*OLD MOUNT  ZION CEMETERY,  - Cross County, Arkansas |  *OLD MOUNT  ZION CEMETERY - Arkansas Gravestone Photos

*OLD MOUNT ZION CEMETERY

Old Mount Zion Methodist (Vanndale) Cemetery
Cross County,
Arkansas

This article courtesy of Debbie Yates:

East Arkansas New Leader – Wynne, Arkansas

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 – 34th Year, Number 19



Photo Caption: Bo Hinchey, Cross County Sheriff Ronnie Baldwin, Carlos Burdyshaw and Jeff Bristol look over the grounds of Old Mount Zion Cemetery. Restoration efforts to the historical cemetery are nearly complete.



309 inmates prove crucial to restoring historical cemetery

By James Langston, New Leader Managing Editor



WYNNE – The ghosts of pioneers, slaves, land owners and even Civil War veterans may be resting a little easier as restoration work on the Old Mount Zion Cemetery is nearly complete.

What may be the oldest cemetery in Cross County was once in shambles, but recent efforts by the Cross County Sheriff’s Department have reclaimed the land from Mother Nature.

The cemetery sits just two miles southeast of Vanndale, just a stones throw from the campsite where Col. David Cross and other pioneers laid out plans for what is now Cross County. Many of the gravestones bear dates before the Civil War.

“A lot of people don’t even know this cemetery is back here,” said Sheriff Ronnie Baldwin.

Baldwin was recently made aware of the neglected cemetery and decided it would be a good project for some of his 309 prisoners to work on.

“We have in the past sent people out to work on cemeteries,” Baldwin said, “But They have done a great job here. It may be the first cemetery in Cross County.”

Bo Hinchey, who Baldwin selected to head up the program and oversee the 309 workers, said the historic cemetery has slaves buried in the back of it.

“We started clearing trees and found tombstones we didn’t know we had,” Hinchey said. “There’s a lot of history out here.”

Records show that the land the cemetery is on was part of 18 acres donated to the Mount Zion Methodist Church in the 1800’s by Col. David Cross. In 1885 the church building was disassembled and moved to Vanndale. By 1940 the cemetery was in a state of disarray as underbrush grew over many headstones. Cows got into the cemetery and destroyed many of the older headstones.

Restoration attempts were made in 1989 and more than 400 unmarked graves were discovered.

In recent months, workers had not only cleared brush and poison ivy but also erected a new gate and sign, and installed a new barbed wire fence around the cemetery.

“We couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have Jeff (Bristow) and Carlos (Burdyshaw),” Hinchey said.

The two 309 inmates from the sheriff’s department have proved invaluable to the project. Baldwin said the 309s also do maintenance work on the courthouse and work on other projects in the county.

Contributed on 11/23/08 by pam_don202
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Record #: 109211

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Submitted: 11/23/08 • Approved: 8/26/09 • Last Updated: 7/21/12 • R109211-G0-S3

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