Dusty Relics of Arkansas History
May 13-19, 2019
By Bob Denman
I have always wanted to see Helena, Arkansas and recently I had occasion to glimpse the grandeur of a Helena that once was. I wanted to see the old Civil War sites – in particular, historic Maple Hill Cemetery with its ornate monuments that attest to the cities wealth of the 19th and early 20th century.
While winding my way up the hill to see the old Confederate Cemetery, I noticed a rather large dog sitting atop and even larger monument. It was an idyllic setting, recessed among the trees and overlooking the graves of Helena’s lost elite. I thought now there’s a story, so naturally I had to investigate.
It seems that Doctor Emile Overton Moore was murdered on the streets of Helena in 1893 by, who local lore reports, was Dr. C. R. Shinault, a rival Helena Doctor. It appears they were fighting over a patient with a broken leg which left Dr. Moore the recipient of a single gunshot wound to the head. While Dr. Shinault was never convicted or even charged with the death, he was banished from the county by Helena townsfolk.
Dr. Moore’s tombstone appears to call out the rival Doctor, “You hypocrites who conspired to have him murdered.” Not many attended Dr. Moore’ burial, but it was noted that his loyal dog Pedro was in attendance. The loyal Irish Setter was so attached to Dr. Moore that he refused to leave the gravesite. Locals urged him to leave but Pedro had no interest in those who tried to lure him home with food and treat. Most suppose Pedro just sat by the grave during the day and maybe foraged for something to eat at night in the nearby woods. Folks living down the hill would occasionally bring him food and found comfort each night as Pedro’s mournful howls filled the night air with the assurance that while grieving, he was ok.
Finally, a full two years later in 1895, the howling ceased, and the curious neighbors went up the hill to check on Pedro. Sadly, he too had passed while sitting by his master’s grave.
The citizens of Helena had become so attached to Pedro’s story that they joined the family in supplying the funds to provide the statue of Pedro placed on top of Dr. Moore’s grave. Today he sits handsomely at attention as he has for 123 years proudly wearing his dog collar bearing the name Pedro. Pedro’s monument bears only a single word “Waiting.”
Loyal Pedro and his master Dr. Moore, Dusty Relics of Arkansas history.
Pedro and Dr. Moore aren’t the only unusual monuments in Maple Hill Cemetery; further down sits the grave of Ophelia Polk Moore, who met an untimely end in 1891. Ophelia’s mother, unable to cope with her daughter’s death, died two years later and is buried next to her. (Source: Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism)