PRESERVE OUR HISTORICAL GRAVEYARDS
by Brenda Kellow
June 27, 2010
I just read a challenge from genealogist Kimberly Powell for all of us to do something to help preserve a cemetery near you. She had just visited what she described as a ‘hauntingly, beautiful cemetery and lamented that many of the people buried there are likely not only gone, but also forgotten. Many of the stones in the old burial ground had fallen and many were illegible even though someone maintained the cemetery. The wind, rain and pollution do that to stones, especially in Texas and the South.
Nevertheless, the Collin County Historical Society is trying to identify and mark all the cemeteries and stones in the county. Cemetery Associations like the one for the Decatur Maxwell Cemetery in Murphy and the St. Anthony Catholic Church in Wylie, owners of the St. Paul Catholic Church in St. Paul, regularly clean and care for these historic cities of stone. Cemeteries that were once neglected are now clean, fenced, mowed regularly, and stones up righted. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) located all the occupied burial sites in the St. Paul Catholic Cemetery making it once again an active cemetery. The Decatur Maxwell Association is currently cleaning and piecing together the broken stones.
The historic Corinth Presbyterian Church in Parker owns the McMillen Cemetery on McMillen Road in Murphy. They currently recovered the small cemetery from a year of neglect. A month ago, it was overgrown with vines, irises, and grasses, but thanks to the kind deed by the County Sheriff’s Office, a group of inmates cleaned, cut, trimmed, removed debris, standing dead trees and fallen tree trunks, once again restoring it to its beautiful country setting—the final resting place of some of the county’s oldest settlers. Many arrived in Texas before statehood in 1846.
Many of the cemeteries in the county have been marked with a Texas Historical Cemetery Medallion and Texas Historical Marker. St. Paul does not have one yet, but the Corinth Presbyterian has applied for the Medallion so that the Texas Historical Commission in Austin will have it recorded and be able to protect it from destruction by the constant sprawl of encroaching development.
Do you know of a cemetery that needs protection? Would you like to help preserve or mark a cemetery? If so, the Collin County Historical Commission needs you! The Collin County Historical Commission was created to help preserve and educate on the rich history of this county. Comprised of citizen volunteers from every part of the county, as appointed by the Commissioners Court, this commission's mission is to:
Initiate and conduct programs and activities as may be suggested by the Commissioners' Court or the Texas Historical Commission for the preservation of the county's historical heritage
To mark, interpret, preserve and accumulate information on the history and landmarks of Collin County
To serve as an umbrella organization for all public and private historical and heritage groups operating in the county, in order to encourage, support and promote the activities of these groups.
The Historical Commission meets on the last Thursday evening of the month at the Old Courthouse on the Square in McKinney. The phone number is 972-542-9457 and the Web site is http://www.co.collin.tx.us/living/historical_com.jsp.
I for one want to honor Kimberly’s challenge to preserve one of our county’s historical cemeteries. Will you?
EXPERIENCE LIFE IN 1830-1840 AT THE ALAMO: The Daughters of the Republic of Texas invite you to bring the whole family to experience what life was like in Texas during that historic period. See living historians demonstrate period skills such as cooking and fire starting, as well as weapons demonstrations in the free event on the Alamo grounds, 300 Alamo Plaza, in San Antonio. The event is free. The Alamo will be open 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. If you need more information, call 210-225-1391.00 Alamo Plaza
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 reunions announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.