Hawley Cemetery
Welcome to

Formerly Deming's Bridge Cemetery
1854 - 1900

721 CR 436 Hawley Cemetery Road          28°53'55.75"N        96°10'46.39"W

Hawley Cemetery
was designated
as a
Historic Texas
in June 2011


Hawley Walking Tour
Hawley Virtual Walking Tour

Hawley Burials Database
A - C     D - G     H - K     L - P     Q - S     T - Z

The rows for each section are numbered from east to west.



Map copyright Google Earth 2011

Marker inscription typed by Faye Cunningham






Hawley Cemetery

Hawley Cemetery, first known as Deming’s Bridge Cemetery, was established in 1854. It is located on Tres Palacios River, two miles east of Blessing, in the Thomas Jamison League of Matagorda County, Texas. The name Deming’s Bridge originated from the cemetery’s proximity to Deming’s Bridge and was in the churchyard of Tres Palacios Baptist Church. The original two acres were donated by Emelius and Norman Savage to Tres Palacios Baptist Church which was founded in 1852. An additional 1 ½ acres were donated by Jonathan Edwards Pierce in 1893. The cemetery association purchased an additional 3 ½ acres along the south side of the cemetery and the south fence was moved to enclose the new acreage. The names of the community and post office were changed from Deming’s Bridge to Hawley by Jonathan Edwards Pierce in 1899. In 1913, Jonathan Pierce and his two daughters, Pearl Pierce Smith and Grace Pierce Heffelfinger deeded an additional 13 acres to the Hawley Cemetery. The earliest recorded burial was Sarah Tone October 30, 1857. The upkeep for Hawley in the early days was the responsibility of church and family members. During the 1930s, during a cleanup effort, a brush fire got out of control and burned the existing wooden markers. 80 oblong concrete markers were placed on the graves where the wooden markers were burned and most of the names of those marked with the concrete markers are still unknown. The Hawley Cemetery Association was formed in 1939. A map of the cemetery with all graves was made in 1940. The current Hawley Cemetery Association keeps the cemetery grounds and records in excellent condition. There are six sections in the cemetery, A-H. Burials at Hawley include brothers, Abel Head “Shanghai” Pierce and Jonathan Edwards Pierce and their extended families which includes William Walter “Pudge” Heffelfinger, All-American guard on a Yale University football team in the 1800s . In 2010 there are 1729 known burials and an undetermined number of unknowns.  Included in the 1729 burials are seven war casualties 375 veterans and seven Gold Star Mothers.

Courtesy of Kenneth L. Thames

Statue of
Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce


Early church gathering in the Deming's Bridge-Hawley area. The church building appears to be in the background.

Hawley Picnic To Be Friday August Third

Many people will be glad to know that there will be a Sunday School picnic at Hawley again this year. Hawley used to be the head of navigation on the Tres Palacios river. Before the day of railroads through this part of the country, merchandise of all kinds was brought in by boat and unloaded at this place to be freighted in wagons to inland towns.

The Hawley church twenty years ago was the scene of a big annual camp meeting where hundreds of people came to attend the services and camped out in the beautiful groves around the church during the two or three weeks of the meeting. Hawley now is a mile north of Tidehaven which is three miles east of Blessing on the Gulf Coast lines. The Hawley picnic has been an annual event for the last twelve years with the exception of two or three during the war. It has combined the features of a picnic and a convention and being an ideal spot for both it has been attended by hundreds of people each year.

At a meeting in Blessing Sunday afternoon for the purpose of planning the program for the Hawley picnic this year about sixty people were present and much interest manifested. Sunday schools from Bay City, Gulf, Citrus, Markham, Midfield, Clemville, Palacios and Blessing were represented.

After J. H. Barber, of Markham, had called the meeting to order it soon became evident that the plan of former years would be inadequate for this year. Bay City brought us a very cordial invitation to hold the convention at that place. After consideration and discussion, their invitation was unanimously accepted and plans set on foot to hold a big County Sunday School Convention in Bay City, September 7.

At the same time the Hawley picnic could not be given up, and plans were also  made to hold a county wide Sunday School picnic at Hawley, August 3. A committee was appointed to clear off the grounds and have everything in readiness for that day. Another committee was appointed whose business it is to see that there is something doing every minute of the time after the Sunday School folks arrive, about ten o'clock. A program of sports, songs, story telling and all the good times that happen at a picnic is to be expected. An experienced director of sports and a song leader have already been secured. There will also be the picnic dinner. Of course everybody is in on that. Nuff said. All Sunday School folks are invited. Remember the date Friday, August 3rd.

Palacios Beacon, July 20, 1923


Annual Meeting Hawley Cemetery Assn. Held At Blessing Saturday P. M.

Sixteen members of the Hawley Cemetery Association, from Collegeport, Palacios, Markham, Midfield, Clemville and Blessing, gathered at the Blessing Community House for their annual meeting on May 11 at 7:30 p. m.

This peaceful old cemetery has been used as a burial place since before the 1850's and was known as "Deming's Bridge Cemetery." Located on the east bank of the Tres Palacios River, a mile north of Highway 35, present members are hoping to have the Highway Department erect a sign directing people to the cemetery. The name of this cemetery was changed to Hawley Cemetery by John E. Pierce in the late 1890's when he gave added acreage as a "free, public, burial place."

Mrs. A. W. Hurta of Midfield, secretary-treasurer, reported that starting with a balance on hand May 1, 1963 of $34.39, 130 persons had contributed $2516.58 for upkeep of the cemetery. Caretaker and other expenses had amounted to $1335.06, leaving a balance on hand of $1215.91 for the coming year's work. The secretary reminded members that a large part of this balance had come in April to apply on the coming 1964-'65 year's work.

Mrs. A. B. Pierce reported that 15 persons had contributed $1185.00 to the Trust Fund Special, including Hawley booklets, memorials, and site reservations.

Included in the Trust report was the sum of $135.00 given by tree friends in memory of Odile Logan Sanford. Other memorials have been given to the Trust Fund and a Memorial Book has been ordered to keep this record. Total amount in the Trust Fund to date is $5,674.59, including $769.59 accrued interest from Bay City Federal Savings and Loan.

Contributions for Live Oak trees and a few shrubs planted this year (a double row of young Live Oaks now marking our east, future, driveway in addition to four larger oak trees scattered through the "old part" to replace old trees blown down by "Carla") were given to the Upkeep Fund by two members. Mason Holsworth and his men from Collegeport contributed labor, Ray Hickey of Markham contributed top-soil, other labor was contributed by members until this project was completed.

After several resolutions were voted on, including "Restated Articles of Incorporation (with amendments) for Hawley Cemetery Association," nomination and election of the following 13 persons as our Board of Directors was acted on:
Miss Mignon Doman of Markham
Mrs. Wm. Taylor of Clemville
Mrs. R. B. Trull and John Domorod of Palacios
Mrs. A. W. Hurta of Midfield
Mrs. John Merck, Gerald Wells, Mason Holsworth and Dean Merck of Collegeport
Mrs. A. B. Pierce Sr., S. M. Rickaway, Lee M. Pierce, and Bert Logan of Blessing.

The following officers were then re-elected for the coming year: Mrs. A. B. Pierce, Sr., president; Lee M. Pierce, vice-president and Mrs. A. W. Hurta, secretary-treasurer. Steve Rickaway was elected Grounds Manager and Ed Baker of Palacios as Caretaker. Mr. Baker was given a bonus for the care he had given the cemetery, in lieu of a raise in salary.

Steve Rickaway was asked to appoint a committee to assist him in constructing enough corner concrete numeral markers for two more rows of grave sites at the east, also west side of present graves. He reported that 16 funerals had taken place at the cemetery this past year.

Attending the meeting were Mrs. Esther Cornelius, Mrs. Edith Valigura, Mrs. R. T. Sirmon, S. M. Rickaway, Mr. and Mrs. Dean Merck, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Wells, Mrs. Herman Jaeger. Mrs. E. J. Baker, Mary Baker, John Domorod, Mrs. Jack Holsworth, Mason Holsworth, Mrs. A. W. Hurta, Mrs. A. B. Pierce, Sr. and Lee M. Pierce, who had to leave before the meeting got underway in order to attend the Blessing Volunteer Fire Department's monthly meeting.

Memorial Day services will be conducted by the Blessing American Legion at the Catholic Cemetery in Blessing at 10 a. m. with Father Bily assisting and at Hawley Cemetery at 11 a. m. with Rev. Jim Brown of Markham assisting.

Palacios Beacon, May 21, 1964

Meeting At Blessing

A public meeting will be held on June 21st, 1939 at 8 p. m. in the Blessing Community House, Blessing, Texas, for the purpose of organizing a Cemetery Association in order to make the care and maintenance of old Deming's Bridge or Hawley Cemetery on the Tres Palacios, perpetual.

All descendents, relatives or friends of anyone who is buried out there, are urged to attend this meeting.

The place has been kept up beautifully the last few years and looks like a park now--but we do not want it to grow up in high weeds and brambles as it used to be before Mrs. Smith and a few others overtook it's care. We can incorporate, elect officers, decide on a manager, decide on dues or subscriptions by the year, and hold an annual meeting to listen to financial and work reports. It will be very simple if we just go ahead and do it. We want as long a membership list as possible and hope even the very youngest of the descendents will add their names to the list.

Palacios Beacon, June 15, 1939

Box Supper At Blessing Community House; Proceeds For Hawley Cemetery

If it’s a lot of good clean fun you are looking for go to the Box Supper at the Blessing Community House, Friday night, June 6.

If you can’t buy the Ole Lady’s box or the best girl friend’s prize offering, you can certainly make someone else pay for the privilege of having a lot of fun. And you can have plenty of fun at an old-fashioned box supper.

Proceeds of the box supper will go to buying a power mower to care for the beautiful Hawley Cemetery. It is a worthy and worthwhile cause and our neighboring city deserves our support.

Blessing has wholeheartedly supported every civic and community enterprise Palacios has endeavored to promote and we have a lot of fun in returning them the favors they have shown this community.

Ladies take a box and the gents take a few extra shekels and go up to Blessing Friday night and enjoy the fun.

Pies, sandwiches and drinks will be available.

Palacios Beacon, June 5, 1947

Jonathan Edwards Pierce
Picture courtesy of Lee Hall & Ona Lea Pierce




Copyright 2005 - Present by Hawley Cemetery Association
All rights reserved

May 10, 2005
Jun. 8, 2015