Feb. 19th, 2016

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I got a bundle of old newspaper clippings, telegrams and letters from my youngest sister not long ago. In that bundle was a clipping that solved a riddle for me.

I never understood why my great great grandmother, Laura Isabelle Cunningham Balding was buried at Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park. Her husband, James Henry Balding, was a musician in the Civil War for the Confederate States of America. When he died, he would be buried in the Confederate soldiers section of what is now the Little Rock National Cemetery.

Wives and widows could be buried with their husbands. So why was Laura buried next door at Oakland? I pondered that for several years, until I read the death notice for Laura and Henry's youngest daughter, Ethel Clare Balding, and a letter that told me Ethel Clare had died of congestive fever (malaria) and was buried in the city cemetery.

The city cemetery was Oakland, purchased on 31 Dec 1862 from a plantation owner.

That sent me on a search through Oakland's digitized deed and burial records. I found the deed for a single lot, purchased for $2.50 on 13 Oct 1890, two days after Ethel Clare Balding died. But there was no stone.

No stone for a nine year old child. The family pitched in to mark her grave.

On 4 Feb 2016 - 125 years after her death - Ethel Clare Balding's grave was properly marked with a gravestone I hope would make my great great grandparents smile.

 photo Ethel Clare Balding.jpg


The sexton placed it at the foot of her mother's grave, because we believe Ethel Clare was buried there, her remains perpendicular to her mother's.

 photo Ethel Clare Balding and Laura Cunningham Balding.jpg

It's never too late to do the right thing.

The journey is good.

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Dee Burris Blakley

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