Stephen F. Austin State University

Restoring Cemetery History (June 2012)

Restoring Cemetery History
By Vina L. Hathaway

E. J. Adams, my former neighbor on Lake Murvaul and former pastor at a church in Timpson has become interested in restoring historical cemeteries in the area. He retired several years ago hunting and fishing, but now has a passion for restoring over-grown cemeteries.

This adventure all began when Bob Browning wanted to locate his great, great grandfather in the Old Macedonia Cemetery on County Road 225 in the Holland Quarters area of Panola County. He and his wife, Mary Lou could hardly get into the cemetery and found a lot of grave markers piled up under a cedar tree. With the help of many people, the Boy Scouts and prisoners in rehab, they cleared the area to the timber line. Pouring concrete in a cross shape, they arranged all of the piled up head stones in it to preserve them.

Otis Owens asked if he could be buried at Macedonia because he had relatives there and became the only person buried there since 1915. The Old Macedonia Cemetery was first built in 1838. Very few graves were being marked, but the cemetery was taking shape.

Mr. Adams was selected as RIP Guardian by the Historical Commission of Texas to restore and investigate, protecting local history. Mr. Adams is a retired Air Force instructor and heard about Old Macedonia through Warren Jones who is with the adult Panola County Adult Probation Office. He and Tony Brown provided workers for Mr. Adams through the community service program. They have hauled more than 250 loads of dirt, cleared ditches and land to clean up the cemetery.

Mr. Adams locates graves with the use of dowsing rods. He says that when the rods come together, they stay together until he gets to the foot of the grave when they open up. Christian graves face the East, so with the rods he can tell if it is a male or female. Mr. Adams says that the rods will turn to the head if it is a female and to the foot if it is a male. He has done a lot of research and this method has proven to be correct. He believes it has something to do with the chemical makeup of the body.

Seven years ago Mr. Adams visited Sugar Hill looking for the grave of his great grandfather in northwest Panola County. He restored the cemetery and also located 27 slave graves. A lady in Carthage donated a stone engraved with Historical African American Sugar Hill Cemetery. The Violet Shop donated a wreath and flower arrangements for each of the graves. Mr. Adams says, "We now have a historical marker, an American flag and a Texas flag. He moves from one cemetery to another restoring each in time and history.