Monday, April 8, 2013


This post is dedicated to Sally. The truth of the matter is that I know hardly anything about her. About all I do know for sure is that her grave lies back in the nearby woods--abandoned, set several feet away from the other abandoned graves. But at least the others once had an enclosure of sorts--a fence defining a family plot. Sally's marker however, stands alone. It bears no last name and no epitaph. A shroud of mystery surrounds the person who once was known as Sally.

Some speculate that Sally departed this world as a child, but there's really no way of knowing. Still, an article written in the spring of 1951 by Walter J. Lemke, founder of the Washington County Historical Society, speculates somewhat on Sally's identity:

"I was about to leave the gloomy thicket when I spied a little headstone, all alone, almost buried under the creeper. I brushed the vines aside and read on the sandstone slab the single name, 'Sally.' I was still thinking of the unknown little girl when I passed the senator's grave on my way out of the historic but neglected graveyard."

Clearly, Mr. Lemke considered Sally a little girl, but his reference to her as "unknown" negates his very assumption. Interesting enough though, a partial restoration of the abandoned cemeteries was attempted during the winter of 2011 to 2012. The person who spearheaded the attempt had a ten year-old daughter, who I soon learned, had developed a fascination with Sally's grave. At the time, her father told me that the youngster was insisting that she had seen a little girl moving around the grave. After reassuring the young lady that I was open minded and wouldn't laugh at anything she wanted to share with me, she went on to describe what she saw--a blonde girl about her age who wore pigtails and clothing, of which after hearing her description, I can only describe as nineteenth century. Sure, kids have vivid imaginations but then again, are often more willing to accept things that we older people are likely to reject as foolishness or the products of active imaginations. So who knows?

On the other hand, Sally could have been a servant to the Walkers or one of the other wealthier families that existed here during the community's early days. During the same winter that the partial restoration took place, the University of Arkansas' archeology department conducted a survey around and in back of the abandoned graveyards in order to determine if there could be any former slaves buried there. While the survey was inconclusive, department representatives did place markers where various rock formations are situated. Personally, I'm a bit skeptical as these look like nothing more than rocks to me--and the Ozarks are filled with them. Either way, the university's efforts did little to explain Sally's presence back there in the woods.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine wrote a wonderful poem entitled The Forgotten Woman. It tells the story of a young lady who lived and loved, but who eventually came to be forgotten. That's how I like to think of Sally. Even though her life will likely, remain a mystery, I hope that during her time on this Earth, she lived fully and experienced everything that life has to offer, the bitter and the sweet, joy and sorrow. After all, without having experienced both, how can it be said that a person truly lived?

Most importantly, as long as someone, such as myself and now you, dear readers, are aware of her existence, Sally will not be completely forgotten.

Read The Forgotten Woman


  1. This is a beautiful post.

    In one of the versions of the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" there is a saying that translates to approximately this: "That which can be named must exist. That which is named can be written. That which is written shall be remembered. That which is remembered lives." They believed that by speaking the name of the deceased aloud, they continue to live, because they are remembered. I think there is something in this; how many people will be remembered for a very long time because their names are constantly before us?

    Sally will live on because she is remembered, even by those who didn't know her. Thank you for introducing us to her.

  2. ...And thank you for that great quote from the "Book of the Dead." It certainly gives force to my desire of keeping Sally alive in our memories.

  3. How sad that her identity has been forgotten.

  4. Sometimes when we are out walking the hills and dales we do happen across a stone, usually l not cut and dressed but with a name on it. The name may just be singular or have a small inscription. These often are the graves of dogs who`s owners would have many a happy time walking in the area with the dog and believed this would be where the dog would want to spend eternity. Also the owner may want to be reminded of a loved pet when he or she returns to the walk.

    1. My first thought was Sally was a pet, as well. This could also explain the "little girl" around the grave; the pet & girl could have had a very close relationship. Perhaps the pet served to protect the girl, and now it's her turn to oversee "Sally"...

  5. Maybe she was a woman whose name was the only thing other people knew about her. Such as - well, sorry - a XIXth century prostitute. I'm not saying that to joke, but truly - normally the date of birth and the last name are known when You have family/relatives/friends, and You live a "normal" life. A prostitute (or a servant, especially a black one) might have been known as "Sally" by everyone - other prostitutes, her bosses, her clients, her friends from the town.

    Anyway, You have moved my imagination (which is very lively anyway) and feelings. I can feel a new story being born in my head. The time to write it will cone soon, I hope.

  6. You have done well by Sally, Nightwind. :o)

  7. Thanks for all of your input folks. If anything, your comments have even added to the mystery.

  8. Wow Anonymous! I never thought of it that way, but it's an awesome possibility.