County looks to
spruce up Evergreen
by Jason Collins
grow tall blocking the headstones.
Aged and weathered, this cemetery has significance but behind its
locked gate it appears neglected.
It holds the headstones of the Jones, Impson, Heldenfels and Wilson
families — to name only a few.
“Just looking at some of the headstones... it is the folks who did a
lot of work and put a lot of themselves into Bee County,” said
Commissioner Dennis DeWitt.
Beeville Bee-Picayune, Oct. 27, 1969:
“The site of Evergreen Cemetery was already being used for a burial
ground in 1862 when the commissioners bought it and set it aside for
a county ‘graveyard’ evidently available for everyone. It is not
known whether a charge was ever made for lots.
“The poor, apparently, were buried in the northwest corner, now bare
of the wooden and cement crosses that formerly marked their graves,
many of them for Mexican-Americans, according to Mrs. Donna Madderra
of Beeville. Two stones, bearing Spanish surnames were still
standing in this area in 1964 when a survey of the headstones was
The names were Maria Contreras, died 1898, age 20 years; and
Santiago Garza, 1873-1906.
Also Negro graves are there apparently. According to Mrs. Teal
Adkins, Mrs. Caroline Lott, an ex-slave and mother of Mrs. Anna
Taylor, was buried there, and according to an item in the June 2,
1899, Beeville Bee, ‘A daughter of Peter Fagen, a local colored man,
died at Sinton Monday and her remains brought up on Tuesday’s train
for interment in the Beeville Cemetery. A large concourse of the
colored population was at the train to attend the funeral.’”
DeWitt brought the cemetery to the attention of the court during its
“When we were doing our budget process, it came to light that we
were spending about $1,200 for security lighting,” he said during
the meeting. “In doing some research, it turns out it is the
Evergreen Cemetery which is upon Bowie Street and Filmore Street.”
Originally, a cemetery association was charged with the care of the
“Someone was very forward thinking in 1872 and this item was placed
into a deed provision, ‘It is further herein and hereby provided
that in case said Beeville Cemetery Society should hereafter cease
to exist in such, then and in that case this county court of Bee
County” will begin the maintenance and upkeep of the property.
According to the minutes from a presentation by the late Patricia
Cox Shaw to the court in 1997, “Ms. Shaw explained that the county
owns the cemetery after Anne Burke donated it in 1856.”
Back in 1997, Shaw was leading an effort to bring the cemetery back
into the hearts of residents.
“Ms. Shaw continued with discussion of the planning stages required
in having the first annual Christmas Tree Nature Trail at the
cemetery by each elementary school grade,” according to meeting
minutes from November 1997.
“Gifts for the birds, squirrels, etc., will be paid by classes under
the direction of the teachers. This effort will involve children,
teachers, parents and the community.
“Service clubs, H-E-B, Wal-Mart, McConnell prison and other
associations will contribute Christmas trees for each class.
“Some teachers have talked about having history classes out there.”
DeWitt said that since Shaw’s passing, the cemetery association has
“The cemetery is the responsibility of Bee County,” DeWitt said.
“The lady it made reference to has passed away.
“The records went to her daughter in Austin and they have been
unable to find her or her records.
“I don’t think this organization exists. According to the deed, it
is the county’s.”
Judge David Silva said that the county doesn’t need to take formal
action to claim the property.
“There is nothing we need to do to accept it,” he said. “It is
DeWitt was calling upon the court to cut the overgrown grass and
trim the trees.
“I think we have a duty to the folks who are interred there,” he
said. “They are the foundation of our city and a lot of the
foundation to our county.
“I think we have a sacred responsibility to step up to the plate and
get this done.”
Most recently, the historical society has done its best to maintain
the cemetery, but it has become more than even the members could
Silva, after the meeting, said, “We have not been able to maintain
it because the crew from the prison has not been able to work there.
“We are going to put it back on the contract with the prison and
they can start helping us out there.”
The county, he said, needs the prison’s help because the amount of
work, coupled with the regular workload of the county employees, is
“You need more than one or two people working out there and they can
bring out more people,” Silva said.
A transition of wardens at the prison might delay the prison work
though, Silva said.
“It may be a little bit,” Silva said. “We are hoping it won’t be a
long drawn-out thing.”
DeWitt also said, “I hope everyone will bear with the county. We
will have it looking good in an appropriate amount of time.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached
at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.