OAK LAWN CEMETERY
There are two historical markers in Oak Lawn Cemetery.
The cemetery itself has a monument dedicated in 1991. Located just inside the brick entrance gate, the text reads as follows:
Oak Lawn Cemetery was officially established in 1878 when William T. Perry deeded property to R.M. Collins, the mayor of Decatur, for a public burial ground for area residents. At that time however, at least one marked grave; that of Eli Lindley (d. 1867) existed, indicating that a private cemetery has first been established here. Other marked graves dating as early as 1857 are believed to have been relocated to this site after the public cemetery’s founding.
The City of Decatur managed the cemetery between 1878 and 1928. During that time, local residents C. and Caroline Harmon generously donated land to the city on four occasions to enlarge the cemetery property. In 1928, in response to the recent formation of a cemetery association by E.P. Gibson, W.P. Thurmond and T.J. Dillehay, the City ceased its’ management of Oak Lawn. Between 1928 and 1986, the Cemetery Association maintained the burial ground, which was again enlarged in 1947 and 1960. In 1986, after the dissolution of the Association, the City of Decatur resumed responsibility for the graveyard.
Now consisting of over forty acres of property, Oak Lawn Cemetery is the final resting place of over 3,700 area residents.
The second historical marker located in Oak Lawn Cemetery is for Randolph (Uncle Ran) Vesey, (1832 – 1908). A picture of this marker and the wording on it can be found at the same location at Wise County Texas. (Note: There is an error in the typed wording on the website. The site shows 1903 as the death date, but the confederate marker and historical marker both say 1908. Mr. Vesey’s daughter also lists 1908 as his death date.) Additional information can be found about Mr. Vesey at the Wise County Heritage Museum. In the book History of Wise County, A Link with the Past, published by the Wise County Historical Survey Committee in 1975, Randolph Vesey’s daughter Betty Vesey Jones has an article on page 479 about her father. It gives more details about his life, including his talent as a fiddler, his service to General Cabell, and his capture and release from the Indians. His life and descriptive story of his capture by the Indians, his life among them for three months, and his release are described on pages 193 – 195 in the book Pioneer History of Wise County by Cliff D. Cates published in 1907. Both books can be obtained from the Wise County Historical Society in Decatur.
Another person with interesting historical ties, Rhoda Elizabeth Crawford Moore, is buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery. Born in 1853 she died in 1950 and is buried by her husband Blanton B. Moore. Her father, William Carroll Crawford, was one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence and served on the committee to draft the Constitution for the Republic in 1836. She was honored by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in 2000 as a “real” daughter of the Republic of Texas, since her parents were living in Texas in the days of the Republic 1836 – 1846. You can read more about him by visiting a website that printed the book Men Who Made Texas Free published by Texas Historical Publishing Co., Houston, Texas. A biographical sketch of Crawford, including excerpts from Crawford’s memoirs, can be found on pages 85 – 91 of this book.
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