Russ Cemetery Restoration

Leader: Cathy Gastineau (OAUMC), Rev Charles Holloway (CME

Russ Cemetery, an historically African-American Cemetery, is located approximately two miles from Old Austin United Methodist Church (UMC) on Ray Sowell Road. The site is owned by the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) church; however, until recently, the current leadership of the CME were unaware they owned the cemetery. Today, in partnership with Old Austin Methodist Church and Old Austin Baptist Church, CME is working hard to clean up the cemetery and plan for future maintenance. How did this partnership come about.....

Several years ago a member of Old Austin UMC was following her daughter to a new baby-sitting job and noticed what appeared to be a headstone sticking out of some very tall brush along Ray Sowell Road. She, along with others from Old Austin UMC, began to research court records and eventually discovered the property was actually owned by CME although because of lost paperwork and long-since retired members of their church, they had no idea they owned the cemetery.

Fast forward and in the fall of 2010 a plan was developed to start the process of cleaning up the cemetery and plan for its future maintenance and with the aid of Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman, several volunteers gathered to do the heavy work of cleaning out the larger trees and bushes.  After that, and over several Saturdays, members of the three churches along with other volunteers work and labored to clean up the cemetery. 

Complete restoration is far from complete and it will probably take many more Saturdays to make restoration a reality.  However, with God’s amazing Grace and the fruit of our combined labors…..anything is possible. 

Please visit our Photo Section for before and after pictures.

  July 2021  
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