This blog is devoted to exploring the history, historic sites and heritage tourism opportunities of the American South! A guide to new additions and updates to the expansive site www.exploresouthernhistory.com, this blog features forts, battlefields, Native American sites, architectural treasures and natural wonders.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Grave of one of DeSoto's soldiers? - Van Buren, Arkansas
One of the most unexpected historic sites in the South can be found in the old section of Fairview Cemetery in Van Buren, Arkansas.
It is called the Mystery Grave and local legend holds that is the burial site of one of the men who explored Arkansas with Hernando de Soto and his expedition of Spanish conquistadors in 1541. The origin of the story is not known, but it probably has much to do with the eroded appearance of the stone slabs from which the grave is made and various theories that DeSoto might have made it as far up the Arkansas River as Van Buren during his travels west of the Mississippi.
Another more recent theory is that the Mystery Grave is actually the burial place of a Viking explorer. This unusual theory revolves around claims that Vikings actually lived in Oklahoma more than 1,000 years ago and left such markers as the Heavener Runestone. Self-taught Viking researcher Gloria Farley believed that strange carvings on the Mystery Grave were actually inscriptions left by ancient, unrecorded explorers.
There are markings on the grave, but it appears more likely they are Masonic symbols which provide a probably clue as to the true origin of the unique historic site. So what is the real story of the Myster Grave? Please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/mysterygrave for a possible answer.