I know this isn’t my typical type of blog post but today there was a discussion in one of those hometown Facebook groups about something in my hometown, Helena, Arkansas, that I happened to know a little bit about so I joined in. This discussion concerned a tombstone that is in one of my hometown’s oldest cemeteries of a dog with the single caption “WAITING” written below it.
It’s actually a very cool looking tombstone if you are into that sort of thing. In the discussion, someone was asking the story as to how the stone came about, etc., and I remembered my Uncle Gene giving me the backstory / history lesson years ago so I shared what I knew about a doctor that was murdered by another doctor in the middle of the city one evening. I know for a fact there are several variations of this story floating around as Urban Legends but the one that I believe to be true is the one that my Uncle shared with me because I have actually met several other old timers with similar recollections.
I have also quoted some of the high points from their research post below:
High on a ridge in Maple Hill Cemetery to the north of Helena, Arkansas, stands Pedro, the Irish Setter. Pedro, I surmise, was the beloved pet of the late Dr. Emile Overton Moore. As he has done every year since 1895, the loyal hound waits in perpetuity for his slain master.
We make these assumptions based on the name “Pedro” on the dog’s collar, the raised letter inscription beneath the dog, “WAITING,” and the inscription which states that Dr. Moore died at the hand of a fellow man. The front, east facing side of the pink marble on the monument reads:
DR. EMILE OVERTON MOORE
BORN OCT. 2 1854
MURDERED FEB. 16, 1893
HE IS NOW BEYOND THE REACH OF BLAME OR PRAISE
AND LOVE WITH HOPE AND FAITH
WILL TRUST THAT HE HAS FELT THE JOY
THAT IS FELT WHEN THERE ARE NO TEARS
AND NO GRAVE.
Underneath, on darkened alabaster, the inscription reads:
HIS ERRORS WERE THE ERRORS OF A MAN
AND THEY STAND OUT IN BOLD CONTRAST
WITH THE TIME SERVING, TWO FACED HIPPOCRITES
WHO CONSPIRED TO HAVE HIM MURDERED.
On one side of the pink marble is inscribed:
HE POSSESSED MARKED INDIVIDUALITY
HE WAS INCAPABLE OF DISSIMULATION.
LET US REMEMBER
THAT AFTER MIDNIGHT COMMETH MORN.
The monument is listed in the Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Newspaper accounts of Dr. Moore’s murder took a different tack than the verbiage etched in stone. On page six of the February 24, 1893, Pine Bluff Graphic, this account is found: “Dr. Overton Moore was shot and instantly killed Thursday evening of last week by Dr. C. R. Shimault. It is claimed the shooting was in self defense.”
A couple of days earlier on February 21, 1893, The Pine Bluff Weekly Press Eagle printed this report on page two: “Dr. Overton Moore was shot and killed by Dr. C. R. Shimault at Helena last Sunday. Moore began a quarrel with Shimault because the latter had responded to a call to attend to one of the former’s patients. The deceased was a very dangerous man and a terror to the community when drinking.”
The newspaper accounts agree that Dr. Moore was murdered and “whodunit.” They disagree on the exact date. We would probably all agree that Pedro was probably the most despondent of all. (This information was kindly furnished by the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System).
The Moore family plot occupies a high place in the hilly cemetery, which was established in 1861. It is still in use as evidenced by graves dated in 2009. The hilly environment comes from the cemetery’s location at the southern terminus of Crowley’s Ridge.
Although Dr. Moore’s monument is the most unusual in the large cemetery, as a piece of artwork it stands in the company of angels, cherubs and tall statue monuments, many of which were commissioned works of art to honor deceased family members.
Something else to this story that I remember, is sometime during the 1980’s the families of both doctors filed legal action against one another regarding the tombstone and it’s wording, or something along those lines. I haven’t been able to locate anything further on this story but for the sake of posterity decided to share what I was able to locate above…