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As the vibrant green foliage of summer gives way to the warm hues of autumn, there’s no better place to experience the magic of the changing seasons than the Maplewood Cemetery in Harrison, Arkansas. This historic cemetery is a hidden gem that comes alive in the fall thanks to its captivating sugar maple trees and rich history.
Founded in 1868, Maplewood Cemetery’s establishment coincided with the town’s growth during the post-Civil War era, becoming the final resting place for many of the area’s early settlers, veterans and prominent citizens. Benjamin Harrison, considered one of the city’s founding fathers and former Governor and U.S. Senator James Henderson Berry are buried at Maplewood. The serene and contemplative atmosphere has preserved the stories of generations past, making it a place of reverence and reflection.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Maplewood Cemetery is its abundant sugar maple trees, which found their way to the cemetery thanks to members of the Twentieth Century Club. Sugar maples are known for their striking fall foliage, transforming the landscape into a mesmerizing sea of red, orange and gold each autumn.
The Twentieth Century Club was founded in Harrison in the early 1900s when women’s clubs and civic organizations were gaining prominence across the United States. It was a time marked by progress and change, with women increasingly seeking opportunities for education, activism, and community involvement.
The club’s founders aimed to create a space for local women to come together, share ideas and work on projects that would benefit the community. The name “Twentieth Century Club” was chosen to symbolize the forward-thinking spirit of the era and the club’s commitment to progress.
The Twentieth Century Club has been involved in the upkeep and beautification of Maplewood since the early 1900s. In 1924, members of the women’s club scoured the forests in the Harrison area for sugar maple saplings. They transplanted, by hand, roughly 733 sugar maple trees to the grounds of Maplewood Cemetery.
In 2009, the cemetery sustained heavy damage from a winter ice storm, and the Club was instrumental in the multi-phase cleanup project. Many of the cemetery’s trees had to be trimmed and repaired, and about 75 needed removal and replacement. The Club provided 10,135 volunteer hours and raised over $10,000 to assist with the cleanup.
Visiting Maplewood Cemetery during the fall season is like stepping into a painting. Walking through the quiet pathways, you’ll be surrounded by a symphony of colors as the sugar maples put on their annual display. The crisp autumn air carries the scent of fallen leaves, and the soft rustling underfoot creates a soothing soundtrack that is the epitome of fall.
While the fall foliage is undoubtedly the star of the show at Maplewood Cemetery, it’s essential to remember the purpose of this place: to honor those who have come before us. As you wander among the tombstones, you’ll find markers dating back to the 19th century, each with a unique story.
Take a moment to pay your respects to the individuals interred here, including Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt. Whether they were pioneers, war heroes or beloved community members, their legacies live on through the memories of their loved ones and the peaceful ambiance of Maplewood Cemetery.
The best time to visit Maplewood Cemetery to experience the vibrant fall foliage is from mid-October through early November.
Check out these articles for more about Arkansas cemeteries:
Hampton Springs Cemetery and the Myth of the Tree Surgeon
Mount Holly Cemetery: An Arkansas Who’s Who of the Hereafter
Beyond the Rock Wall of Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville
Preserving History in Arkansas Cemeteries
Cover photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
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