Gibson Bayou Cemetery

Various News Articles


Compiled by Debbie Lunsford Yates








The Earle Enterprise – Friday, March 11, 1949


    The Home Demonstration Club of Heafer, has taken as their worth-while project the cleaning up of Gibson Bayou Cemetery, four miles north of Earle. 


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.






The Earle Enterprise – Friday, January 30, 1953


    Rev. L. W. Harvey, Pastor of the Pentecostal Church of God, has accepted a pastorate at the Gibson Bayou Church with Sunday School and Church Services being held each Sunday.


    The Gibson Bayou Church and Cemetery which has been a community project in the past, has fallen in disuse due to lack of management.  Mr. Harvey has assigned himself the task of cleaning up both the church and the cemetery so that it will make a presentable appearance.


    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.





The Earle Enterprise – Friday, May 29, 1953


    There will be an all-day service at the Gibson Bayou church Sunday, May 31, with dinner being served at Noon.  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 noon intermission and also help in the afternoon worship of God in song.


Next week has been set aside as clean-up week for the Gibson Bayou Cemetery and Rev. Harvey has issued a plea for volunteer workers to help make the surroundings more attractive.  Volunteers may come and go as they wish at any hour of the day and any service you may find time to render will be greatly appreciated.





The Earle Enterprise – Friday, June 19, 1953


    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.  Graves will filled in and leveled so that a power lawn mower may be used in the future to keep the cemetery in first class condition.


Gibson Bayou Cemetery is one of the oldest in the county and provides the last resting place for some of our pioneer families.  Since the Gibson Bayou Church has been re-activated much interest has been taken in the appearance of the grounds which surround it but lack of funds has handicapped the work.


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 noon hour.  Contributions will be accepted at any time and are greatly needed for weed poison, hiring additional labor and other incidentals.





The Earle Enterprise – Friday, August 13, 1954


    Revival services began Sunday at the Gibson Bayou Pentecostal Church of God and will continue into next week with services beginning at 7:30 each evening.


The Rev. G. C. Bledsoe of Greenwood, Miss., is delivering the sermons and C. E. Darby is assisting in conducting the meeting.  Special prayers for the sick are being offered each night.


The public is cordially invited to attend each service.







The Earle Enterprise – Friday, December 24, 1954


    The Gibson Bayou Church is building a new parsonage and are making plans to improve the cemetery and grounds surrounding the church and are asking the people of Earle and elsewhere, interested in either the church of cemetery for donation for this work.


    They have secured the services of Rev. E. R. Manning (photo) of Beebee, Ark., who will serve the church full time.  He is an ordained minister of 12 years experience and is a forceful speaker and a tireless worker.


    Services begin at 10 o’clock 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.






The Earle Enterprise – Friday, February 11, 1955


    Creating much interest to the people of the Gibson Bayou community is the revival which began at the Church of God Monday, February 8. Evangelist Eli F. Depriest of Black Rock, Arkansas, is bringing the messages each evening at 7 o’clock.


    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.


    The Church of God at Gibson Bayou now has approximately 30 active members and are enjoying a Sunday School attendance of over 50. 


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.







Evening Times, West Memphis, Arkansas - Summer 1972

By Don Freeman




    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 County.


Crittenden Countians do a lot of remembering each August when those with family and friendship ties gather for a reunion at the Gibson Bayou Church and cemetery.  Sunday will mark the third annual reunion and an all-day singing and dinner-on-the-ground is in the offing.


The Gibson Bayou Church is considered to be one of the oldest historical spots in the county.  The church building dates back to about 1869.  Located five (two and 1/2) miles north of Earle on what is now Arkansas Highway 149, the white church building, hewn from heavy timber, stands in peaceful serenity next to the roadway; its dirt and stick chimney jutting to the blue sky.


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 Gibson Bayou Church was used not only for religious services but served as a voting precinct for elections and a school house.


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 Gibson Bayou School.  Mrs. Cloar said the road in front of the church house (Highway 149) was graveled about 1916.




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.


When Crittenden Memorial Park was established near Marion, Earle area residents began buying lots there.  Fewer persons were being buried at Gibson Bayou cemetery, but then the cemetery was fast filling up.


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


Evening Times, West Memphis, ArkansasTuesday, August 22, 1978

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)

The 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 Gibson Bayou Cemetery surrounding the church of the same name leads away from the present and back into the early years of Arkansas history.


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.”


OLD FASHIONED SUNDAY  -- (Photos) -- It was church services, singing and dinner on the grounds Sunday at Gibson Bayou Church and its historic cemetery north of Earle.  Above, Chisum reminisces about people buried in the cemetery, which is filled with ornate monuments like the one he leans on.  Left, two youngsters find a low tombstone a handy place for a picnic table, and the picnic atmosphere is picked up below by visitors who find a shady spot beneath the trees for lunch.              

--- Staff Photos by Atchison




Gibson Bayou Dates Back to 1869


The Buyer’s Guide, Serving the Earle and Parkin Area - April 13, 1983

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 Crittenden County is located two miles north on Hwy. 149 outside Earle.


    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.


The School


    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.


The Cemetery


    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.


Added Notes:


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 Crittenden County is that of the Richards Homeplace located north of Earle on Highway 149, at Three Forks.







Earle, Arkansas - Volume 2, Number 17, August 21-27, 1984


    An errant automobile on Arkansas Highway 149 was the source of damage to the historic Gibson Bayou Church last weekend.  Two local youths, who were slightly injured in the mishap, were traveling north in a car which left the road and struck the church, moving it nearly a foot off its foundation.  The accident happened only a week before the annual homecoming services, held at the church this past Sunday.






August Homecoming Extends Gibson Bayou Tradition


August 1985


Old Grave Markers Surround Gibson Bayou Church Near Earle...

.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 Gibson Bayou Community Church north of Earle opens its doors for its annual homecoming.


    The church, which has stood at its present location for more than 150 years, is considered to be one of the oldest in Crittenden County.  Regular services are held each Sunday, but only about four or five members attend, and there is no preacher.


    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 Memphis 18 years ago.


    "When we moved back from Memphis, he and Melvin Watson cleaned it up, and that's when we had the first homecoming," Mrs. Chism said.  At 82, the work of keeping up the cemetery is beginning to get a bit heavy for Chism, but he plans to get the grounds in shape for at least one more homecoming.


    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 Tyronza River.


    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


Evening Times, West Memphis, Arkansas - Friday, August 23, 1991

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 Gibson Bayou Church and Cemetery near Earle.


    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 preservation of Crittenden County's heritage.


    "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 Gibson Bayou Cemetery as it was a very high ridge which wasn't covered by water."


    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 Wichita, Kan., who formerly attended church services there when he was a boy growing up in Earle.  His father and grandfather both preached there.  Daniels said the church began as a Pentecostal church, but through years it has been Methodist, Baptist, Assembly of God and Church of God.


    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 Crittenden County Museum, which displays an exhibit on early music of the county.


    After many local people had led the singing, a group from Holy Cross Episcopal Church, West Memphis, where Mrs. Wright is a member, presented a song.  The title of the hymn -- "Surely the Presence of the Lord Is in This Place" -- summed up the day most appropriately.


HOMEMADE QUARTER:  Melvin Watson of Earle, called for a "homemade quarter" to sing "On the Jericho Road" Sunday at Gibson Bayou Church.  Joining him in singing were: Mrs. Dan Spears of Earle; J. E. Neal Jr. of West Memphis, retired music minister at Second Baptist church, and Bernice Morris of Earle.  Mrs. Neal accompanied them on the piano.


    COMING HOME - Dickey Daniels, pastor of Harvest Time Tabernacle at Wichita, Kan., enjoys a visit with Carroll and Pat Cloar of Memphis as they joined the homecoming celebration at Gibson Bayou Church and Cemetery.  Daniels and Cloar both grew up near Earle and attended the church.  Cloar, a well-known artist, has painted the church in several of his works.







Evening Times, West Memphis, Arkansas - Wednesday, January 15, 1992


    Vandals have stolen five tombstones from the historic Gibson Bayou Cemetery, located three miles north of Earle, according to Crittenden County Chief Deputy Bob Cooper.


    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 in Crittenden County and is the subject of a painting by Carroll Cloar, the well-known Memphis artist who is from Earle.











Gibson Bayou Cemetery Homecoming April 27, 2002   Date: 9 Apr 2002 3:49 AM GMT


Author: Debbie Lunsford Yates


The board of Gibson Bayou Cemetery is inviting anyone with relatives or friends buried in the cemetery to attend a Homecoming on April 27, 2002 from 10 AM to 4 PM. The Homecoming will be held at the cemetery, approximately two miles north of Earle on Highway 149. The month of April will be spent in restoring the Civil War church located in the front of the cemetery in hopes of having it completed by the day of the event. Attempts are also underway to plot the cemetery for the historical significance and for future generations. There are more unmarked graves than marked graves in the cemetery. We are asking anyone with relatives buried in the cemetery to send an email message which includes names and approximate location. You can contact Brenda Williams at [email protected] or Pat Isabel Brown at [email protected] Or just come and visit with us at the cemetery on April 27th.

In addition to the Homecoming, efforts are being made to raise money for the restoration of Gibson Bayou Church, and for the maintenance of Gibson Bayou Cemetery. A yard sale will be held on the parking lot of the Mad Butcher grocery store at the intersection of Highways 64 and 149 at Earle, April 27th (rain date May 4th). The sale will begin at 7 AM, the bake sale at 8 AM and the auction at 9 AM. Anyone wishing to donate items is welcome to do so. Further information can be obtained by contacting Janis Lancaster at [email protected]


Gibson Bayou Cemetery - Restoration Program Halted   Date: 10 Jul 2002 3:33 AM GMT


Author: Debbie Lunsford Yates


Effort was made in April to raise money to repair the old Gibson Bayou Church in Earle. A contract with an area construction firm was obtained to "shore-up" the under portion of this 100+ year old church. This would have replaced the beams and joists that support the building. After barely beginning, the contractor left without explanation, and attempts to contact him failed.

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.



Committee Meeting


Evening Times, West Memphis, Arkansas - January 21, 2002


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 Cherry Valley. Jack Stepp called the meeting to order and presided as president.  Ruth McGill gave the treasurers report.


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


Evening Times, West Memphis, ArkansasApril 15, 2002


All Crittenden County residents are kindly invited to a homecoming on April 27, 2002, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gibson Bayou Church and Cemetery, three miles north of Earle on Highway 149. Restoration of the church is underway during the entire month of April.


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.


There are more unmarked graves in the Gibson Bayou Cemetery than marked graves. We will be coming together at the homecoming to try to determine who is in those unmarked graves and plot the cemetery as best we can.


If 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, Duncan, Franklin, Gunn, Harris, Harrison, Forehand, Goad, Ingram, Isham, Lindsey, Linville, Martin, McCoy, McGill, Mettler, Myers, Pickett, Robertson, Rodgers, Scott, Shannon, Sims, Thompson, Tucker, Turpin, Watson, Williams, Winfrey, and Wright.


Please come and see this historic church, and spend some time with friends and family at the Gibson Bayou Church and Cemetery on April 27th.


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


Evening Times, West Memphis, ArkansasApril 18, 2002


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 7 a.m., bake sale at 8 a.m. and auction at 9 a.m. 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


Evening Times, West Memphis, ArkansasApril 25, 2002

By Leigh Ann Kennedy
Evening Times Staff Writer

   "When I was a boy, and I used to wander through Gibson Bayou Cemetery picking dewberries, I got acquainted with all the people buried there and had known some of them in life. Gabe Smith, whom I never saw, was a favorite because he had died violently, in a gun fight. The girl on the right, in back, is Odor Hayes, who died young. I caught small pox from her."


These are the words of the late Carroll Cloar, northeastern Arkansas artist and chronicler of the Delta, as recorded in "Obsessively Southern" at the Fine Arts Center in Hot Springs.


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.


According to a 1970s article by Earle reporter Ann Preston, Gibson Bayou Cemetery, located two miles north on Hwy 149 outside Earle, boasts a large number of grave stones that date back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. In those earlier days, wrote Preston, "The gravestones were made from oak trees, and a red hot poker was used to burn the name, birthdate, date of death and epitaph on the oak slab."


The Gibson Bayou Church and Cemetery were officially established around 1869, according to Preston, and the church served as the solitary house of worship in the area at that time. A 20 by 40-foot clapboard structure, the meeting house had a dirt floor and a stick chimney at each end of the building. The pews were constructed from split logs with surfaces neatly polished with wooden pins for legs.


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.


Since the early 60s, said Lancaster, the Gibson Bayou church house has been used for August homecoming events, including dinners and performances by gospel singing groups.

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 7 a.m., bake sale at 8 a.m. and auction at 9 a.m. The auction will feature knick-knacks and small furniture but no clothes.


At 10 a.m. at Gibson Bayou Church, the committee will hold a silent auction.

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


News Leaders, Wynne, ArkansasJuly 30, 2003

   EARLE – The Gibson Bayou Association will hot a yard sale and barbecue on Saturday, Aug. 2, at the Gibson Bayou Church grounds location at Arkansas Highway 140 North in Earle.


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 8 a.m. 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 11 a.m. 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

   The 1898 Gibson Bayou Church building is no longer standing.  It was completely torn down in the fall of 2003, due to its dilapidated condition.  This was done to prevent if from falling and causing harm to someone.  Some funds have been collected to attempt to 'duplicate' this historical structure.


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, 755 Crook Rd, Earle, AR 72331.  OR, donate at least $50 to the Gibson Bayou Church Fund and get a copy of this video tape or DVD.  Please specify which.


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 Gibson Bayou Church and Cemetery.  If you have photos or other material concerning this site, please send them to Jack Stepp for this new project.  Watch for dates available in future issues of Timeshare.


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 Gibson Bayou Church and Cemetery, several hundreds of dollars have been raised.


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 Church is hoped to be completed this year. 



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 has been
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.

Earle Methodist Church Will Be 100 Years Old in 2006

    On Sunday, April 23, 2006, the Earle Methodist Church will celebrate its 100th anniversary. All current and past members are invited to attend this special event. Committees are now being formed to direct the celebration.

    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 Crittenden County. He traveled by horse and buggy.  While in Earle, he built the Earle Methodist Episcopal Church South ---."

    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 Methodist Church in existence --."  Could this Methodist church 'already in existence' be the Gibson Bayou Church?


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.




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