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Sep 4, 2003 - Seven Navarro County cemeteries awarded historical designation

From Staff Reports

The Texas Historical Commission and the Navarro County Historical Commission have designated seven cemeteries as a Historic Texas Cemetery. Those designated included William M. Love Family Cemetery, Old Pevehouse Cemetery, New Pevehouse Cemetery, Caleb and Nancy Green Cemetery, John Stovall Cemetery, McCord/Hightower Cemetery and Dr. Anderson Cemetery. There are 10 more Navarro County cemeteries at the THC in Austin going through the designation process.

The designation, reserved for cemeteries that are least 50 years old and deemed worthy of preservation for their historic associations, means Affidavit of Designation for Cemetery Purposes have been issued to the cemeteries and have been recorded in the Navarro County clerk's office.

"The designation is a tool that will increase public awareness of these important cultural resources," said Larry Oaks, executive director of THC. "Such awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of a cemetery."

Cemeteries hold valuable historical information. They are often the last reminders of early settlements' historical events, religious beliefs, lifestyles and genealogy.

"Historic cemeteries serve as directories of early residents and reflect the cultural influences that helped shape our state's communities," Oaks said. "The Historic Texas Cemetery designation program helps bring attention to these community treasures and the importance of their preservation."

While the Historic Texas Cemetery designation encourages cemetery preservation, this designation cannot guarantee that a historic cemetery will not be destroyed. In some rural areas, historic cemeteries are threatened by the absence of fencing, which allows cattle and other grazing animals to topple and disturb headstones. Urban expansion and vandalism often threaten historic cemeteries. Sometimes these cemeteries gradually disappear, one headstone at a time; others disappear overnight. Bulldozers have plowed over neglected cemeteries to clear land for development projects. Cemeteries have also been the victims of vandalism and long-term deterioration from forces of nature, such as weathering and uncontrolled vegetation.

"Historic cemeteries are a very important tool pertaining to our local history in Navarro County," said Bill Young, Navarro County Historical Commission chairman. "Each cemetery offers some insight into persons who lived in the area who lived around the cemetery.

"The amount of hours and mileage spent researching and documenting each cemetery is extensive. We just finished Long Prairie Cemetery just south of Kerens on Highway 309 also known as Alligator Cemetery (still an active cemetery). It took almost a month of research and recording of each stone in the cemetery along with the history of the land and the Long Prairie School which owned the cemetery land for many years. One of their members has offered to buy a Historic Texas Cemetery marker."

The Historic Texas Cemetery designation was developed to address the destruction of historic cemeteries and the illegal removal of cemetery fixtures. Any individual or organization is eligible to submit an application for this designation. For more information, or to receive an application for the Historic Texas Cemetery designation, call (512) 475-4167.

The Texas Historical Commission is the state agency for historic preservation. The agency administers a variety of programs to preserve the archeological, historical and cultural resources of Texas. See www.thc.state.tx.us for further information

Originally published in the Corsicana Daily Sun
October 13, 1999

Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun
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