Stephen F. Austin State University

A resting place known as Mixon Cemetery (October 2012)

A resting place known as Mixon Cemetery
By Deborah Burkett

Approximately 170 people turned out Sunday October 7, 2012, to witness the unveiling of the Texas State Historical Maker for the Mixon Cemetery. Additional chairs had to be added as attendees from across Texas, as well as Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico, were seated under the tent. As a resident of Mixon and a member of the Cherokee County Historical Commission, I was pleased to be a part of this dedication. My role was to recount the history of the cemetery, the Mixon community and school. Portions of my remarks are included in this column.

"… I want to say how happy I am to be here, this is truly a momentous occasion. This is a day of dedication, a day for honoring our ancestors and a day for sharing memories from the past. Hopefully what we do here today will be remembered, as future generations continue to care for this burial ground.

During my presentation I will cover two areas: First I will briefly discuss the process one must go through to get a Texas State Historical marker. And then I'll share the history of the Mixon Cemetery.

In terms of acquiring a cemetery marker it can take two years, sometimes longer depending upon the circumstances. There are two applications; the first is for the designation of an historic cemetery. The second application is for the marker. One must gather documentation and write the narrative or history of the cemetery.

Research can be fun and enlightening but also frustrating at times. An effort such as this is never accomplished by one person. I thank all of you who helped, several I want to mention today. First thanks to all of my colleagues in the historical commission, headed by Elizabeth McCutcheon, chair. They have taught me so much and have offered their support, almost daily. When I was racing to meet deadlines, our marker chairman at the time was Butch Holcomb-a special 'thank you' to Butch, for making sure Austin received my application materials on time.

I also want to mention two ladies, both well known historians in Cherokee County, First, Mary Taylor of Jacksonville, also an historical commission member. Her love of history and her research skills are well known. She has conducted family research for too many people to count and has added greatly to our county archives. On a personal note, because of her efforts I am a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and recently was accepted into the Daughters of the American Revolution. Many of my ancestors listed on these applications are buried in Mixon Cemetery. Mary Taylor knows more about my Long and Langston family history than I do but I'm trying to catch up!

Last is Mae Gene Pettit, local historian and author. Many of us here today who are 'kin' to the Stockton, Dickey, Upchurch, Musick, Langston, Pierce or McElroy families have learned so very much about our ancestors through her books. Thank you, Mae Gene.

These two ladies and others have taught me that history is fun, exciting, but never complete. One never knows when or where new information will surface. And there are some stories we've always heard but we can't prove. We treasure all comments, all memories; any information about our ancestors is precious. So our data collection and research, yours and mine, is not done. Let's continue our work together.

Now, as I share a brief history of the Mixon Cemetery please understand the entire story is too big to tell here. Before Texas became a state in 1845, people had settled in the eastern part of the territory lured primarily by elements that held great agricultural promise. These settlers found virgin timber, fertile soil "with grass that grew so high it reached the stirrups of the horses" and fresh water creeks that flowed abundantly. All of this must have been a welcome sight for these settlers seeking a new home in the Cherokee County area.

Like other pioneer families in those days they left behind relatives in states such as Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas and Alabama. Along the way they endured many hardships, spent months in wagons with little time to rest before they reached their destination. The story of the infant Elizabeth Dickey paints a vivid picture of those times. Elizabeth was the first of Moses and Melvina Dickey's children born June 29, 1835 in Tennessee. She died Dec 14, 1924 in Cherokee County and is buried in Mixon Cemetery. Elizabeth was a baby during her parents' journey from Tennessee to Texas. A family story recounts that Indians attacked their wagon train along the way and she was hidden by her parents until the skirmish was over.

In 1853, Josiah Thomas set aside 9.7 acres of land intended for the churches and for religious purposes on the western side of his 2/3 of a league of headwright in the Pine Springs Community, later to be called Mixon. Over the years the land changed hands several times, the last owners were S.A. Braly and F.M. Braly. A deed dated May 22, 1883 conveyed the 9.7 acre tract from S.A. Braly and F.M. Braly to three trustees for the local churches-the Methodist Episcopal South, the Cumberland Presbyterian, and the Missionary Baptist. The trustees were S.K. Braly, Moses Langston, and L.T. Willingham.

The oldest grave site is of Octavio Braly, daughter of S.A. and M.K. Braly, born April 11, 1853, died June 12, 1854. Many of the oldest burial sites are still marked with native rock while others are identified with modern replacement headstones. Indians were living in the county at the time and some say there are unmarked Indian graves in the Mixon Cemetery however the Musick family tells of an ancestor's grave that is marked. Stories passed down through many generations indicate they have a Native American ancestor buried in Mixon. Mrs. Navoleine Roddy shared, "I've always heard and recently found information indicating that my great-great grandmother, Kesiah Musick, was the daughter of a Cherokee Chief. Kesiah was born in South Carolina in 1819. She married Ranson M. Musick, and they came to the Mixon Community in 1860s. Ranson died in 1883; Kesiah in 1891; both are buried here."

There are over 125 veterans buried in marked graves in the Mixon Cemetery; one is a veteran of the War of 1812, Isaac Blanton, born in Tennessee in 1784 and died in 1865. Twenty two of these marked graves are of confederate soldiers, many of which served in Company G, 22nd Regiment Texas Infantry such as Moses Langston, John M. Langston, Honley V. Langston, James M. Talliaferro and Andrew J. Francis. There are also many marked graves for soldiers who served in WW I, II and other international conflicts as well.

The last category of this brief history focuses on education and the settlers who "saw to it their children were schooled". According to the 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee County had the highest enrollment in the state of Texas, 986 students attended 17 schools. Quite an accomplishment for Cherokee County at the time; when you consider that a mere six years earlier there was no state of Texas and Sam Houston was President of the Republic. These early settlers cared about education. They knew if their communities were to thrive; their children needed quality schools run by dedicated teachers.

Many of those early schools in Cherokee County were one room structures; some made of logs built by families in the communities. Records show that in 1856 school was being held in Mixon in a one room log cabin. This school was built on church and cemetery property that had been deeded and donated by the Braly family. The school stood on ground which is now the picnic area next to the current day Mixon First Baptist Church.

For almost 100 years school was held continuously in Mixon, when in the late 1950s a phase-in consolidation began to occur with Troup. Throughout its history many dedicated teachers graced the halls of this country school. Spearheaded by Aaron Langston, a monument to teachers and the old school bell were erected on the site of the first school building. Carved in stone are the names of 30 teachers who were born in Mixon, who also attended Mixon school and then came back to teach there! What a record for such a small community! The trustees were wise to offer future jobs to those Mixon graduates who had successfully completed the necessary requirements to become teachers.

We honor those individuals here by listing their names starting with the teachers who served in 1884-and ending with those who were present during consolidation in the 1950s. *E.B. Gayden, *Sam Long, *Lena Barnes, *W.L. Gayden, *Ruby Eidom, *Ida Belle Hemby, *Arthur Looney, *Aaron B. Langston, *Nell Gayden, *Doyle Musick, *Claud L. Langston, *Vera Mae Palmer, *Grace South, *I. Odis Luce, *Lois Langston, *Roy King, *R.J. Roddy, *Opal Barrington, *Ernestine Partin, *Yulan Long, *John Roark, *Ottie Mae South, *Doris Ross, *Laverne South, *John Edd Martin, *Navoleine Ross, *Joy Nell Dover, *Ruth Ross and *Willie D. Langston.

In closing, I want to say the Mixon Cemetery and the entire community is significance because the cemetery headstones speak to us of the brave pioneers who settled the area in the mid 1800s. We are moved by their determination which led them to their new home in northeast Cherokee County. Because of their religious and family values, churches and schools were established soon after they arrived. Descendants of these pioneers still live in the area and support two churches, spiritual vestiges from the past which are open regularly for worship.

To download a copy of the Mixon Dedication Program, click here.