History Of The Newton Cemetery
Contributed by Karen Esberger
Asa Newton settled near present-day Ovilla, Tx, in 1844. His brother Elbert and their uncle Larkin followed him to Texas in 1848 (Midlothian Restoration Committee). All three men settled on land controlled by the Peters Colony.
The part of Texas where Larkin Newton would settle was first a part of the Peters Colony. Conner (p. 352) states that Newton's land designation was "Robertson 3rd Class, No. 14902." The Congress of the Republic of Texas wanted settlers in north Texas as quickly as possible to help develop resources and for mutual protection against Indians. Therefore, on 30 August 1841 President Lamar signed a contract with W. S. Peters and Company of Louisville, Kentucky, to bring in 300 families within three years. The area first allotted to the Peters Colony extended from near present-day Denison on the Red River to approximately present-day Waxahachie, thence west for 140 miles, then north back to the Red River. The part of present-day Ellis County in that area was then a part of Robertson County.
Each family received 640 acres. Although the land was free, the settler was required to live there three years, build a good cabin, and cultivate at least 15 acres. Then the land would be patented to him in his own name. However, the company was allowed to keep up to one half of a man's grant to pay for service rendered, i.e. land surveys, title application, and, in some cases, providing powder, shot and seed. Ownership of some of the land was disputed through legislation and lawsuits till after the Civil War (Handbook of Texas Online).
The one-room cabin built by Larkin Newton in 1848 has been relocated twice and now sets in the heart of Midlothian, Tex, as the centerpiece of a beautiful park. He also built a fort near his house for protection from Indians. A few years later he built a one-room schoolhouse just across the branch for his eight daughters and three sons, as well as neighbors' children (Spain, pp. 1, 4). Also across the branch from the original cabin site is the Newton Cemetery. This is, of course, situated on part of Larkin Newton's land grant from the Peters Colony (Ellis County Clerk).
Newton, born 1794 in Edgefield District, South Carolina, had been a very involved citizen in his later homes: Rutherford Co, TN; Crystal River Township, Arkansas; Crawford and Washington Counties, Arkansas; and Barry County, Missouri. He served as a county commissioner in both Washington County, Arkansas and in Missouri (Midlothian Restoration Committee).
While in Tennessee he entered the military service & fought with General Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, per Newton's tombstone inscription (ECGS, p. 197). He married Mary Ann Wilson while living in Washington County, Arkansas (Midlothian Restoration Committee).
He remained very active politically after arriving in Texas, becoming an Ellis County Commissioner in 1850 after the county was formed in December, 1849.
Of the 27 marked graves in the Newton Cemetery, nine have no dates on the stone. The earliest dated one is for Larkin Newton himself who died on 21 May 1858 at age 64. Two young grandsons were buried there before Larkin's widow Mary Ann died on 12 Nov 1876, also at age 64. Four of their eleven children, several in-laws, and additional grandchildren are among the remainder of the graves. Two Confederate veterans, son John Newton (Co. F, 12th Tex. Cav.) and son-in-law George Stiles (14th Tex. Field Battery) are included.
The four children of Larkin and Mary Newton buried there are:
Lynie Ann Newton Neely, 1830-no date
John Newton, 1834-1892, Co. F, 12th Tx. Cav.
Zilphia "Dip" Newton Stiles Mullin, 1837-1909
Thomas L. Newton, 1849-1884 (ECGS, pp. 197-198)
Conner, Seymour V. (1949). The Peters Colony of Texas, Historical and Biographical
Sketches of the Early Settlers. Austin, Texas; Texas State Historical Association.
Ellis County Clerk. (1854). Deed Book B. p. 459.
Ellis County Genealogical Society (ECGS). (2000). Ellis County Cemetery Records (Vol. 2, revised). Waxahachie, Texas: ECGS.
The Handbook of Texas Online. (1997-2002). Peters Colony.
Midlothian Restoration Committee. (1996, Sept. 26). Glimpses of Midlothian's History.
The Midlothian Mirror, p. 3.
Spain, Chrystine. (1961, Sept. 7). Just-A-Ramblin'.
The Midlothian Mirror, pp. 1, 4.