Finding Alsey Timberlake

Carnahan Cemetery, looking west toward Oklahoma.

NOTE: This is an update of a blog originally published in 2013.

I recently participated in a driving tour of the west Washington County community of Cane Hill to get a sneak peek at preservation efforts being undertaken by the Historic Cane Hill organization. A highlight of the trip was a visit to Carnahan Cemetery, established with the burial of John Billingsley on Nov. 14, 1827. The old graveyard is high atop a windswept hill overlooking a lovely and expansive valley. To the west, seemingly just a stone’s throw away, is Oklahoma.

Immediately upon setting foot inside Carnahan Cemetery, I found myself transported back to 1837. On October 13 of that year, some 360 Cherokees led by Lt. B. B. Cannon left the Cherokee Agency in Tennessee bound for Indian Territory. They were going voluntarily as members of the “Treaty Party,” a small group of Cherokees who supported the Treaty of New Echota ceding all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi River in exchange for $5 million and land in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Most Cherokees protested the Treaty of New Echota and refused to leave their ancestral homeland. This faceoff with the federal government resulted in the forced removal of thousands of Cherokees, a dark time in our history known as the Trail of Tears.

The Cannon detachment traveled overland through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas on their trek to Indian Territory, arriving there December 27, 1837. Sickness and death accompanied them along every step of the ten-week journey. It is heartbreaking to read B. B. Cannon’s journal and his stark mentions of death along the way. Seventeen people lost their lives: fourteen children (including one “black boy”) and three adults.

For the Charles Timberlake family, the journey was horrific. Smoker Timberlake, age about eleven, was buried on December 17, 1837, after the detachment passed through Springfield, Missouri. Ten days later, on December 27, Smoker’s thirteen-year-old sister, Alsey, was buried somewhere near Cane Hill, Arkansas. The next day, December 28, another Timberlake child (whose name was unrecorded by Cannon) was buried in Indian Territory, most likely in the vicinity of present-day Stilwell, Oklahoma.

Receipt to James Coulter showing payment of $2.25 “for furnishing a coffin for a deceased Cherokee belonging to a detachment of Cherokees on their way to the west.” National Archives and Records Administration

A receipt discovered in the National Archives by members of the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association shows payment of $2.25 on December 27, 1837, to James Coulter of Cane Hill “for furnishing a coffin for a deceased Cherokee belonging to a detachment of Cherokees on their way to the west.” December 27, 1837the day B. B. Cannon recorded the burial of Alsey Timberlake. The “deceased Cherokee” listed in the James Coulter receipt is thirteen-year-old Alsey Timberlake.

Land records show that James Coulter didn’t live too far from Carnahan Cemetery. Could this old burial ground be the final resting place of Alsey Timberlake? We’ll probably never know for sure. But I can tell you one thing for certain. On that day, in that place, high atop a hill looking west toward Oklahoma, Alsey Timberlake was right there with me.

Susan Young is the Shiloh Museum’s outreach coordinator. 

“U.S. Presidents” Volvelle

US Presidents volvelle, circa 1931Donated by  Bill Stamper

As Emily Marinker of the New York Academy of Medicine writes, “[A volvelle is] a (brilliantly) simple paper construction of moving parts; layers of rotating discs with information on them.”

This “Biographies of U.S. Presidents” volvelle was produced by Arthur Sichel of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has a copyright date of 1931. Information for each president includes birthplace, religion, ancestry, years in office, inauguration year, the order in which he served, party affiliation, profession before becoming president, final resting place, and the vice president who served with him. The religions listed on the volvelle include Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Society of Friends (Quaker), Methodist, No Claim, Presbyterian, Reformed Dutch, and Unitarian. Five ancestries are listed: Dutch, English, Scotch, Scotch-Irish, and Welsh. Below each president’s image is his name, birth date, and death date. 

A German immigrant, Arthur Sichel (1887–1955) arrived in America in 1903, settled in Pennsylvania, became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1927, and married Kamma Riegelsen from Denmark in 1932.  In the 1930 census, Arthur Sichel listed his occupation as  “advertising salesman.”

The volvelle was found by the donor when he bought the former home of the John A. and Margaret Long Phillips family of Huntsville (Madison County). John Phillips served as Madison County’s sheriff from 1926 until he was shot and killed by 80-year-old county resident Jason Matlock on December 22, 1930. Sheriff Phillips less than ten days left in office; Arkansas Governor Henry Parnell appointed Margaret Phillips to finish out her husband’s term. According to the Madison County Record (December 30, 1930), as she “assisted [Sheriff Phillips] all the time with the clerical duties of the office and is better qualified than anyone else to wind up the affairs in the office. She will appoint deputies to look after any work outside needing attention.”

U. S. Presidents volvelle, 1931

Donated by  Bill Stamper

As Emily Marinker of the New York Academy of Medicine writes, “[A volvelle is] a (brilliantly) simple paper construction of moving parts; layers of rotating discs with information on them.”

This “Biographies of U.S. Presidents” volvelle was produced by Arthur Sichel of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has a copyright date of 1931. Information for each president includes birthplace, religion, ancestry, years in office, inauguration year, the order in which he served, party affiliation, profession before becoming president, final resting place, and the vice president who served with him. The religions listed on the volvelle include Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Society of Friends (Quaker), Methodist, No Claim, Presbyterian, Reformed Dutch, and Unitarian. Five ancestries are listed: Dutch, English, Scotch, Scotch-Irish, and Welsh. Below each president’s image is his name, birth date, and death date. 

A German immigrant, Arthur Sichel (1887–1955) arrived in America in 1903, settled in Pennsylvania, became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1927, and married Kamma Riegelsen from Denmark in 1932.  In the 1930 census, Arthur Sichel listed his occupation as  “advertising salesman.”

The volvelle was found by the donor when he bought the former home of the John A. and Margaret Long Phillips family of Huntsville (Madison County). John Phillips served as Madison County’s sheriff from 1926 until he was shot and killed by 80-year-old county resident Jason Matlock on December 22, 1930. Sheriff Phillips less than ten days left in office; Arkansas Governor Henry Parnell appointed Margaret Phillips to finish out her husband’s term. According to the Madison County Record (December 30, 1930), as she “assisted [Sheriff Phillips] all the time with the clerical duties of the office and is better qualified than anyone else to wind up the affairs in the office. She will appoint deputies to look after any work outside needing attention.”

KBRS Bumper Sticker

Donated by Sharon McGuire

Springdale’s first radio station, KBRS AM 1340, began broadcasting In September 1949. The station was brought to Springdale by Donald W. Reynolds, founder, president, and chief executive officer of the Donrey Media Group. The last three call letters of KBRS were chosen for Bentonville, Rogers, and Springdale, towns in Northwest Arkansas that did not have a radio station. Through the years, KBRS was active participant in the community and sponsored many fundraisers, including a “Pie Auction of the Air” to benefit projects organized by the Springdale Fire Department and local civil defense organizations. KBRS ceased operations in Springdale sometime in the 1990s.

Perhaps “Big Bopper” on the sticker refers to Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson Jr., the singer known as the “Big Bopper.” Richardson was best known for his songs “Chantilly Lace” and “White Lightning.” He was also a disc jockey. Shortly after midnight on February 3, 1959, Richardson, along with fellow performers Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly, boarded a charter plane in Clear Lake, Iowa, bound for the next stop on their “Winter Dance Party” tour. Around 12:55 a.m. pilot Roger Peterson received clearance from the tower and took off, only to crash about five miles outside of Mason City, Iowa, killing everyone on board. The tragedy has become known as “The Day the Music Died,” following a reference in Don McLean’s 1971 hit song, “American Pie.”

It is also possible that the bumper sticker is a nod to 1960s KBRS disc jockey Dale Forbes, who was also known as the “Round Mound of Sound” and the “Watermelon Man.” Forbes went on to work for both the Springdale and Fayetteville police departments. He also played bass guitar and trumpet for The Rogues, a local rock-and-roll band.

Calico Family

Calico family members at the Calico homeplace near Clifty (Madison County), March 1914. From left: Ulman “Ullie” Calico, Laura Calico, James Calico, Sarah Calico, Mary “Sissie” Calico, Millie Calico, John Calico. Willie Bohannon Collection (S-96-1-200)

Calico family, Madison County, Arkansas, 1914
Calico family, Madison County, Arkansas, 1914

Calico family members at the Calico homeplace near Clifty (Madison County), March 1914. From left: Ulman “Ullie” Calico, Laura Calico, James Calico, Sarah Calico, Mary “Sissie” Calico, Millie Calico, John Calico. Willie Bohannon Collection (S-96-1-200)