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De Ann Cemetery Historic Section

The De Ann Cemetery Historic Section is part of the Prescott City Cemetery located in Prescott (Nevada County). The original cemetery, the De Ann section, was created in the 1870s and officially opened in 1880. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 1, 2005. The cemetery is located on U.S. Highway 371/Greenlawn Street to the west of downtown Prescott. The original section is located south of the highway, and an addition is located to the north. Only the original section was added to the National Register. It is named for Prairie D’Ane (or De Ann), on which it rests.

The earliest dated grave in the cemetery is for an infant who died on December 18, 1871, the same year Nevada County was formed. Prescott was platted in 1873 and incorporated in 1874. The land for the cemetery was donated to the city by Perry and Martha Hamilton on April 3, 1880. At least six graves in the cemetery date to the 1870s. The original donation was equally divided into white and African-American sections. The white section includes about 600 marked graves, while the African American section includes ninety-five marked graves. Multiple unmarked graves are also located in the African-American section and are visible due to depressions in the ground. The African-American section is full, while the white section occasionally still has an additional burial in the twenty-first century.

The section is bordered by De Ann Street to the west and Gee Street to the south. The eastern edge of the property abuts an empty lot. An iron fence fronts the cemetery along Greenlawn Street, and a chain-link fence runs along the western border. The cemetery contains a row of crepe myrtles along the south edge, and numerous other shrubs and a cypress tree are also present. The two sections of the cemetery were divided by a deep ditch that was filled in at an unknown date. Local legends say that unclaimed bodies were placed in the ditch and covered up.

A small rise in the white section of the cemetery contains many of the graves of early leaders in Prescott and Nevada County. This includes the Bemis family, who owned the Ozan Lumber Company and the Prescott and Northwestern Railroad. This part of the cemetery is marked with a granite monument for the family, and individual family members have granite markers as well. Members of the Cassidy family buried nearby have elaborate marble stones. The vast majority of graves in the white section are marked. The African-American section has many fewer marked graves, with the vast majority dating from the first three decades of the twentieth century. Many of the markers in this section of the cemetery are from “secret societies,” including the Mosaic Templars and the Masons.

The most famous burial in the historic section is Governor Thomas C. McRae. Old Mike, a salesman whose body was displayed for decades in Prescott, was buried in the new section of the cemetery in 1975. At the time of the section’s nomination to the National Register, approximately eighty-four percent of the marked graves in the section dated to 1955 or before.

For additional information:
“De Ann Cemetery Historic Section.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/NE0076.nr.pdf (accessed January 16, 2019).

Nevada County Depot and Museum. http://www.depotmuseum.org/ (accessed January 16, 2019).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated 1/16/2019

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