Bradley is located in
Lafayette County and is home to Conway Cemetery State Park, an eleven-acre
historic site that includes the family plot of the former Conway home site
The state's first governor, James Sevier Conway, is buried
here. James Sevier Conway (1796-1855), surveyor, planter, prominent and influential
citizen of pioneer Arkansas, took office as Arkansas's first governor when
Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836.
Dedicated to his memory, this 11.5-acre state historic site preserves Governor
Conway’s final resting place, the one-half acre family plot at what was once
his cotton plantation. The cemetery lies just south of the former site of the
Conway plantation home called Walnut Hill.
Born in Tennessee,
Conway came to Arkansas from St. Louis in 1829 as a surveyor. He settled on the
Long Prairie west of the present town of Bradley. Conway surveyed the boundary
between Arkansas and the Choctaw Nation that is today the western line of the
state that stretches from Fort Smith south to the Red River. He also assisted
with the survey of the Arkansas-Louisiana boundary. In 1832, President Andrew
Jackson appointed Conway as surveyor of the Territory of Arkansas.
In 1836, Conway became
the Democratic nominee for governor of the new state of Arkansas. He was
elected by a substantial majority and for the following four years presided
over the fledgling government of this sparsely settled frontier commonwealth.
Poor health and a troubled state economy caused Conway to decline a second
four-year term. In 1848, he returned to his plantation where he continued to be
active in civic affairs until his death in 1855.
A biographical marker
detailing the life of Governor Conway is featured in the park.
This state park is
located in the southwestern part of Lafayette County near the far southwestern
tip of Arkansas. There are no campsites or visitor services available at this state historic site. To reach Conway Cemetery State Park from Bradley, travel two miles west on Ark. 160 to the community of Walnut Hill, then turn south on the county road and go 1/2 mile to the park.