Matilda Buchanan, a member of the Mount Holly Cemetery Association, welcomed guests to our commemoration of Arkansas’s ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The event was sponsored by the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. The commemoration was held at the bell house in the center of the cemetery.
This was her speech:
“April 14, 1865, was a monumental day. That day Arkansas became the 21st state to ratify the amendment to end slavery. That night, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
“On that April day in 1865, Mount Holly Cemetery was just over twenty years old. There were 640 Confederate soldiers buried here. Many were later moved after the war to Oakland Cemetery which had been opened in 1863 mainly to handle the thousands who died in the city’s hospitals during the war. Today 13 Union Soldiers and 217 Confederate Soldiers are buried at Mount Holly.
“The bell house was not here then. It was constructed in 1889, but there may have been a bell in the cemetery in 1865 to summon the sexton. Nevertheless, we stand in a place that connects us to that Little Rock of 150 years ago. Today we gather to reflect on history and to celebrate the ending of a horrible institution which still haunts every American.
“The Sesquicentennial Commission wants us to ring the bell 13 times beginning at 1:00, but I think everyone should ring the bell loudly and as long as we need to.”