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The Confederate Section of Fairview Cemetery, near the junction of 10th and McKibben streets in Van Buren (Crawford County), is the burial site of Confederate soldiers who died in the area during the Civil War. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1996.
After the Civil War began in 1861, the City of Van Buren donated a plot of land in the ten-acre city cemetery that John Drennen had donated as a burial ground in 1846. At least 100 Confederate soldiers, most of whom died of disease, were buried at the site during the war, and the remains of others were moved there from battlefield graves after the war ended. Ultimately, around 460 soldiers were interred at the site.
On June 2, 1873, a Ladies Southern Memorial Association chapter was formed at Van Buren to care for the graves of Confederate soldiers buried in the city. Little is known about the chapter’s activities, but on March 21, 1896, former Confederates gathered at the Crawford County Courthouse to consider how to maintain soldier graves in the county, indicating that the earlier group was inactive.
The primary group that took over maintenance of the cemetery plot appears to have been the Mary Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which organized in Van Buren with forty-eight members on March 19, 1896. As with other UDC chapters, the Van Buren group began efforts to erect a statue honoring local Confederate soldiers. On November 24, 1898, the foundation was laid for the monument, and on October 10, 1899, the $1,200 Van Buren Confederate Monument was dedicated at Fairview Cemetery at the grave of Captain S. Churchill Clarke, who had died in the Battle of Pea Ridge. The monument, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 1996, was moved to a more visible location at the Crawford County Courthouse on August 4, 1906.
Sometime after 1908, the Lee Chapter dedicated a granite marker at the center of the Confederate Section of Fairview Cemetery at the site from which the monument was moved. The marker is inscribed: “ERECTED IN MEMORY OF / OUR CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS / FROM ARK., TEX., LA., MO., AND / INDIAN TERRITORY / WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE / BATTLES OF OAK HILL, ELK HORN, / AND PRAIRIE GROVE. ERECTED BY / MARY LEE CHAPTER U.D.C. / OF VAN BUREN, ARKANSAS.” The chapter also procured around 442 marble gravestones—most bearing the inscription “UNKNOWN CONFEDERATE SOLDIER”—from the U.S. government to mark the graves. The Confederate Section remains a distinct and prominent part of Van Buren’s Fairview Cemetery.
For additional information:
“Confederate Section, Fairview Cemetery.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CW0407.nr.pdf (accessed February 23, 2017).
Eno, Clara B. History of Crawford County, Arkansas. Van Buren, AR: Press Argus, 1949.
“Fairview Cemetery.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CW0384.nr.pdf (accessed February 23, 2017).
Logan, Charles Russell. “’Something So Dim It Must Be Holy’: Civil War Commemorative Sculpture in Arkansas, 1886–1934.” Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1996. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed February 23, 2017).
Miller, Clovis E. Crawford County, Arkansas, Notebook: A History in Chronological Form (1820–1920). N.p.: 1991.
“Register of Confederate Dead in Van Buren Cemetery or Fairview Cemetery.” The Heritage 11 (January 1968): 21–27.
Scott, Mrs. Fannie Dunham. “Van Buren” in “Confederate Cemeteries in Arkansas.” In Publications of the Arkansas Historical Association, Vol. 2. Little Rock: Democrat Printing and Lithography Co., 1908.
“Van Buren Confederate Monument.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CW0165S.nr.pdf (accessed February 23, 2017).
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Last Updated 2/23/2017
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