>Oaklawn cemetery in Jonesboro, Arkansas officially on the National Register of Historic Places

>Story Date: Monday, October 15, 2007
Caraway grave site, Tyronza water tower make U.S. Register

By Keith INMAN

JONESBORO — The final resting place of the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate is now officially on the National Register of Historic Places.

U.S. Sen. Hattie Caraway’s Grave Site in Oaklawn Cemetery in Jonesboro is now on the country’s official list of historically significant properties, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program Director Ken Grunewald said late last week. The grave site was among 25 added to the list.

The Tyronza Water Tower, constructed in 1935 with Public Works Administration assistance, also was named to the list.

The Jonesboro Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Department nominated the grave site.

“There is nothing spectacular about this particular grave site, except it consists of two former U.S. senators,” parks employee Jarrod Stroud wrote in the nomination form.

Recognizing the Caraways

Hattie Wyatt Caraway and Thaddeus Caraway, along with their son Robert, are buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, on the corner of Loberg Lane and West Matthews Avenue.

The grave markers make no mention of the Caraways’ political career.

Local officials began exploring ways to bring attention to Hattie Caraway’s place in American history in early 2005. Arkansas State University has sponsored Hattie Caraway Day the past two years, and the U.S. Postal Service named its new office at 2404 Race St. the Hattie W. Caraway Station earlier this year.

Hattie Caraway was married to Sen. Thaddeus Caraway when he died in office in 1931. She was first appointed to fill the Senate seat until a special election could be held. She won that special election in January 1932.

According to presentations by Dr. Nancy Hendricks, ASU alumni affairs coordinator, Caraway sat on the last row and was seen as an “outsider” as she began her career. However, when Huey P. Long of Louisiana took an empty desk next to her in January 1932, he gave her the political support she needed. When she decided to run for a full term in 1932, Long campaigned for her in Arkansas.

More than 200,000 Arkansans heard them speak over an 8-day period, Hendricks said. She won that election by a fairly wide margin. She was defeated in a bid for a third 6-year term in 1944 by J. William Fulbright.

Hattie Caraway has been credited with helping ASU survive the loss of hundreds of students as a result of World War II.

By 1940 Arkansas State’s student body had dropped from 1,000 to 329 students, Hendricks said at one Hattie Caraway Day observance. There was even talk of closing its doors.

But when the New Deal was put into action, Caraway secured funding for a number of campus buildings, Hendricks said. Three of those facilities are still standing on the ASU campus — the Math and Computer Science Building, the Nursing and Health Professions Building and a building used as a power plant, she said.

When World War II broke out and students began to leave for the service, Arkansas State started a program in which military men were taught to fly so they could be officers, Hendricks said. Many of them stayed in Northeast Arkansas after the war ended.

Following her defeat, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Caraway to the Federal Employees Compensation Commission, and later to the Employees Compensation Appeals Board.

In July, the State Review Board of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program encouraged Jonesboro to seek historic status for the entire cemetery. Former Gov. Francis Cherry is also buried in the cemetery.

Parks Director Jason Wilkie said last week that he expects that application will be submitted next spring.

The AHPP is the Department of Arkansas Heritage agency responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources.


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About Louisiana Genealogy Admin

I manage several RootsWeb mailing lists and message boards, support Louisiana Cemetery Preservation, am a former Louisiana and Mississippi librarian, have been researching genealogy of my family since 1988, and write and promote several blogs supporting either Louisiana genealogy or Louisiana cemeteries.
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