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MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — Buried beneath the soil, silent for generations, the rich and colorful history of Mountain Home and Baxter County can be found in its cemeteries.

Ranging in size from small family plots on private land to the Mountain Home Cemetery, one of the largest, it is estimated over 100 cemeteries exist in the county, with many neglected and unused for generations.

On a recent sunny Saturday morning, over 50 local citizens gathered at the entrance to the Mountain Home Cemetery for the dedication by Mountain Home Mayor Joe Dillard, of a sign acknowledging the monetary donation from Jeannie Alley for the construction of the new fence which surrounds the cemetery. The donation is in memory of her Alley-Byler family, many of whom lay at rest in the cemetery.

A Mountain Home native, Alley is a descendent of Sheriff Abraham G. Byler, who died from gunshot wounds on June 15, 1892. The first sheriff of Baxter County, he was also the first to be killed in the line of duty. The graves of her Byler and Alley forbears can also be found in family plots in the cemetery.

The Baxter Bulletin reports that the Alley plot includes a marker honoring her great uncle, Hosea P. Alley, who was killed in France on July 25, 1918, during World War I. His body is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and the Alley-White American Legion Post in Mountain Home was named in his honor.

When asked why she made this donation, Alley replied, “It’s what my daddy would have done.”

“Her dad would be proud of her and the role she is playing in preserving the cemetery,” says Dillard. The Mayor remembers that the two served together on the Quorum Court when Dillard was Baxter County Judge. Alley’s late father, Don Alley, was a community leader and business man who founded Alley Abstract in Mountain Home. He and his wife, Clema, are buried in Baxter Memorial Gardens.

Following the dedication ceremony, Kevin Bodenhamer — who teaches history at Norfork High School and is a member of the Mountain Home Cemetery Board of Directors and Baxter County Historical Society — and historian Vincent Anderson — a member of the historical society and Reference Librarian at the Baxter County Library — conducted tours of the cemetery which was established in 1863, according to Bodenhamer.

The Mountain Home Cemetery isn’t the oldest in the county. According to the historical society’s cemetery guide, the oldest marked grave, dated 1812, can be found in Oakland Cemetery. Another grave, dated 1822, is in Big Flat Cemetery and the grave of Maj. Jacob Wolf’s wife, Mildred, who died in 1823, is in the Wolf Family Cemetery near Norfork.

In the Mountain Home Cemetery, 38 Confederate soldiers are at their final rest in graves marked by a black iron cross. The graves of an unknown number of Union soldiers can also be found near their rebel brothers, says Bodenhamer. Among those Yankee soldiers is his great, great grandfather Benjamin Franklin Bodenhamer, who fought with the 8th Missouri Infantry.

Born in Marshfield, Missouri, Ben Bodenhamer moved to Mountain Home after the war and went into business with James Littlefield, one of the Confederate soldiers whose grave, marked by a tall white granite obelisk, can be found near his partner’s family plot.

Confederate graves include Sheriff Byler; Orran L. Dodd, considered the founder of Mountain Home; and James Cody, who was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg and was with General Robert E. Lee when the Confederate Army surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, according to Bodenhamer. Born in 1843, Cody died in 1934.

While the historical society and the cemetery board have done a great deal of work to identify the graves found in the cemetery, a lot of work remains to be done, say both Dillard and Bodenhamer. All of veterans, including the Union Soldiers, buried in the cemetery are yet to be identified and marked accordingly. Some gravestones are no longer legible, and others have been damaged by neglect and vandalism. Bodenhamer hopes the unmarked graves of slaves, believed to have belonged to Dodd, who are buried in the cemetery, can be found and marked.

“The cemetery is very, very important to Mountain Home,” says the mayor. He says the city is responsible for the oversight of the cemetery, but not financially responsible. The cemetery board pays for the care and upkeep through donations and the sale of cemetery plots.


Information from: The Baxter Bulletin,