Welcome to Conway Cemetery Historical State Park!
Educated by private tutors, James Sevier Conway migrated to Arkansas from Tennessee, in 1820 and formed a surveying company in the city of Little Rock, assisting in the survey of the boundary between Arkansas and Louisiana. In 1832 he was appointed surveyor-general of the Arkansas Territory by President Andrew Jackson and when Arkansas was admitted to statehood, he was elected the 1st Arkansas Governor, serving 1836-1840. Conway was a member of what was called “The Family,” a powerful dynasty that dominated early Arkansas politics and also included senator Ambrose Sevier, federal district judge Benjamin Johnson and his brother Richard M. Johnson, Vice President of the United States.
During Conway's tenure in office, he was responsible for a budget surplus and many of the state’s initial institutions, including roads, a prison system, and a state bank. Poor health caused Conway to decline a second four-year term and he returned to his plantation in southwest Arkansas where he lived until his passing in 1855 at the age of 59.
The half acre Conway Cemetery is located on grounds that were once part of Conway’s cotton plantation in Walnut Hull, Arkansas . None of the plantation’s structures remain, and the earliest graves on the site date from 1845, including Conway’s wife, Mary Jane Bradley Conway, and more than forty other members of the Conway and Bradley families.
The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 23, 1977 and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism acquired the site on March 27, 1984 assuming maintenance and supervision. Improvements since then include a paved parking lot and access road, wooden fencing, and picnic tables. The park, which has no on-site staff and is the second-smallest Arkansas state park, was officially dedicated on March 29, 1986.
Since 1985, the nearby town of Bradley has celebrated James Sevier Conway with an annual Governor Conway Days festival, which is held in the spring.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this look into Conway Cemetery Historic State Park and we encourage you to get out and experience The Natural State! For more information on the park, visit ArkansasStateParks.com and make sure you follow Arkie Travels on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more Arkansas adventures!