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Rose Hill Cemetery

Rose Hill Cemetery is a historic cemetery located in Arkadelphia (Clark County). It was officially opened in 1876, although some graves in the cemetery date to the 1850s. The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 1, 1999.

The first public cemetery in Arkadelphia was established shortly after the town was settled. It was named the Blakely Graveyard for an early name of the settlement. The graveyard was closed by the city board to future interments in 1869. In 1876, the Maddox family donated land for a new cemetery. In 1880, the Maddox Cemetery was renamed Rose Hill, although it is unclear why this change occurred. Several graves from the Blakely Graveyard were moved to this new cemetery after it opened, including the bodies of several Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War.

The cemetery, which fronts Main Street, covers approximately twelve acres and fronts Main Street. The eastern boundary of the cemetery is South Twelfth Street, and the western boundary of the cemetery abuts another cemetery, while the southern boundary is adjacent to private property. The land slopes down from the front of the cemetery, with concrete retaining walls used to prevent erosion. The oldest graves are located in the northern section of the cemetery, with newer graves to the south and west. There is a small gazebo in the cemetery, and several small sheds are used to house maintenance equipment.  

A black wrought-iron fence runs in front of the property, and an iron sign displaying the name of the cemetery is located slightly to the east of the front entrance. A stone retaining wall runs alongside the eastern edge of the property, and a marble plaque on the northeast corner honors Alice McNutt, a donor to the cemetery.

A dirt road leads into the center of the cemetery from the front entrance, and a number of magnolia, cedar, and other types of trees are located in the older section. The sections with newer graves have fewer trees and more open space.

The cemetery contains the resting places of several notable Arkansans and residents of Arkadelphia, including Harris Flanagin, a local attorney and politician who served as governor of Confederate Arkansas from 1862 to 1865. Thomas and Alexander Spence were brothers who served in the Confederate army and whose family owned a hotel in Arkadelphia. Both lost their lives during the Civil War, and their bodies were eventually returned to Arkadelphia and laid to rest in the cemetery. The Reverend John McLaughlin, known as the founder of Arkadelphia Methodist College, is buried in the cemetery.

By 2018, the cemetery contained more than 3,100 graves, and 1,797 of these interments were made between the 1850s and 1940s. Some family plots have wrought-iron fences or concrete walls around their perimeters. The cemetery continues to accept new interments.

For additional information:
Richter, Wendy, et al. Clark County Arkansas: Past and Present. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 1992.

“Rose Hill Cemetery.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at (accessed March 9, 2018).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated 3/9/2018

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