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The Fairview Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Van Buren. This cemetery is home to the graves of early settlers and, most significantly, Confederate soldiers. The burial of individuals at this cemetery began around 1846 after the land donation by John Drennen. There are around 460 soldiers who are buried at this cemetery. Though this cemetery is historic, it is still active.


The Fairview Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Van Buren.[1] This still active cemetery has been around since the early years of Van Buren.[2] As the city expanded, John Drennen donated 10 acres to create the first public cemetery for the town.[3]

There are a few significant portions of the cemetery. The first is the section where Civil War Confederate soldiers are buried. This is where the Confederates who died in Van Buren or on nearby battlefields were laid to rest.[4] Many of the small simple marble gravestones are marked “UNKNOWN CONFEDERATE SOLDIER.”[5] The cemetery is also the final resting place for many significant individuals and families of early Van Buren history, as well as criminals who were executed and not claimed by their families.

There is one piece of Van Buren history that is located in Fairview Cemetery that has always interested people, the “Mystery Grave.” Not much is known about the gravesite that is made of four large flat rocks that create a rectangle shape with a curved rock as the headstone. This grave is believed to belong to one of two people. It is thought that it could be one of Hernando de Soto’s soldiers or it could be a Viking grave.[6] This cemetery is filled with so much Van Buren History.

[1] “Fairview Cemetery - Van Buren, AR,” Waymarking.com, https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMF1CJ_Fairview_Cemetery_Van_Buren_AR (accessed December 13, 2019).

[2] Mark K. Christ, “Fairview Cemetery—Confederate Section,” Encyclopedia of Arkansas, https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/fairview-cemetery-confederate-section-8639/ (accessed December 13, 2019).

[3] “Fairview Cemetery,” https://www.vanburencity.org/DocumentCenter/View/101/Fairview-Cemetery-Design-Guidelines-PDF (accessed December 13, 2019).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Dale Cox, “"Mystery Grave" of Fairview Cemetery - Van Buren, Arkansas,” ExploreSouthernHistory.com https://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/mysterygrave.html (accessed December 13, 2019).

Christ, Mark K. “Fairview Cemetery—Confederate Section.” Encyclopedia of Arkansas. https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/fairview-cemetery-confederate-section-8639/ (accessed December 13, 2019).

Cox, Dale. “"Mystery Grave" of Fairview Cemetery - Van Buren, Arkansas.” ExploreSouthernHistory.com. https://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/mysterygrave.html (accessed December 13, 2019).

“Fairview Cemetery.” https://www.vanburencity.org/DocumentCenter/View/101/Fairview-Cemetery-Design-Guidelines-PDF (accessed December 13, 2019).

“Fairview Cemetery - Van Buren, AR.” Waymarking.com. https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMF1CJ_Fairview_Cemetery_Van_Buren_AR (accessed December 13, 2019).

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Mattison Griffin

Mattison Griffin

Cox, Dale. “"Mystery Grave" of Fairview Cemetery - Van Buren, Arkansas.” ExploreSouthernHistory.com. https://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/mysterygrave.html (accessed December 13, 2019).