By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
NOLANVILLE – Leta Bess Pate, 86, can remember walking past many limestone, sandstone and marble headstones in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery as a child.
"When I was a little kid, it was a big event to come out here and eat lunch," Pate said as he walked through the cemetery on Tuesday, occasionally grabbing a headstone for balance. "Every year, at an annual meet, the guys would grab their hoes and work on doing one major cleaning of the place."
Today, those same headstones Pate used to walk by as a child are showing their age as they have become weathered and stained with different chemical deposits leaking from beneath the surface.
In December 2008, the Texas Historical Commission officially recognized the cemetery as an historical site.
There is a lot of local history in Pleasant Hill Cemetery and the state has finally recognized it, said Pate, a cemetery association board member.
The oldest grave marker at the cemetery belongs to J. Carmack, who was buried in 1855. The second oldest belongs to Revenny Sutton Middleton Craghead, buried in 1860.
Pate is Craghead's great-granddaughter, she mentioned while looking over the headstones.
"I feel like that it is my place to serve on this board, because those are my (ancestors)," Pate said. "It is my duty, something I can do to give back to the community."
The cemetery contains graves for veterans of almost every war, even the Civil War, said Marie Parmer, a Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association board member.
"Anderson and Jimmy Sutton are over here, although some of the people from the Civil War never made it home," Duryl "Gibby" Bailey, a cemetery association board member, said as he pointed out the graves of two Confederate Army soldiers.
The most surnames in the cemetery are Cox and Sutton, Bailey said.
"Back around Nolanville in the 1900s, if you met someone that was not a Cox or a Sutton, you were told not to say anything about the Coxes or Suttons because they were married to the Suttons or the Coxes," Bailey said.
There are about 850 graves in the cemetery with about 190 belonging to people who are unknown.
"Sometime over history, the wooden crosses disappeared," Parmer said. The association has replaced those crosses with unknown markers.
While the cemetery is still growing, the board is excited that it was able to get historical classification.
"It is a great accomplishment to get a historical declaration for Pleasant Hill Cemetery," Bailey said. "It is one of the oldest grave sites in Bell County."
The board is now trying to get a historical marker, which may take up to a year or longer to purchase and place, Parmer said. The deadline for that state application is Sept. 1.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554.