Mangrum Cemetery needs help

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mangrum Cemetery located in Craighead County near Caraway is not only a landmark in the area, it features two historical markers. One marker is for Dr. Thomas Varner and the other one is for early settler Isaac Newton Mangrum.

Several headstones at the Mangrum Cemetery are in need of repair.

Dr. Varner's marker reads, "In 1844 Dr. Thomas Varner purchased a cabin located about one fourth mile west of this spot from Ed (or Ned) Mattix. In this house the first sermon was preached in the area south of the Missouri Line by Abraham McDaniel. This cemetery started in 1866 with the burial of Nancy Varner, daughter of Dr. Varner. The doctor died July 4, 1867. This marker stands on site of church and schoolhouse erected about 1880. The marker was sponsored by Craighead County Historical Society.

The second marker reads Isaac Newton Mangrum, Nov. 28, 1836 -- Feb. 25, 1907. One of the first settlers of this area, he was a farmer, ginner and owner of a steamboat on the St. Francis River. Mangrum Settlement was named in his honor.

The cemetery is almost 150 years old. It is kept up very well and has some very old headstones.

Paul and Madge Taylor oversee the cemetery and the grounds are kept by Wilb Coggin.

Coggin mows the Monette Cemetery and the Mangrum Cemetery and does a great job.

Many of the headstones are in need of repair and cleaning. A summer thunderstorm came through in June leaving several of the stones in disarray.

The Taylors live a short distance from the cemetery. On the day of the summer storm they were surprised to get a call from Wilb who asked if they had been to the cemetery. He said it looked like a tornado had hit it.

"We went there and found large tree limbs thrown all over the cemetery," Mrs. Taylor said. "Some had knocked over monuments. While we were there, a man came by and told us he had seen what looked like tornadic wind come through the cemetery. He brought his wife and son back to the sight to show them what the wind had done to the cemetery. He was passing through when the wind hit and he said he parked his truck close to the Mangrum Church of Christ building across the road from the cemetery. He said it looked as if the wind sucked the tree tops up in the air, twirling them around and then they crashed back to the ground. He and another neighbor witnessed the strong winds."

Paul called someone from the county office to ask about help in clearing the limbs. A crew of men with chain saws cut up the big limbs and stacked them in a vacant lot.

"The county has always been great to help when we needed them," Mrs. Taylor said. "They have cleaned up trees and limbs the past two winters after ice and snow storms hit the area. They are very helpful in clearing the limbs for us and we appreciate them so much."

She said they receive donations to help with the mowing of the cemetery but there is real need to repair and clean stones. Volunteers are needed.

"We would like to have a work day if we could get enough interest," Mrs. Taylor said. "We would like to see the stones placed back in place."

Anyone who shares the interest in a work day can call Mrs. Taylor at 482-3078. Donations are also needed and they can be mailed to Paul Taylor, P.O. Box 6, Caraway AR, 72419.

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