The Story of Richland Cemetery
Richland, Navarro County, Texas


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Richland Cemetery

The  Story of Richland Cemetery
1896 - 1966

Researched by Mrs. Thelma Nixson Orand
assisted by Mrs. Lawrence Prine
and Mrs. Edith Speer Truett
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll", 1966
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical Society


The Richland Cemetery of today that we know and love so well, was not always hallowed ground.  In the year 1895 it was just ordinary prairie land, a short walking distance from the little village of Richland -- mesquite prairie, where cattle grazed at will.  Richland had something like a hundred   people living in and around the community; however it was not always such a "big" place, for in 1884 there were only five houses in Richland.  There were three houses on the East side of the railroad tracks and two houses on the West side, and a discarded box car was used for the first depot of the H. & T. C. Railroad.   Mrs. Frances Bond Speer volunteered this information, because it was in the year of 1884 that her father, George Landers Bond, moved with his family from Freestone County to Richland in Navarro County.  Mrs. Speer, who is now 83, believes that her father was the first man in the area to fence his land.

The. J. T. Patricks were among the earliest settlers of Richland, having moved there in 1870.  Mr. Patrick owned and operated a grocery store at Pisgah Ridge as early as 1865, and after his marriage to Miss Prudence Anderson (whose father was Dr. Anderson of Pisgah Ridge community), he moved to Richland and established his grocery store there.

Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Patrick were the parents of three sons, Walter, Jim, and Arthur, and of one daughter, Willie Patrick.  Miss Willie Patrick married Dr. A. N. Brown, Sr., and it was at her death in 1895 that the Richland Cemetery came into being.

Dr. Brown wrote to the Rice Heirs at Houston and asked if he could purchase one acre of their pasture land just outside of the village to be used as a burying ground.  He not only received permission to use the plot for a cemetery, but was given a deed from the Rice heirs for one acre of land as a gift to the people of the small community.

So. Mrs. Willie Patrick Brown was laid to rest in the new Richland Cemetery on a Friday in 1895.  It is said that by the following Monday, the little cemetery held three graves -- that of Mr. W. A. Hardy, a Confederate Soldier, who was buried on Saturday, and the other grave was that of a rebel Soldier who was buried on Monday.

A few years later two more adjoining acres of land were added to the cemetery through a purchase from the Rice heirs, and still later, three additional acres were bought from Mrs. Eva Swink and Mrs. Jewel Weaver.

In 1896, Mrs. Sarah Chunn, the grandmother of Clyde Chunn, was buried.  Mrs. Nancy Erskin, mother of Mrs. Julia Your, was buried in 1897, and John Robert Erskine was buried in 1907.  "Old-Timers" will remember that John Robert Erskine operated the first Lumber Yard in the town of Richland.

W. W. Ward, father of Bass Ward and Carrie Ward Nixson, was buried in 1898.  Mr. Ward owned and operated the first cotton gin in Navarro County, using a pair of oxen for power to press the cotton into bales.  His gin was located at Cade, Texas, just across the road from the Cade Chapel and Cemetery.

Pantha Arlenia Ward, grandmother of Pansy Morris, Thelma Orand, and others were buried in 1901.

J. P. McClendon, grandfather of George and Bill McClendon was buried in 1898.  Their father, Jacob McClendon was buried the following year in 1899.  The mother of Pete and Pat Hillburn died in 1890 and their father, in 1899.  Both parents were buried in Western Texas, but in the 1920's their remains were brought to Richland for reinterment in the Richland Cemetery.

The oldest known persons to have been buried in the Richland Cemetery was Mrs. A. J. Adcock, who was the mother of Mrs. D. J. Gilbert (grandmother of Rube and Wayne Milligan).  Records show that Mrs. Adcock was born in 1809 and died in 1901.

Other pioneers buried in the Richland Cemetery are: Mr. J. J. McCallum, our first post master who died in 1901; Mrs. Cassinia Swink, mother of Mrs. Maggie Davis, Mrs. Mary Hilburn, Henry, Jim and Billy Swink, who died in 1905.  Mr. Nixson was a pioneer ginner of Richland, and also operated a canning factory and saw mill.

Mr. Alf Rushing, brother of Mrs. Eva Swink, died in 1930.  James Meazell died in Duncan, Oklahoma, and his body was brought to Richland by train.  Funeral services were held for him in the home of Mrs. Laura Akers and the coffin was carried overland by the pallbearers to the cemetery for burial.

The first Woodman of the World unveiling service was for the marker of Mr. Louis Anthony, husband of Lou Anna Ward Anthony, and was held in 1901.  Several other Woodman services have been held since.

The first Trustees to serve for the Cemetery were Mr. Horace Ballew and Dr. Brown, Sr.  Others who served in early days were Mr. Shelton, Henry Swink, Clint Williams, J. J. Hill, Fred Tucker, Dick Williams, and T. B. Skinner.  Our Cemetery was at first cared for by "All Day Workings" with whole families meeting at the cemetery to spend the day and work.  Everybody brought hoes and rakes and other tools along with baskets of good food and there was always "dinner-on-the-ground" for those who came.  It was during one of the working sessions in 1935 that a decision was made to form an association to look after and take care of the cemetery, and Mrs. Dora Anderson was unanimously elected president and Mrs. Gordon Elkins as secretary and treasurer.  Mrs. Eliza Shelton Brown and many others served the association faithfully.

The custom of contributing funds to the association was started and the money was used for hiring some of the work done.  In a very few years much interest was shown in the project and many improvements made; but during World War II, our progress slowed down as everyone was projecting all efforts to assist in any possible way to win the war.  After the war ended and normalcy began to return, our interests were renewed, and infact as early as 1944, two of our most beloved women, both good citizens and school teachers -- Miss Elizabeth Nixson and Miss Georgia Blood -- were elected to lead our Cemetery Association.  It was under their leadership that driveways were graded and graveled, paid for by donations.  Pansy Ward Morris donated $100.00 in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. G. Ward, and the main drive was named "Ward Drive" in appreciation of her gift.  The left drive is called "Swink Drive" and the right "Edgar Drive."  An ornamental metal fence was built across the front of the cemetery and red climbing roses planted on it.  There is an attractive archway at the entrance built of native rocks hauled from Pisgah Ridge.  A small shed was built to house tools and equipment used for cemetery work; also a cistern was purchased for water use.

Mr. Edgar Jackson served longer than any president for the association and Mrs. Bertha Lansford, as secretary.  During their terms of office, a large building was constructed in which to hold Memorial Services; also chairs and song books were purchased and tables built to serve dinners on.

Mrs. Neal Brown and son, A. Neal Brown, had a water line run to their lots and hydrants were installed for their personal use and for the use of the Memorial building, which is very much appreciated. An electric light line has been put up and a night light is now in use, which provides a much needed service.

We wish to give special recognition to our war dead, and will list the names and the wars in which they fought:

Allen Anderson World War I
Edgar Leslie Anderson World War I
James Franklin Anderson World War I
Woodrow Baldwin World War II
Carl Ballew World War I
A. J. Bell Civil War - Confederate Soldier
Harry Brown, Jr. World War I
Thomas Edward Brown World War II
Willie Corley World War II
T. Odie Farmer World War II
Julius Hilland Gunn World War I
W. A. Hardy Civil War - Confederate Soldier
A. C. Harris World War I
W. H. Henderson Civil War - Confederate Soldier
Walter L. Hendon World War I
Rand Holloway World War II
DeWitt Hofpauir World War I
Rube Ralph Holloway World War II
Jonathan Jones (father of Mrs. Helen Young) Civil War - Union Soldier
Chilton Knight World War II
Joe Bess (Jew) Lansford World War I
L. C. Lansford World War II
Ernest Maddox World War I
John Blair McClendon World War I
W. L. (Jack) McClendon World War I
Derwood B. McDaniel World War II
W. J. McDowell Civil War - Confederate Soldier
Henry A. McGee World War II
T. G. McGee World War II
Dennis H. McLaurin World War II
H. Grady Orand World War I
Guy Pennington World War I
Ernest Pond World War I
William Robinson World War I
Roy Shults World War II
Kevin Dale Thompson World War II
Marvin D. Thompson World War II
Jarrell Dean Tidwell World War II
Harvey W. Turner World War I

All deaths are tragic, but untimely deaths are doubly so.  We listed here some of the untimely ones, most of them buried in the Richland Cemetery:

Mr. and Mrs. Garlington's baby, who scalded in a tub of hot water; Elmer McCrary, smothered in a pile of loose cotton.  Jack Hay's young son, drowned in a tank. John Wayne Colson died of wasp stings.  Mrs. Green and her four children were murdered and buried in one large grave, each having a neat marker of petrified wood.  Dean Tidwell, drowned.  Mrs. Pearl Pinkard and baby daughter died in a car wreck.  J. J. McCallum's son, Earl McCallum, was murdered.  Herman Whitehead, William Arthur Byrd and Theodore Williams, Jr., were all three killed from gun shot.  Thad Shepperd's young son was drowned [NOTE1].  Chilton Knight also died of gun shot.  Leonard Griffin, brother of Ezra Griffin, drowned.

Other tragic deaths were: Dr. J. C. Stevens, Earl Swink, Claud Bartletter, Jim Lynchlyer, S. S. Ward, Ruby Davis, wife of Henry Davis, Pauline Albritton, daughter of Mrs. Maud Harris, Archie Anderson, Guy Pennington, Alvie McGee, and J. T. McGee.

Doc Jackson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edgard Jackson, was killed in a car wreck.  Those known to have been killed by trains at the railroad crossing were Johnnie Matlock, Joll Madewell, Mrs. Cap Swink, mother of Mrs. Elsielene Fleemings; Mrs. Emma Allen, stepmother of Ernest Allen; Mrs. Lucinda Scott Green; Tyree Winstead; and Obie Griffin.

A tornado in 1940 took the lives of Mrs. and Mrs. McNeese and their son, Cecil McNeese.

We have tried to give some historical highlights in connection with the history of the Richland Cemetery; however, the source of information was sparse and most certainly some very interesting facts have been left out because we did not know about them. A request is here made for anyone having access to any facts about the early settlers who had a part in Richland's history, and the history of our Richland Cemetery Association to be incorporated into the history we are attempting to compile.

The Richland Cemetery Association meets each year on the last Sunday in May for the purpose of having Memorial  Services for our loved ones who are buried here and to enjoy the fellowship with old and new friends.

The present officers of the Richland Cemetery Association are: Mrs. Christine Chism, President; Mrs. Sue Bell Allen, Secretary; and Mrs. Odie Hill, Treasurer.  Trustees are:  B. K. Abbe, Ezra Griffin, and Douglas Tidwell.

It is our sincere desire that others will assume these duties as we who are living drop out, one by one, and that they will carry on the work of maintaining and caring for our beloved little Richland Cemetery so that it will never be neglected.  We want to feel that  our loved ones may rest in the serenity and dignity of a well cared for cemetery.

Mrs. Thelma Nixson Orand
assisted by Mrs. Lawrence Prine
and Mrs. Edith Speer Truett

 

Notes:

  • NOTE 1
    I was reading the tragic deaths article for the Richland cemetery. The death of Thad Shepperd's child was not from drowning. The baby died from eating a match . I understand that there were sulphur matches back then.. He was 17 months old and his name was Buttrill Shepperd. He died on Oct.10,1913.There is a marker there for him now.  Obituary
    ....Shirley Hill 8/2004

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