Pride Cemetery, Lamar County, TX
Pride cemetery is all but extinct and remains in the minds of only a few. It is within the city of Paris bounded by Johnson Woods, Pride Circle, 31st SE and Abbott St. It is in Block 209 in the city of Paris of the Lamar County Road Map produced by American Drafting and Services revised December 1993 and in the southeast quadrant of the county.
In Paris, from the intersection of Clarksville Street (which becomes Hwy 271) and Johnson Woods Drive take Johnson Woods Drive northerly for 2 blocks to the intersection with Pride Circle. Take Pride Circle easterly for about a half-block and the cemetery is on the left or north side of the road.
GPS coordinates are 33° 39' 4.1400'' N, 95° 31' 13.6560'' W. (33.65115 Latitude and -95.52046 Longitude)
It is a heavily wooded lot and little remains of the noble pioneers that were buried there. It was once called the Leach Grave Yard. Carson Pride formed Pride Cemetery from Leach Cemetery and sold lots. Area residents tell that it passed into the hands of the Johnson family then to Epps Hill and then to Luther Howarton. Howerton is said to have tried to give the land to the City hoping for protection and preservation from the vandals that had carried off many of its markers. As usual, the city turned it down [City Council Minutes 11 July 1973] and it was left to the finality of disrespectful teenagers who used to make pranks of stealing the tombstones and placing them in the yards of friends.
It has also been said that the developer of the Johnson Woods addition tried to eradicate the lot by moving some of the stones. A stone for W. A. Reed believed to be from the cemetery, was found buried in the backyard of a rent house owned by the developer in 1969. The cemetery is all but wiped off the face of the earth due to this type of activity.
Five important records have been discovered of those buried in this cemetery. The earliest known at this time, is that of Lamar County Deed Book Records, Book 2S, p. 517, dated 7 Mar 1885, naming the Reed and Duff families. The second, is that of Lamar County Deed Book Records, Book 2Y, pp. 321-322, dated 4 Dec 1886, naming the Bray, Reed, McHam, Cullum, Bell and Francis families. The third is that of the Daughters of the American Revolution Cemetery Collection compiled in 1940, parts of which were donated by the Joseph Ligon Chapter of Paris and copied by Sallie Lee Lightfoot of Paris. The book was located in the Corsicana Genealogical Library, Corsicana, TX., and copied by Betsy Mills and Elizabeth House. The fourth, is that of the records of Elizabeth Booth compiled in 1969. And finally the fifth is that of the late Gene Bray, obtained through his brother Woodrow Bray in 1993. All these records have been compiled in this work.
Lamar County Deed Records, Book 2S, p.517, shows where Tilford M. Reed purchased
lots from Carson Pride for “... so much as contains the remains of Gardner
Reed and family...” See the references in the Gardner Reed record to the
county Probate Minute Record books. These references establish that Gardner
Reed died in 1843, therefore making his the oldest known burial. To date there
are 47 identified graves in this work. References and stories appear in THE
PARIS NEWS on 13 Feb 1955, 14 and 15 Dec 1969, 22 and 24 Jan 1993. See also
the cemetery records of Dennis Murphy and William A. Reed for further information.
Hidden History, Effort Under Way to Restore Century-Old Pride Cemetery
By Sherrie Langston
THE PARIS NEWS, January 22, 1993
F. J. Reed died 100 years ago today. Neglect and time have all but obscured his final resting place, and beyond the overgrowth and beneath the underbrush is a remnant of his tombstone. [NOTE: from Ron Brothers; F.J. Reed is a female not male. She is Fereby J. Reed, daughter of Gardner and Rebecca Morrow Reed.] It is one of the few remaining [tombstones] in Pride Cemetery. Until recently a passerby had to know a tree covered lot in the exclusive Tanglewood/Johnson Woods additions was a 130 plus year old cemetery. One must trek into the woods to see the cedar posts that mark family plots and the broken tombstones that mark grave sites. Last week, a sign erected at the site announced a preservation effort. Spearheaded by Brad Bankhead, the campaign is supported by local genealogical, historical and archaeological societies. On Saturday, Jan. 30, an archaeologist will make an initial site survey of the cemetery and offer advice on how to proceed with future restoration efforts. Larry Banks, an archaeologist with the Southwestern Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Ft. Worth, will be in Paris to conduct a seminar on the newest archaeological finds unearthed at Caddo mounds along the Red River. He will take time to look over Pride Cemetery. Bankhead's desire to preserve the cemetery was fueled six years ago when he moved back to Paris. His interests in the burial ground, though, goes back almost three decades. As a child, Bankhead would play in Johnson Woods, where today brick homes almost outnumber the tress and paved streets replace the dirt paths. 'It was a pretty, pretty place,' he recalled. 'There were all these wooden markers, lots of family plots, and a wrought iron fence. I remember two areas of the cemetery; it sort of just rambled on.' Bankhead said he would read inscriptions on the tombstones and one day saw a broken marker with a familiar name, Louisa A. Cass. Mrs. Cass was [his] great great grandmother and his family did not know until that day that she was buried. He and his father, J. B., drove an old Model T Ford into the woods, loaded the broken headstone on the running boards and took it home. The younger Bankhead still has the stone. And, a number of people have since taken out family markers. 'I and others have committed to returning the stones if preservation of the burial ground is guaranteed,' [he] said. 'There has to be a concerted effort of the community to want to restore and preserve it to honor those who are buried there.' [He] said he believes stones were taken as curiosities and, if so, would like to see those markers returned. 'They can return them anonymously if they'll just let me or somebody else know,' he said. In an effort to halt any further destruction by vandals, Bankhead asked the Paris Police Department to patrol the neighborhood regularly. 'I don't feel I've moved as swiftly as I should have' in starting the project. 'Everyday you don't do something more of the ability to restore and preserve it is lost.' Ultimately, Bankhead would like to see the cemetery become a memorial park and garden, with markers erected to provide information about persons buried there. 'The above-ground recognition needs to be returned,' he said.”
CLEAN UP DAY SET FOR HISTORIC CEMETERY
Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:29 am
By Krista Goerte
“Cleanup of the historical Pride Cemetery, at 31st Street S.E. and Abbott Street, is set 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.
District 6 Paris City Councilwoman Cleonne Drake has organized the cleanup effort of the cemetery, which has graves dating back to at least 1843.
"Pride Cemetery is all but extinct, and remains on the minds of only a few," Drake said. "However, it is in the city limits of Paris."
Drake said research has led her to believe there were at one time 39 identified graves [note: 47 graves have been identified by Genealogists Betsy Mills and Ron Brothers] in the cemetery and according to records, is supposed to have a Union soldier buried in it.
"This cemetery has been neglected and time has obscured it," Drake said. "Many do not even know it exists."
The cemetery was brought to the attention of Drake by Lamar County Sheriff Scott Cass, and a committee was formed. It consisted of Drake, District 2 councilwoman Sue Lancaster, Paris Fire Chief Larry Wright, Cass, City Manager John Godwin, Finance Director Gene Anderson, descendants of Louisa A. Cass - J. B. and Doris Bankhead - and Lamar County Adult Probation Community Service Program Director Jimmy Don Nicholson.
"We are going to do everything we can to not disturb the neighbors who surround the cemetery and in the immediate area," Drake said. "There will be heavy equipment and power tools used, but we will not be blocking driveways or streets."
Drake has either contacted neighbors in the area or left information about the cleanup on doors.
With questions or concerns, contact Drake or Wright.”
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