Hughes Cemetery

 City: Benton, County: Saline
 Location: End of South Richards Street

c.1858-1967 cemetery containing graves of early Benton residents.
Listed in Arkansas Register of Historic Places on 08/17/2019

 

SUMMARY

Hughes Cemetery is being nominated to the Arkansas Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A for its associations with the exploration, founding, and settlement of Benton and its surrounding areas, and also under Criteria Consideration D as a cemetery. The Hughes Cemetery is significant as the last resting place of Green B. Hughes, his family, and other city founding fathers as well.The Cemetery may also be the first County Cemetery for Saline County which adds to the site’s significance.The Hughes Cemetery not only is home to the graves of city founders but of several antebellum families who may not have any living descendants today.Although changes to the cemetery’s integrity preclude its listing on the National Register, Hughes Cemetery is eligible for listing on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places.

 

HISTORY OF THE PROPERTY

Hughes Cemetery lies within the City of Benton, Arkansas, the county seat of Saline County. Benton was initially formed after William Woodruff of the Arkansas Gazette. sold 120 acres of land there to Green B. Hughes and future Benton mayor Rezin Davis a day after statehood on June 16, 1836. Hughes and Davis then began selling additional lots to trustees who would eventually form the first city government. Benton was named for Thomas Hart Benton, a Missouri senator who lobbied for Arkansas statehood during the administration of then President Andrew Jackson.[1]

 

The first white man to settle in Saline County, William S. Lockert, sometimes spelled “Lockhart,” followed the Southwest Trail to what is now the end of River Street in Benton. There, he and his family formed the village of Saline Crossing on the shores of the Saline River.[2] On August 2, 1838, Lockert purchased “the southwest corner of the southeast quarter of section fifteen, in township two south of range fifteen west, in the district of lands subject to sale at Little Rock, Arkansas, containing forty acres.”[3] This is the site where Hughes Cemetery would later exist.

 

According to the County Assessor’s office, there was a deed, dated October 13, 1837, that was recorded on page 263 of Deed Record Book A, in which Lockert sold the land where the cemetery now sits to a David D. Cole.[4] Cole’s widow Nancy Cole sold the land to Green B. Hughes in a deed dated July 4, 1843.[5] This deed is recorded in Deed Record Book B, page 409. Hughes, who the cemetery is named for, held numerous offices throughout his life. Hughes was born in the year 1800 in North Carolina. In 1818, Hughes arrived in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1830, he married Louisa West, sister of Claiborne West, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836. Hughes and Louisa had two sons, George West and John Lockert Hughes, and one daughter, Catherine. In 1825, Green B. Hughes ran a general store in Greenville, Arkansas. In 1829, he was a sheriff in Hot Spring County, and after statehood, Green B. Hughes was the first postmaster at Benton. He served in the State House of Representatives from 1846 to 1848. Before that, he was county clerk, county judge, and commissioner of public buildings in Benton. Hughes died in 1858, leaving behind an estate worth a reported $40,000 to his wife and children. Hughes was the first burial at what is now Hughes Cemetery, which was on the Hughes Farm at the time. In 1860, Louisa West Hughes, his widow, was buried by his side there as was their daughter Catherine and her husband Dr. Sam Steele.[6]

 

Green B. Hughes sold the land to John Millander in a deed dated December 7, 1842. Millander gave it back to Hughes in another deed dated June 5, 1844.[7] In September of 1860, presumably after the death of Louisa West Hughes, an agreement was recorded in which the heirs of Green B. Hughes decided to give the property to John Lockert Hughes of Benton. This deed was recorded on September 7, 1860.[8] John Lockert Hughes joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and after the war he ran a successful general store in Benton and raised several children. He was born in Dallas County, Arkansas, in 1833 and died in Benton a wealthy man on August 31, 1908. The Hughes Building in downtown Benton bears his name. However, John Lockert Hughes was not buried with his parents and sister at Hughes Cemetery. He was buried at Old Rosemont Cemetery on Military Road.[9]

 

William Madison Richards (1841-1896) came to Arkansas with the railroad from Illinois. He spent most of his life working for the old railroad (St. Louis and Iron Mountain or Cairo Fulton probably) and built a life for his large family there. According to family lore, William was a Union soldier who did not get along so well with the Hughes Family and other Southerners. His farm is said to have bordered the Hughes Farm and that the cemetery was placed where the two met. Indeed, the cemetery is named for Hughes but is located at the end of South Richards Street in Benton. Richards and his wife, Sarah Jane, are buried at the back corner of Hughes Cemetery close to where the Union Pacific Railroad runs today. Family lore says that Richards was buried there so that he could hear the trains go by and that the Richards and Hughes families are buried on opposite sides.[10]

 

A deed dated March 1, 1882, between John L. Hughes and William A. Thompson, was the first to mention the cemetery itself. John L. Hughes says that Thompson gets everything on the lot “excepting 100 yards square embracing the old graveyard lying on or near Hughes Mill Creek.”[11] “Hughes Mill Creek” here being a reference to the present-day Depot Creek which runs just after a pair of Union Pacific tracks between a train depot and Willow Street in Benton. The creek runs between the cemetery and the tracks. Thompson deeded the land he got from John L. Hughes to John A. Thomas on September 12, 1882. Thomas then deeded it to Z.A. Bell on September 23, 1896. Z.A. Bell deeded the land to John Tyndall on July 10, 1901, who held onto it until his death.[12]

 

Thomas White Barksdale joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He served in Company D of the First Virginia Artillery. He was born on September 27, 1838, in Halifax County, Virginia. He was buried at Hughes Cemetery on September 23, 1912. His grave is marked by a white marble marker which has been replaced several times by his descendants due to vandalism.[13]

 

Nannie Tyndall Dickinson, as the only heir of John Tyndall, inherited the land where Hughes Cemetery sits. She deeded that land to A.V. Martin on April 10, 1930. The property is described as lying between the Missouri Pacific and Rock Island Railroad tracks.[14] The heirs of A.V. Martin deeded the land to Charlie Hutcheson on September 24, 1955. Hutcheson deeded it to Belvedere Country Club, Inc., on March 13, 1967, who deeded it to Moon Distributors, Inc., on December 18, 1986.[15] Moon Distributors, Inc., deeded the land to Duke Family Limited Partnership, et al., on June 3, 1996. That partnership deeded it to the City of Benton on December 29, 1997.[16]

 

There are more than 100 recorded burials although most are unmarked or have had their markers destroyed by vandals. The site has been the location of illegal garbage dumps and has largely been abandoned by the City. Dedicated citizens have tried and failed to protect the cemetery from vandals for decades. Hopefully, the cemetery being on the National Register of Historic Places, will enable the area to be regularly cleaned and maintained. Because the Hughes family markers are gone, the oldest marked burial is that of Lucinda N. Moore, who died on February 9, 1872. Most of the cemetery’s burials were recorded by Mrs. Loyce Edgin of the local Daughters of the American Revolution in 1975. In 1976, for the Saline County Sesquicentennial Project, Mrs. W. Bernard Baber, documented and published the list of burials at Hughes Cemetery in Section V of her Saline County Cemeteries books. It is unknown at this time if the City of Benton owns the cemetery itself since it was not specified in the 1997 deed.

 

 

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROPERTY

Hughes Cemetery is being nominated to the Arkansas Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A for its associations with the exploration, founding, and settlement of Benton and its surrounding areas, and also under Criteria Consideration D as a cemetery. The Hughes Cemetery is significant as the last resting place of Green B. Hughes, his family, and other city founding fathers as well.The Cemetery may also be the first County Cemetery for Saline County which adds to the site’s significance.The Hughes Cemetery not only is home to the graves of city founders but of several antebellum families who may not have any living descendants today.Although changes to the cemetery’s integrity preclude its listing on the National Register, Hughes Cemetery is eligible for listing on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Barber, Mrs. W. Bernard. Saline County Cemeteries. Section V. Saline County Sesquicentennial Project, Daughters of the American Revolution. http://files.usgwarchives.net/ar/saline/cemeteries/hughes.txt. Date Accessed, December 29, 2018.

 

Berry, Cody Lynn. “Green B. Hughes (1800-1858).” Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=13202.Last updated on 7/26/2018. Accessed, December 29, 2018.

 

Edwards, Robert A. “Thomas White Barksdale.” www.findagrave.com. Date Accessed, December 29, 2018.

 

Gingles, Violet.“Hughes House.”Arkansas Democrat.17 August 1958, p. 7.

 

Hays, P.V. “John Lockert Hughes.” www.findagrave.com.Date Accessed, December 29, 2018.

 

Karen, Frieda. “William Madison Richards.” www.findagrave.com. Date Accessed, December 29, 2018.

 

McNair, Myra Scott. “Hughes Cemetery,” Document Search. Saline County Courthouse, Benton Arkansas. June 23, 2004. Obtained from Saline County Assessor’s Office from Clay Ford on December 28, 2018. (Included with deeds which will be provided)

 



[1] Cody Lynn Berry. “Green B. Hughes (1800-1858).” Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=13202.Last updated on 7/26/2018. Accessed, December 29, 2018.

[2] _____. “Saline Crossing.” Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.

[3] “Patent issued to William S. Lockert,” August 2, 1938. Saline County Deed Record Book 14, p. 567.

[4] William S. Lockert to David D. Cole, October 13, 1837. Saline County Deed Record Book A, p. 263.

[5] Nancy Cole to Green B. Hughes, July 4, 1843. Saline County Deed Record Book B, p. 409.

[6] Cody Lynn Berry. “Green B. Hughes 1800-1858.” Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.

[7] Green B. Hughes to John Millinder. December 7, 1842, Saline County Deed Record Book B, p. 375; John Millinder to Green Hughes, June 5, 1944, Saline County Deed Record Book B, p. 473.

[8] “Heirs of Green B. Hughes to John Lockert Hughes,” September 7, 1860. Saline County Deed Record Book F, p. 156.

[9] Benton Courier – Centennial Number, March 25, 1937, p. 44-45 and P.V. Hays, “John Lockert Hughes.” www.findagrave.com.Date Accessed, December 29, 2018.

[10] Conversation with Bud Richards, a direct descendent of William Madison Richards; Frieda Karen. “William Madison Richards.” www.findagrave.com. Date Accessed, December 29, 2018.

[11] John L. Hughes to William Thompson. March 1, 1882. Saline County Record Book K, p. 57.

[12] W. A. Thompson to John A. Thomas. September 12, 1882. Saline County Deed Record Book K, p. 142; John A. Thomas to Z.A. Bell. Saline County Deed Record Book Q, p. 398; Z.A. Bell to John Tyndall, July 10, 1901. Saline County Deed Record Book, p. 16.

[13] Robert A. Edwards. “Thomas White Barksdale.” www.findagrave.com. Date Accessed, December 29, 2018.

[14] Nannie Tyndall Dickinson (as only heir to John Tyndall). April 10, 1930, Saline County Deed Record Book 23, p. 290.

[15] “Inventory of Estate of A.V. Martin, Saline County Deed Book B, p. 101; “Heirs of A.V. Martin to Charlie Hutcheson. September 24, 1955, Saline County Deed Record Book 77, p. 325; C.S. Hutcheson to Belvedere Country Club, Inc., March 13, 1967. Saline County Deed Record Book 132, p. 758; Belvedere Country Club, Inc. to Moon Distributors, Inc. December 18, 1986. Saline County Record Book 295, p. 25.

[16] Moon Distributors, Inc, to Duke Family Limited Partnership, June 3, 1996. Saline County Document No. 199619416; Duke Family Limited Partnership to the City of Benton. December 29, 1997. Saline County Document No. 199750412.


Go Back