Soon after Appomattox and the end of slavery, two young emancipated former slaves made their way from the Norwood Plantation near Horatio in Searcy County to the Gilliam farm in the White Oak community of South Sebastian County, looking for work and a better way of life. Bill Norwood, about thirty, was shy, but hard-working and filled with common sense. His brother Henry Norwood, only sixteen, tall and outgoing and spokesman for the pair, sought work so that they might settle and raise their families here. The brothers were to develop life-long associations with Sebastian County families, including that of L. B. McKinney, the Gillams and Stallings, and to become integral members of the community.
Monday, October 21 at 7 PM, historical interpreter Reginald Moore will bring Henry Norwood to life at the regular monthly meeting of the South Sebastian County Historical Society. Visitors to Fort Smith’s Oak Cemetery Tales of the Crypt will recognize Mr. Moore, whose portrayals are celebrated. Mr. Moore, who studied music, drama and religion at Hendrix College, is a member of the Oak Cemetery Commission and Director of Music at Mansfield First United Methodist Church. He is pictured portraying George Winston, a U. S. Court Bailiff and former slave.
Henry Norwood rests in a grave at the center of the abandoned White Oak Cemetery along Witcherville Road on property he once owned. His descendants are buried in a cemetery on the Gann property at the end of Aspen Street in Greenwood. This cemetery, which houses over 50 marked graves, has been the recipient of restoration efforts by members of the South Sebastian County Historical Society, family member Herbert Norwood, and Boy Scout Troup 54 under the leadership of Rod Powell. Historical Society members spearheading the project are Sue and Otis Edwards, Dan and Donna Gladwin, Rich and Sandy Gann McKinney, Wanza Gann, Deanna Gann DeCroo, and Ken Edwards. The committee and Scouts will be recognized at the meeting. Proceeds from the October 13 Buried Treasure event at Jenny Lind Cemetery will go toward purchase of fencing material for the cemetery.