*, GALATIA CEMETERY SIGN - Baxter County, Arkansas | GALATIA CEMETERY SIGN * - Arkansas Gravestone Photos


Galatia Cemetery
Baxter County,

Galatia is a very old and still active cemetery located on hyw #5 about five miles south of Norfork. It is beautifully kept. The survey was done by Vera Reeves and Max Parnell added to it. They have done extensive research on the cemetery. There has been a lot of help from Linda Bradbury and Emmit Dolan Acklin. Larry and Joyce Havner have done a lot of work with taking pictures and helping in other ways. The oldest burial is the twins of Robert Waid and Nancy Welch Lackey, John R. and Sarah R. Lackey.
This picture was taken by Emitt Dolan Acklin.

History from Max Parnell.
The Galatia Cemetery is located about five miles southeast of Norfork, Arkansas, on Arkansas Highway 5. The cemetery is in the part of Baxter County that was in Izard County until Baxter was formed in 1873. It is one of the three largest cemeteries in Baxter County, and it is still being used heavily. Records indicate that it leads the other public cemeteries in recent burials, but that the number of burial there is less than at the two privately owned perpetual care cemeteries.

The land for the original cemetery was donated by Robert Waid Lackey. The deed for ten acres of land for a church and cemetery was dated February 18, 1886. The cemetery had been in use for at least twenty years prior to that. The boundaries of the cemetery have been increased through additional purchases or donation of land at least three times, the latest of which was in 1991 when Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Kellem donated a tract of land immediately south of the oldest part of the cemetery.

The cemetery is actually four cemeteries within one. The bulk of the acreage is in the public part of the cemetery. Near the end of World War II, Edgar Gerald Parnell was killed while on active duty. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edgar M. Parnell purchased a small acreage adjoining the cemetery on the west from Enoch Adams to use as a burial ground for their son. They and their family also used that area for their other family burials. As it turned out, a grandchild of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar M. Parnell died December 3, 1948, and was the first burial in the private addition. Edgar Gerald Parnell's body was returned to the United States in February 1949 for re-burial. The descendants of that family have purchased an additional tract running alongside the main cemetery and immediately north of their original burial ground that they are developing for future use as a place of interment for their families.

Mrs. Lucinda Catherine “Lucy” Arnold Berg also purchased a small acreage from Enoch Adams which was immediately west of the grave of her first husband, James Alexander Arnold, and graves of other members of the Arnold and Griffin families. That section is used as a private burial ground for descendants and relatives of Mrs. Berg.

Enoch Adams then made the area between the two private burial sites as a private burial ground for his family. As with the Arnold area, that area was immediately west of the portion of the cemetery where Mr. Adams had buried two wives, his mother, and a sister-in-law, and where his third wife and he would eventually be interred. One of Mr. Adams' sisters and her husband are buried in this private tract along with his children, their spouses and their descendants.

For years, the two oldest marked graves in the cemetery belonged to Robert and Nancy Lackey's youngest children. Their twins, John R. and Sarah R., born February 23, 1854, died in early childhood. Sarah died October 1, 1865, and John died October 25, 1867. Lackey family stories indicated that the cemetery was in use prior to 1865. One family story was that the first person buried there was a baby belonging to one of Robert Lackey's slaves. Other stories indicated that a number of slaves were buried in the Galatia Cemetery. Those stories gained more credibility when the late Mrs. Ida Mae Woodcock Hall Hamlet was interviewed during the summer of 1993. Her mother was a granddaughter of Robert Waid and Nancy Welch Lackey. Mrs. Hamlet remembered that when she was a child, her family always took care of the slave graves on cemetery “working days.” She said that Robert Waid Lackey's father-in-law, John Welch gave Robert Waid Lackey and his wife Nancy Welch Lackey two slaves, Tony and Mary. After being moved to Arkansas, Mary and Tony had four children, and they and their four children were all buried in what is now the Galatia Cemetery. She said that one son, Little Joe, was the last of the six to die, and that he died during the Civil War. She was able to point out the specific graves of Tony, Mary, and Little Joe, and the graves of the other three children although she was unaware of their names. Markers were placed at those graves in 1993.

Mrs. Mary Lee Lackey Nelson, the primary genealogist of the Lackey family, indicated that the facts concerning the Lackey family and the Galatia Cemetery that she had collected over the years were in general agreement with Mrs. Hamlet’s information. Mrs. Nelson did, however, think that some of the former slaves lived past the 1860’s. She said that her research indicated that Robert Waid Lackey refused to refer to the individuals as slaves and called them “members of the family.” Mrs. Nelson agreed that Little Joe was the last of the slave or former slave group to die. She thinks his parents probably lived past the civil war and that, in fact, Little Joe was probably born after the slaves had been emancipated. Mrs. Nelson believes that the Joseph L. Lackey, a 12-year-old orphan that was enumerated in the Robert W. Lackey household in the 1880 Federal Census of North Fork Township, was in fact Little Joe. She says no other explanation has been found as to the identity of the Joseph L. Lackey.

Mrs. Nelson and others relate that family and area oral histories indicate that Little Joe was sent to look for some horses and was caught in a sudden storm. When Little Joe’s body was found after the storm, his clothing had been ripped from his body. Those “passed down” family stories indicated that the hilltop where his body was found came to be referred to as Old Naked Joe Mountain. Later when a post office was established near there, it was named Old Joe.

Based upon the information supplied by Mrs. Hamlet and Mrs. Nelson and other historical data, it would appear that what is now the Galatia Cemetery was started as a burial ground for Robert Waid and Nancy Welch Lackey's slaves, and that it was probably started sometime during the 1850's. Eventually six slaves or former slaves were buried there. When Robert Waid and Nancy Welch Lackey's son died, he was buried near the graves of the slaves. As other Lackey family members died, they, too, were buried near the graves of the slaves. Eventually, non-family members were also buried there. In the older part of the cemetery, around half of the graves are marked only by fieldstones, and it is highly possible that fieldstones marking other graves have disappeared over the years. No family other than the Lackeys had any marked graves prior to 1882.

At the end of October 2008, the Galatia Cemetery had 1230 marked graves, and markers were in place and reserving burial plots for another 97 individuals. The individuals listed on two of those 97 markers were buried elsewhere so those spaces will never be filled. At that time, fieldstones or some other type of marker that did not contain any identification could be located at 84 grave sites. Unfortunately, there are probably a number of graves where all markings have disappeared. Four other individuals were originally interred at Galatia, but their remains were later exhumed and moved to cemeteries in other states. To illustrate the recent usage, there were 235 burials at the Galatia Cemetery in the 10 years beginning in 1998 (18 in 1998; 32 in 1999; 21 in 2000; 29 in 2001; 26 in 2002; 25 in 2003; 19 in 2004; 26 in 2005; 20 in 2006; and 19 in 2007).

The Parnell family has the most marked graves with 81 followed by the Lackey family with 63. There are 44 marked Clark graves, 40 marked Cunningham graves, 31 marked Wood/Woods graves, 28 marked Loosey/Lucy graves, 25 marked Dickerson graves, 22 marked Arnold graves, 21 marked Southard graves, and 20 marked Rosenbaum/Rosenbum graves. Families with 10 or more marked graves, but fewer than 20 include Adams, Acklin, Baker, Beard, Bowman, Gray, Greer, Hall, Hamilton, King, Lane, Pruitt, Rosson, Teegarden, Tilley, Torrance and Wilson.

The Galatia Cemetery Association, which was formed in September 1978, oversees the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. A President and a board of directors are elected each year. This governing body is in charge of proper upkeep and additional property purchases, and they are in charge of granting permission for burial plots. Donations are invested in certificates of deposit, and the interest from those deposits is used for the necessary upkeep.

Galatia Cemetery Decoration Day is always the second Sunday in June. There is no record of when the first Decoration Day was held at the Galatia Cemetery, but it quite probably was almost a century ago. Up into the 1950's, most of the people came early in the morning and stayed all day at the “Decoration.” Although, a number still spend the day, and some still have dinner on the grounds, most people come and go throughout Decoration Sunday. Many even make several trips through the cemetery during the day in an effort to meet old acquaintances.
Number of Marked Graves for Families With 10 or More Burials
October 31, 2008

Parnell 81
Lackey 63
Clark 44
Cunningham 40
Wood(21)/Woods(11) 32
Loosey(15)/Lucy(13) 28
Dickerson 25
Arnold 22
Southard 21
Rosenbaum(17)/Rosenbum(3) 20
Wilson 18
Acklin 16
King 15
Lane 15
Bowman 14
Rosson 14
Teegarden 14
Adams 13
Gray 13
Torrance 13
Beard 12
Baker 11
Hamilton 11
Greer 10
Hall 10
Pruitt 10
Tilley 10

Contributed on 11/2/08 by emmitdacklin
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Submitted: 11/2/08 • Approved: 4/13/11 • Last Updated: 7/29/12 • R91487-G91487-S3

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