Sunday, September 20, 2009
High on a ridge in Maple Hill Cemetery to the north of Helena, Arkansas, stands Pedro, the Irish Setter. Pedro, I surmise, was the beloved pet of the late Dr. Emile Overton Moore. As he has done every year since 1895, the loyal hound waits in perpetuity for his slain master.
We make these assumptions based on the name “Pedro” on the dog’s collar, the raised letter inscription beneath the dog, “WAITING,” and the inscription which states that Dr. Moore died at the hand of a fellow man.
The front, east facing side of the pink marble on the monument reads:
DR. EMILE OVERTON MOORE
Underneath, on darkened alabaster, the inscription reads:
HIS ERRORS WERE THE ERRORS OF A MAN
On one side of the pink marble is inscribed:
HE POSSESSED MARKED INDIVIDUALITY
The monument is listed in the Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Newspaper accounts of Dr. Moore’s murder took a different tack than the verbiage etched in stone. On page six of the February 24, 1893, Pine Bluff Graphic, this account is found: “Dr. Overton Moore was shot and instantly killed Thursday evening of last week by Dr. C. R. Shimault. It is claimed the shooting was in self defense.”
A couple of days earlier on February 21, 1893, The Pine Bluff Weekly Press Eagle printed this report on page two: “Dr. Overton Moore was shot and killed by Dr. C. R. Shimault at Helena last Sunday. Moore began a quarrel with Shimault because the latter had responded to a call to attend to one of the former’s patients. The deceased was a very dangerous man and a terror to the community when drinking.”
The newspaper accounts agree that Dr. Moore was murdered and “whodunit.” They disagree on the exact date. We would probably all agree that Pedro was probably the most despondent of all. (This information was kindly furnished by the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System).
The Moore family plot occupies a high place in the hilly cemetery, which was established in 1861. It is still in use as evidenced by graves dated in 2009. The hilly environment comes from the cemetery’s location at the southern terminus of Crowley’s Ridge.
Although Dr. Moore’s monument is the most unusual in the large cemetery, as a piece of artwork it stands in the company of angels, cherubs and tall statue monuments, many of which were commissioned works of art to honor deceased family members.
There is another Moore plot below Dr. Moore’s location. This one is marked by the grave of Ophelia Polk Moore, who met an untimely end in the Bostians Bridge disaster in 1891. Ophelia’s mother, unable to cope with her daughter’s death, died two years later and is buried next to her child.
In a former time, families sometimes dealt with grief by commissioning art. Granted, not everyone was able to do so, but in death, those families who possessed the means were able to leave behind a heritage in stone. These enduring relics give us as glimpse of how things were then — in the days long before cable and satellites.
N O T E S:
See more pictures from Maple Hill on our blog,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind. Also see an old fire truck and some birds helping a combine harvest rice.
Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.