Thomas Mooney Cemetery
Navarro County, Texas


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Jan 4, 2004 County grave earns mark: Mooney site the 500th to receive state designation

By LOYD COOK/Daily Sun Staff

A single grave site in a one-person cemetery here in Navarro County recently became the 500th burial site in Texas to be given a historical cemetery designation.

The Texas Historical Commission announced that the Thomas Mooney Gravesite, located in the Camp Wanica area, reached the milestone.

"We're tickled pink that it was one of ours that hit the achievement of being the 500th cemetery," said Bill Young, a Daily Sun history columnist and president of the Navarro County Historical Commission. "Of all the cemeteries we've done (it's strange that it's) that little, one-grave cemetery out by itself."

Young said Thomas Mooney lived here only about 10 years before his death, owning a "little bit of land in the Camp Wanica area and a good deal" of land in Corsicana.

He said, to the best of his knowledge, there are no living descendants still in the area and that family members seemed to have moved away from Navarro County in the immediate period after Mooney's death.

Young said he couldn't remember what year Mooney passed away.

The Texas Historical Commission developed the historic designation program to highlight the importance as "historical resources, as well as landmarks worthy of respect, reverence and preservation," according to an e-mailed press release sent to the Daily Sun.

The program began in 1997.

"This significant accomplishment reflects not only the importance of preserving our historic cemeteries, but also the heightened public interest in identifying and recording these sites," said THC cemetery preservation specialist Gerron Hite. "Historic cemeteries tell us a great deal about an area and the people who lived there.

"They reflect diversity in culture, art, family communities, religion and historic events. The loss of even one cemetery leaves a gap in our collective history."

The reflections of the past often are revealed during the research required to complete an application for the state program, Young said.

Part of the procedure requires that the cemetery be photographed, measured and examined. But the ownership of the land has to be traced back to the era of the burials within the cemetery.

"The biggest job is deed research," Young said. "We have to try to tie back to those people that are in that cemetery to the area they lived in."

He said the most cherished hope is that each deed contains a proper reference to the proper deed records book of the previous owner -- and that chain stretches back to the era researchers are attempting to nail down.

It's during this kind of research that nuggets of history have a tendency to pop up, he said.

Talking about a cemetery in the Love Bridge area, Young recounted a tale about a feud between William Love and a Dr. Anderson that was ongoing during the era of the burials. Strangely, Dr. Anderson had a brother that was buried in Love Cemetery while the doctor himself was buried elsewhere.

"Every time you research this, you find people that are related to people buried in another cemetery ... and on and on and on," Young said. "And that's a lot of the early history of Navarro County."

Young said the county's historic commission estimates there are at least 200 cemeteries in Navarro County, of which less than 60 are active.

He said that 33 cemeteries have now been submitted to the historical designation program, with 15 of those having achieved certification as a historical site.

Young, along with fellow commission member Bruce McManus, are working on getting historical designations for about 40 other cemeteries at present.

The duo has been working on the local identification of cemeteries for about a year now, he said, "and every time there's a little more information, it's own its way to Austin."

Both Young and McManus welcome word of cemeteries that might be eligible for the historical designation program. Young said they just don't want the names of cemeteries that are presently "being buried in."

"We have a list of about 35 now that we've heard of that we don't know where they're at," he said. "We're looking for ones no longer in use."

Anyone wanting to help, or having information on just such a cemetery, can contact: Bill Young at (903) 874-6882 during the day or (903) 874-7067 at night; or Bruce McManus at (903) 875-0988 at night.

"We're doing our dead level best to be the No. 1 county in the state as far as (historical) designations," Young said.

Loyd Cook may be contacted via e-mail at loydcook@corsicanadailysun.com

 

Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun
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