OLD BETHEL CHURCH and CEMETERY
Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana

Located nine miles west of Natchitoches, LA on LA Hwy 6 (one miles west of Hagewood, LA), turn right onto Shady Grove Road (Parish Road 556 ), then approximately two miles, turn right on Old Bethel Church Road (Natchitoches Parish Road 553), travel about one and a half miles then turn left at Old Bethel Church and Cemetery sign.


1847

It is believed that Old Bethel Church and Cemetery were established around 1847. Mrs. Edith Garzia, a long time resident of the area and whose relatives are buried in the cemetery, states that local history indicates that the church and cemetery served a thriving community in the years before the Civil War. The oldest marked grave is that of Margaret E. Wynn, whose stone is marked "/Died April 3, 1860; Aged 29 yrs, 6 mos, 25 days; w/o Josiah F. Scarborough".(1)


1860-1918

Mrs. Mary Anna Donaho, a Provencal, LA folklorist, relates that Old Bethel Church and Cemetery were established by a Mr. Hawley and his wife, whose maiden name was Axley (Oxley). Mr. Hawley was from the state of New York and migrated to settle in the Spanish Lake area of Natchitoches Parish, LA. There is a marker for Philo S. Hawley, who died in 1918. (2)

It was during the Civil War that the Baptist Women's Missionary College, located near this site, was burned by the Union army. Mrs. Donaho states that a Mathais Scarbrough was head master of the College at that time. Several residents of the area have mentioned that they remember seeing evidence of former large buildings at this site as well as the thickety growth of crape myrtle bushes around the building sites. Mrs. Grazia indicates that both the church and cemetery were damaged at this time as well.


1915

According to a submission by a Ms. Hamus to The Natchitoches Genealogist ( April 1994 issue), The Natchitoches Times published a listing of Natchitoches Parish public school students who scored above 90 percent on the state spelling contest in the year 1915. In the following listing are noted surnames seen on the tombstones of Old Bethel Cemetery and of families still residing in the area:

BETHEL SCHOOL: Rutherford Cox, Bunie Larkins, Lucy Mae Maddry, Melvin Maddry, Eva Larkin, and Dollie Bailes. (3)

Rev. L.A. Materne came to Bethel Church as a young minister about 1915. Amos Materne (1914/1916), young son of Rev. Materne and his wife ( Betty McQueen Materne ), is buried in the Old Bethel cemetery. (4)


1950

Mrs. Edith Garzia relates that in the early 1950's a group of concerned parishioners met to begin renovation of the cemetery. Among those attending were: Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Gibbs (Mattie Martin), Mr. and Mrs. Sam Steadman (Mary Cox ) and children, Fred Garzia, Mr. and Mrs. George Garzia (Edith), Ida Cox, Mr. and Mrs. Talmage Carroll and children. At this time plans were made for establishment of a trust fund to provide for the upkeep of the cemetery. Thanks to the diligence and perseverance of these concerned persons and others, the cemetery is well maintained. (1)


1860-1983

According to Mrs. Garzia and the various marked burials, there are twenty Veterans buried in Old Bethel Cemetery:

CSA: Thomas H.Barnes, G.W. Bailes, and Seth Van Buren Cox;

WWI: Conrad Collins and Norman Scarborough;

WWII: Felix Artice, Charles Boylston, Claude Edgar Collins, Jr., Jack Collins, Verne Aswell Collins, George Garzia, Joseph Andrew Gibson, Jr., William J. Moore, Frank St. Elmo Posey (killed at Pearl Harbor), Julius H. Scott, and Woodrow A. Sprowl;

KOREAN War: Jimmie R. Boylston, Carl Otis Scarborough, and Charlie Lee Scarborough;

VIETNAM War: Donald Woodrow Sprowl.

The lives of these veterans span the years of the growth of our great country. Their contributions to the freedoms we enjoy today are hereby recognized.


1996

The Old Bethel Church buildings have been replaced several times over the years, with the buildings being located on various sites in the general area. After the disastrous gas pipeline explosion in 1964 in the Natchitoches area, the proximity of the church to the pipeline led to the church buildings being relocated again, with the gas company seeing to the construction of new buildings. Having out grown those buildings, the church membership began construction of a new sanctuary in 1996.


********** In Memoriam **********


Unmarked, broken, illegible markers:

1.To the right of Hartwell Graves Barnes stone is a small marker with the following : M.L.S.

2. Broken slab/rock near foot of Rodney Carroll's grave.

3. Near Barnes plots, a broken headstone, then to the left a thin marble slab, smooth no markings.

4. Small, very old stone to left of Jared Dale Hardy about 4 grave spaces, no dates.

5. There are several broken pieces of markers, stones, etc. marking burial places.

6. Various sources relate that in the early 1950's there were a number of graves marked by cedar posts/shakes to the north of the Scott plots. No other information available.

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This following described marker is situated crosswise to other markers; Mrs. Garzia says that a tornado caused some large trees in the area to fall, crushing the tombstones of that area and that this stone commemorates the burials in that area. Reproduced here as inscribed; no dates:

SCARBOROUGH Mary Frances Cannon, wife of Irvin Scarborough; Jemima Fountain, wife of Matthias Scarborough; Martha T. Fountain, wife of Joseph Scarborough.

On reverse of stone:

BURKETT George Burkett and his wife Bernelly Ann Cannon and their daughters Mary, Frances and Margaret Ann.

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