Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

October 8, 2012

Mixon Cemetery honored with a historical designation two years in the making

Faith Harper
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — MIXON — Over a hundred veterans from wars dating back to 1812, county founders, community leaders and prominent educators lie in the Mixon Cemetery, and their contribution to the history of Cherokee County will be recognized on Sunday when the county's historical commission unveils and dedicates a historical marker to seal them in the state's history books.

The public dedication ceremony will be held tomorrow from 2 to 3 p.m. on the grounds, located at the intersections of Texas Highway 135, F.M. 177 and County Road 3052.

The event will feature speakers, singing, homemade pies and refreshments. A large tent and chairs will be set up for the comfort of patrons.

The cemetery will join the over 160 historical sites designated for their importance to the county, said Deborah Burkett, committee chairman of historic photos and archives.

 The seeds of the Mixon community were planted in 1853 when Josiah Thomas set aside 9.7 acres of the west portion of his land land in the Pine Springs community for churches and religious purposes, according to the historical commission.

A deed dated May 22, 1883 conveyed the 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.

Elray Partin, president of the Mixon Cemetery Association and descendant of the Braly family, said the cemetery is currently just over 6 acres and is the resting place for about 2,500 people. He said it is still an active cemetery, with about 15 people buried each year.

“It's is a closed cemetery if you don't have relatives buried here in the past,” Partin said.

“We don't allow anyone to be buried here if they are a stranger,” he joked.

Partin has been in charge of maintenance of the cemetery for 25 years and calls it “a dedication of love for the people that are buried out there and the people in the community.”

There are over 125 veterans buried in marked graves in the Mixon Cemetery, including about 20 Confederate veterans, many of whom were from the Langston and Long families.

The oldest veteran is Isaac Blanton, who fought in the War of 1812. Blanton was born in Tennessee in 1784 and died in 1865.  

Several old graves are marked with native rocks instead of gravestones.

The oldest known grave belongs to Octavio Braly, daughter of S.A. and M.K. Braly. She was born in 1853 and died June 12, 1854. The family came to Cherokee County in 1850 from Tennessee, and many of the family's descendants reside in the cemetery.

There is one known Indian residing in the cemetery, though legend has it there are several resting in unmarked graves, according to the historical commission.

Kesiah Musick was the daughter of a Cherokee chief. She was born in South Carolina and she married Ranson Musick. The couple came to the Mixon community in the 1860s and remain together in the cemetery.

Educators who made an early push for learning in the early days of the county and the State of Texas rest in the area.

“According to the 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee County had the highest enrollment in the state of Texas with 986 students attending school in the county's 17 schools,” Burkett said. “That's an amazing feat when you consider  that just a mere six years earlier there was no state of Texas and Sam Houston was President of the Republic of Texas.”

Records show that in 1856, school was held in a one-room log cabin in Mixon

Joe Lee Langston and his three sons Willie, Claud and Aaron all attended school in the community and all are buried in the Mixon Cemetery. Joe Lee Langston was a trustee at Mixon School, and his sons dedicated their careers to education, according to the historical commission. Together the brothers amassed over 100 years of service as teachers and administrators, and Claud Langston was elected as Cherokee County School Superintendent in the 1930s.

Burkett said it was a two-year process to get the historical marker from the state.  

She said the site must be first designated as as historic cemetery with the state, an additional paperwork, research and a determination from the historical commission in Austin to get the historical marker.

“This is an honor for our ancestors and the people who are buried here,” she said.

Burkett said it was a long two years as she and many others worked to secure the historical marker. Her roots also run deep in the solid of Cherokee County and the Mixon community.

She is a descendant of the Long, Langston and Armstrong families. She said her grandfather was Willie Langston, who served as principal and superintendent of Mixon schools in the late 1940s through the 1950s until the school's consolidation with Troup ISD. Her family was also one of the founding members and have been ancestors in the area from the 1850s

“With the support of over 250 active members in the association from various states around the country and from multiple counties in Texas, efforts continue continue to protect this resting place known as Mixon Cemetery,” Burkett said.