The Confederate Memorial
In 1889, the Phillip County Memorial Association began raising funds to erect a grand memorial to honor all the Confederate dead.
The Association sent an appeal throughout the South and donations poured in. Not all, however, were in cash. "This shaft was built from very diversified material, " the Helena World reported. Donations included a bale of cotton, an oil painting of Patrick Cleburne, sheep, pigs, quilts and other items that the Association sold or raffled to raise money.
The President of the Association appointed a committee to design the monument. Funds were insufficient to proceed until several committee members, Confederate veterans and men f means, stepped forward. In May 1891, two years after making the first appeal, the committee awarded the contract for the monument to Muldoon & Co. of Louisville, Kentucky.
A Lavish Two-Day Dedication Ceremony
The thirty-seven-foot-high memorial was topped by a Confederate soldier wearing a great coat draped over his shoulders. The shaft bore the names of battles in which the regiments of the soldiers interred in the cemetery had participated.
The memorial was dedicated in a lavish two-day ceremony, It began on may 24, 1892, with an address by Senior James Berry, poems, and music
at the Grand Opera House. It continued the next day with the unveiling of the monument. The Eagle Light Battery fired a salute after the speech. Flowers decorated each grave. The Phillips County Memorial Association had realized its dream of creating a fitting cemetery for the Confederate dead; a place where they would be cared for and honored for all time.
"The aisles and corridors were filled with a surging mass of humanity, most of whom were old veterans who had come to hear the speech of Senator Jas H. Berry...at the close of the speech the cheering was deafening.
Helena World, May 25, 1892
James Henderson Berry, 1841-1913
In October 1862, Berry, 2nd Lieutenant of Company E., 16th Arkansas Infantry, lost a leg in the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi. After the war, he became a very successful politician, serving as Arkansas governor (1883-1885) and a U. S. Senator (1885-1887). From 1910 to 1912 he headed the Commission for Marking Graves of Confederate Dead, a Federal program.
Clockwise from center, the program for the dedication of the Confederate monument, James Henderson Berry, Helena's Grand Opera House