When Congress moved in 1874 to dispose of some unused federal land inside the city, John Carnall had the idea of using the money from its sale to benefit local schools and provide lots for public buildings.
It took 13 years of lobbying and campaigning to realize his plan, but when he did, it helped to pay for the construction of the original Belle Point school, located on Carnall Avenue about one block from the cemetery.
Born in Virginia in 1818, Carnall was intimately associated with the promotion of local education. In 1840, he came to Fort Smith with a letter recommending him as a teacher and scholar. Carnall didn't hesitate getting to work, establishing one of the first schools in the same year of his arrival. That school, the Fort Smith Academy, was incorporated in 1845. Later, he set up a second on his farm on Massard Prairie.
Recognizing his early contributions to teaching, Fort Smith Public Schools named Carnall Elementary School for him when it was built in 1962.
Like most men of prominence in a lightly populated frontier town, duty called Carnall to work in many directions to push the area forward. He also was a newspaper editor, chief deputy U.S. marshal and first circuit clerk for Sebastian County.
In addition to an involvement with the Herald and Western Independent newspapers, Carnall established the Fort Smith Elevator, which eulogized him at his death in 1892 from asthma and pulmonary ailments.
The Elevator said Carnall "was one of the land marks of Arkansas."
If Vinny Ream, a noted female sculptor, had been available to mark the landmark's grave with a tombstone or memorial statue, it would have been fitting but didn't happen.
Carnall had recommended a European art education for Ream when he saw the maps that she drew for him when she was only 12. Her father, Robert Ream, brought his family with him to Fort Smith seeking a warmer climate that didn't aggravate his rheumatism. After a brief stint clerking in a store, Ream partnered with Carnall in a real estate firm. They used Vinny Ream's artistic talents in the making of real estate maps.