What to know
Gibson Bayou Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Crittenden County, with known markers dating back to the late 1800s. Its inhabitants have been further immortalized by artist Carroll Cloar, who grew up in Earle. His memories of the cemetery inspired his 1956 painting, “Gibson Bayou Anthology,” in which the dearly departed are shown standing beside their grave markers, dressed in formal burial attire.
Cloar wrote about the piece, “While I was a boy, I used to wander through Gibson Bayou cemetery picking dewberries. I got acquainted with all the people buried there and had known some of them in life. Gabe [Cabe] Smith, whom I never saw, was a favorite because he had died violently, in a gunfight. The girl on the right, in back, is Odor Hayes, who died young. I caught smallpox from her.”
The woman at left is the ghost of Ida M. Funkhouser, one of Cloar's mother's best friends. He wrote that she thought she was unattractive, but when she died and went to heaven, she believed “she would become illuminated." Rather than sign the piece as he did his other paintings, Cloar inscribed his name on the foot marker at the bottom left of the painting. He was cremated upon his death in 1993, and his ashes were scattered at the Cloar Farm and at the Gibson Bayou Cemetery.
The still-active cemetery is adjacent to the Gibson Bayou Methodist Church, established in 1869. The original church was a log building with a dirt and stick chimney at each end. The later white frame building had deteriorated beyond repair and was reconstructed between 2004-2006.