Old Sardis Cemetery Receives Historic Texas Cemetery Designation

San Augustine, Texas — The Texas Historical Commission (THC) recently designated Old Sardis Cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery. The distinction means the cemetery has been legally recorded through the THC's Cemetery Preservation Program, an important step in ensuring its preservation. This designation is reserved for cemeteries that are at least 50 years old and documented through the Historic Texas Cemetery designation process to record their historic association and significance.

A dedication ceremony to commemorate this historic designation was held on June 3, 2018. Charles Wheeler, President of the Old Sardis Cemetery Association, welcomed the guests, followed by an opening prayer by David Curbow. The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America was led by Girl Scout, Elizabeth Paxon followed by the Pledge to the Texas Flag, led by Rylee Jay. Both girls are sixth generation granddaughters of James Howard Hopkins whose descendants donated the original acre of land for burial in the sawmill community of Sardis. Following the pledges, Major Michael E. Paxon, USAF Retired, read the names of five soldiers who served for the Confederate States of America, two World War t soldiers, eleven World War Il soldiers, and one Viet Nam soldier who are buried here.

A summary of the historic narrative submitted to the Texas Historical Commission was presented by Laura Harris. Old Sardis Cemetery was started by the burial of a young boy, last name Smith, around

1876. The grave was by the Timpson — Chireno road on land owned by James Howard and Mary

Hopkins. They received the land from a land grant signed by Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas, in 1838. As other members of the community were buried there, the Hopkins family donated an acre of land for cemetery purposes. Since that time, one hundred and seventy marked graves and approximately forty-two unmarked graves have joined this young boy-.

Following remarks by San Augustine County Judge Samye Johnson, San Augustine County THC Chair Stephanie Kardell, and San Augustine THC Marker Chair Betty Oglesbee, Rex Rains ended the program with a closing prayer. Approximately one hundred and thirty attendees then went into the cemetery for the unveiling ceremony.

Although there are only one or two burials a year, the families of those buried here gather yearly to assure that the cemetery and surrounding grounds are we" maintained and financially supported.

Cemeteries hold valuable historic information and they are often the last reminders of early settlements' historical events, religious beliefs, lifestyles, and genealogy. While the Historic Texas Cemetery designation encourages cemetery preservation, it cannot guarantee that a historic cemetery will avoid destruction. The THC developed the Historic Texas Cemetery designation to address the destruction of historic cemeteries and the illegal removal of cemetery fixtures. Any individual or organization is eligible to submit an application for this designation. To find out more about historic cemetery preservation visit the THC's web site at www.thc.state.tx.us.