| The Rev. Lawson Reed came to Nacogdoches in 1878 to find no organized Baptist church serving the black community. For a time, he attended the Union Church with other Baptists as well as Presbyterians and Methodists, sometimes leading services there. The Rev. Mr. Reed prevailed upon local Baptists to organize their own church, and in 1879 they began to meet under a brush arbor. Frank and Ellen Walton, Annie K. McClain, Jim and Annie Rigsby, Harriet Moore, Hattoe Vaughns, Velma Williams McCullough and the Reeds were the charter members of the church. The approach of winter forced them to seek other accommodations, and the Waltons gave two acres of land for a building. Though the presence of the church and a number of unmarked and undated graves suggest earlier interments at this site, the earliest marked grave is that of Julia Harris, who died on February 8, 1897. Hers is the only marked grave dating from the 19th century. The Zion Hill Baptist Church grew steadily from its inception and by the 1890s the congregation required a larger structure. Early members continued to be buried on this site until the burial of Charley Blakey in 1945. Among those buried here are the Rev. Lawson Reed (d. 1924), whose grave is marked by two stones; John B. Liggins (d. 1919), Amiel Rivers (d. 1932), and Jim Smith (d. 1938), who served in World War I. There are several markers denoting members of fraternal organizations. Over time, the cemetery fell into disrepair. In the early 1970s a movement began to have the city assume custodianship of the cemetery. The burial ground remains a chronicle of the African American pioneers of Nacogdoches. (2000) |
This page last updated: 8/30/2009
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