Smith Cemetery Receives Marker
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) has recognized Smith Cemetery, a part of Rose Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, as a significant part of Texas history by awarding it an Official Texas Historical Marker. The designation honors Smith Cemetery as an important and educational part of local history, said Jane Edwards, family service counselor and historian at Rose Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
A dedication ceremony to commemorate the event will be held on Saturday at Rose Lawn Memorial Park. Mary Jane McNamara, marker chairman, Smith County Historical Society and Commission, will serve as master of ceremonies for the dedication. State and local dignitaries and historians as well as cemetery descendants have been asked to share in and witness this historical event.
The East Texas Korean War Veterans will post the colors, and the Brook Hill Choir under the direction of Patty Eden will provide the music for the national anthem and "Oh, Texas, Our Texas." Bettye Baty, Smith Cemetery descendant, author and cemetery preservationist, will provide an historic summary. Classic cars from the Antique Car Association will be on display before and after the dedication, Ms. Edwards said.
Smith Cemetery takes its name from the Henry Smith family, rather than Smith County. Henry Smith and his wife, Mary, both born in the 1700s, are buried there, along with two sons and their families, plus many members of the extended Smith family, she said.
Included in those buried in Smith Cemetery are four veterans of the War Between the States, a county commissioner from the 1850s, a minister, a former guard assigned to Camp Ford and at least nine children.
Pioneer family names such as Green, Dark, Ellison, Shackelford, Ashcraft, Wood, Baker, Longley, Herrin, Payne and Johnson, are found on many of the monuments.
"The grave of one of Smith County's earliest pioneer women Mary Moore Dickson Long, rests on her own land, 640 acres granted to her by the state of Texas in 1846, 10 years after she and her children first arrived in the Republic of Texas," Ms. Edwards said. "Forty other pioneers, many of them relatives and neighbors of the Long family were interred in Smith Cemetery beginning in the 1850s and continuing into the 1920s. Left abandoned until recent years, the cemetery now sits in the middle of the Cumberland Gap subdivision, just to the west of the new Rose Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery off Old Jacksonville Road."
"The Official Texas Historical Marker program helps bring attention to community treasures and the importance of their preservation." said Larry Oaks, executive director of the THC. "Awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our state's history. This designation is a tool that will increase public awareness of important cultural resources," Oaks said.
A subject qualifies for a marker if two basic criteria are met: historical significance and age. Historical significance is established by reviewing its role and importance in local history and the age requirement depends on the topic. The THC's Official Texas Marker Policies are outlined in the Official Texas Historical Marker Guidelines and Application Form, which may be obtained by contacting the History Programs Division. Texas Historical Commission, at 512-463-5853 or visiting the webs site at www.state.tx.us
"It is vital that we do not forget our past. Not only will the Texas historical Marker provide awareness in the community of our fascinating history, but it will become a building block for the promotion of local tourism," said Jane Edwards, family service counselor and historian for Rose Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. For more information call 903-939-2300.
Texas has the largest marker program in the United States with approximately 12,000 markers. Seventeen states have used the Texas program as a model; the THC reviews more than 200 marker applications each year.