If you passed by the Gibson Cemetery near Wesley, Arkansas, you would never recognize it as being a cemetery, Neglected for years, this plot is now overgrown with briars and trees and unless you know where to look, you would never find any signs to show that a cemetery had ever existed at this location. The Gibson Cemetery is located in the Southeast Quarter of the Northeast Quarter of Section 36, Township 16, Range 28, about 1 1/2 miles East of Wesley, and is within 100 feet of State Highway #74 near the banks of Pigeon Creek.
In Turnbo's Tales of the Ozarks: Biographical Stories on page 55, a story entitled "Among the Pioneers of Richland Creek" appears. This story begins, "Among the pioneer women of Madison County, Arkansas, is Mrs.. Mary Ann Fritts, daughter of Caleb Smith Hankins and (Elizabeth) Jane (nee Hankins) Hankins, born on Richland Creek twelve miles west of Huntsville, July 3rd, 1838. Her father and mother were cousins and were married in the State of Tennessee where her father was born in the year 1813. He died the 6th of February 1906, at the age of 93 years and was buried in the Pinnacle Graveyard on the top of the mountain five miles from Richland Creek and two miles from White River. Her mother, Jane Hankins, died in 1839, and is buried in the Gibson Graveyard one mile from Wesley." The story continues on in a brief history ofMary Ann Fritts
This story is the only written record that we presently know of which actually states that there was a Gibson Cemetery. Over the years people have talked about this cemetery and some say that there are slaves buried there. For years it has been known that there were graves at this location and the land was not cultivated, and due to lack of upkeep it is now overgrown and in a sad state of neglect. Some people say that this cemetery was begun on the Gibson homestead and that members of the Gibson family were buried there. The Arkansas Land Patents show that on 1 July 1859, Green Gibson received a Patent from the Government for the North Half of the Northwest Quarter of Section 31, Township 16, Range 27. This land would be located less than 1/4 mile East of the location of the Gibson Cemetery.
In 1998, Paul Fritts and his wife, Cuba, were brave enough to go into the overgrown area and see if they could locate any tombstones there. Paul said that there were a stack of square stones, but believes that they are stones from a house foundation. On the west side of the plot, there is one stone leaning against a tree, which appears to be a tombstone. There are no names on it. This is the only stone that they could find. It is very possible that over the years of neglect that any stones that might have existed have fallen over and are now covered with dirt, making them impossible to see.
This article appear in the Summer 1998 issue of “The Madison County Musings” on page 75 written by Joy Russell.The Musings is the quarterly publication of the Madison County Genealogical & Historical Society, P. O. Box 427, Huntsville, AR 72740