FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Tucked away in downtown Fayetteville, there's an overgrown cemetery that's on the brink of getting new life.
For the past several months 5NEWS has heard about an overgrown cemetery that several people had mistaken for the Fayetteville Confederate Cemetery. After investigating those concerns we found out who is in charge of the upkeep and why it's been let go.
East Mountain Cemetery is across the street from the Confederate Cemetery, right off Rock Street, near downtown Fayetteville. There's no sign naming the cemetery and the grass is so overgrown, headstones can barely be seen.
The cemetery dates back to around 1840 and has 84 known burials. The Northwest Arkansas African American Heritage Association got the deed to the cemetery in 2014 and has worked to preserve the history within ever since.
Underneath the 1.18 acres of vines and overgrowth are some of Fayetteville's earliest settlers. While there are several headstones to honor people, there are also many unmarked graves. President of the NWA AAHA, Sharon Killian, said there could be more than 30 unmarked graves.
After preservation, East Mountain Cemetery is eligible to be placed on the National Register of Historical Places. Killian has asked the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and the Arkansas Archaeological Survey to help during the preservation process.
The goal for East Mountain Cemetery is to preserve the historical integrity of the land and authentically restore the graves and markers to the best of their ability.The group hopes to have plaques and signs detailing the history along with trails and benches so people can enjoy some of Fayetteville's earliest history.
However, the project will take a lot of time and money, which the NWA AAHA doesn't have. The organization is looking for volunteers and donors to help get the cemetery back in shape.
To get involved or donate to this cause, contact Sharon Killian at Skillian@nwaheritage.org or visit their Facebook page for more information.