Preservation of African American Cemeteries

Mount Nebo Cemetery

4100 Mount Nebo Street, College Station
Little Rock, Arkansas

longitude, latitude:
-92.220242, 34.706415

“PAAC was organized in January 2003 to be a leading organization among cemetery associations, preservation groups, cemetery care-takers, or the one individual that is concerned with documenting and preserving their ancestral burial ground. It is the goal of PAAC to impart valuable information necessary for the education and preparation of cemetery restoration, documentation and preservation.”
“These lost and forgotten cemeteries interpret the lives of the people buried there and the establishment of settlements and communities. With so many being lost to abandonment, nature, development and vandals, there arose the need for the protection and documentation of these cemeteries and history of citizens contained therein. PAAC was established to answer the call of the dramatic pressures that our cemeteries and graveyards face.”

We cannot tell you much about Mount Nebo Cemetery yet, if that is even its name. Much of its history is still shrouded in mystery. The Pulaski County Assessors records refer to this as the “Old Fellow” Cemetery. This is certainly a reference to the “Odd Fellows” fraternal organization. Numerous headstone inscriptions confirm membership in several fraternal organizations, including Odd Fellows.

Previous research and interviews by Dr. John H. House of UAPB established that this was known as “Mount Zion Cemetery”, and from the early 20th Century through 1976, members of five churches were buried here:
Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
Antioch Full Gospel Baptist Church
Zion Wheele Baptist Church
New Hebron Baptist Church
Mount Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church

After the present “Mount Zion Cemetery” on Gray Street opened in 1977, less than 1000 feet away, burials were discontinued in the older cemetery on Mt Nebo Street, which became commonly known as the “Mount Nebo Cemetery”.

This 20th Century cemetery contains several hundred headstones, with inscriptions dating from 1909 to 1976.  There are many more unmarked graves, possibly a thousand total grave sites.  Over several decades without grounds maintenance, the cemetery has transitioned to a forest of fifty foot tall hardwood trees, overgrown with thorny climbing vines, weeds, Privet, and fallen tree limbs.

Although the cemetery is down the street from Mount Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church, the church does not hold the deed for the property. PAAC has not yet identified the cemetery’s trustees. Mount Nebo Cemetery desperately needs someone to stabilize deteriorating conditions, to prevent additional damage and desecration by animals and humans, to begin reversing decades of neglect, to organize initial clean-up and restoration efforts, to establish a sustainable plan for future grounds maintenance, and to preserve this part of Arkansas local history.

  • 2-3 or more grave sites have been compromised by burrowing animals.
  • 2 or more grave sites have suffered water damage from uncontrolled drainage allowing runoff from Mt Nebo Street to cross the cemetery grounds, several grave sites along the west side of the street are covered in two feet of mud, with only the top of the headstones visible in the wetland.
  • Several grave sites at the south end of Mt Nebo Street have a pile of used automobile tires dumped on them, as well as empty paint cans, glass bottles, a television, and other trash.
  • Countless headstones have fallen over, partially collapsed, and are in need of cleaning to catalog their inscriptions, before more of the names and dates become illegible.
 





Odd Fellows Cemetery, Mt Nebo St, College Station, AR

Mt Nebo St, blue wildflowers

Mt Nebo St, blue wildflowers

Three-Toed Box Turtle

Three-Toed Box Turtle

Three-Toed Box Turtle

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xxx.

1 comment on “Preservation of African American CemeteriesAdd yours →

  1. Thank you for stumbling upon this forgotten and neglected African American community cemetery. I pray the College Station community embrace the work you have done. Exposure then Progress

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