CLAY COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - In a rural area of Clay County lies an area that has struck the interest of many throughout the years. Recently, a student historian brought the story back to life.
Near Corning, north of Highway 62, is a Native American burial mound commonly known as the “Garden Spot.”
Drew Calhoun has been interested in Native American studies. He found reports of the burial mound in the local newspaper, Clay County Courier.
With those articles, Facebook discussions, and stories told from natives in the area, Calhoun and his friends set out to find the lost history.
“I was just kind of curious if it still existed,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly where it was. I didn’t know if maybe it was in a field somewhere and had been leveled through the ages for cultivating rice.”
Determination and luck guided the men to the Garden Spot. The research gave them insight into what happened years ago.
“There was a man living here on the Black River and he originally, due to the high elevation, he built a shanty. He made his living off of hauling mussels off of the river,” he said.
It was around 1929 when the settler, George W. Moyer, began working the land.
“As he began to cultivate a garden, he was spading his garden, he came across several skeletons,” he said.
This is where the name comes from. With more digging, 95 additional skeletons were excavated along with pottery and other artifacts.
Calhoun said those were mostly sold to a local Corning merchant, N.N. Steinberg, and put on display in his store.
Now, no one is sure where those artifacts are.
While Calhoun and his friends examined the mound, they made a discovery on the south side of the burial ground.
“As we got closer, they were actually headstones. I originally thought it might have been some of the people who lived out here on the mound but finally being able to read the names when the light was right, it turns out they were part of the Clarkson’s family,” he said.
The names read Rhoda, Rosland, and Dallas Clarkson. All three headstones match existing headstones in the Redenbo Cemetery nearby.
“Not really sure why they were out here, maybe they were originally buried out here but none of the family seems to have this recollection that they were,” he said.
Several questions remain in these discoveries. Where are the Native American skeletons now? Where are the artifacts? Why and how did the three headstones get out there?