Various News Articles
Compiled by Debbie Lunsford Yates
CEMETERY “CLEAN-UP DAY” SET BY HDC
The Earle Enterprise –
The Home Demonstration Club of Heafer, has taken as their worth-while project the cleaning
The “Clean UP Day” is set for Tuesday, March 15th. The ladies are asking that anyone who can help identify the unmarked graves to be there sometime throughout the day.
The ladies expect to spend the entire day at the cemetery and any volunteer help will be accepted. If you come bring your lunch.
Gibson Bayou is the only cemetery near Earle. It is in a run-down condition. The Club members are to be commended in the interest that is being manifested.
Don’t forget the date, Tuesday, March 15.
ASSISTANCE ASKED FOR IMPROVING
The Earle Enterprise –
Rev. L. W. Harvey, Pastor of the Pentecostal
Church of God, has accepted a pastorate at the
Volunteer workers have been putting in spare time at this effort but more substantial help is needed if the project is to be successful. He is asking for donations, either labor, or cash to secure labor, in order that Earle’s only public cemetery may not continue to be an eye-sore.
The money, if donated, will be spent conservatively, and labor when volunteered may work at their own election, doing as they see fit.
This is a worthwhile project to which the people of Earle and surrounding territory are urged to subscribe in any amount possible. You may contact Rev. Harvey or any member if you desire to join in this project.
ALL-DAY SERVICES AT GIBSON BAYOU SUNDAY
The Earle Enterprise –
There will be an all-day service at the Gibson Bayou church Sunday, May 31, with dinner being served at . Regular services will be held at the usual morning hours and the afternoon will be devoted to singing.
Rev. L. W. Harvey is pastor of the Gibson Bayou church and will conduct the morning service. He invites everyone without a church home to come to these services and join with them at the intermission and also help in the afternoon worship of God in song.
Next week has been set aside as clean-up week for the
CLEAN-UP DAY AT GIBSON BAYOU NEXT THURSDAY
The Earle Enterprise –
Member so the Gibson Bayou Church, friends and well-wishers have designated Thursday, June 25 as Clean-Up Day a the Gibson Bayou Cemetery north of Earle.
A committee, headed by Mr. Abbott, has been appointed to seek volunteer workers for this day and also financial assistance from interested persons who are unable to donate their time.
Present plans call for honey-suckle vines and weeds to be cut
and all trash removed.
Work will begin Clean-Up Day morning and will be supervised so that a more orderly plan of work can be carried out. It is asked that you come early, bring your lunch and join in the fellowship at the hour. Contributions will be accepted at any time and are greatly needed for weed poison, hiring additional labor and other incidentals.
The Earle Enterprise –
Revival services began Sunday at the Gibson Bayou Pentecostal Church of God and will continue into next week with services beginning at each evening.
The Rev. G. C. Bledsoe of
The public is cordially invited to attend each service.
The Earle Enterprise –
They have secured the services of Rev. E. R.
Manning (photo) of
Services begin at each Sunday morning and at 7 in the evenings. According to Rev. Manning, there has already been an increase in Sunday School attendance and he is looking forward to greater things.
At the present time, the church is badly in need of funds to carry out their plans. They also need gravel and other building material and would appreciate any donations on your part.
Rev. Manning extends a cordial invitation to all who are without a church home to come and worship with them.
GIBSON BAYOU REVIVAL BEGAN THIS WEEK
The Earle Enterprise –
Creating much interest to the people of the
Gibson Bayou community is the revival which began at the
Evangelist Depriest, known as the “Old Time Preacher Man” is a forcible man of God and his messages are being well received by an ever-increasing congregation.
Rev. Roland Manning, pastor, cordially invites everyone to attend these revival services and urges those of you without a church home to attend any of their regular Sabbath services. A hearty welcome awaits you.
By Don Freeman
OLD MEETIN' PLACE
Clifford Chisum eyes the land he loves (photo) near the old frame church building where, as a lad,
he used to make a pallet on the floor in front of the pulpit when the preacher
lingered on the message. The church was
built about 1869 and is one of the oldest historical places in
Crittenden Countians do a lot of
remembering each August when those with family and friendship ties gather for a
reunion at the
Mrs. T. J. Cloar, Jr., and Clifford Chisum have roots in the
Gibson Bayou community and like to reveal glimpses of its past. Mrs. Cloar says the
The pulpit of the church is made of rough boards and the benches are fashioned from split logs.
Children came in wagons and on horseback from as far as
Crawfordsville to attend the
The first grave monument in the cemetery was hewn from a slab of an oak tree. Mrs. Cloar said a red-hot piece of iron was used to carve the name and date of birth and death of the person buried there.
"In those days, most families had a family cemetery, or a graveyard as they were called, on their own land," Mrs. Cloar said. She said Gibson Bayou graveyard was a free burying place.
As the years passed and the community shrank, its people moving into Earle or elsewhere, people became disinterested in the cemetery. On one occasion, the graveyard was set on fire by pranksters, and many of the (Continued on Page Four) ...remainder of article not included....
At Gibson Bayou
Annual Gathering Blends Old, New
By Kay Atchison
Evening Times Staff Writer
“That fellow over there – I feel guilty every time I mow past his grave. I used to turn his mules loose while he was in church,” -- Cliff Chisum
(Photo of Cliff Chisum standing beside tombstone of Gabe Smith)
cars parked out front were late model, and the gospel group was carting
electronic amplifiers and microphones through the church door. But a walk through
Sunday, the church was crowded as visitors who once called the Earle area home came back for the church’s annual gospel singing and outdoor dinner. Blankets spread out under trees became picnic tablecloths, and tombstones decades old became handy bases for youngsters playing tag.
Located on either side of Arkansas Highway 149 about three miles north of Earle, the cemetery contains graves dating from just after Civil War times. But the grounds had fallen into disrepair before Cliff Chisum, who now holds the position of cemetery custodian, decided to do something about it.
The land resembled a jungle when Chisum made his first attempt to clear it about 11 years ago, he said. “Trees had fallen down and nobody moved them. When they came here to bury, they’d have to cut them a path to the grave.”
So with the help of People’s Implement Co. in Earle, who donated tractors for the cemetery care, Chisum began the slow process of restoring the cemetery to its original state. Now, 11 years later, at the age of 75, he is training his great-granddaughter to carry on the upkeep.
Worn granite tombstones in the cemetery read like pages of a history book, especially with Chisum’s explanatory comments. Directly behind the church lies the grave of Mary Jane Fulkerson, who adopted Chisum at the age of 6. Chisum remembers her telling tales of Union occupation during the Civil War before her death in 1944 at the age of 102.
Her husband, W. W. Fulkerson, built the church building, which Chisum estimates to be “100, maybe 110 years old. He hewed those sills with a broadaxe,” he said, gesturing toward the white frame building, “and they’re just as straight and true as any you see.”
One headstone Chisum pointed out was that of a local blacksmith. “Somebody killed him on his way home from work. They never did know who killed him.” (Note: this appears to be E. L. Byrn)
Many of the graves hold people that Chisum once knew. He pointed to one with a laugh.
“That fellow over there – I feel guilty every time I mow past his grave. I used to turn his mules loose while he was in church.”
Keeping up the church grounds gives Chisum a lot of pleasure, he said. “This is an old place. I’ve been lots of places and done lots of things, but I’ve never been anywhere I enjoyed as much as here.”
FASHIONED SUNDAY --
(Photos) -- It was church
services, singing and dinner on the grounds Sunday at
--- Staff Photos by
Gibson Bayou Dates Back to 1869
Buyer’s Guide, Serving the Earle and Parkin Area -
By Ann Preston
HISTORICAL SPOT – (Photo) - The Gibson Bayou Community Church and Cemetery has a history that dates back to 1869. The church has been a lot of things to a lot of people, located outside Earle on Hwy. 149.
One of the oldest historical spots in
The Gibson Bayou church and Cemetery dates back to 1869, and the church was the only one around the area for long time. It was a Methodist church and was used for various purposes besides religious services such as school and a voting precinct.
The church itself was about 20 feet by 40 feet with a dirt floor and a stick chimney at each end. The pulpit was made of rough boards, and the benches were split logs with neatly polished surfaces. Holes were bored into the connected part of the logs with wooden pins inserted for legs.
It is believed the Gibson Bayou was named for A. G. Gibson and Mary R. Gibson. They owned the land around the church and cemetery are buried there.
After their death, a woman called “Aunt Sue” Morgan and her son looked after the grounds. Her home was in the south end of the cemetery and her yard was full of flowers which people often picked to place on a loved one’s grave.
It has been said that children rode horseback or came in wagons from as far away as Crawfordsville to attend school at Gibson Bayou. Julia Florance Ryles was one of the teachers as well as a man named “Cotton”, who lived with the Ben R. Rush family.
In the 1880’s, the Bayou became known as “The Bio”. A lot of confusion and bickering went on when the highway was put through the oldest part of the cemetery. Some people even moved their loved ones to other cemeteries.
The majority of the markers date back to the late 1700’s and 1800’s 1. In 1790, the gravestones were made from oak trees, and a red hot poker was used to burn the name, birthdate, date of death and epitath [sic] on the oak slab.
Among the many stones in the cemetery, one that stands out is a tall, granite monument resembling a tree trunk with the inscription “Woodman of the World”. Another is a tiny marble stone of an innocent baby lamb, marking the grave of an infant son.
Not only is the Gibson Bayou Church and cemetery the oldest historical spot in Crittenden County 2, but it is the home of the famous Carroll Cloar. Many of his famous paintings are taken from the Gibson Bayou community and cemetery.
1 The oldest existing markers in the cemetery are dated from the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s.
2 The oldest historical spot in
An errant automobile on Arkansas Highway 149
was the source of damage to the historic
August Homecoming Extends Gibson Bayou Tradition
.Homecoming Services At Church Are Set Aug. 18
The old-fashioned tradition of all-day
singing and dinner on the ground will be repeated Aug. 18 when
The church, which has stood at its present
location for more than 150 years, is considered to be one of the oldest in
Mr. and Mrs. Cliff Chism, who have taken care of the church and its surrounding cemetery, are hoping for a big turnout Aug. 18 for the homecoming. "Some years, we've had as many as 100 there," Mrs. Chism said. "It's just singing and eating and then more singing," she added.
A collection will be taken during the
service for the cemetery upkeep fund.
Mowing and keeping up the cemetery has been a project of Chism's since he and his wife returned to Earle from
"When we moved back from
Ancestors of many present-day Earle families
are buried in the Gibson Bayou cemetery, which straddles Arkansas Highway 149
and contains graves that date back to the 1840's. Many of the graves were moved when the
highway was cut through the middle of the church property, and some graves are
marked only with an uncut stone from the nearby
Descendents of early residents buried in the cemetery, along with others members of the community, are invited to bring lunch and take part in the homecoming services.
'Old Time Religion' still practiced at Gibson Bayou
by Carol Rolf, Evening Times Staff Writer
"Give me that old time religion ... that's good enough for me."
And it was more than "good enough"
recently when Arkansans, past and present, gathered for a day of old fashioned
toe-tapping, hand-clapping, uniquely Southern gospel music at the
They had dinner on the grounds before the "singing convention" as the sessions used to be called, began --- and when it ended, all left the small wooden church with a greater sense of their own being and of that of the past.
The homecoming celebration is held annually
on the third Sunday of August, according to Gladys Wright of Earle. Although she is not a member of the small
nondenominational church, Mrs. Wright is very interested in the history and
"The music they sing at Gibson Bayou is very much a part of our history," Mrs. Wright said. "These people feel, as I do, that music is very much a part of worship."
The small church cemetery, where grave markers dating back to the late 1800's can be found, is another vital link to the past of the Gibson Bayou area of the county. According to Mrs. Wright and Melvin Watson, the unofficial organizer of the homecoming and cemetery caretaker, it was started as a free burying place for those who had no family cemetery, which were common at that time. Gibson Bayou was also used because it was "high ground" in an area prone to frequent flooding.
Watson said his father, the late William L.
Watson, who was born in 1886, said the church building was there "as far
back as he could remember." Watson said his father told him, "Many
brought their dead by boat to
According to some records, Gibson Bayou dates back to about 1869.
"This church has mothered many churches
found today in Earle and in the county," said Dickey Daniels, pastor of
the Harvest Time Tabernacle at
Mrs. Wright said the church has no regular minister now, and that only Sunday school classes are held.
"I try to come back for the homecoming as often as I can," Daniels said. "This church means a lot to me."
"It's a shame that the people who have a tie to the past here, who have people buried here, don't take time to give donations to the Gibson Bayou Community Association," he said. "This cemetery is a private cemetery and must depend on donations for its upkeep. I would hope that everyone who has a connection here would make a contribution to the fund, even if only a dollar is all they could afford."
The singing inside the church is not like any found in a modern-day Protestant church. The old hymns are often led by untrained men, women and children, many of whom are also untalented. Other song leaders sound almost professional.
In either case, the voices from the congregation are loud and full of spirit, punctuated now and then by a hand raised in the pews, signaling approval or enjoyment of the singing.
Some of the hymns are familiar --"Amazing Grace," "Fly Away," "Precious Lord Take My Hand" -- others not so well know. But all have the same kindred spirit that has brought the worshipers together for another year.
And most are sung totally from memory.
Harp -- or shape note -- singing, an interesting aspect of the Southern gospel singing often practiced at the Gibson Bayou homecoming was not heard this year, however.
Shaped notes came into use approximately 100 years ago to assist people who were unable to either read, or write, or could not read music. Instead, special shapes -- triangles, ovals and squares -- were used for each note in the musical scale, simplifying learning to sing or play an instrument.
"In fact, I learned to sing and play
the piano by shaped note," said Bryan Speed of Earle, curator of the
After many local people had led the singing,
a group from Holy Cross Episcopal Church,
Melvin Watson of Earle, called for a "homemade quarter" to
sing "On the
COMING HOME - Dickey
Daniels, pastor of Harvest Time Tabernacle at Wichita, Kan., enjoys a visit
with Carroll and Pat Cloar of
Vandals have stolen five tombstones from the
Cooper said M. L. Watson reported the theft to Deputy J. M. Oakes, who was visiting the cemetery Saturday.
Watson said two of the stones that were stolen had marked the graves of his grandparents. He told the officer he had noticed the stones turned over a few days before and thought someone was cleaning the cemetery lots. But when he returned Saturday, the stones were gone along with bouquets of silk flowers which families had places on graves.
Gibson Bayou is one of the oldest cemeteries
Author: Debbie Lunsford Yates
The board of
In addition to the Homecoming, efforts are being made to raise money for the restoration of
Author: Debbie Lunsford Yates
Effort was made in April to raise money to repair the old
On June 24, Jack Stepp, Church and Cemetery Commission Chairman, attempted to finish the job with local help. No one had realized the extent of damages. He determined that all of the original beams and joists were so rotten from moisture and termite damage that restoration is impossible. Also the side walls are leaning and splitting, the rear 1/3rd floor decking is severely damaged.
A meeting of the commission members was called and they declared the entire church "Unsafe". DO NOT ENTER signs were posted around the building. All repair efforts have been cancelled.
The only alternate solution is to demolish the building and 'rebuild' it back to its original state, attempting to use those materials that resemble the 1890's. The current pews could possibly be reinstalled. A Rebuilding Fund would have to be established, and achieved. This decision will be made as soon as possible, at which time a meeting of all still living past members, local community and all concerned will be held.
All previous contributions toward the repairs of this church were greatly appreciated. Any suggestions will be welcomed.
The Gibson Bayou Church/Cemetery Committee held their quarterly meeting Jan. 8 in the home of Joyce and Jack Stepp. Others present were Joe Wood, Ruth McGill, Janis Lancaster, Jane and Bryan Speed, Annice Jones, Danny Lunsford and Debbie L. Yates.
The committee members expressed their appreciation to Debbie for updating the cemetery list through 2001 and thanked her in advance for her continuation of this project.
Debbie's home is in
There was a discussion about getting the church and cemetery on the state or national historic register. Bryan Speed plans to produce a Gibson Bayou video tape.
Donations and memorials are welcome, as well as volunteers.
For more information call Jack at 792-7574.
Gibson Bayou Homecoming
To raise funds for the restoration of this Civil War church, there will be a silent auction along with food and drinks for purchase. There will be a garage sale at the Mad Butcher in Earle that morning before the homecoming.
Gibson Bayou church is the oldest church in the area. Famous artist Carroll Cloar attended this church as a child with his mother and later painted a portrait called "The Night of The Heavenly Music."
Carroll was inspired to paint this painting as he and his mother walked home from church one night and heard beautiful music and singing above them.
are more unmarked graves in the
you are interested in genealogy, please come by and share your information with
us. There will be genealogical information there as well for anyone to review.
Some of the families with history there are: Abbott, Akins, Annis, Baker,
Carter, Cloar, Crim, Daniels,
come and see this historic church, and spend some time with friends and family
For further information or to make a donation for the restoration fund or garage sale, please call Clara McGill at 870-343-2798 or email at [email protected].
News Briefs – Gibson Bayou
Benefit April 27
The Gibson Bayou Church/Cemetery Committee is sponsoring a benefit on April 27 on the lot by Mad Butcher, intersection of Hwy. 64 in Earle. Yard sale begins at , bake sale at and auction at The auction will feature knick-knacks and small furniture but no clothes. Donations are welcome. Rain date is May 4. Proceeds will go to up-keep of the cemetery.
Group is Working to Preserve History of Gibson Bayou
By Leigh Ann Kennedy
Evening Times Staff Writer
"When I was a boy, and I used to wander through
are the words of the late Carroll Cloar, northeastern
Cloar's reminiscence of the Earle cemetery inspired his work "Gibson Bayou Anthology" of 1956. In the piece, Cloar depicts the dearly departed of Gibson Bayou, dressed in their most formal and somber burial attire, standing beside their markers - markers with which Cloar said he'd become so familiar.
Now another group of local residents is working to preserve the memory of this historic place. Simply named the Gibson Bayou Church/Cemetery Committee, the group, led by Jack Stepp, has sponsored a number of work days at the cemetery and is hosting a fundraising benefit this Saturday.
to a 1970s article by Earle reporter Ann Preston,
Speaking of the church house's usage, Dr. James C. Throgmorton was quoted as saying in the 1919 History of Crittenden County, "This house was used for various purposes, such as church, school, Sunday school, also a voting precinct for elections. The pulpit or rostrum was constructed of rough boards and furnished a place for the Doctor of Divinity to stand while dispersing his circumlocutions as an antidote for sin."
Committee member Janis Lancaster said that a number of denominations have used the church, the latest being a Pentecostal group in the early 1950s. Sunday school classes were held there as late as the mid-50s.
the early 60s, said
Of the graveyard, Pat Isabel Brown wrote in 1967, "The cemetery is still being used, but it is hard to dig a grave without hitting another one."
However, the cemetery is still in use to this day. Reported Sue Ann Elms in her weekly Earle news column, there were two internments at the cemetery in February and March 2002.
Reporting on the cemetery's condition, Brown said in her piece, "Many of the markers are funeral home markers which have deteriorated because of weather and are not unreadable. Some of the monuments are broken and many are hard to read. There are many people buried here who do not have markers." She followed her article with a list of persons buried without markers, including entire families.
In their latest efforts, the committee is attempting to have the church and cemetery listed on the National Historic Registry and has enlisted the help of U.S. Rep. Marion Berry and a few rural development agencies.
With the goal of maintaining and restoring the church and improving the cemetery, the committee continues to accept donations for their work, and this Saturday they are asking the community to take part in a benefit for Gibson Bayou. On Saturday the lot by Mad Butcher, intersection of Hwy. 64 in Earle, the committee will have a yard sale beginning at , bake sale at and auction at The auction will feature knick-knacks and small furniture but no clothes.
Donations are welcome, and all proceeds will go to up-keep of the cemetery. Rain date for the benefit is May 4.
Other committee members and trustees of Gibson Bayou are Ruth McGill, Janis Lancaster and Joe Wood, and more have joined the committee recently.
Event Planned to Raise Funds for Gibson Bayou
EARLE – The Gibson Bayou Association will hot a yard sale and barbecue on Saturday, Aug. 2, at the
Proceeds from the event will help build a duplicate church at the historic site of Gibson Bayou, located north of Earl. An original structure was built at the site in 1898.
The yard sale will begin at and will end when all items are sold. Donations now are being accepted for the yard sale, but no clothing and heavy appliances are needed. For more information, call Jack Stepp at 792-7574.
The barbecue sale begins at and will include barbecue donated by Mr. and Mrs. George Sides of G&A Grocery at Coldwater.
All day, gospels and blue grass music will be provided by Hickory Hill Bluegrass and Gospel Band of Wynne.
Gibson Bayou Update
Time Share, a Newsletter for Earle Classmates, January 2004
Published by W. Joe Wood
Thanks to those of you that have contributed. Thanks to those who have helped with fund-raising projects ----- but more funds are needed.
The previously mentioned video tape has been completed and is
now available. Mrs. Lacie Greer prepared the
30-minute tape from old photos of the church and cemetery that were provided by
many friends. Bryan Speed narrated with the history of this landmark.
Copies of the tape are being sold for $25 and can be ordered from: Jack Stepp,
Also, some who have already purchased the video may have received faulty or 'less than premium copies'. If so, please return the faulty tape and a new one will be sent to you without charge.
Plans are underway for producing yet another video or DVD, to include
even more pictures and other items about the
Proceeds will be used for this 'duplication' building fund, which we hope to begin in the spring or summer of 2004.
Gibson Bayou Update
Time Share, a Newsletter for Earle Classmates, June 2004
Published by W. Joe Wood
For many years, the Gibson Bayou Committee, currently headed by Jack Stepp of Earle, has been raising funds to maintain the church and cemetery. In the mid 1900s, Cliff Chism undertook the job of 'cleaning-up' the overgrown cemetery, and at his death, others have volunteered and finally formed a committee to maintain this landmark. Many and varied fund raising projects existed. For the past few years, about $2,500-$3,000 is needed yearly just to mow the grass at the cemetery. AND, a great job of this has been done for the past several years.
Since August 2000, Timeshare has asked your
help for this maintenance and to repair/restore the Church. Thanks to many of you,
and the other friends of the
The August, 2002 [issue] of Timeshare reported the restoration fund had been changed to a 'replication fund.' The January, 2004 issue stated that the circa 1898 church building was razed due to it's decaying condition.
During April, 2004, the foundation and piers were laid, then on Friday and Saturday, May 7 and 8, a crew of volunteers laid the flooring and framed the walls. Almost every week-end since, more progress is being made.
Completion of this duplicate
Gibson Bayou Update
Time Share, a Newsletter for Earle Classmates, May 2005
Published by W. Joe Wood
The interior walls are being installed. The raised pulpit area
completed. The pews are being put back in THANKS to many of you that have
helped in the expenses of this landmark duplication project. Please continue
to donate to this Building Fund and the Cemetery Maintenance Fund.
From the history of the Earle Methodist church: "On a cold day in January, 1906, thirteen Baptist and Methodist met in a small frame building at 1212 2nd street in Earle to begin a Sunday School and Church. They alternated pastors -- a Methodist for two weeks, then a Baptist for two weeks. The Methodist Pastor was Rev. Bedford Lee Harris. His parents had named him for the Bedford Forrest, and Robert E. Lee. He was a member of the White River Conference of Arkansas, and was appointed to the Marion-Crawfordsville Circuit, which included all of
The history of the Earle Baptist church differs slightly, in that it states their church was organized in the fall of 1902, when an Associational Missionary, the Rev. R. C. Medaris "came to this tiny untamed village, surrounded by dense forests in which all types of wild game abound." Their history states "the Baptist church was started over the objections of many -- as there was already a
The Earle Methodist history says that prior to 1906, Earle Methodists worshipped at Gibson Bayou. The Methodist parsonage burned in 1933, and is seems that all prior records were destroyed in the fire, thus the Methodist history was reconstructed from the memory of some of the 1933 members.
© Deborah Lunsford Yates, 2000 - 2006
Last Updated Tuesday, February 21, 2006, 7:59:07 PM CST