Located at the corner of West Centre Street and North University Avenue, in Fayetteville, North-Western Arkansas, Evergreen Cemetery is a landmark of the city, and a testimony of the entire region’s history. Tombstones date as early as the `30s of the nineteenth century, and they mark the resting place of prominent local but also federal politicians and personalities of public life like Archibald Yell, Lafayette Gregg, J.W.Fulbright (i.e. the initiator of the world renown programme of academic exchanges).
Combining the austerity typical for Protestant cemeteries (e.g. tombstone is preferred to the vault) with the Romantic elements that decorate the Victorian cemeteries (e.g. the draped urn), and the areligious symbols of fraternities and associations like Freemasonry and Woodmen of the World, Evergreen Cemetery of Fayetteville attests the evolution of local life, and expresses the richness of the nineteenth century deeds and views.
Like in Europe, in US, the impetus for the establishment of well-regulated cemeteries dated from the `60s of the nineteenth century, in full era of Positivism, when the focus on hygiene was strong. Moreover, in US, this was the time when a national network of cemeteries was born, namely in the aftermath of the Civil War, when a huge number of casualties, about 2% of the total of population of the time, had to be buried. Fayetteville`s cemetery followed this trend too. Initially, members of the prominent families of the town were buried on their estates, and only later they were brought and interred on the plot of the actual cemetery, which belonged itself to a private family. Later on, the land was brought by two of the local lodges of the Freemasons. That Evergreen Cemetery was a place where freemasons were buried is still obvious today, judging by the symbols of the tombstones of distinguished members of Washington County lodges (e.g. as one can see in the photos, there is a Knight Templar of the Masons, and several other members designated by the generic symbol of the compass, G letter (e.g. great architect of the Universe/Geometry). Other type of fraternity represented in the cemetery was the so-called Woodmen of the World fraternal association, established in Nebraska at the end of the nineteenth century. The members of this association could be recognized by a specific style of a tombstone, as we can see in the photo. Throughout Southern US, there can be found a great number of W.O.W. tombstones with their typical design and motto.
Apart form the aforementioned politicians, less known public figures, and simple citizens of the town, and of the wider area, are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery. Of these, champions of women’s rights, supporters of spiritism, victims of a mass murder are but the most notable or notorious inhabitants of the cemetery. Currently, some tombstones of the Evergreen Cemetery undergo works of renovation. This is the case of the tombstone of Archibald Yell (1797-1845). A judge, and a first member of the Congress, Yell died in a battle in Mexico, being buried in the Evergreen century only later. The local community of Fayetteville is paying a touching attention to this small but interesting cemetery, and organizes special events for raising funds to renovate the other endangered tombstones.
The photo materials were offered courtesy of Rod Jacobs, a distinguished lover of Fayetteville
Resources in press:
http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=7426 [accessed 18th of March]
http://southerngraves.net/woodmenoftheworld.html [accessed 18th March 2018]