Old City Cemetery, Lamar County, Texas
LOCATION: Old City Cemetery is located in the northwest quadrant of the county, in the city of Paris, bounded by Graham St., 5th NW, W. Cherry and 6th NW streets. It is in Block 186 of the Lamar County Road Map produced by American Drafting and Services revised December 1993 ALSO KNOWN AS: Wright's Cemetery, The Old Cemetery DIRECTIONS: Entrance to Old City Cemetery can be made from either 5th St. NW (under the water tower) or 6th St. NW. GPS COORDINATES: 33° 39' 52.344" N, -95° 33' 41.58" W
(33.664540 Latitude and -95.561550 Longitude)
OLDEST KNOWN BURIAL: The oldest grave here is said to be that of a freed black man who worked for Wright. Although the stone is illegible, the date is thought to be 1845. The oldest legible stone marks the grave of Thomas [Duke] Wortham (1776-1845). [Family records show date of death 10 Jun 1848]. NUMBER OF GRAVES: There are 545 known graves. (Sept. 2014) SIGNS/MARKERS: A Texas Historical Commission marker is located under the water tower at the entrance to the cemetery.
Historic Texas Cemetery: No Texas Historical Commission Marker: YesFrom the Texas Historical Commission Marker on site: Located on land once owned by George Washington Wright (1809-1877), founder of the City of Paris. The oldest grave here is said to be that of a freed black man who worked for Wright. Although the stone is illegible, the date is thought to be 1845. The oldest legible stone marks the grave of Thomas [Duke] Wortham (1776-1845). [Family records show date of death 10 Jun 1848]. Site of the primary burial ground for Paris 1845-1865, the plot was also referred to as Wright's Cemetery. In 1856 the Evergreen Cemetery was begun and called the New Cemetery and many graves were exhumed and moved there. George W. Wright was buried in the old cemetery in 1877. A cemetery association was formed in 1879, and in 1885 Wright's heirs deeded the land to its trustees. In 1922 the cemetery was deeded to the City of Paris and a standpipe was located there for the new Lake Crook waterworks. The cemetery contains about 489 graves, about 100 markers are still intact and show the majority of burials to have taken place between 1870-1910. Many early community leaders are buried here and a granite marker honors members of the 9th Texas Infantry CSA who died in a measles epideic in 1862. (Texas Sesquicentennial Marker 1836 -1986)
LAST ENUMERATION: The research of Elizabeth Booth states that the southwest section of the cemetery was once set aside for slaves. She recorded the cemetery on 7 Feb 1970. Since that time many stones have disappeared. ADD'L INFORMATION: From THE NORTH TEXAN, Vol. 7 Paris, Texas, Saturday Morning, May 6, 1876, p. 3: 'Our attention has been again called to the fact that the old Cemetery, north-west of this city, is in a bad condition. Stock are permitted to run at large, and the whole ground presents a desolate appearance. Considering less than two hundred dollars would put the incomplete fencing in a finished condition, and it is greatly to be desired that some action be taken in the matter. We have referred to this matter time and again, and we trust that a continued dripping will wear the hearts of our people into a desire to do something at an early day.'
From THE PARIS NEWS, 3 Jun 1954, "Backward Glances," by A. W. Neville: "Shallow Graves Caused Protest-- Many years ago the city had to bury persons who were classed as paupers, having no relatives to do that final service. East of the Odd Fellows Cemetery the city owned a small piece of ground that was used for that purpose. It had no care and was covered by grass, weeds and underbrush. In 1895 a citizen living east of this ground told the council that the county was burying paupers there, that the graves were so shallow as to be a threat to sanitation, and he asked that burials there be discontinued. Later that year a committee reported that 11 acres about two miles northeast of the public square could be bought from P.M. Chisum for $20 an acre, and that the county would pay for six acres if the city would pay for the other five acres, the ground to be used for pauper burials. The council decided to buy, but by a close vote, 4 to 3, one alderman being absent. The council at this same session had a petition signed by a number, of citizens, asking that future burials in the old cemetery on the hill in northwest Paris be prohibited, and the petition was 'received and filed,' meaning that no action was taken and that it was pigeonholed. The council did not forbid burials there because occasionally a descendant of some old-timer buried there died and the family wished the body to be laid beside those buried there in other years. The Old Cemetery, which had been given by George Wright to the city for a burial ground before Evergreen Cemetery was established, was at that time almost in the condition of the pauper burial ground. Some years later, while Ed McCuistion was mayor, the graveyard was made a part of the parks system, was cleared of undergrowth and has since  been kept in fairly decent condition."
THE PARIS NEWS, 22 Aug 1938, "Backward Glances," by A. W. Neville: "City Bought Five-Acre Burial Plot-- Cemetery Near Pine Bluff Street was Causing Complaint So Its Use was Abandoned-- Good many years ago the city had a plot of ground east of the Odd Fellows cemetery, in which person whose burial had to be paid for by the city were laid to rest. There was no attempt made to keep it in any condition other than that provided by nature- grass and weeds and undergrowth were rank and graves were dug haphazard with no regard to regularity in spacing or conserving of room for future burials. In April 1895, E. P. Scott better known as (Red) because of his flaming hair, a lawyer, addressed the city council and asked that two practices be stopped- that persons for whose burial the county was liable were being buried in the comparatively small plot, and that some burials were being made in graves so shallow that it created a nuisance. Scott's home was east of this burial ground. At a later meeting the city marshal was instructed to notify the county that no burials were to be made in that place except those ordered by the city. I do not know where county burials were made previous to that time, but the county had been having to bury paupers ever since its organization as a county. Apparently the alderman, or some of them, concluded the burying ground was about filled and was too near some private property to continue its use. A report was made to the city council in September, 1895, that an option had been secured on 11 acres of land northeast of Paris, about two miles from the public square, for $20 an acre and that Lamar county had agreed to take six acres of the tract at that price if the city would take the balance. The council decided to do this though by a narrow margin, the vote being 4 to 3. At this same meeting there was presented to the council a petition from a number of residents, asking that no more burials be permitted in what was known as the Old Grave Yard on North Robinson (Sixteenth) street. This was read and the record says, 'received and filed.' October 28 the council ordered a warrant drawn in favor of P. M. Chisum for $100 to pay for the city's five acres, and from that time it was used as a burying place for persons who had no none to provide for them. I presume the county also paid its part for the remaining six acres. The burials in Old Grave Yard were not prohibited, because many pioneers are buried there and occasionally one of their descendants passes and the family wishes the body to be laid near the older members of the clan. So burials are still made here though they are infrequent, and the place is tended and kept slightly by the city's park department."
THE PARIS NEWS, Tuesday, July 1, 1986, p.5: "Cemetery's Future Is Still in Doubt. Vandals Still Damage Old City Cemetery's Gravestones, Markers- by Jeff Look - News Staff Writer - The Old City Cemetery has a long and varied past, according to Debbie Burks, a Thomas Justiss Elementary School teacher who is researching the cemetery for a state historical marker application. However, Ms. Burks says that the future of the resting place of many of this city's pathfinders is much in doubt. 'The main problem we're up against is the increasing incidence of vandalism here,' she said. The cemetery is located one block north of Graham Street between 4th St NW and 6th Street NW. 'The cemetery has been in various states of disrepair for many years, but outright vandalism has increased tremendously in the last six months,' she said. Ms. Burks said that numerous tombstones and grave covers have been turned over or destroyed. 'The sad thing about it is that many of these stones are good solid ones that would still be around for years to come. On a recent visit to the cemetery, Ms. Burks was appalled at the vandalism that had occurred since her last visit three weeks earlier. 'Every time I come out here, there are more and more stones knocked down.' The Old City Cemetery is of great importance to the community, Ms. Burks wrote in the application to the Texas Historical Commission. The cemetery contains the grave of George Wright, the city's founding father who served as a representative from Red River County (before the creation of Lamar County) to the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. At one time, Wright owned the land on which the cemetery is now located. The cemetery also contains the remains of other important individuals such as Samuel Moore Fulton, the owner and operator of a trading post on the Red River in northern Lamar County, John R. Craddock, the first Lamar County clerk; the Rev. James Graham, a Methodist preacher and teacher who started Paris Female Institute, an early school, and First Methodist Church; and 13 soldiers from Sam Bell Maxey's Ninth Texas Infantry who died from a measles epidemic that broke our while the men were camped next to the cemetery in 1862. The oldest legible date presently in the cemetery, according to Ms. Burks' research, is that of Thomas Wortham who was born in North Carolina in 1776 and died in Paris in 1846. The cemetery was the city's (See Cemetery, p.26) principal burying ground from 1845 to 1865 and was originally known as Wright's cemetery. By 1866, it was realized that the cemetery would not be adequate for future needs as there was no room for expansion. So Evergreen Cemetery was incorporated that year and Wright's Cemetery soon became known as simply the Old Cemetery. Many of the graves in the Old Cemetery were exhumed after Evergreen opened and the remains of those persons reburied in Evergreen in larger family plots, according to Ms. Burks. The last official burial in the cemetery was in 1974 when Louise Chittum Dyer died. Mrs. Dyer held a deed to a burial plot in the cemetery and she was buried beside her husband who died in 1944. However, in 1981, two stillborn twins were buried there. Although burials were prohibited, the pauper burial was made at the request of the parents with verbal consent being given by the city manager, Ms. Burks said. The city acquired the cemetery in 1922 in exchange for a place in which to build a water tower prior to the opening of Lake Crook. The cemetery's condition had steadily gone downhill in the early 1900s after the caretaker of the cemetery moved away. It was discussed turning the cemetery into a park, but the park was never created. When the city needed a high place to put a water tower, (the cemetery being located on the highest ground in the city) a deal was made between the City Council and the Old Cemetery Association giving the city title to the land in exchange for perpetual upkeep of the cemetery. Care of the cemetery by the city was spotty during the early years the city owned it, Ms. Burks said. 'Years ago when the city maintenance people would mow the grass here, if they found a tombstone laying down they would simply pick it up and pile it under a big tree. We don't know how many graves are in here or where they are because many of the stone are still under that tree.' She said that maintenance at the cemetery has greatly improved in recent years, but that the constant vandalism makes upkeep difficult for the city. 'We're working on ways to curb the vandalism,' she said. 'We have to get it stopped soon or there won't be a cemetery to protect."
THE PARIS NEWS, Sunday, August 30, 1998, page 4A: "History of Paris, Lamar County lies buried in ramshackle cemetery. By Skipper Steely, Guest Columnist. Almost every stone has been mutilated or tumbled to the ground. The city mows the area at various times in the summer but does little more. Several years ago the spreading of grass killer by some individuals and maybe the city inadvertently killed the oaks to the south end. A fence erected in the early 1980s was almost immediately cut open or stolen. Other than that, residents in the Old City Cemetery, once called Wright Cemetery, live in quiet peace. Most Parisians know little about its location, which is under the water tower between 5th and 6th streets in the northwest section of town, just a block north of Graham Street. Those buried there have a storied past, and in fact, several are listed in the Handbook of Texas and many others should be. Only about 10 plots are still claimed by living residents today. The rest have been ignored for decades. Why, even at one time city employees decided the broken stones were a nuisance, and piled them in an area on the west side. Those in the handbook are Samuel Moore Fulton, John T. Mills and George W. Wright. His brother, Travis Wright, former Paris Mayor Turner Edmondson and some others were once there, but families reinterred their remains in Evergreen Cemetery years ago. Some buried there have children in the handbook. For example, J. J. and Susan A. Neilson Richardson's 'children' Admiral J. O. and Wilds P. Richardson left Paris and became famous enough to be mentioned in the bible of research for Texas. Sen. Micajah Louis Armstrong and his wife are in City Cemetery, but I'll admit I was amiss and did not send in an entry for him when the handbook was updated. County Clerk John R. Craddock should be in the book also, as should be War of 1812 veteran James Holman, Wright's first father-in-law. Gen. James C. Record, a militia officer, is buried there, too. The Rev. John C. Robinson and his Canadian-born wife Ellen, teachers and preachers in Paris for many years in the last century, lie quietly in the shade of the north end. Anthony Travelstead, another minister, is buried somewhere there, his stone one of those in the stack created by city staff years ago. The city of Paris took over the grounds when in the 1920s it needed a site for a water stand. Today the city is mulling over a possibility of expanding its influence from mowing to permanent fencing and capital improvements of the area. The cemetery was placed in the 1915 city master plan as a park, and it would be a pretty one if done that way now. Others with note of fame are there, awaiting some help. Famous Texas artist William Henry Huddle has a brother there. Francis Willet Bassano, an early settler of Paris who brought in an organ for the Presbyterian church, is there along with merchant Ulysses Matthieson and William Richey. The oldest, apparently is Ann Hampton Hamilton, born in 1760 and buried there in 1843. John Chisum's brother-in-law John Johnson and his wife Mary Ann are there. Almost all Lamar County is kin to them. They brought to the region in 1837 ten single daughters and a son and settled in a place they called Pinhook about to the west of Guest Products Inc., on West Washington Street. One daughter, the mother of astronomer and Paris banker W. J. McDonald, is buried there. Her marker is so large it has not been desecrated - yet. Right in the middle, resting below large cedar trees, vandals have yet to find the Rev. James Graham's tall marker. He basically founded the local Paris Methodist congregation. It will fall someday, more than likely. Fulton has the most American history background of all those here. He was born in 1800, the son of a shipbuilder from Norfolk who later retired to Huddle's homeland of Wytheville, Va. Young Fulton, who has a bronze plaque marking his gravesite, supposedly fought in the Battle of New Orleans at age 15, settled in Arkansas about 1818 and moved to Texas in 1833. His widowed mother Nancy Cravens Fulton joined him. Fulton died in 1852, way too early. His daughters married B. F. McCuistion and Alvis P. Ryan, and a son Samuel Hugh moved to Fannin County. Assuming the famify history is true, Fulton was, pretty well connected to the beginnings of America. Judge Mills is probably not buried here since most newspapers say he was put under in Marshall. He was rather amusing as a district judge, being accused of slipping off to nap at the bench while trials were being held. The marker says 'In Memory Of . . .' His first wife, Mary Jane Vining of Red River, apparently is buried just to the southeast of the George W. Wright stone, which by the way is intact because of its weight. Wright's father-in-law Holman is most acknowledged around here for having sons at age 79 and 82. Most remarkable is that he lived to see them both be teenagers. Relatives under the name of Doyal and Howie still live in Lamar County. Holman is buried next to his first wife, who moved with him and other Holmans in the 1840s from Hempstead County, Ark. So, there you have it. In the cemetery are buried no less than two state senators, one general, a colonel or two, a captain, two judges, at least three ministers, numerous teachers and town merchants and the mothers of many Parisians. When streets were named rather than numbered in Paris, about a dozen were labeled in honor of these old citizens. They deserve more care. Two plans have been submitted to the city: that the city create an endowment and an association be named to run the cemetery, or that the city establish a working portion of the budget to begin establishment of the cemetery as a vital part of the system, just like is done in Greenville and other towns left with plots to oversee. No matter the solution, vandals will pick on the dead -- it just happens everywhere. The mentality is one normal folks fail to comprehend. Whatever, help needs to come along this year."
The following is the actual text used to acquire the Texas Historical Marker in the cemetery. *OLD CEMETERY OF PARIS by Debbie Burks - The cemetery now commonly referred to as the 'Old City Cemetery' is owned by the City of Paris. It was the burial place of the city's founder, George Washington Wright (1809-1877).(FN:1) He has been widely credited with donating the land for the Old Cemetery; however, records have revealed that the transfer of property from Mr. Wright to the City of Paris was more than just a single transaction. The cemetery on the hill has had a long and varied history. The land on which the Old Cemetery is located was owned by George Wright in the mid-1800's. It was part of the Larkin Rattan Headright Survey.(FN:2) On December 26, 1839, Larkin Rattan, of the Republic of Texas and County of Red River, executed 'unto the said G. W. and T. G. Wright a deed of conveyance to a certain tract or parcel of land situated East of survey made for C. Chisum and . . . to include one thousand acres . . .'(FN:3) He also promised to deliver a bona fide title which he was to procure from the government as soon as possible. The land was located in the western section of Red River County from which Lamar County was created late in 1840.N4) Mr. Rattan granted a title bond on October 15, 1845, conveying the land to G. W. Wright with no mention of T. G. Wright.(FN:5) Rattan was granted his headright by Governor J. Pinckney Henderson of the State of Texas in Patent Number 1, Volume 7, on September 27, 1847.(FN:6) The deed was officially finalized on October 23, 1847.(FN:7) The land which was to become the Old Cemetery was located within those one thousand acres. The Old Cemetery was probably first used in the early to mid-1840's. No primary records have been found to verify the beginning of the cemetery. Miss Mary V. Daniel, granddaughter of George Wright and last president of the Old Cemetery Association, wrote a history of the cemetery in 1947. It was claimed by some of the 'old timers' that the oldest grave in the Old Cemetery was that of a free negro, who worked for George W. Wright and lived on his farm. The inscription follows: 'In memory of Jacob, born in N. C. an died in town of Paris. His wif did grev and cry The Fridy hd did di.' (His wife composed the inscription.) The date is now indistinct on the ancient limestone, moss covered marker. Some have claimed the date as 1839, but as Paris was not named until 1844 and so called in the court held April 29, 1844, a careful study shows almost certainly to be 1845.(FN:8) It has been determined that the cemetery was in use as early as 1846. The oldest legible date presently in the cemetery is on the grave of Thomas Wortham. It reads as follows: SACRED to The memory of THOMAS WORTHAM - Born in Warren County North Carolina Oct. 25th A.D. 1776 and departed this Life June 12th A. D. 1846 Aged 71 Y. 7 M. 17 Days(FN:9) According to Miss Daniel, the cemetery was the principal burying ground in Paris from 1845-1865, and it was known as Wright's Cemetery. By 1866, it was realized that the cemetery would not be adequate for future needs as there was no room for expansion.(FN:10) In response to that need, Evergreen Cemetery was incorporated September 26, 1866.(FN:11) With Evergreen called the new cemetery, Wright's Cemetery became the old one. Deed records referred to it as the Old Cemetery or the Old Grave Yard. It is not known when the name Old Cemetery of Paris became the official name, but an 1885 deed referred to it as such.(FN:12) Some years after the opening of Evergreen, a number of graves were exhumed with the remains reburied at Evergreen in larger family plots. A. W. Neville, longtime editor of THE PARIS NEWS and noted local historian, wrote in the 1880's, 'On the whole, it was a desolate looking spot. . . There were many open graves, from which remains had been removed to Evergreen Cemetery, and which had been left unfilled. . .'(FN:13) In one of his 'Backward Glances' columns, he recorded that 'the estate of Turner B. Edmundson had a bill from Willett Babcock for 'digging two graves in Evergreen cemetery, taking up and removing the remains of Mr. Edmundson and a daughter (from the Old cemetery on North Sixteenth street) . . .' The bill was dated November, 1866.(FN:14) George Wright died August 11, 1877, and was buried in the Old Cemetery. In accordance with his wishes, his body remained in the family plot on the land which he had dedicated as a burial ground for the city that he had founded. According to Miss Daniel's account, there was probably no formal cemetery association until the early 1850's, although the legal status of the association was uncertain. She said the Old Cemetery Association received a fifty-year charter in 1866, which was renewed in 1916. In conflict with her account, records found on file in the Office of the Secretary of State indicated that Charter Number 1098 1/2 was filed July 2, 1879, for the Old Cemetery of Paris.(FN:15) The incorporators were J. J. Richardson, Sam J. Wright, and J. H. Gresham. The charter was to expire in twenty years, and no record of renewal was found in the state file. The charter number was later amended to 329041. Another corporation was formed September 1, 1919, as shown by a deed recorded in the Lamar County Clerk's Office. In accordance with Article 1295 of Chapter Twenty-three of the Vernon Sayles Texas Civil Statutes, 'notice of intention of lot owners to create a corporation to receive title to lands heretofore dedicated to cemetery purposes by the Old Cemetery of Paris' was posted on the cemetery ground and published in THE PARIS MORNING NEWS.(FN:16) Lot owners present were Mrs. W. H. Jennings, Mrs. J. V. Howell, Mrs. J. Morgan Crook, Mrs. Lucy A. Tinnin, Mrs. P. J. Pierce, Mrs. M. C. Johnson, Mrs. W. A. Simmons, Miss Alice Wright, Mrs. T. J. Richey, Mrs. Neva R. Jones, Mrs. George M. Minton, Mrs. M. V. Moseley, Mrs. B. A. Walker, Mrs. Fannie McCoy, Mrs. W. H. Furey, Mrs. Harvey Gresham, Mrs. Pearl Connor Dickson, Mr. Edgar Wright, Mrs. Hattie Still, and S. L. Bedford. By a unanimous vote, the corporation was formed.(FN:17) Presidents of the association from the 1880's until 1922 were Mrs. O. C. Connor, Mrs. J. M. Daniel, Mrs. John Dickson, Judge Edgar Wright, and Miss Mary V. Daniel. Many sources credit George Wright with donating the land as a public burial ground. The cemetery had been in use for more than thirty years at the time of his death in 1877; however, he did not file a deed for the cemetery. To insure the continuance of the land as a burial ground, the children and sons-in-law of Mr. Wright left what was apparently a quitclaim deed on January 5, 1885. J. M. Daniel and wife E. B. Daniel, W. H. Jennings and wife M. E. Jennings, H. A. Wright, S. E. Wright, and J. H. Wright deeded the land to the Trustees of the Old Cemetery of Paris in consideration of five dollars and 'the further consideration of the dedication to public use as burial Grounds by George W. Wright . . . Provided that the above described land Shall Never be used for any other than burial purposes . . .'(FN:18) The deed described the cemetery as thirty poles north and south by twelve poles east and west. Situated within the corporate city limits, the burial ground was located between Robinson (now Fifth Northwest) and North Division (now Seventh Northwest) streets and north of Graham Street. The plot was not bounded by any of these streets. The cemetery originally extended farther north than it does now. In 1932, Neville gave the account of a pardoned murderer who was buried 'almost against the north fence. When Cherry Street was opened from sixteenth (then Robinson) on west, it ran south of this grave and there is now no trace of it. It was the only one so close to the north end of the burying ground and the only one cut off from it.'(FN:19) No record has been found for the opening of Cherry Street on the cemetery property, but an 1885 map showed the street to be open. Two additional tracts of land were deeded to the cemetery association prior to the 1885 quitclaim deed. On July 12, 1882, W. E. Vaught and his wife sold a twenty-five foot strip of land to S. J. Wright, president of the Old Grave Yard Association for $57.50. Part of George Wright's original thousand acres, the land extended thirty poles along the west boundary of the cemetery. It was 'dedicated for the purposes of a street only with the understanding that there be no burying on the same.'(FN:20) The narrow, unpaved street is currently designated as Sixth Northwest. The Old Cemetery Association purchased a second tract of land from T. M. Reed and his wife for one hundred fifty dollars on December 12, 1884.(FN:21) The lot was eight poles east and west by eighty-one feet north and south. It joined the cemetery's east boundary. The lot was used for the cemetery's main entrance and the sexton's house. A city tax map for 1915 and 1916 showed the sexton's house to be located on the lot. The house probably remained there until 1922. The Old Cemetery has had difficulties since its early days. T. H. Hadden told of crossing the cemetery when he was a boy in the 1860's. 'Truly it was a forsaken and dreary place--no boy wanted to bring up the rear and there was no lost motion going or coming. There was no system, no regulation. Men went and dug a grave any place and the soil was deep and soft and water would often gather before burial.'(FN:22) A series of deeds in 1885 referred to a plat of the cemetery on file in the office of the county clerk. The deeds were for burial plots which were located according to the block and lot number. Although this was evidence that the cemetery was marked off prior to 1885, the plat has not been located. Miss Daniel gave a different view of the cemetery in her account of 1947. About 1890, the sexton's house was enlarged and made more comfortable and a Mr. Syred, an experienced horticulturist and greenhouse man with a large family was employed. He was permitted to have his green house business on his premises for which he was to beautify the grounds, care for them and to act as sexton. A well was dug near the middle of the cemetery and a pump was installed to water the flowers. The cemetery was laid off with a driveway entrance from the east, . . . to the west to Graham Alley. Flower bordered walks intersected the drive way in designs not interfering with the old graves. For some years in this period the cemetery was beautifully kept and very attractive, then the Syred family moved and some of the larger contributors moved their loved ones to the more popular, newer Evergreen Cemetery.(FN:23) During the 1910's, the condition of the cemetery apparently worsened. There were references to the city assuming responsibility for the upkeep, although no official record has been found. In 1916, a report in the newspaper told of Fire Marshall M. L. Saufley investigating a complaint about the cemetery. He found that someone was pasturing his cows on the cemetery lot at night, an automobile repair shop had been opened on the property, and that it was being used as a chicken ranch.(FN:24) Although not reported, it is assumed that the violations were corrected. City Mayor Ed H. McCuistion was instrumental in the contracting of W. H. Dunn, Landscape Architect of Kansas City, Missouri, for the submission of a general city plan for Paris which was presented in 1915. Mr. Dunn suggested that the cemetery be converted to park purposes and be renamed Wright Park. Adjoining properties were to be bought to provide a park area around the cemetery. This was to be part of the diagonal parkway which was to extend through the city. (Only a small portion of the city plan was ever actually utilized.) The lack of an adequate water supply for Paris resulted in change for the Old Cemetery. Plans for what was to become Lake Crook began as early as 1920. In a called session on June 22, 1922, Mayor J. M. Crook reported 'that he was meeting with trouble in obtaining land for the Stand Pipe, and that the land belonging to Mrs. Neathery could not be had for the price offered which (was) $1500.00.'(FN:25) The advisability of getting a lot in exchange for the perpetual upkeep of the cemetery was discussed. Alderman T. F. Justiss moved that the Mayor and City Engineer be authorized to obtain a place for the stand pipe. The motion was seconded by Alderman Steinheimer. The motion carried 5-0. Miss Daniel credited Mr. McCuistion with the idea of the city officially obtaining the cemetery. It was unclear as to whether the following reference was connected with the 1915 city plan. During this time Mr. E. H. McCuistion interested the city in making the Old Cemetery into a park with perpetual care, for a title of property, including the lot entrance, house and garden at the north east corner, the entrance lot, to be partly used to erect a new stand pipe for the water works system of Lake Crook as the lot was one of the highest points in the city. The signatures of the Wright heirs were secured, the cemetery re-surveyed, visible graves marked on a map made May 1, 1920, by J. M. Daniel, Jr., a grandson of G. W. Wright. The title was passed and agreements for perpetual care as a city park approved.(FN:26) On June 26, 1922, the stockholders of the Old Cemetery Association, duly and legally incorporated under the laws of the State of Texas, met and unanimously voted to deed the Old Cemetery to the City of Paris in consideration of ten dollars. The city was to dedicate and use it as a Memorial Park. The city was also 'to construct and keep in repair suitable fences or enclosure, to fill in inequalities in the ground, sod same with grass, mow, keep free from weeds, fix and restore existing monuments, headstones, and graves with purpose in view of preserving same as far as possible, also provide proper ways of egress and ingress to said Memorial Park, and permit future burial therein by present lot owners whose lots have been partially occupied by relatives of the person whose burial on the lot is desired.'(FN:27) The city was allowed one year to comply. The deed included three tracts--the cemetery, the street (now Sixth Northwest), and the entrance and sexton house lot which was designated 'to be used by the City of Paris for constructing and maintaining thereon an elevated water supply tank in connection with the City's Water Works.'(FN:28) The deed also stated that 'the failure of the City of Paris to comply with or carry out any of the conditions mentioned herein as to the improvement, uses and maintainances [sic] of said property, or any part of portion thereof, to be grounds of and to authorize forfeiture and rescission of this deed to all of the property described herein, by the Grantor, it's successors or assigns; otherwise the said Grantee is.'(FN:29) Miss Daniel continued her account by reporting that 'Ed H. McCuistion was engaged to supervise the grading into a continuous lawn as near as possible without disturbing any graves and also old graves were cleaned and restored as near as possible, a new fence was built, the fine old oak trees trimmed and dead ones removed, shrubbery planted against fences of adjoining residence property.'(FN:30) The City of Paris purchased a fifty foot strip of land adjoining the stand pipe lot from Sam L. Bedford on July 8, 1922.(FN:31) The 500,000 gallon water tank was completed by January 3, 1923, when a picture was made.(FN:32) Lake Crook was opened later in 1923 and the stand pipe put into operation. The water tank is one of two such structures which is presently in use by the city. The Old Cemetery of Paris, which contains approximately three acres, in currently located in City Block 53A. It is bounded by West Cherry Street on the north and by Sixth Northwest Street on the west. Residential properties adjoin the grounds on the south and east. A fence surrounds the cemetery except for the entrance which is on Fifth Northwest. The entrance drive runs alongside the stand pipe lot which adjoins a portion of the east boundary. The ravages of time, weather, and vandalism have destroyed many monuments. There are evidences of approximately 325 graves. Around one hundred markers and monuments are left basically intact. The majority of legible dates range from 1870-1910. The last official burial was that of Mrs. Louise Chittum Dyer (January 30, 1892 - October 20, 1974). Mrs. Dyer held a deed to the burial plot. She was buried beside her husband, George W. Dyer, who died in 1944. The last burial was of stillborn twins, Infant Girl and Boy Spills (July 8, 1981). Although burials were prohibited, the pauper burial was made at the request of the parents with verbal consent from the city manager.(FN:33) Both the Dyer and Spills burials were made by Gene Roden's Sons, Directors of Funerals. The cemetery is currently maintained by the Parks and Recreation Division under the direction Dick Boots, Director of Community Facilities, City of Paris. The current fence was erected in the fall of 1981. In the last few years, the care of the cemetery was greatly improved. Although the city is responsible for the maintenance and repair of monuments, the cost has been prohibitive. Because the cemetery is owned by the city, the name 'Old City Cemetery' has come into common usage; however, there has been no official name change. It is also known as the Old Paris Cemetery. The Old Cemetery is of great historic importance to the community as many pioneer builders of Paris and Lamar County are buried there. The city's founding father was buried there. George Wright's influence extended beyond the county limits. He was a representative from Red River County (before the creation of Lamar County) to the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. He also represented Lamar County as a member of the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1845 and the Secession Convention of 1861.(FN:34) He was one of the 'Immortal Eight' who voted against secession from the Union.(FN:35) The cemetery also contains the remains of other important individuals. Samuel Moore Fulton (1800-1853)(FN:36) was the owner and operator of a trading post on the Red River in northern Lamar County.(FN:37) John R. Craddock (1813-1853)(FN:38 was the first County Clerk of Lamar County in 1841.(FN:39) The Reverend James Graham (1815-1884)(FN:40) was a Methodist preacher and teacher. He founded Paris Female Institute, the forerunner of Graham School.(FN:41) His school lot joined corners with the Old Cemetery. He also founded the first church of Methodist denomination in Paris, a forerunner of First Methodist Church.(FN:42) A large granite monument was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy at the burial site of thirteen men who were a part of Sam Bell Maxey's Ninth Texas Infantry during the Civil War. The regiment was camped in Jake Long's field which adjoined the cemetery on the east. The men died between January 3 and May 12, 1862, in a measles epidemic.(FN:43) Also buried at the cemetery are Professor and Mrs. J. J. Richardson. Professor Richardson (1837-1909)(FN:44) was the first Lamar County Superintendent of Schools (1887).(FN:45) Susan A. Richardson (1843-1911)(FN:46) was the second principal of Graham School from 1886-1901.(FN:47) These are but a few of the men and women who fashioned the history of our city and county. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their lives and their contributions. It is only befitting that we honor this hallowed ground with an official Texas Historical Marker. Through these many years it has remained sacred to the memories of those 'who from their labors rest.'(FN:48) - Debbie Burks, December 11, 1985
1. A. W. Neville, 'Backward Glances,' THE PARIS NEWS, 11 December 1935.
2. Lamar County Deed Records, 13 July 1922. Bk. 195, p. 437.
3. IBID., 26 December 1859. Bk. A-B-C, p. 7-8.
4. Neville, 'Backward Glances,' 13 September 1934.
5. Deed, 15 October 1845. Bk. A-B-C, p. 403-404.
6. IBID., 27 September 1847. Bk. C, p. 297.
7. IBID., 23 October 1847. Bk. D, p. 50-52.
8. Mary V. Daniel, 'The Old Cemetery,' 1947, p. 2.
9. Old City Cemetery. Grave cover of Thomas Wortham, Paris, Texas, 1846.
10. A. W. Neville, THE HISTORY OF LAMAR COUNTY (Paris, Texas: The North Texas Publishing Co., 1937), p. 156.
11. Deed, 5 May 1888. Bk. 58, p. 419.
12. IBID., 5 January 1885. Bk. U-2, p. 580-582.
13. 'Local history rests in burial ground,' THE PARIS NEWS, 16 May 1982.
14. Neville, 'Backward Glances,' 1 March 1931.
15. Corporation Records, Office of Secretary of State, Austin, Texas, 2 July 1879.
16. Deed, 5 September 1919. Bk. 180, p. 528-529.
17. IBID., Bk. 180, p. 528-529.
18. IBID., 5 January 1885. Bk. U-2, p. 580-582.
19. Neville, 'Backward Glances,' 1 May 1932.
20. Deed, 12 July 1882. Bk. N-2, p. 161-162.
21. IBID., 12 December 1884. Bk. S-2, p. 295-296.
22. Neville, 'Backward Glances,' 16 February 1933.
23. Daniel, p. 4-5.
24. 'Cemetery Being Used For Other Purposes,' THE PARIS NEWS, 17 June 1916.
25. City Council Minutes, 22 June 1922. Bk. 2, p. 222.
26. Daniel, p. 6-7.
27. Deed, 13 July 1922. Bk. 195, p. 437.
28. IBID, Bk. 195, p. 438.
29. IBID, Bk. 195, p. 438.
30. Daniel, p. 7.
31. Deed, 3 July 1922. Bk. 191, p. 560.
32. 'First Plans For Paris' Future Water Needs Started 50 Years Ago,' THE LAMAR COUNTY ECHO, 2 November 1967. p. 8.
33. Marcus Roden and Mrs. Cecile Roden, interview by Debbie Burks (Gene Roden's Sons Funeral Home, 425 South Church, Paris, Texas), 22 November 1985.
34. A. W. Neville, 'George W. Wright,' THE HANDBOOK OF TEXAS (Austin: The Texas State Historical Association, 1952), p. 938.
35. Alexander White Neville, BACKWARD GLANCES, ed. by Skipper Steely (Paris, Texas: The Wright Press, 1985), Vol. II, p. 261.
36. Old City Cemetery. Grave marker of Samuel Moore Fulton, Paris, Texas, 1853.
37. 'River Carried Cotton in Early Years,' THE PARIS NEWS, American Bicentennial Edition, 4 July 1975. p. 68.
38. Old City Cemetery. Grave cover of John R. Craddock, Paris, Texas, 1853.
39. Lamar County Misc. & Marriage Records, 22 February 1841. Bk. 2, p. 1.
40. Old City Cemetery. Monument of the Reverend James Graham, Paris, Texas, 1884.
41. Walter N. Vernon, METHODISM MOVES ACROSS NORTH TEXAS (Dallas: North Texas Conference Historical Conference, The Methodist Church, 1967), p. 68.
42. 'First City Church Was Presbyterian,' THE PARIS NEWS, American Bicentennial Edition, 4 July 1975. p. 4D.
43. 'First Army Camp Pitched in 1861,' THE PARIS NEWS, American Bicentennial Edition, 4 July 1975. p. 8B.
44. Old City Cemetery. Monument of J. J. Richardson, Paris, Texas, 1911.
45. Neville, 'Backward Glances,' 4 December 1929.
46. Old City Cemetery. Monument of Susan A. Richardson, Paris, Texas, 1911.
47. A. W. Neville, 'History of Graham School,' Undated manuscript, p. 1.
48. William W. How, 'For All the Saints,' 1864, in BAPTIST HYMNAL (Nashville, Tennessee: Convention Press, 1975), p. 144.
1. Benton, F. Weber, and Edgar R. Beach. PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE CITY OF PARIS AND LAMAR COUNTY, TEXAS. St. Louis: Benton, Beach, & Daniels, 1885.
2. Booth, Mrs. Elizabeth. Interviewed by Debbie Burks. 1958 Pine Bluff Street, Paris, Texas, 31 October 1985.
3. _____. 'Silent Cities.' The Genealogical Society of Northeast Texas, Newsletter #2. Paris, Texas, 14 August 1981.
4. Boots, Dick, Director of Community Facilities. Interviewed by Debbie Burks. City Hall Annex, Paris, Texas, 7 October 1985.
5. Burns, Robert, Chairman, Lamar County Historical Commission. Interviewed by Debbie Burks. Sam Bell Maxey State Historic Structure, 800 South Church Street, Paris, Texas, 10 November 1985.
6. 'Cemetery Being Used For Other Purposes.' THE PARIS NEWS. 17 June 1916.
7. 'City Tax Map.' Tax Office, City Hall, Paris, Texas, 1915, 1916, 1985.
8. Daniel, Mary V. 'The Old Cemetery.' Notebook (hand copied by Elizabeth Booth), 1947.
9. Dungan, Jan. 'Original city cemetery now 'jigsaw of marble.' THE RED RIVER VALLEY SHOPPER, Published by THE PARIS NEWS. 13 July 1977.
10. Dunn, W. H. GENERAL CITY PLAN FOR PARIS, TEXAS. Kansas City, Mo.: Dunn, Landscape Architect, 1915.
11. 'First Army Camp Pitched in 1861.' THE PARIS NEWS. American Bicentennial Edition, 4 July 1975.
12. 'First City Church Was Presbyterian.' THE PARIS NEWS. American Bicentennial Edition, 4 July 1975.
13. 'First Plans For Paris' Future Water Needs Started 50 Years Ago.' THE LAMAR COUNTY ECHO, 2 November 1967.
14. Fisher, Don. 'Cemetery city's responsibility.' THE PARIS NEWS. 18 April 1978.
15. Lamar County. 'Deed Records.' County Clerk's Office, Lamar County Courthouse. Paris, Texas.
16. _____. 'Misc. & Marriage Record Book No. 2.' County Clerk's Office, Lamar County Courthouse. Paris, Texas, 1854-1858.
17. 'Local history rests in burial ground.' THE PARIS NEWS. 16 May 1982.
18. Neville, A. W. 'Backward Glances.' THE PARIS NEWS. Paris, Texas, 4 December 1929, 15 December 1929, 2 November 1930, 4 November 1930, 3 March 1931, 15 October 1931, 16 October 1931, 5 April 1932, 1 May 1932, 16 February 1933, 13 September 1934, 11 December 1935.
19. _____. 'George W. Wright.' THE HANDBOOK OF TEXAS. Austin: The Texas State Historical Association, 1952.
20. _____. 'History of Graham School.' Undated manuscript from Local Interest Vertical Files, Paris Public Library. Paris, Texas.
21. _____. THE HISTORY OF LAMAR COUNTY. Paris, Texas: The North Texas Publishing Co., 1937.
22. Neville, Alexander White. BACKWARD GLANCES, Vol. II, ed. by Skipper Steely. Paris, Texas: The Wright Press, 1985.
23. 'Notice.' THE PARIS MORNING NEWS. 1 August 1919.
24. Old City Cemetery. Grave covers, markers, and monuments. Paris, Texas.
25. 'Paris, Texas. County Seat of Lamar County.' Map. Milwaukee, Wis.: Norris, Wellge, & Co., 1885.
26. Paris, Texas. 'Minutes of the CIty Council.' City Hall, Paris, Texas, 1915-1923.
27. 'River Carried Cotton in Early Years.' THE PARIS NEWS. American Bicentennial Edition, 4 July 1975.
28. Roden, Marcus, and Mrs. Cecile Roden. Interviewed by Debbie Burks. Gene Roden's Sons Funeral Home, 425 South Church, Paris, Texas, 22 November 1985.
29. State of Texas. 'Corporation Records.' Office of Secretary of State, Austin, Texas.
30. Steely, Skipper. Telephone interview by Debbie Burks. 25 October 1985.
31. Vernon, Walter N. METHODISM MOVES ACROSS TEXAS. Dallas: North Texas Conference Historical Conference, The Methodist Church, 1967.
32. 'Wright's, J. H., 1916 Official Map of Paris Texas and Surroundings.' Engineering Department, City Hall Annex, Paris, Texas. Dallas: W. A. Ross, 1892, 1916.
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