Permanent settlement of the area that became the Cottonwood community began in the 1840s and 1850s. Pioneer families, including the Stirmans, Greens, Cokers, Fraziers, Benges, Grahams, Hendleys and Wheelers, established a community church, school, stores, cotton gin and--in 1894--a post office known as Mance. After the post office closed in 1905,the community again was called Cottonwood. The first known use of this property as a burial ground occurred in 1871, when landowner Shadrach Green buried his son-in-law, Joseph A. P. Smith, here. Ten years later, Green sold his land to another son-in-law, William Hugh Graham. A state representative in the 25th and 26th Texas legislatures, Graham used most of the property for his homeplace and farm, but he continued to offer the area near Smith's grave as a burial place for the community, and it was referred to during this period of time as the Graham Cemetery. After Graham's death in 1919, his widow, Lydia Candace (Green), and their children donated three acres of his land to the people of the Cottonwood community and Henderson County for use as a burial ground. The Cottonwood cemetery is a reflection of the heritage of this part of Henderson County. Veterans of armed conflicts from the Civil War to Vietnam are buried here, as are early settlers and landowners, including members of the Benge, Brewer, Frazier, Foster, Garrett, Morton, Roberson, Hendley and Allison families. Descendants of those interred have gathered annually since the 1930s for a reunion and cemetery cleaning, and in 1998 they formed the Cottonwood Cemetery Association. The Texas Historical Commission has designated the graveyard a Historic Texas Cemetery.
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