Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Palarm Bayou Pioneer Cemetery
Palarm Bayou Pioneer Cemetery

PALARM BAYOU PIONEER CEMETERY, MORGAN VIC., PULASKI COUNTY

SUMMARY

The Palarm Bayou Pioneer Cemetery is possibly the oldest existing cemetery in Pulaski County. The people buried here are all members of the pioneering Wilson, Danley and Boyle families, with the exception of one burial that is of a close neighbor. As a group, the men and women buried in the cemetery are representative of the intrepid settlers who, through much hardship and difficulty, helped forge Little Rock, Pulaski County and the State of Arkansas from the wilderness. Among the men buried here are: the 1835 Little Rock City Treasurer (John N. Boyle); the 1848 Pulaski County Sheriff (Benjamin F. Danley); the 1831 Arkansas Territorial Auditor (Emzy Wilson); and the Brigadier General and Chief of Staff under Gen. Churchill in The Brooks-Baxter War (Benjamin F. Danley). As a result, the Palarm Bayou Pioneer Cemetery is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A with local significance as the final resting place of early Pulaski County settlers.  The cemetery is also being nominated under Criteria Consideration D: Cemeteries.

ELABORATION

The early days of Arkansas were a test of the intrepid spirit of the settlers who came from the East to carve a new territory from the wilds of the western frontier. Coming from Kentucky, Virginia and Missouri the Wilson, Boyle and Danley families are a good example of the groups who forged our state. These families came to the Territory of Arkansas looking for cheap land, and through their involvement in the governments of the day, they helped develop this rough land into the state it is now.

The men typically came first to the new territory to locate land and set a place to bring their families. Once the families arrived, the land was cleared and the new homestead/farmstead built. 

The Wilson Family came from Shelby County, Kentucky, as did a lot of the early settlers of Little Rock. John Boyle came from Virginia, and it is unknown if he brought a family with him that died before he married into the Wilson family. The Danleys appear to have been early settlers of the Missouri Territory who then moved to Arkansas.

Emzy Wilson, along with his wife Mary Ann, came to Arkansas with their two sons Daniel and Robert. Emzy owned and operated a general store in Little Rock as early as 1828. In 1831, he was elected as the 3rd Arkansas Territorial Auditor.  At the same time, Emzy was also elected to the Board of Trustees for the City of Little Rock. By 1833, his son Daniel opened a hotel in Little Rock.  The hotel was located in a house that the Arkansas Gazette mentioned was previously owned by his father. It appears that Emzy originally settled in Little Rock, but at some time purchased plantation land at Palarm and at Point Remove, in what was later Conway County. In 1834, an act was passed in the Legislature to allow Emzy to run a toll bridge at Palarm Bayou. Daniel went back to Kentucky when it came time to choose a wife.  He married Francis Waddy of Shelby County, Kentucky, on January 22, 1835. Sadly, Daniel died of an illness just one month after the birth of their only child, whose name is not known. He died January 24, 1837, and became the first person buried in the Palarm Cemetery. Robert died on May 3, 1853, when his canoe overturned in the Cadron Creek. A little over a year after Mary Ann’s death on January 8, 1840, Emzy was remarried on December 22, 1841, to Mary Mathers, the widow of one of his neighbors. In 1854, Emzy sold his land at Point Remove in Conway County (the land was originally in Pulaski County) and moved to the Mulberry Township in Franklin County, Arkansas.  Emzy and his family fled Franklin County when the Union forces marched towards Fort Smith. He brought his family to Little Rock, where he died on April 6, 1863.

John N. Boyle was not on the 1830 census in Arkansas, but in 1835, he was elected the Little Rock City Treasurer.  At this same time, Emzy Wilson was elected a County Magistrate. In 1836, the year Arkansas became a state, John was appointed Adjutant General of the Arkansas Militia. On April 30, 1839, he married the Francis Eliza (Waddy) Wilson, the widow of his neighbor, Daniel Wilson. They had one child, John Frances Boyle. Francis died from complications during childbirth on July 26, 1845, the day her son was born. A few years after the death of this first wife, John married his sister-in-law, Amanda M., on September 30, 1847. Family history notes that John and Amanda had met during one of Amanda’s visits to her sister, Francis. Together, John and Amanda had a daughter, Mary Eliza, who was born July 17, 1848.  She died on September 21, 1848, a mere two months after her birth. John died just one month before his daughter, on August 12, 1848.

Benjamin F. Danley came to Arkansas with his father, James Danley, and his brothers when he was fairly young. James Danley, along with Emzy Wilson and John N. Boyle were founding members of the Little Rock Jockey Club in 1834. During the Mexican War, Benjamin served with his brother, Christopher, in Texas and Mexico. In 1848, Benjamin was elected Sheriff of Pulaski County and held the office until 1852, when he left that position to take office as a state legislator. He married Amanda Waddy Boyle on March 15, 1853, the same year he was appointed Receiver of the U.S. Land Office in Little Rock. The Danleys had one son, Samuel Waddy Danley, who died at the age of 22 months on October 28, 1855.  In 1855, the state legislature passed an act that allowed Benjamin to operate a toll bridge at Palarm Bayou. Like the rest of Arkansas, our group settled into a period of quiet before the storm of the Civil War began. Benjamin Danley became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Confederate army. He was appointed Provost Marshall of the Little Rock district in 1862. After the Civil War, Benjamin became the Co-publisher of the newspaper, The Conservative. In 1873, he was appointed Postmaster of Palarm Bayou. According to his obituary in the Arkansas Gazette, Benjamin was a Brigadier General and Chief of Staff under Gen. Churchill during the Brooks-Baxter War. In 1877, he was appointed to the State Finance Board. He died at the Capital Hotel on May 31, 1877, and was taken by train out to the family cemetery at Palarm Bayou to be buried.

In 1886, John Ferguson, a neighbor of the families, was buried in a plot just outside of the stone walled cemetery. He died January 11, 1886, and according to his obituary, was buried in a metal coffin.  His plot is surrounded by an ornate wrought iron fence, with a tall obelisk headstone marker.

The family farm at Palarm was very close to the site of the battle in the Brooks-Baxter War where the Riverboat Hallie was attacked. The cemetery rests on a hill that overlooks the site of the battle.

The group is typical of the class of settlers who helped shape the state into what it is now, despite the hardships, wars, diseases, and political upheavals. The Palarm Bayou Pioneer Cemetery is the last remaining known site connected with this group who contributed to the exploration and settlement of Arkansas.  It is impossible to say which of the Palarm Bayou men was more influential, or made a more significant contribution to the early settlement and exploration of the area.  Having lived at different times, and for different lengths of time, it is best said that one man’s work complemented the others’, such as the various layers of an oil painting coming together to create a tangible product of determination, skill, and effort.

SIGNIFICANCE

The Palarm Bayou Pioneer Cemetery is possibly the oldest existing cemetery in Pulaski County. The people buried here are all members of the pioneering Wilson, Danley and Boyle families, with the exception of one burial that is of a close neighbor. As a group, the men and women buried in the cemetery are representative of the intrepid settlers who, through much hardship and difficulty, helped forge Little Rock, Pulaski County and the State of Arkansas from the wilderness. Among the men buried here are: the 1835 Little Rock City Treasurer (John N. Boyle); the 1848 Pulaski County Sheriff (Benjamin F. Danley); the 1831 Arkansas Territorial Auditor (Emzy Wilson); and the Brigadier General and Chief of Staff under Gen. Churchill in The Brooks-Baxter War (Benjamin F. Danley). As a result, the Palarm Bayou Pioneer Cemetery is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A with local significance as the final resting place of early Pulaski County settlers.  The cemetery is also being nominated under Criteria Consideration D: Cemeteries.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Acts of Arkansas 1819-1877 Microfilm.

Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Volume 15, pp.145-150.

“Arkansas Land Patents for Conway County” HD243.A7.1991 VOL.5.

“Arkansas Land Patents for Pulaski County” HD243.A7.1991 VOL.15.

Atlas of Pulaski County, AR. 1950.

“Boyle-Waddy  Marriage Announcement,” October 21, 1847, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col.5.

“City Election,” November 17, 1835, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col.1.

Civil War Service of Benjamin F. Danley.

Deeds of Pulaski County, Conway County, Faulkner County, and Franklin County, Microfilm.

“Descendants of Thomas B. Moon and Helen Vaughn Wilson Families,” PAM 7095/1997.

Franklin County Probate Files for Emzy Wilson and Mary Mathers Wilson.

General Index to Mexican War Soldiers, Microfilm.

“General Orders No. 13,” True Democrat, June 12, 1862.

“General Orders,” October 25, 1836, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col. 5.

“Little Rock Jockey Club,” July 15, 1834, Arkansas Gazette,  p.3 col. 5.

“Marriage announcement of Emzy Wilson and Mary Mathers,” December 22, 1841, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col.5.

“New Goods Wilson & Stuart,” March 12, 1828, Arkansas Gazette.

“Obituary of Francis Boyle,” August 18, 1845, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col. 4.

 “Obituary of John N. Boyle,” August 17, 1848, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col.4.

“Obituary of Benjamin F. Danley” June 1, 1877, Arkansas Gazette, p.4 col. 2.

“Obituary of Samuel Waddy Danley” November 2, 1855, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col.6.

“Obituary of Daniel E. Wilson,” January 31, 1837, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col.5.

“Obituary of Mary Ann Wilson,” June 10, 1840, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col.5.

Pulaski County Historical Quarterly, Volume XV, pp.35-48.

Pulaski County Loose Probate Files for Danley, Wilson, and Boyle Families.

Records of the U.S Post Office: Postmaster Appointments.

Reports of Arkansas, Microfilm.

“Sad and Distressing Occurrence,” May 6, 1853, Arkansas Gazette, p.2 col.2.

“Territorial Papers of the United States, 1829-1836,” Vol. XXI  E173.C245.

“Trustees of Little Rock Elected,” January 5, 1831, Arkansas Gazette, p.3 col.3.