- Associated Press - Monday, January 4, 2016

LOWELL, Ark. (AP) - Glenn Jones pointed to an indentation in the ground as a gust of wind swirled leaves around tombstones.

Jones, a Goad Springs Cemetery Association member, said the Ford brothers buried in that spot were killed during the Civil War Battle of Pea Ridge and were taken to the cemetery in Lowell.

The brothers had been dead for three days by the time their sisters found them, Jones said. A quick burial was needed because of the condition of the bodies.

“Their sisters wanted to get rid of the bodies as soon as possible,” he said. “They came to a spot right by the road, dug the grave and wrapped the bodies in quilts.”

There is no gravestone for the brothers, and their first names are unknown.

“The sisters went all the way to Pea Ridge in an ox-driven cart to find their brothers,” Jones said. “The sisters identified them by socks they had made.”

On Dec. 2, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program added Goad Springs Cemetery at 361 S. Goad Springs Road to the Arkansas Register of Historic Places. The first tombstone in the cemetery dates to 1853, Jones said.

Mayor Eldon Long said the city is always looking for ways to preserve its heritage.

“People came here in the 1800s, prior to the Civil War,” Long said. “The legacy needs to be preserved and what better way to preserve it than where these homesteaders are buried? We take a lot of pride in our roots. It is not just another recognition, it is something that will stay in place for all generations.”

The program’s website states that the cemetery contains graves for some of the area’s earliest settlers.

Jones said he is related to about 15 percent of the people buried in the cemetery. His fourth great-grandmother, Ann Gamble Colville, was buried in the cemetery in 1874.

“The rule of thumb back then was you don’t date outside a 5-mile radius,” Jones said. “After a while you are kin to everyone.”

Jones said his family has helped care for the cemetery for generations.

“My great-grandfather mowed this cemetery with a push mower,” Jones said. “My grandmother was a historian, but also family-oriented and, as a kid, we would come up here and visit her ancestors.”

The use of “ground penetrating radar” has helped historians estimate that more than 400 people are buried in the cemetery, Jones said.

He said the radar can detect whether the soil below the surface has been disturbed. Historians look at the size of the disturbance to see if it matches a grave size.

There are many potential graves that don’t have tombstones in the cemetery, Jones said.

“The people who homesteaded here weren’t rich,” he said. “Our first grave tombstone is 1853. The first people buried here were before that, but they used rocks from the nearby creek” to mark the graves.

It also would have been difficult to find someone who knew how to cut a tombstone in the early days of the cemetery, Jones said.

In addition to the Ford brothers, there are at least seven Civil War veterans buried in the cemetery, one World War I veteran and one World War II veteran, according to a website for the cemetery.

Jones said the cemetery is still used. About six people were buried there this year.

The state registry will help preserve the story of the cemetery and the history of the people buried there, he said.

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Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.nwaonline.com

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