Grange Hall Cemetery
Researched by Ethel Bennett Stokes
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll",
Vol. XXI 1988
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical
Grange Hall Cemetery is located on a tree-covered
hillside about twelve miles northwest of Corsicana, Navarro
County, Texas, on Farm Road 1930. Native grasses grow in the red
soil and help prevent erosion. At the foot of the hill, to the
east, a small stream winds its way through the country side.
Early settlers called it Cryer
Creek, because of a waterfall
which made the sound of a woman's crying. Nearby, a small village
sprang up and it was named Cryer Creek also. However, the
waterfall vanished long ago and the death knell sounded for Cryer
Creek in 1963, when Mama Minnie Garlington died and her General
Store closed after seventy-two years of continuous operation.
Meanwhile, the little stream flows onward in a northeasterly
direction and, at its confluence with Chambers Creek, it too
loses its identity.
To the west a lodge hall, a school, and a church were
at the top of the hill while the churchyard extended down the
hillside toward the creek. At intervals, in the stillness of this
rural setting, one might hear the singing of birds, the lowering
of cattle, the swishing sound of the wind as it passes through
the trees, the droning of a tractor, or the hum of a passing
automobile. Otherwise, there is little else to disturb the
quietness surrounding this burying ground chosen by the pioneers
for their dead.
No doubt this cemetery derived its name from the
Grange, a lodge with a membership composed of the agrarian class,
for Cryer Creek was indeed a farming community. This
organization, once so active, no longer exists in this locality.
The Grange evolved into the People's or Populist Party but that
was of short duration. However, the Grange is still popular in
some parts of the country.
On 10 April 1851, Thomas Capps received a land grant
of 640 acres located in the Grange Hall area. This property was
transferred to David R. Mitchell soon thereafter. On 10 November
1854, Samuel Wilson bought the 640 acres. Samuel and Siddy Wilson
and six of their eleven children had come to Navarro County in
1847 from Bourbon County, Kentucky. There Wilson was a distiller
but was engaged in farming and stock-raising after moving to
Texas. The 640 acres remained in the possession of the Wilson
heirs for about sixty years when it was sold to Frank N. Drane in
On 30 January 1875, Samuel Wilson gave two acres of
the Capps Survey to M. N. Jones and his successors for the use
and benefit of a public school. Jones was director of District 5
where Cryer Creek School was to be located. This deed was
witnessed by J. B. Armstrong and W. W. Burris and acknowledged by
D. Maggard, Justice of the Peace and Notary Public.
Then 9 June 1877, Samuel Wilson gave land adjoining
the school land for a Methodist Church. In part the deed reads:
..... for and in consideration of the love I bear
for the cause of Christ and from an earnest desire to promote His
(sic) heritage on earth, do give and grant unto W. J. Grant, B.
H. Badgett, R. Grantham, W. B. Thompson, and R. S. Stokes,
trustees of the Dresden Circuit North West (sic) Conference (sic)
of the Methodist Episcopal Church South a certain tract or parcel
of land ...... containing two acres.
The deed was witnessed by P. A. Wilson and John
Callicutt. The acknowledgment was signed by S. H. Kerr, Clerk of
the County Court.
Although the land for the church, which included a
churchyard, was not given until 1877, a number of persons were
buried on the property prior to 1877. According to the
inscriptions on the stones, Nancy J., wife of J. F. Watson, Lott
Wilson, son of Samuel and Siddy Wilson, and two Phillips infants
were buried in 1872. Others were buried in 1873, 1874, 1875, and
1876. Most of these were infants. Samuel Wilson had made no legal
provision for a cemetery on his property, the Capps Survey.
On 30 May 1916, Cryer Creek School District #24 was
re-established nearer the village of Cryer Creek where a new
building was erected. In February of 1917, the Commissioners
Court of Navarro County ordered John B. Davis, County
Superintendent of Public Instruction of Navarro County and D. T.
Collins and C. O. Williams, trustees of Grange Hall Common School
District #24, to sell the two acres of school land to the Grange
Hall Cemetery Association for the sum of $100.00. This was the
same land in the Capps Survey conveyed by Samuel Wilson to M. N.
Jones and his successors in office for the use and benefit of a
public school. This deed was acknowledged by W. W. Ballew, Notary
The trustees of Grange Hall Cemetery Association, W.
B. Rutherford, L. J. McGraw, and Alex Bryant, sold one acre of
the old school land to the Grange Hall Methodist Church trustees,
Everett Bryant, Will Boyd, J. T. Pullin, Henry Nicholson, and E.
D. Ingram, for the sum of $10.00. This acre of land was located
in the southwest corner of the school land and across the public
road from the cemetery. This deed was acknowledged by J. R.
Griffin, Notary Public.
The Methodist Church at Grange Hall disbanded in 1934.
Soon thereafter, 10 May 1937, the Conference at the First
Methodist Church of Blooming Grove, Texas, authorized the
trustees of Grange Hall Methodist Church to sell the one acre of
land purchased in 1934 back to Grange Hall Cemetery for the sum
of $10.00. J. R. Griffin, Notary Public, signed the
W. H. Livingston and Marshall Massengale, acting as
Grantors for the Grange Hall Cemetery, sold to the Texas State
Highway Commission part of the original Grange Hall School lot so
that the new Farm-to-Market Road 2930 could be straightened to
avoid the sharp angles. This transaction involved 1,576 acres.
This deed was acknowledged 22 March 1965, and signed by a Notary
Public, name not legible.
The Association which functioned so effectively for so
many years was discontinued. A well-kept cemetery with a
caretaker became overgrown with shrubs, trees, weeds, brambles,
poison ivy, and matted grasses where bumble bees built their
nests. Except for a few family plots kept by members of the
family or paid workers, it was a sad picture of neglect. Old
records were lost or destroyed but, in spite of this sorry state,
the cemetery remained in use. Then one day a near miracle
About fifty descendants or friends of those buried in
the cemetery met 20 April 1980, and another association was
organized. Mrs. A. M. Shows became president, Lee Williams,
vice-president, Charles Leslie Johnson, secretary and reporter,
and Roy Massengale, treasurer. Board members chosen were
Elizabeth Shows, Claude Maggard, Charlie Joe Armstrong, Billy
Butler, Roy Massengale, Charlie Boyd, Lee Williams, Ernest
McGraw, Octa Cook, and Charles Leslie Johnson. Volunteers met for
all-day work sessions and soon had the old cemetery bearing some
resemblance of its past appearance. Of the approximately 350
graves, some were marked with rocks or stakes but most had
stones. Many had to be raised, repaired and cleaned. The
enthusiasm has continued and a paid caretaker has taken charge
while they are working toward perpetual care. The last Saturday
in April was set as the date for the annual meeting and at a
location commensurate with the Texas Weather.
There was a large influx of settlers to this area from
the South following the War Between the States. The Mississippi
Colony came in 1869-1870 from Meridian, Mississippi. Among them
was Captain David Maggard, a Virginian, with his family,
including son, John, who also fought with his father in the
conflict. John, soldier at age sixteen, lost a leg.
Unfortunately, he is not buried at Grange Hall. The Brown,
Williams, Stokes, Ransom families, and others came. Other
soldiers, beside Captain David Maggard, are buried here and who
fought in this Civil War are: B. F. Dyer, W. W. McGraw, Sgt. John
S. Russell, John Watson Tinkle, John E. West, G. W. Williams,
Lieut. Andrew P. Wilson, and William T. Wilson, son of Samuel
Wilson. Since Grange Hall has been put in good repair again, all
those who have ties here feel that it is a fitting refuge for