MURPHY'S DECATUR-MAXWELL-MURPHY CEMETERY HAS NO VEHICULAR ENTRANCE
February 24, 2013
Last weekend I drove around the Murphy area checking on cemeteries and found the one I have always known as the Decatur-Maxwell/-Murphy Cemetery is currently inaccessible. [Actually, the deed defines it as the Maxwell Cemetery.] There was no longer a road into the cemetery. The bridge across the creek has even been totally removed leaving no way to access the cemetery short of hiking through the muddy piles of dirt and wading across the creek. A park is under construction at Murphy Road and Tom Clevenger Road north of the school and behind it. The only way I found to get into the cemetery was to park my car on the side of Tom Clevenger, walk through the mud and trash, and wade across the creek. Ugh!
The Decatur/-Maxwell-Murphy Cemetery Association has worked diligently over the past several years to make it one of the most beautiful in the area. They sought donations to fence it, clean the stones, repair many of the broken stones and install the necessary sign with emergency numbers in case of any danger or damage. The Association holds annual events in the cemetery. They applied to the state to mark it as a Texas Historic Cemetery and erected the bronze marker noting it as such. Now, with no access what will happen to it? The mowers will not have access to mow when spring arrives.
As old buildings always need repair, so is it with old cemeteries. More stone restoration is slated this spring. I talked this past week to Drake Peddie of DFW Grave Groomers who will be doing the refurbishment. I asked how this affected him. As suspected, Drake said that he would not be able to get his equipment into the cemetery as it is now.
I talked with association member Joy Gough to try and understand what was going on and to get the timeline for the reconstruction of the road and bridge. That is when I got the bad news. Joy said, “We are having a lot of discussions with the Murphy people. They are going to build a parking lot behind the school but we will have to park there and walk in [to the cemetery] on the future bike path. With no vehicular access, we won't be able to do work on the cemetery.”
State law requires that people visiting cemeteries must be given the right to do so. This is the statute.
§ 711.041. Access to Cemetery (Egress and Ingress)
(a) Any person who wishes to visit a cemetery or private burial grounds
for which no public ingress or egress is available shall have the right
to reasonable ingress and egress for the purpose of visiting the
cemetery or private burial grounds. This right of access extends only to
visitation during reasonable hours and only for purposes usually
associated with cemetery visits.
(b) The owner or owners of the lands surrounding the cemetery or private
burial grounds may designate the routes of reasonable ingress and
Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 634, § 22, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.
Seems the Municipality closed the cemetery road and took out the bridge without consulting the Association. It surprised them as much as it did me. Supposedly, the city says it sent a letter regarding the road and bridge removal to the Association two years ago, but the Association denies ever receiving it.
Member Marcia Jowers contacted a lawyer and Judge Self, who may straighten out this matter. They also contacted the Texas State Historical Commission since the cemetery is a historic one.
The Cemetery Association would appreciate any help in their quest to restoring the road and bridge to the historic Decatur-Maxwell-Murphy Cemetery. Their contact information is on their website, http://decaturmaxwellmurphycemetery.org.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.