Black Burial Ground
Named Historic Cemetery

MONTGOMERY – Area residents and community leaders will gather today to celebrate the designation of a black graveyard dating back to the Civil War as a historic Texas cemetery.

The designation of Montgomery Memorial Cemetery as a historic Texas Cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission is an important step in documenting its history and preserving it for the future.

“There’s a lot of history here and it’s important that it’s documented,” said T. J. Wilkerson, the man who spearheaded the drive for state recognition. “I’m glad this was accomplished during Black History Month.”

Ceremonies originally planned at the cemetery at 11 a.m. today will be held at China Chapel United Methodist Church, located at 316 N. Liberty St. in Montgomery because of weather.

Dating back to approximately 1863, Montgomery Memorial Cemetery was a burial ground designated for blacks during a time of segregation, Wilkerson said. The cemetery contains approximately 800 graves – though exact information is difficult to confirm as not all graves are clearly marked.

Wilkerson took an interest in the historical cemetery in 1998. Because there were no official records, he began recording the names on the graves and talking to area residents about the history of the cemetery and the black community in and around Montgomery.

Montgomery Memorial Cemetery is still in use, though it is now open to the entire community, said Wilkerson, now president of the Montgomery Memorial Cemetery Association.

The designation as a historic Texas cemetery, reserved for cemeteries that are at least 50 years old, helps document the history of the facility and contributes to its preservation in the future.

“This community should be very proud of the work Mr. Wilkerson has put into this project,” said Philip LeFevre, local businessman and chairman of the Fernland Historical Park. “We need more people like him to take an active interest in documenting and preserving the history of Montgomery.”

Speakers scheduled at today’s event include Wilkerson, Montgomery Mayor Travis Mabry, Brownwood Baptist pastor Rev. Herbert Collins, and Gertie Spencer, of the Montgomery County Historical Commission



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