scott 13 Feb 1882 (col) city
Armstead, Louisa 6 Jan 1879 B.8 (colored)
Armstead, Samuel 11 Jul 1879 B.90 PG, city
Arnuld, Chester Aug __ 1888 PG, Lot 23 Grave 117, city (NOTE: I think this surname may be Arnold instead)
Assini, L. 4 Nov 1881 PG, city
Atkins, Henry's Infant 8 Mar 1881 City
Atkins, Henry's Infant 10 Mar 1881 City
Austin, S. 27 Mar 1876 B-75 (colored)
Bafine, Louis 12 Sep 1881 PG, city
Bailey, Monroe 3 Arp 1884 PG, city
Baker, Infant of Mrs. 27 Dec 1880, PG, city
Baker, Sammon 2 Dec 1880 PG, city
Baley, Ura 4 Dec 1884 PG, city
Bander, Joseph A 28 Jun 1882 PG, city
Banker, John 26 Mar 1883 PG, city
Bane, James 15 Oct 1883 City
Banks, Fannie 8 May 1880 Lot 8, Grave 39, City
Banks, Hannah 2 Feb 1876 (col.) No. 29 Burial
Banks, Hannah 13 Jan 1879 B.46 PG, city
Banks, Infant 20 Jan 1880 B.15 PG, city
Banks, James 12 May 1880 Lot 8, Grave 43, City
Banks, Jno. 14 Jun 1887 PG
Banning, Ed. William 18 Jun 1880 PG
Barbee, Caroline 9 Jul 1887 City, Lot 194 single grave (NOTE: This was the wife of Rufus Barbee. According to the 1880 census, Caroline was born about 1853 in Mississippi.)
Barber, Matilda 2 Feb 1880 B-33, PG, city
Barnett, Billy 26 Apr 1880 Lot 4, Grave 19, city
Barnett, Sarah 6 Aug 1878 (col.) B-3
Barnes, J.L. 5 Oct 1877 City (next to Susan)
Barnes, Susan W. (60) years 2 Oct 1877 Lot 125 (consumption) (NOTE: The 1870 census says she was born about 1816 in Kentucky.)
Bass, Walter 16 Apr 1882 PG, city
Bearda, Hantleroy? 16 Feb 1880 PG, City B-49
Bell, Geo. 2 Mar 1880 PG, city
Bell, Henry 5 May 1881 PG, city
Bell, Joe 27 Dec 1884 PG, city
Belton, Lula 26 Sep 1882 PG, city
Bellus, David 11 Jul 1879 PG B-89
Bellus, Lilly 22 Jun 1879 PG B-58
Bennett, Lizzie 24 May 1880 Lot 10, Grave 52, city
Bennette, Henry 31 Aug 1881 PG, city
Benningham, Thos. 18 Oct 1873 county
Bennssi, Faney 28 Mar 1881 Grave 41, PG, city
Benny, John 1 Mar 1885 city
Benson, Alx. 4 Mar 1878 city
Benson, Rheuben 17 Feb 1883 PG, city
Berger, Louis Oscar 5 Sep 1887 PG
Berger, Jacob 9 Jul 1884 PG, city
Bernard, Lewis 25 Sep 1882 PG, city
Berth, Pemetin 20 Dec 1880 PG
Beunn, Infant 30 Dec 1880 PG, city
Bikles, Julia (8 Mos.) 16 Feb 1871 PG, B-21
Bingham, L. 16 Feb 1886 PG
Bind, J.B. 16 Oct 1882 PG, city
Biniby, Jno. 14 Jul 1887 PG
Black, Charley 6 Nov 1882 PG, city
Black, John 20 Oct 1873 county
Black, Wm. Hose 5 Dec 1881 PG, city
Blackbon, Julie 17 Aug 1880 City - PG Lot 20, Grave 103
Blackwell, Vick's child 30 Jun 1880 PG B-27 (NOTE: In the 1880 census, Vick Blackwell was a 20 year old single, white female employed as a cook in the home of J.J. Wiggs, a druggist. The form says she was born in Alabama.)
Blay, Henry 4 Dec 1883 PG, city
Bloome, Becky 13 Oct 1879 PG E-238
I'm going to keep transcribing until I can't any more. There are thirteen sextons' books, but I have not reviewed all of them to see how long poor people were buried at public expense in Oakland Cemetery.

Everyone deserves to be remembered.
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To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. Elie Wiesel, Night
For almost two months, I have been engaged in a battle of wills with my city.

The City of Little Rock.

The subject of our frequent - and sometimes heated - discussion is the City's failure to properly maintain one of its properties.

Oakland Cemetery. Or as the City prefers to call it now - since its 2010 placement on the National Register of Historic Places - Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park.

The City of Little Rock has owned Oakland since 1863. Of all the correspondence I've had with the City Attorney's office, that remains one of the facts undisputed by either the City or me.
It started with the memorial service I attended for my brother-in-law's mother.

Both of the bridges in the cemetery, either of which could have been used by those of us coming to Cricket's memorial service, were closed.

You had to detour to the entrance for the Jewish section of Oakland, and twist around the grass and gravel lanes on the backside of the Jewish cemetery to get to the Edmondson/Rollins plot.

And even though I was quite under the weather at the time, I noted that if this was the only way in to the cemetery office and about 2/3 of the cemetery, these little lanes were going to get worn out.

My sister, brother-in-law and I discussed that. I thought the bridges must only have been closed for a few months.

I was wrong.
According to documents I have obtained from the City through multiple requests under Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act, I discovered that since at least 9 May 2012, City officials have known of, and have been discussing among themselves, the failure of the structural integrity of the bridges. Which of course, led to the closure of both.

The City has talked, and talked, and talked. About replacing the bridges. They've had an engineer down there looking at the bridges. They've hypothesized about the cost of replacement.

And they haven't done a single thing.
The main entrance to Oakland Cemetery goes directly to the main bridge. There is now a sign posted at the main entrance to the cemetery that both bridges are closed.
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However, you don't see the sign until you have started to make the turn into the main gate.

The main bridge to the office, and the majority of graves in the cemetery.
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A secondary bridge - narrower than the main bridge - but I have driven over it in the past.
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The way the view looked from the office across the main bridge when I took this photo in late August 2011.
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The entrance to the Jewish section is not marked. And once you stumble upon it, and enter, there are no signs directing you to the cemetery office.

I have pointed out more than once to City officials that if I were in the market for a cemetery plot, and couldn't even find the office to inquire, I'd turn around and leave.

I understand that's happened - more than once.

And that's a Very. Big. Deal.

Because the City does not appropriate funds for the operation and maintenance of Oakland Cemetery. The Cemetery is expected to survive on what it can get from the sale of plots, opening and closing graves, perpetual care of the park-like setting of the cemetery, etc.

Oh. And fundraisers. Like wine and cheese parties. And twilight tours of sections of this historic cemetery.

As long as you don't try to come in the front gate to get to them.

The Cemetery has ended each year in the red for the past few years for which I have budget documents.

Every. Single. Year.
So, the deeper I probed, the more irritated I became.

Because if the ceiling collapsed in City Hall, no one would have to organize a wine and cheese party to get it fixed. It's City property and the City would fix it - whatever was needed after insurance paid a portion of the bill.

The City has assured me the bridges will be replaced. But they won't say when, or how, or at what cost, or who will do the work. And how they will maintain the historic accuracy required to keep Oakland's place on the National Register.

That's not acceptable.
Then, as is almost always the case in contests such as this, a darker side emerged.

Before, and for a short time after the turn of the 20th century, Oakland had sections of the property in which paupers were buried. Sextons over the years referred to these section of the property as Paupers' Field or Potters' Field.

One of them can be seen from the sexton's office.

I have it on pretty good authority that some of the plots containing "paupers'" remains were later sold to other people, and when evidence of a previous burial turned up, the pauper was disinterred, the grave was dug deeper, the previous grave occupant was re-interred, and the new burial was completed.

On top of the old one.

The City is dancing on that. The 20 Nov 2013 minutes of the meeting of the Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park Board of Directors talks about the "problem."

And then, there was this document. It was either an attachment or a second page to a 27 Sep 2013 email from an Assistant City Attorney to the City Manager.
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This one appears to confirm what I was told. Part of the mausoleum was built on top of paupers' graves.
The deeper I dig, the more questions I have.

I've asked some of them in writing. And gotten few answers.

The Assistant City Attorney told me, in an email dated 5 May 2014:
As for answering your questions, nothing requires me to answer them. Out of courtesy and an effort to be forthcoming and helpful, I have answered several of your questions previously. I am required to produce documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and of course I will comply with the act. (Emphasis supplied.)

Really? I am a citizen and taxpayer in the City of Little Rock. I have ancestors buried at Oakland.

That's not acceptable.
One can tell the morals of a culture by the way they treat their dead. Benjamin Franklin
I went to Oakland this morning.

It was a fine day for graving in one of my favorite cemeteries.

Angels and other mourning figures catch the eye...
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The weeping angel on the Steen monument is a favorite of many visitors to the cemetery, and is one of my all time personal favorites. The level of detail the stone carver cut into this monument is incredible.
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I have no idea how long some of these old trees have been there, but their massive branches create cool quiet for meditation.
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Mausoleums...their doors - sometimes ornate, and sometimes quite plain - always intrigue me.
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Heartbreak immortalized in stone. H D and Kate Green lost two sons to war.
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Members of several cultures place stones upon a gravestone. The practice probably dates back to a Jewish tradition of marking a grave with a cairn of stones. Each mourner added a stone to the cairn to honor the deceased.

It's refreshing to see that the staff of Oakland do not sweep the stones off of gravestones, as is often done in larger corporate cemeteries.
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The gravestones at Oakland are full of symbols, as are many of the fences and gates.
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In addition to the likeness on this one, there is also a symbol of an eternal flame.
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If you are local to the area, you simply must go smell the roses while they are in bloom on this family plot.
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Inscriptions always catch my eye...
Died Thursday Morning
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My Beloved One Farewell
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Likeness of Angelo Marre, Calvary Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR
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Henry L Winkler was the oldest of four small children of this family.

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I call her the weeping angel.

She's a larger than life sized angel, kneeling prostrate on the Steen family monument.

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The folds on the robe in the rear view of the monument, as well as the detail in the feathers, is just incredible.

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It took some digging, but I believe this monument marks the graves of Jeremiah Palmer Steen (1840-1908), and his adopted son, William E Steen (1871-1909), both of whom have very simple markers behind the monument.

In the 1880 census, the family was living at 1122 Main Street in Little Rock. That location is now an interstate overpass. Jeremiah Steen's occupation was listed as "collects his rents."

I did not see a stone for Kate Steen, Jeremiah's Canadian born wife.

I'll have to go back and take a closer look...
Birdie Besancon
daughter of J & K Besancon
Born Apr 6 1918,
Died Dec 5, 1920


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