History of the Midlothian Cemetery
Contributed by Karen Esberger
The Peters Colony
The area that would later be known as Midlothian, Texas, was first a part of the Peters Colony. The Congress of the Republic of Texas wanted settlers in north Texas as quickly as possible to help develop resources and for mutual protection against Indians.
On 30 August 1841 President Lamar signed a contract with W. S. Peters and Company of Louisville, Kentucky, to bring in 300 families within three years. The area allotted to the Peters Colony extended from near present-day Denison on the Red River to approximately present-day Waxahachie, thence west for 140 miles, then north back to the Red River. The part of present-day Ellis County in that area was then a part of Robertson County.
Each family received 640 acres; each single man over age 17 received 320 acres. Although the land was free, the settler was required to live there three years, build a good cabin, and cultivate at least 15 acres. Then the land would be patented to him in his own name. However, the company was allowed to keep up to one half of a man's grant to pay for service rendered, i.e. land surveys, title application, and, in some cases, providing powder, shot and seed. Ownership of some of the land was disputed through legislation and lawsuits till after the Civil War (Handbook of Texas Online).
The Hawkins Family
The extended family of W. A. and Anna Hawkins moved to the area in 1848, some of the last to arrive while the parent company of the Peters Colony was still in existence. That contract expired on 1 July 1848. The family had left Indiana on 31 March 1848, W. A.'s 48th birthday, (THE HAWKINS LINE, p .8) and, thus, had little time left to build their cabins.
Soon after their arrival, Benjamin Franklin Hawkins, son of W. A., set aside a part of his land for the community to build a church. (Historical Sketch of the Midlothian Methodist Church). A log cabin was in place by 1850 to serve as church, school, and community center. This was located just south of the present-day Midlothian Cemetery, across the creek and slightly up the hill. Denominations shared use of this Lebanon Church as each was served by a circuit-riding preacher on different Sundays. So the cemetery began in the churchyard used by all denominations and the surrounding community. (Looking Back).
The oldest extant tombstone is that of Mary Elizabeth Hawkins, first wife of G. W. Hawkins, son of settler W. A. Hawkins. Her date of death is 17 Oct 1873, and two of her small children who died shortly thereafter lie nearby (ECGS, p. 210). Undoubtedly older unmarked graves are also in the cemetery since settlers were in the area by 1847.
John W. Hawkins and George W. Hawkins deeded land to Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for use as a perpetual burying ground for use of the church and citizens of the neighborhood and community. The sale of these four acres, for $5.00, was signed on 2 March 1874 (Ellis County Clerk, Deed Vol. M, pp. 314-315). On 9 April 1888 M. T. Hawkins and wife Amanda deeded "about 2/3 of an acre out of the William Hawkins Survey" adjoining the cemetery to the M. E. Church South. This land was also stipulated to be used for a burying ground for the town of Midlothian and vicinity (Ellis County Deed Vol. 107, pp. 291-292). Land from the Methodist Episcopal Church South was deeded to the cemetery on 1 March 1901. Three church trustees signed the deed (Ellis County Deed Vol. 125, p. 243). Over the years, more land surrounding the cemetery has been donated or purchased, so the area now totals 16.412 acres. Significant bequests came from T. M. Dees, M. W. Hawkins, and the estate of Cloma Hanson Trotter. (Field Notes, p. 2)
A strip of land along the south fence line of the cemetery was early-on set aside for paupers, poor, and people of color. That area has many fewer extant gravestones than the remainder of the cemetery (Looking Back).
Some Early Families Buried in Midlothian Cemetery
Mr. and Mrs. E. K. Ward and their family of twelve children who settled in the Valley west of Midlothian in 1877, occupy several plots in the east section of the cemetery. Mr. Ward was a prominent and successful farmer (Midlothian Argus). The family of their daughter Etta and her husband ,W. A. Few ,are next to them.
The family of John David Duke (1859-1920), farmer and Board Member for the Christian Chapel School, and his wife Johnnie Etta S. L. Tribble (1864-1928) lived just north of Midlothian. They, along with all four of their daughters and three of their seven sons, are buried here (ECGS, p. 180).
Cyrus E. Alexander (1856-1902) moved to Midlothian in 1889. He died in office while serving as the Mayor of Midlothian (Memorial & Biographical p. 529; Midlothian Mirror, 29 Sept 1988, p. 3).
William F. D. Barnett (1828-1888) came from Tennessee at age 18, first working for Larkin Newton and later marrying Newton's daughter Flora. Their ten children included Dr. T. L. Barnett (1857-1925) for whom a park in Midlothian is named (Memorial & Biographical p. 400).
George W. Henderson (1848-1926) was a charter member, second Deacon to be ordained, and the first Sunday School Superintendent of the Baptist Church. A successful farmer, he had moved to the Midlothian area in 1875 (Memorial & Biographical , p. 374).
John C. Kimmel (1851-1914) and family arrived in 1886. He conducted an extensive farming and ranching operation. His widow donated land for Kimmel Park in the town (Memorial & Biographical , p. 244; Midlothian Argus).
William W. Major (1858-1938) came in 1876. He engaged in the hardware, implement, and grain businesses. He later began one of the first "additions" to the town, and built several of the brick businesses downtown (Memorial & Biographical , p. 530; Midlothian Argus).
Tom A. Morgan (1949-1925) was noted for building the first house in newly-formed Midlothian after the town was platted in 1883. His drug store was the second business located there (Midlothian Argus).
Marcellus T. Hawkins (1824-1896), son of the early settler W. A. Hawkins, owned the first store in Midlothian, having brought in the old Grange store from the nearby Lebanon community. He was the first postmaster of Midlothian (Memorial & Biographical , p. 264).
Before Mdlothian was formed mail was delivered to "Bakersville" home of Rev. Charles Barker (1824-1905), a Methodist preacher. He held several Ellis County offices (Memorial & Biographical p. 242).
W. A. Brundage, Sr. (1846-1918) was the first mayor of Midlothian when it was incorporated in 1888, along with being an early publisher of the Midlothian newspaper (Midlothian Argus).
Nine men known to be Confederate veterans rest in the Midlothian Cemetery. Five of these men had arrived in Texas before the War and served in Texas units. Tennessee sent two veterans, along with one each from Louisiana and Kentucky. These honored men are:
Barnett, William F. D., Co. A, 18th TX Inf.
Davie, Daniel, Pvt, 12th TX Cav.
Few, William Marsh, TN Inf.
Hagard, Dr. Martin Luther, Sgt, Co. B, 25th Regt, LA Inf.
Hurt, William Monroe, Co. E, 10th TN Cav.
Lamb, Henry, Pvt, Co.E, 1st KY Inf
Ludewick, Moses W., Co. F, 12th TX Cav
Mayfield, Samuel, Cpl, Co. F, Parson's 12th Cav
Tucker, Argyle William, Co. C, 2 TX Inf.
At least twenty-nine veterans of World War I and over 180 veterans of World War II rest here. The numbers of the latter are currently increasing dramatically. Veterans of the Korea and Vietnam wars also lie interred here, as well as some who served during peacetime.
A meningitis epidemic hit this area in early 1912. About 20 graves date to this time period and could have occurred because of this disease (No One Seems to Remember , p. 2).
The "Spanish influenza" pandemic of 1918-1919 did not spare Midlothian. Sixty-one burials here date from that time period and may be due to this illness. In October, 1919, the Midlothian schools were closed temporarily because of the flu (Ibid.)
Fraternal organization symbols found on various tombstones include the WOW, Masons, and Eastern Star.
City Records Date Back to 1899. (1988, Sept. 29). Midlothian Mirror, p. 3.
Ellis County Clerk (1874). Deed Book M, pp. 314-315.
Ellis County Clerk (1888). Deed Book 107. pp. 291-292.
Ellis County Clerk (1901). Deed Book 125, p. 243.
Ellis County Genealogical Society (ECGS). (1981). Ellis County Cemetery Records (Vol. 1). Waxahachie, Texas: ECGS.
Field Notes. (1976, 1983) Ellis County Deed Books Vol. 599, p. 207 and Vol. 684, p. 392.
Handbook of Texas Online. (1997-2002). Peters Colony.
The Hawkins Line. (1962). Groesbeck, Texas: The Groesbeck Journal.
Nelson, John R. (1919, Nov. 3) Historical Sketch of Midlothian Methodist Church. (Clipping from unknown newspaper in scrapbook of G. D. Glenn. Scrapbook is kept at A. H. Meadows Library, Midlothian, Texas.).
Looking Back. (1991, August 8). Midlothian Mirror, p. 8.
Memorial and Biographical History of Ellis County, Texas. (1892). Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company.
Midlothian Argus.(1916, Jan. 13).(Entire issue). As reprinted (1960, Dec. 26). Midlothian Mirror.
No One Seems to Remember Much About It, But the Local School Has Come A Long Way from The Log Cabin of 1850. (1938, May 27). Midlothian Argus, p. 2.
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