Pioneer cemetery receives state honor

A historic pioneer cemetery near Lipan has been designated a historical cemetery by the state of Texas.

Martin Cemetery is off Lipan Highway between Thorp Spring and Lipan on the Langley property next to Diamond A Ranch.

The cemetery is the final resting place of three people killed by Indians in the Lipan area. It’s also rumored to hold the graves of seven Indians killed in Hood County’s last Indian fight near Lipan in 1869.

Martin Cemetery is only the second cemetery in Hood County to receive the historical designation. The Colony Cemetery between Granbury and Tolar received the designation last year.

Work is still continuing on obtaining historical markers for the cemeteries.

Other Hood County cemeteries have historical markers, but not the historical designation, says Hood County Historical Preservation Council member Karen Nace. The designation protects the cemetery’s historic status under state law, she states.

Council chairwoman Diane Lock stated the Martin Cemetery is a who’s who of the residents of early Lipan. Pioneer names such as Spencer, Langley, Lee, Millington, Yancy, Raifsnyder, Holt, Martin and Self can be found on tombstones in the cemetery, she said.

“Some of our cemeteries are the only remaining records of families who lived here,” stated Lock. “They are a good source for people doing their genealogical research and we need to protect them from any form of destruction.” Lock hopes to have all cemeteries in Hood County designated as historical cemeteries.

The cemetery was named for William Harvey (W.H.) Martin, an early Lipan resident. Martin and his brother Riley came to Texas from Illinois in 1855. They first settled in Parker County, but W.H. moved to the Robinson Creek area near Lipan in 1876. He and his nine children appear on the 1880 census.

His daughter, Larrinda Ellen, married N.B. (Ben) Self, a member of another prominent family in the area. Although Martin didn’t own the land when the first people were interred in the cemetery, he did set aside an acre of his land for a cemetery. Martin served as a preacher, county commissioner and justice of the peace at Lipan, historians say.

Nathan Holt is believed to be the first white man buried in the Martin Cemetery. He was killed by Indians in the summer of 1859 while trying to round up some of his cattle. Holt, who was pierced with a dozen arrows, was found two days later, say historians.

Also buried in the cemetery are Mrs. Sarah Rozell Bowen and Mrs. Rozzell McGee. The woman were reportedly killed by a band of eight to 10 Indians in 1872 when they attacked the women’s camp on Robinson Creek near Lipan. The women’s father, Mr. Rozzell, arrived at the camp just as the Indians were preparing to attack. He didn’t have a gun and used a stick to try to convince the Indians he was armed, history says. The Indians discovered his ruse and charged him. Rozzell escaped by mounting his horse and riding away, historians reported.

There were several children in the camp, but the Indians only hit and punched them instead of killing them, history reports.

There has been some belief that the Indians were actually white men who dressed up as Indians to commit the crime.

The bodies of six braves and a squaw killed in the last Indian fight in Hood County near Lipan in September 1869 are also buried in unmarked graves in Martin Cemetery, some people have claimed.

Aledo resident Jack Holt has been instrumental in getting a cemetery association going for Martin Cemetery. He has relatives buried there and he and his wife plan to be buried there as well, say preservation council members.

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