Brearley Cemetery, Dardanelle, Yell County, Arkansas


Larger version of this photo

Larger version of this photo

Apparently the original introduction had a confusion between two different David Brearleys. This corrected introduction was sent to us by Lois Marilyn Brearley Jenks, a descendant of David Brearley. She also provided us with a picture of David Brearley (not the David who was the founder of Dardanelle) for inclusion on this page.

The original introduction that was included in the original Cemetery Record books has been retained at the bottom of this page.

I am a descendant of David Brearley, the signer of the Constitution of the United States, and I have not heard that he founded Dardanelle, Ark. I have a genealogy chart written by William H. Brearley in 1885 which states that the David Brearley, who was the signer of the constitution and Chief Justice of New Jersey, was born on June 11, 1745, and he died in Trenton, NJ on Monday, Aug 16, 1790, at the age of 45. He was buried two days later in a cemetery adjoining St. Michael's Church in Trenton.

However, this David's nephew, David, born Abt 1871 did go to Dardanelle, Ark sometime after 1820 and he died there. This David is the son of Joseph, David's (the signer of the constitution) brother. This is undoubtedly the David you are talking about. Your story "Death of Dardanelle Founder Occurred 103 . . ." was a lovely story, but I believe it concerns the wrong David Brearley. The David Brearley, who was the signer of the constitution, could not be the founder of Dardanelle, Ark. He died 36 years before the founder of Dardanelle was born.

The following is an excerpt from the W.H. Brearley chart written on March 1, 1885:

18. DAVID, son of David Brearley, born on June 11, 1745 at Spring Grove farm. He practiced law in Allentown, N.J. He married Elizabeth Mullen of Trenton, Abt. 1767. Proof of this marriage exists in a deed signed by himself and "Elizabeth, his wife" and witnessed by Harriet Luttrel, and in the possession of Miss Louisa Brearley of Trenton. He became early and prominently identified with Colonial resistance to the British, and was arrested for high treason, but was liberated by a mob of his fellow citizens. He became Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th battalion of the 2d establishment, Nov. 28, 1776, and Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st regiment, Jan. 1777. He was elected Chief Justice of New Jersey, June 10, 1779 (age 34), an office which he held for 11 years, until 1789. The College of New Jersey made him Master of Arts in 1781. His first wife having died Aug. 3, 1777, he was married for the second time on April 17, 1783 to Elizabeth Higbee. In 1783, he was made Vice President of the New Jersey Society of the Cincinnati. (His membership descended to his son David, and afterwards to Charles B. Hopkins, who is the grandson of his daughter Mary, who married Ebenezer Hopkins.) He was one of the compilers of the 1785 Episcopalian Prayer book, and a delegate to the general convention of that body June 20-26, 1786 in Christ's Church, Philadelphia, PA. In 1787, he was appointed by the New Jersey legislature a delegate to the convention which framed the United States Constitution. He signed it, and afterwards, presided at a State convention which ratified it. In 1788, he was a presidential elector to elect General George Washington to the office of President of the United States. In Nov. 1789, he resigned the office of Chief Justice to accept the office of Judge of United States District Court. From 1786 to 1790 he was Grand Master of State Masonic Order, and at Bridgeton, N.J., two Masonic bodies are now named after him, viz; Brearley Lodge No. 2 and Brearley Chapter No. 6. He was a Colonel of Militia after the war until his death. He had 7 children, 4 by his first wife, and 3 by his last wife. He died on Monday, Aug. 16, 1790. His funeral, which was on Wednesday A.M., Aug. 18, 1790 was complete with military and Masonic honors. He is buried in the cemetery adjoining St. Michael's Church, in Trenton, N.J. In 1814, a portrait of the judge was hanging in Brearley Lodge at Bridgeton, but it disappeared. His army camp desk was given by his grandniece, Louisa to W.H. Brearley. During his early life as an attorney, he sent to the Herald's College, and obtained the family coat of arms, which he used as a bookmark. This coat of arms assists us to establish our descent from James Brearley, for we know that Judge David Brearley, over 240 years ago, and while his father was living, obtained and used the same coat of arms that was granted to James Brearley. This, at present, is the single link of evidence by which to connect John Brearley who was born Abt. 1645 to James Brearley of York, England, who was born Abt. 1515. Other evidence undoubtedly exists, and in due time will probably appear. David Brearley was a member of the first convention to draft a Constitution prior to 1781. The British offered £100 reward for the capture of any member of that constitutional convention, and he and his brother used to come to the old homestead like hares to a burrow, watched by their Tory neighbors and relatives, eager for the reward.

This is a photo of David Brearley - Lawyer; Officer in Continental Army; New Jersey Constitutional Convention; Chief Justice of New Jersey; "Commissioner" to Constitutional Convention; United States District Judge.

Info re: David Brearley, the nephew of David Brearley (the signer of the constitution):

25. DAVID, son of Joseph (17), born Abt. 1781, married Hannah Jones. Captain of Light Dragoons May 3, 1808, resigned May 31, 1811. Lieutenant Colonel Mar. 12, 1813, disbanded June 15, 1815. Reinstated Jan. 1, 1816, as Lieutenant Colonel 7th U.S. Infantry and Colonel, April 30, 1817, resigned Mar. 16, 1820. Moved to Dardanelle, Ark., where he died. He and his wife had 4 children. His biography is often confused with David (18).

Original introduction

The name of David Brearley is vividly written on the pages of American history. This brilliant statesman, who was a chief justice in New Jersey, was one of the 54 men who met in Philadelphia in 1789 and framed and signed the Constitution of the United States.

This legacy of Col. David Brearley carries across a century and a half. The deeds and accomplishments of this young man who strode onto a frontier peopled almost entirely by Indians, coupled with his personal charm and magnetism, swept him to power, causing his name to assume a singular significance which made him legendary.

His mortal remains lie in the BREARLEY private cemetery in Dardanelle, a city he founded on the southern bank of the Arkansas River in the center of the Arkansas valley, between the sprawling Ozarks on the north and the rugged Ouachitas on the south.

The cemetery with its fourteen lots wherein are buried the bodies of the Colonel, his brothers, Charles and Pearson, their wives and their descendants, is almost within the shadows of two other landmarks signally important in the Brearley legacy.

The Dardanelle Rock, named by Brearley when he first beheld the bizarre fashion in which the treacherous waters of the Arkansas swirled about the bases of the twin rocks, stands high above the city.

The other landmark is Council Oaks. This famous Indian camp site and assembly ground is now a park, centered by two giant oaks, their massive trunks and gnarled branches presenting an imposing memorial to important historical events which took place beneath their shade.

These three spots, the cemetery wherein rests his body, the spectacular rock that he named, and the majestic oaks under which he witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Council Oaks in 1820, are synonymous with the Legend of Brearley.

Death Of Dardanelle Founder Occurred 103 Years Ago
Post Dispatch
5 October 1940
Dardanelle, Arkansas, Oct. 5, 1940 (Special)

Colonel David Brearley, who died here just 103 years ago, Oct. 4, and who is known as the founder of Dardanelle, named the town for Dardanelles straits in Turkey, according to the legend here.

About the year 1820, General James Miller and Colonel Brearley were appointed first governor of Arkansas territory and agent to deal with the Cherokee Indians, respectively. Governor Miller and Colonel Brearley came to Arkansas together, taking a census of the Indians, and in their journey came to the ridge known among the Indians as Dardonnie ("Sleep With One Eye"). Brearley bought the site from a French hunter, Joe Paran, who lived at the foot of the ridge.

Because the sound of the Indian name for the place and the surroundings called to mind the Dardanelle strait, Brearley called the place from that time on Dardanelle. He established a Cherokee agency here, and in 1847 his son, Joseph H. Brearley, laid off the town site.

Stones mark the spot where Colonel Brearley, founder of Dardanelle and his wife are buried.

List Of Words And Abbreviations You Will Find In This Cemetery


This will help in reading the Czech markers in this cemetery. We have tried to get all the spelling just as it appears on the markers. We feel this is part of the history of Yell Co. Many of the old timers could not read or write any other language. Over the years the spelling of the family names have changed.

narozen (m)/narozena (f) - Born
zemřel - Died
zde odpoèívá - "Here Lies"
odpoèívej ve svatém pokoji - "Rest in Holy Peace"
matka - Mother
otec – Father
roků - year

Czech months have different spellings depending on the usage of the month. If you are referring to the month by itself (i.e. I'm going on holiday in January), the first of the two spellings would be used (in this example, January would be leden). If you are referring to a specific date within a month (i.e. I'm leaving on holiday the 15th of January), the second of the two spellings would be used (in this example, 15th of January would become 15. ledna). Also of note, the names of Czech months are not capitalized.

leden/ledna - January
únor/února - February
bøezen/bøezna - March
duben/dubna - April
kvìten/kvìtna - May
èerven/èervna - June
èervenec/èervence - July
srpen/srpna - August
záøí/záøí - September
øíjen/øíjna - October
listopad/listopadu - November
prosinec/prosince - December

Many thanks to Lucie Haschkova for her wonderful assistance with the translations and the language lessons on usage of Czech terms.

Brearley Cemetery, Dardanelle, Arkansas

The drawing is to show how we numbered the sections, by using the existing roads inside. The section number will be by each name. They are listed by name, birth, death, and section.

View Brearley Cemetery Records

Introduction | Part 1 (A to E) | Part 2 (F to M) | Part 3 (N to Z)

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Karen Groce /
Last updated 09 Apr 2010