George W. Gatliff


In our continuing quest to document “lost” and abandoned cemeteries in Clark and east Pike Counties in Arkansas, often we are given leads which we follow up.  I put quotes around the word lost because none of them are truly lost even though some of them may be known by only a limited number of people.  That is the situation here.  My archeologist friend, Meeks Etchieson, had received a lead on a family cemetery near the community of Bowen in southeast Pike County.  We did not find the stated landmarks, but in the process of searching we saw a field fence gate with BOWEN CEMETERY on it.  That caught my eye because family oral history states that JESSE L. [N] GATLIFF was buried there in 1889.  I had been unable to find the cemetery on any maps available to me and it is not listed on any cemetery web sites I looked at.  We drove in to take a look and even though there were no GATLIFF markers, I decided I needed to come back another day and do a scale map and detail census of the markers because of the uniqueness of the cemetery.  Even though it is currently being used and is well maintained, it definitely needs to be “officially” located.  Daylight was running out so we decided to go home, get better directions to the family cemetery, and come back another day. 


We came back on October 26, 2006 and saw a man working in his yard.  To save time, we asked him if he knew about the family cemetery.  Not only did he know about it, he lead us right to it.  It is on private property southeast of the Bowen Church.  We have named it THE OSBORN FAMILY CEMETERY and here is what we found.  It is at the edge of a pine plantation, but for protection, the property owner has left a cluster of trees, about 11 meters in diameter, around the little cemetery.  We found six unmarked grave depressions and one grave marked with a marble headstone and marble footstone.  The top of the footstone in engraved S.A.O.  The headstone in engraved as follows;





OCT 4, 1848


NOV 2, 1884


I came back on December 27th and 28th to complete the Bowen Cemetery.  It is also on private property but has public access.  From Delight Arkansas take Arkansas Highway 19 south and go about three miles to Arkansas Highway 301.  Turn right/west and in about 2 ½ miles watch for Bowen Church on left/south side.  Continue on Arkansas Highway 301 about one mile west of the Bowen Church and watch on the left/south side of the road for a field fence gate with BOWEN CEMETERY on it.  If you get to a creek bridge you have gone too far. 



Go through the gate and take the left ridge top and you can see the cemetery a few hundred meters in the distance.


There are 68 identifiable burials in the cemetery; however, with large “open” areas throughout, and a large open area at the north end, it probably would be safe to estimate there are actually over 100 burials there.  Experience would indicate the original cemetery was on the high point on the north end of the present location and moved outward from that point over the years.  This is somewhat supported by the family oral history mentioned above, and that some of the oldest dated tombstones, #17 and #28 dated 1919 and #49 dated 1910, are all on or near that high point.