Fairland-Littlejohn Cemetery, Paris, Lamar County, TX

Fairland Cemetery and Littlejohn Cemetery are both located in the northeast quadrant of the county within the city limits of Paris, between Clement and Center Streets. It is Block 152 of the city of Paris of the Lamar County Road Map produced by American Drafting and Services revised December 1993. The cemeteries are separated from by a hedge row and fence. Because the line between the cemeteries has become so hard to discern, the cemeteries have merged.

The cemeteries can be reached from either the 1100 block of Clement Road or the 1100 block of Center Street. Littlejohn Black Cemetery should not be confused with Littlejohn Cemetery in the Chicota community of Lamar County.

GPS coordinates are 33° 40' 45.05 N, 95° 32' 41.84 W. (33.6791194 Latitude and -95.5448889 Longitude)

The cemeteries were unkept and many graves are lost in the vines and bushes that were not mowed when the cemetery was recorded in May 1993 by Patricia Ferguson, Ruth Renfro, Roberta Woods and Ron Brothers. The oldest inscribed grave in Fairland was that of Lucille Sutton who died 20 Oct 1888. The oldest inscribed grave in Littlejohn was that of Curneils Littlejohn, who died 7 Jun 1897.

THE PARIS NEWS, Sunday, August 25, 1996, p.1C: "A Grave Effort- [Picture Captions] James Donaldson uses shears to clear some of the brush from one of the aging tombstones at the Fairland/Littlejohn Cemetery. Nearly Obscured by the tremendous growth of weeds and brush, Rodney Kendricks works to clear one of the grave markers at the cemetery. June Keys tidys up one of the cleared gravesites. --Tombstones marking lives as far back as the 1800s remain standing at The Fairland/LittleJohn Cemetery, despite weathering the elements of time and neglect. A look at recent renovations of one of Paris' oldest black Cemeteries - located between Clement Road and Center Street - reveals prominent families and folks of humble origins. One tombstone marks the brief life of Ruthette Francis, 1912-1913. A heart-shaped stone bears the name Laura Bostic and the date Nov. 11, 1890. A crude handmade cement stone marks the life, of Roscoe Morgan. Another stone tells of Valie Washington, with the touching sentiment, 'Your Love Lives On.'

An elaborate cement tomb notes the life of Tommy Council Jr., 1926-1979. Some recent graves are marked by small piece of tin where name and date have been written in. Recognition and attention to the final resting place of long time Paris families is being addressed by members of The Fairland-LittleJohn Cemetery Association. Treasurer Ralph Rodgers continues to work the cemetery, personally clearing the land of unsightly shrubs, weeds and other distractions that take eyes off the beauty of centuries-old monuments and family names. The two cemeteries had been separate during the early part of the century, Rodgers said. LittleJohn Cemetery, next to Center Street, holds many who lived and died during the 1800's through the early 1940's. Fairland Cemetery touches Clement Road and also contains tombstones dating to 1880's. Fairland was under the auspices of George Guest, a successful black entrepreneur. Guest took care of the cemetery until his death in the early 1950's. 'This was the burial plot for African Americans in surrounding communities,' said Rodgers. Guest had no children, and his wife was unable to care for the cemetery. 'He left his fortune to the King's Daughters,' said Rodgers. With that went the cemetery as well. A group of local women took on the duties of maintaining the cemetery. 'They tried for years and years to keep it from growing up with little assistance from the community,' said Rodgers. LittleJohn Cemetery was left unmanaged as well. Eventually the King's Daughters deeded Fairland Cemetery to the local ladies and have contributed to the clean-up effort taken on the cemetery association. Through funds raised during a community barbecue in June and several generous donations, the association can afford a two-man crew who work part-time two days a week mowing and manicuring the premises. The cemetery association formed in May 1995. Volunteers cut down larger trees and a web of honeysuckle vines, poison ivy and berry vines. Tombstones were leveled by filling in areas 'big enough for a mower to fall into,' Rodgers said. A road that runs through the cemetery was grated and graveled last summer with materials donated by Coston and Son Ready-Mix Concrete and labor by the Army Reserves. Stakes erected over some unmarked graves will be replaced by permanent headstones. Other plans include installing a chain-link fence where the cemetery meets the streets and constructing gates on both ends. 'We come out many times and we find beer bottles and remains of a party,' Rodgers said. The association has asked the city to assist with the project since the new road is used as a thoroughfare, but the city maintains the road is on private property, Rodgers said. Rodgers is researching the city's black cemeteries with the hopes of writing about their history to distribute in churches and other places to encourage upkeep of the property. 'Our community of people don't really know' about the black cemeteries, he said, noting that many buried in The Fairland/LittleJohn Cemetery do not have relatives still living in Paris, and starting in the 1960s other families preferred burial at a cemetery on Highway 271 North [Restlawn] which comes with perpetual care. Burials continue at the cemetery, and 125 plots are available for purchase, arranged through Maxey Funeral Home. Plots had sold for as little as $7. 'We had to change that,' Rodgers said, because the thrifty price could not pay for upkeep. 'The ultimate goal is to somehow accumulate funds to set up a trust in order to maintain the cemetery,' he said, 'and getting younger folks in the association.' Donations payable to The Fairland-LittleJohn Cemetery Association should be mailed to: 525 E. Cherry St., Paris, Texas 75460, Attention: Ralph Rodgers, Treasurer."

THE PARIS NEWS, Friday, May 23, 1997: By Cherie Bell, "Citizens want help for black cemeteries- Supporters of historic black cemeteries in Paris are seeking help from Lamar COunty Commissioners Court.
In a special session of the court Monday, commissioners reported calls from June Key, a member of Littlejohn/Fairland Cemetery Association, who asked for the county's help in clearing the cemeteries located on Clement Road. Commissioners noted the cemeteries are within the city of Paris but relayed Mrs. Key was emphatic the county can and should take care of the property. The request follows the court's decision to perform road maintenance in nonprivate cemeteries in Lamar County with markers 50 years or older and with roads adjacent to county roads. Mrs. Key requested the county's assistance in trimming trees and graveling roads in Littlejohn and Fairland cemeteries. Commissioner Carl Steffey said the agreement is to keep roads 'as is', meaning no upgrades. Commissioner Alan Weatherford suggested the county jail inmates could do the work. No decision was made on the request, but commissioners anticipate Mrs. Key and others will appear before the court to make a formal request."

Photo below courtesy of Lawrence and Sue Dale.

 

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