Farm plow leveled remote burial mound
By Michael Kelley, Staff Reporter
took the graveled option at a fork in the road, wheeled up onto the
where it was," she said, pointing into a golden field of
Hicks, a Turrell native who lives outside
Known to state archeologists as Site No. 3CT27, it was also the final resting place for other area farmers who began using what was once a wooded Indian Mound for a white man's cemetery in the 19th century.
But there are no headstones to mark it any more, and no trees -- just a field of grain being cultivated on a farm owned by the heirs of Memphian Don Wiener.
who died in 1982, was an enterprising Obioan who moved to
had extensive cotton, soybean and grain farming interests in
On the Golightly property was the remains of an Indian village measuring 101-by-82 meters, according to Dr. Dan Morse, regional archeologist for the Arkansas Archeological Survey.
Three mounds on the site included one that bore the graves of 300 to 400 whites, he said.
According to a 1983 observation by a surveyor for a private contracting firm, Dr. Morse said, the site had been converted to farmland sometime since 1978.
The three mounds had measured 60 to 80 feet in diameter, rising three or four feet above the floodplain in a village occupied by Indians from the First to the 14th Century.
"We really don't know much about the site," he said. "It's not been investigated because of its function as a contemporary cemetery."
The headstones of the white cemetery had been removed by the time the observations were made in 1983, he said.
Mr. Hicks said until recently she has not visited the site since 1979, but her great-grandparents on both sides are buried there--the Brizendines and the Mitchussons.
"I don't remember the Mitchussons," she said, "but I do remember Grandpa Brizendine, who died in 1936. He stayed with us off and on."
The last person to be buried there was Peggy Sue Brizendine, who died in 1948, said Mrs. Hicks, who was her cousin. "They stopped burying people there because that was as many people as they could plant in it."
Indians who built the mounds lived in tribal societies, with religious and
political leadership. They traded goods
with tribes that lived as far away as what is now
of the Indian mounds in
Many of the mounds have been destroyed, legally, by farming, Dr. Dye said. But in recent years, some states have tried to halt destruction of Indian burial sites by interpreting their state laws against grave destruction to encompass unmarked Indian graves as well as modern white graves.
Mrs. Hicks said she and other relatives who discovered the cemetery destruction during a family reunion last month tried without success to convince Crittenden County authorities to prosecute the Wieners under Arkansas Statute 41-1985, which makes it a misdemeanor to "disturb, damage or carry away" a cemetery marker.
She said they also checked with a lawyer, who said he could handle a civil suit if they put up $3,000. "I told him we didn't have that kind of money. We weren't the ones who broke the law."
"I have personally never seen the cemetery in question," said Lee Wiener, current manager of the farm.
There is "a mound or two" in the field, he said, but "nothing has been leveled to my knowledge, at all...I've never had any knowledge of any cemetery we've unearthed, or something like that. I've never seen any headstones or marker, of whatever."
Dino Pirani, who managed the farm before Wiener took over, said the site was cultivated in the late '70's, and he didn't know that it included a modern cemetery.
I always though it was just some Indian mounds," he said. "It was a grown up area, definitely less than an acre."
He said there was no road leading to the site, and he had never seen anything done to the site that resembled a cemetery maintenance.
"If there were any headstones, I never saw them. But I never really walked into the area because it was all in brambles. It was not actually wood, just what I call brush -- eight, 10, 12, maybe 15 feet tall."
Lee Wiener said he hoped to meet with Mrs. Hicks to work out a solution to the problem.
"You don't want to offend somebody," he said. "I don't anyway. Life's too short."
Farming ruined graves, suit says
Damages of $750,000 being sought
By Tom Bailey Jr., Staff Reporter
PACCO Inc., which is headquartered in Memphis and has a large farming operation along the edge of the Mississippi River levee in northern Crittenden County, excavated, graded, cleared, plowed, harvested and performed other field work on the Golightly Mound Cemetery, the lawsuit charges.
PACCO and two of its officials also named as defendant, Russell and Lee Wiener, deny all the allegations in a response they filed in Circuit Court.
M. Nelson, granddaughter of Annie Laura and James Brizendine who are buried in
the cemetery, and her husband, Donald L. Nelson, filed the suit in Crittenden
County Circuit Court against PACCO and its officials, Russell Wiener and Lee
Wiener. The Nelsons live in
The suit also charges that PACCO built a center pivot irrigation system that crosses over the graves as it revolves around and waters the field. The Nelsons claim the farming company removed tombstones and markers on graves.
The nelsons asked the court to order PACCO and the Wieners to restore the cemetery by replacing tombstones and markers and by protecting it with some type of structure around it.
The Nelsons, whose lawyer, David Carruth of Clarendon, filed the lawsuit Feb. 4, asking for $750,000 in punitive damages for the outrageous, intentional and malicious actions."
The defendants asked the court to dismiss the suit because the three-year stature of limitations has run out. The suit also should be thrown out because the Nelsons failed to state a cause of action against Russell and Lee Wiener personally, their answer states.
Helen Hicks of Marion, a niece of Mrs. Nelson's, said the family discovered the cemetery had been destroyed during a family reunion in 1985.
Lee Wiener told a reporter in 1985 that he was never aware of any cemetery in PACCO's fields.
~~ Added Notes ~~
Handwritten information added to newspaper articles retained at
Woolfolk Library, Marion, Arkansas.
Summer 1988 - Judge refused to hear case.
August 1989 - Another avenue has opened up, letters have been written. --JMN
1996 - It is
believed by Margaret Woolfolk that this cemetery, "
(Note: All indications are that this case went no further)
2004 – Further Note: Information was submitted to me anonymously that employees were told to dig a hole and bury the tombstones. A concrete slab was then poured and a tractor shop erected on the site where the tombstones were buried. I have no proof or evidence to substantiate these allegations. ------ Debbie Yates