NWA Black Heritage was deeded 1.18 acres comprising visible gravesites on the western slope of Mt. Sequoyah by Lynn and Elaine Wade on March 26, 2014, and then received the remaining 6 acres of the surrounding property on December 10, 2021. In 2015 The Department of Arkansas Heritage determined the site eligible for National Register of Historic Places status. However, so little history was known about the people in unmarked and unrecorded graves that the Association did not complete the process. NWA Black Heritage aims to honor the lives and legacies of African Americans forced into slavery and labor throughout NWA with cemetery findings and recoverable records to piece together information about who they were as individuals and mark their existence with more than a notation of “numerous unmarked burials.”
East Mountain Cemetery was called Fayetteville Civil Cemetery in the Fayetteville National Cemetery Civil War records of exhumations, 1862-1864. There are notations of Black Civil War dead that were exhumed from the East Mountain site, which we believe at the time also included the area that is now the Confederate Cemetery. The site is a remarkable record of local, regional, Arkansas, and US history, connecting us to the horrid practice of chattel slavery and the erasure of the act of it as much as possible, including of the people subjected to the barbaric practice and whitewashing and celebration of the perpetrators of the American practice.
East Mountain Cemetery overlooks the Fayetteville square and faces the path Confederate troops traveled during their failed attack on the city on April 18, 1863, and is part of the historic African American community that formed along Spout Spring Branch at Emancipation. It has 118 known burials from 1838 to the present, with approximately 84 from 1838 to 1965. It contains burials of those who arrived before and after indigenous people were forced off the lands to take fertile soil along waterways for enslaved people labor for their use and to sell. These people include the Suttons, Walkers, Quarles, Polsons, Pegrams, Wilsons, Jernigans, Prices, Rudolphs, and Harrises. David Walker, who enslaved at least 33 people in 1860 and arrived with at least one enslaved person in 1832, created a family plot in the Cemetery now owned by the southern memorial association and recognized by a sizable confederate marker. There were several burials of African Americans interred in the early 1900s.
COVID-19 found East Mountain Cemetery an excellent outdoor classroom and a worksite for volunteers and students in the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture, Landscape division to teach the largest class they have ever had because of the significant historical value. The Symposium, Revealing Fayetteville - A New Landscape about our work at East Mountain Cemetery with Elizabeth Kennedy - EKLA, New York, NY; Katherine Ambroziak – Associate Dean, College of Architecture and Design, University of Tennessee - Knoxville; Dr. Lynn Rainville - Director of Institutional History, Washington and Lee University; Ken McCown, Professor; Jim Coffman, Visiting Assistant Professor, and Sharon Killian - President, NWA Black Heritage.
The Washington County Community Remembrance Project Coalition, a group of University of Arkansas and Fayetteville citizens committed to addressing painful themes in troubling racial history of our community. WCCRP unveiled the memorial marker on May 15, 2021 in the historic Oaks cemetery to venerate three victims of historic racial terror.
Discover the history of cemetery of numerous unmarked graves of enslaved people on a thirty-acre tract of land recently acquired by the Northwest Arkansas Airport Authority. After receiving reports about its location, the Airport Authority consulted with the Arkansas Archeological Survey to locate and protect the cemetery from future development. Although difficulty was encountered in cleanly removing topsoil due to naturally occurring chert, three features interpreted as infant or sub-adult grave pits were discovered in Area B, located on a small knoll at the back corner of the former Anderson slave camp near an intermittent creek. Soil samples were taken from two features, but no artifacts or skeletal material were discovered. All three features were encountered at a depth of only 30-35cm below ground surface. The airport authority plans to mark off and protect the location of the cemetery.
Identification of various antebellum features, including the specific location of the cemetery, provides spatial data for defining the landscape of the Anderson antebellum camp. The dwellings and the burying ground were located south of a road and on relatively lower topographic settings than for the white family home and cemetery. The Black cemetery is located about 400 meters south of the Anderson cemetery on a corner of the property that is subject to flooding. Historical accounts and archival data gathered during this project provide some detail of the antebellum landscape. Although we do not know the names of those buried in the Anderson Cemetery, a few records do provide clues concerning possible relatives as well as incidents involving enslaved people associated with the Andersons. Explore this significant piece of history and learn more about the lives and legacies of those buried in the Anderson Cemetery.