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Texas Cemetery Restoration Returns to Moscow Cemetery in Nevada County

By Peggy Lloyd, 05/10/21 7:20 PM

Texas Cemetery Restoration’s crew returned to Moscow Cemetery on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, to begin work on the fourth and final grant on the gravestones at historic Moscow Cemetery. Under this grant stones will be reset, repaired and cleaned, and some ironwork will be repaired. The grants have come from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program in the Department of Arkansas Heritage which now includes Parks and Tourism as well as the Arkansas State Archives, formerly the Arkansas History Commission.

Moscow Church and Cemetery were nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. A cemetery on the National Register becomes eligible for grants to maintain the gravestones. Moscow’s earliest marked gravestone dates from 1864. The markers had suffered from weathering, mowing accidents, falling trees and tree limbs, burrowing animals and vandalism over the years. Texas Cemetery Restoration was called in to begin the restoration of the stones. After the first grant, James “Rusty” Brenner, the owner and founder of Texas Cemetery Restoration, selected an additional 75 stones in need of work and photographed them. 52 stones were restored by the next two grants and 23 are being restored by this final grant. The grant in progress now will complete the work.

Moscow Cemetery is important historically. It is all that is left of the antebellum village of Moscow that existed on the Camden to Washington Stagecoach Road during the Civil War and before the creation of the town of Prescott by the Cairo and Fulton Railroad in 1873. On April 13, 1864, Moscow was the site of a rearguard action after the Battle of Prairie D’Ane on April 10-12. Thinking the Union Army was headed toward Washington, then the Confederate capital of Arkansas after the Union Army re-took Little Rock in September of 1863, the Confederate commander General Sterling Price pulled back under cover of darkness toward Washington, Arkansas, to protect the city from the larger Union force .

General Frederick Steele had actually planned to go to Shreveport as part of a larger strategy known as the Red River Campaign, but he had been unable to obtain adequate supplies along the way for 13,000 soldiers and 12,000 horses and mules pulling hundreds of wagons and carrying Union cavalry. He had decided to go to Camden in search of supplies. Camden at the time was an important river town and the second largest city in Arkansas. He rushed his forces toward Camden and left soldiers under the command of John Milton Thayer who had recently arrived from Fort Smith to protect his rear. Confederate troops under Gen. Thomas Dockery and Col. Tandy Walker who attacked the Union rearguard were beaten back and chased for a distance before Thayer turned and also left for Camden. The troops under Tandy Walker were Choctaw Indians from Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Moscow is also a Choctaw Historic site. A wayside marker and Civil War Sesquicentennial marker noting the fighting and the history of the church now stand at the Moscow Cemetery.

Moscow Cemetery was also a burial ground for early citizens of Prescott before DeAnn Cemetery was formed in Prescott about 1880. One of the most prominent of those early citizens is E. A. Warren, Sr. who had moved to the new railroad town from Camden. Born in 1818 in Alabama, he had studied law and began his career in Mississippi before coming to Camden, Arkansas, in 1847. He served in the Arkansas House of Representatives in the late 1840s and in the United States Congress from 1853-1855 and again from 1857-1859. Hoping to recoup his fortune after the Civil War, he moved to the new railroad town where he died in 1875. His daughter-in-law, who apparently died in childbirth, is buried beside him.

Moscow Methodist Church has not been active since 1989, but the cemetery still has an occasional burial. Ralph and Belinda McKinnon, who live nearby, have cared for the cemetery in recent years.