2019 marks the 176th year of Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.
The land was donated by Roswell Beebe and Chester Ashley in February 1843. From March through October 1843, the Little Rock City Council would pass a variety of ordinances and resolutions governing the cemetery and making other provisions for it.
Though the opening day sale of lots and picnic would not take place until May 1843, the first burial appears to have been on April 8, 1843. William Cummins was buried will full Masonic orders on that day. The service was conducted by Little Rock’s second mayor, Rev. W. W. Stevenson.
On May 1, 1843, it became illegal to bury persons in Little Rock any location other than Mount Holly. This ordinance had been adopted on March 7, 1843.
The prior cemetery had been at Capitol and Gaines Streets (on which a portion of the Federal Courthouse now stands). Skeletal remains have also been found at Seventh and Rock Streets, in what was probably a family burial plot. Other small plots were in existence until action in 1834 by the Little Rock Town Council which prohibited private cemeteries.
During the Civil War and years following it, the City would establish other cemeteries and allow additional cemeteries to be created. But the creation of Mount Holly marked another step in Little Rock’s development as a city.
From 1843 until 1877, Mount Holly was governed by a City Council Committee. Upset by the lack of attention given to the cemetery, a group of civic leaders asked the City Council to create a separate Commission to govern the cemetery. This was done on March 20, 1877. It was possibly the first City Board or Commission composed of non-elected officials.
By 1914, the cemetery was once again being neglected. This time a group of Little Rock’s leading women decided it was time to band together to address it. In June 1915, the Little Rock City Council disbanded the Cemetery Commission for Mount Holly and designated the Mount Holly Cemetery Association as the governing body. 103 years later, the ladies of the Mount Holly Cemetery Association continue this outstanding work.