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Forgotten Panola County cemetery reclaimed, but questions remain

By Rodger G. McLane rmclane@news-journal.com
July 22, 2012 at 11 p.m.


BETHANY - Mostly unknown and difficult to find until about a month ago, restoration efforts are complete on State Line Cemetery in northeastern Panola County.

In the process, 19 unmarked graves were identified and 44 headstones restored. The earliest marked grave dates to 1857.

"No one has any knowledge of this cemetery," said E.J. Adams, a local historian and preservation volunteer for the Texas Historical Commission's RIP program. "We are still searching, and I'm not giving up."

The cemetery restoration was dedicated a week ago today. It got started with help from John Busher, a Bethany property owner.

Bethany is on the Louisiana state line and U.S. Highway 79 about 22 miles Northeast of Carthage. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the site was first settled about 1840. The community, which grew up as a stopping point for settlers moving to Texas from the Old South, was originally known as Vernon.

The name was changed about nine years later when a post office was established.

Adams said records indicated the cemetery was purchased in 1859 by a Methodist Episcopal Church from the Old Buncombe Church.

"I would like to personally thank Commissioner Hermon Reed, his foreman, Mr. Oden, Randy LaGrone, and every employee of Precinct 3, who gave their 100 percent in the restoration of this cemetery," Adams said at last week's dedication. Probation officer Tony Brown and Community Service Supervisor Warren Jones allowed more than 235 hours of work by probationers to be put in on the cemetery project.

During the restoration efforts, Busher worked daily using his front-end loader, box blade and auger. He also bought fencing and head markers for the unknown graves. Busher said he and his wife have chosen State Line Cemetery for their final resting place.

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