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