ERRONEOUSLY LISTED PREVIOUSLY AS THE RICHTER HILL BLACK CEMETERY
ROUND TOP, FAYETTE COUNTY, TEXAS
HISTORIC TEXAS CEMETERY
This cemetery is located adjacent to the Richters Cemetery off FM 1457 outside of Round Top. It sits below the hill from the white graves and is mowed. No doubt there are unmarked graves here. Surveyed 7 May 1990 by Kathy Carter, Helen Muras and Annette Ruckert and again in 1998 by David Collins of Missouri City.
From the historical marker dedicated on November 15, 2021:
Connersville Primitive Baptist Church African American Cemetery
African American Citizens of Fayette County established Connersville Primitive Baptist Church sometime between Dec. 10, 1883 and Nov. 10, 1885. By the later date, Thomas Cooper owned 11 1/4 acres of land adjacent to Richter Cemetery on FM 1457. Cooper gave permission for the black community to erect a building for the church.
The Connersville Primitive Baptist Church African American Cemetery is the burial site of many slaves and their descendants who lived and died in the area. The cemetery site is located within the west property line of land once owned by the Ledbetter family. Oral tradition indicates that this site was used by several slave owners to bury slaves long before the abolition of slavery. It is the only known black cemetery within a three-mile radius. There are many unmarked graves within the cemetery but marked graves are significant. The earliest dated grave marker is for George Craft (1848-1904). One of the earliest births recorded is for Piggy Dwiard (1812-1912). The inscription reads "Asleep in Jesus Peaceful Rest, Whose Waking is Supremely Blest." Another inscription reads "In the Back Woods We Lay," a reference to a common trait for historically African American cemeteries. Several markers are for people born shortly after emancipation.
Additional land was deeded to the church on May 20, 1957. The officers given the deed to hold in trust were Beatrice Breedlove, Shelley Ferguson, and Pastor J. Joseph Ferguson. In 2003, the sanctuary was relocated to the Carroll A. Wood Annex in Round Top by the Round Top Area Historical Society. The building was dedicated as the Connersville Primitive Baptist Church African American Museum in honor of African American pioineers of Fayette County. The cemetery remains as a testament ot the lives and legacies of African Americans in Round Top and Fayette County.
Historic Texas Cemetery - 2018
A Footprints of Fayette article by David Collins:
William H. Ledbetter's Link to the Connersville Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery
By David L. Collins, Sr.
In circa 1839, the William Hamilton Ledbetter family relocated from Perry, Tennessee to the James Winn League in northern Fayette County with the intent to establish a plantation. At the time, William and his wife, Jane Amanda Peacock, had four children. Five additional children were born in Fayette County. Prior to their move, records indicate that they already owned eleven slaves.
Ledbetter eventually amassed 1,559 acres in four leagues and by 1860, he owned 34 slaves and six slave houses, primarily in the James Winn League. Another major land owner in the same league was Christopher H. Taylor, who owned 4,000 acres of land and 46 slaves. Festival Hill at Round Top is now located on a small portion of Taylor’s original land holdings. Three additional large plantation owners in the William Jack League were W.F. Wade with 1,100 acres, 54 slaves and eight slave houses; John R. Robison with 1,407 acres, 39 slaves and eight slave houses; and Samuel K. Lewis with 1,647 acres, 13 slaves and eleven slave houses. These three plantations, located just north and east of present-day Round Top, Texas, encompassed 9,713 acres with a total of 186 slaves.
The Connersville Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery that fronts on FM 1457 is located just inside the west property line of land once owned by the William Hamilton Ledbetter family. This cemetery more than likely was used by Ledbetter and the other area plantation owners to bury their slaves long before the abolition of slavery, because no other black cemetery has been located within a three-mile radius of this area.
Based on an old County Survey Map now in the Fayette County Annex, there was a site labeled “Colored Church” located in the south line of the James Winn League (south line of the George Wagner property) and its intersection with the northeast corner of Richard Wagner’s property. This is northwest of the intersection of Hackemack Road and FM 1457. The original church was probably torn down with no recorded history being left.
On December 10, 1883, Thomas Cooper of Lincoln County, Oklahoma purchased 11.25 acres of land from Thomas Albert Ledbetter, a son of William Hamilton Ledbetter. This land was described in the deed as being adjacent to the “Old School Presbyterian Church and Round Top Academy” land. Today this is the vicinity of the Richter Cemetery on FM 1457. Cooper gave permission for the black community to build a church – the Primitive Baptist Church. This would indicate that the original Primitive Baptist Church was the “Colored Church” that was located some 1100 feet southeast of the current Connersville Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery and the Richter Cemetery.
Two years later, on November 10, 1885, Cooper sold ten and a half acres of this land to William Zander, reducing the original acreage to three-quarters of an acre. On September 1893, Thomas Cooper deeded the remaining land to the Primitive Baptist Church for $1.00. The deed gives no metes and bounds description, but merely states, “immediately surrounding the present site of the Primitive Baptist Church”.
It is not known when the congregation ceased using their church at this original site, since there is no recorded history. In an apparent desire to build a new church, a group of individuals, probably descendants of earlier slaves, purchased 0.65 of an acre of land from Richard and Hannah Wagner for a new church site. It is interesting to note that part of this same tract of land was previously owned by the Primitive Baptist Church with no record of it ever being sold. The survey of the deed indicates that this 0.65 acre of land fronts FM 1457 adjacent to the Richter Cemetery. The property was deeded to the Connersville Primitive Baptist Church on May 20, 1957 for $243.00. The officers of the church who were to hold it in trust were J.J. Ferguson, Shelley Ferguson and Beatrice Breedlove.
J. Joseph Ferguson was the pastor of the Connersville Baptist Church at the time. He is interred in the church cemetery – the same cemetery that now serves as a burial site for many of the descendants of slaves who once lived on surrounding plantations and who are probably buried there as well in unmarked graves. One of the earliest marked graves in the Connersville Baptist Church Cemetery is that of George Craft, who died on March 1, 1904. One other noted person with a marked grave buried there is Piggie Diward, born in 1812, who died 100 years later in 1912.
Many African American pioneers and their descendants are buried in the historic Connersville Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, including members of the following families: Leonard, McCoy, Sampson, Shelby, Wade, Craft, Rivers, Williams, Townsend, Vincent, Lewis, Goins, Knotts, Boyd, Ferguson, Jefferson, Collins and Cole.
This history was obtained from several sources and compiled by the author with the hope that an historical marker can be erected at the site of the old Connersville Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery in the foreseeable future.
Top: showing the Connersville Cemetery sign and
Bottom: the tombstone for Piggie Dwiard, born in 1812; died in 1912 at age 100; photos courtesy of David Collins, Sr.
Fayette County, Texas Abstract Maps
Fayette County Surveyor Maps – 1920
David L. Collins, Sr. 1998 Connersville Cemetery Survey
1958 USGS Map
The data with notes below was provided by David Collins.
|Name||Birth Date||Death Date||Notes|
|Boyd, Jane R.||8 Feb 1862||26 Aug 1932|
|Boyd, Jeff||4 Jan 1896||18 Oct 1957||Pvt 544 SVC BN Engr Co WWI|
|Cole, Lorine Craft||20 Aug 1905||24 Oct 1992||Bud Craft's daughter|
|Craft, A. J.||15 Apr 1879||17 Apr 1967||Alice Jane Craft; nee Shelby; Death certificate states birth date 15 Apr 1881|
|Craft, Dora Mae||25 Nov 1918||29 Jun 1931||No marker; death certificate states daughter of William Craft and Mabel Holmes|
|Craft, E. C.||1 Jan 1879||20 Mar 1960||Ebenezer Craft; death certificate states birth as 2 Jan 1877|
|Craft, George||12 Jun 1848||1 Mar 1904|
|Craft, James||28 Nov 1882||4 Mar 1937||No marker; death certificate states son of George Craft and Julia Wade|
|Craft, Julia||1843||24 Jul 1913||No marker; death certificates states daughter of Aggie Wade|
|Craft, L. D.||11 Jun 1923||14 Feb 1962|
|Craft, William||28 Dec 1879||18 Nov 1938||No marker; death certificate states son of George Craft and Julia Wade|
|Dwiard, Piggie||1812||3 May 1912|
|James, E.||26 May 1825||24 Nov 1907|
|Ferguson, Oliver A.||10 Mar 1896||29 Apr 1965||TXPVT US Army WWI|
|Ferguson, Robert||29 Feb 1980||Age 75|
|Green, Lucretia||27 Sep 1873||15 Feb 1967||No marker; death certificate states daughter of George Craft and Julia Wade|
|Goins, Lillie||12 Dec 1889||9 Feb 1958|
|Jefferson, Mary||1879||1943||King Funeral Home, Austin|
|Knotts, Andrew Lee||20 Dec 1939||death certificate states 25 Jan 1892 - 21 Dec 1939|
|Knotts, Lizzetter||1 Nov 1900||11 May 1954|
|Leonard, Roxie||1 Jan 1907||31 Oct 1983|
|Lewis, Lee Etta||8 Oct 1893||6 Jul 1967|
|McCoy, Annie||19 Jun 1918|
|McCoy, H. K.||2 Sep 1893||28 Nov 1970||David Rivers' cousin|
|McCoy, Sarah Ann||21 Jan 1905||16 Mar 1996||Willie McCoy's wife|
|McCoy, Willie||10 Mar 1895||5 Jan 1960||TX PVT 412 Rex. Labor Bn OMC|
|Mims, Sharon||13 Apr 1956||18 Sep 1972|
|Phoenix, Clarence||29 Nov 1934||12 Dec 2011|
|Phoenix, Pauline||18 Jun 1929||18 Jun 2011|
|Rivers, Ethel||25 Aug 1914||14 Jul 1967||Wife of Raymond Rivers|
|Rivers, Jarrett||5 Jan 1879||1946|
|Rivers, Matthew Jr.||1866||8 Jan 1955|
|Rivers, Robert Sylvester||1954|
|Rivers, Robert||15 Jan 1893||10 Mar 1962||No marker; info from death certificate; son of Paul Rivers and Amelia Wade; possibly same as Robert Sylvester Rivers|
|Sampson, Richard M.||1895||1984||PFC US Army WWI|
|Sampson, Roy||22 Feb 1922|
|Scott, Mahalia||1873||1948||Miller Newby Funeral Home|
|Shelby, Albert, Sr.||21 Feb 1881||21 Jan 1964||Death certificate states 23 Feb 1882 - 26 Jan 1964|
|Shelby, Albert. Jr.||1910||1963||Death certificate states 11 Jul 1910 - 1 Jan 1965|
|Shelby, Clarence||8 Feb 1919||4 Feb 1969||W. D. Shelby's son; 2 Aug 1911 birth date from SSDI|
|Shelby, Emily||Jan||20 Nov 1910||Age 56|
|Shelby, Gertrude||15 Oct 1883||13 Oct 1940|
|Shelby, Glynn M.||18 Mar 1912||3 Oct 1984|
|Shelby, T. L.||4 May 1843||20 Feb 1908|
|Shelby, T. M.||23 Feb 1883||30 Dec 1907|
|Smith, ___||1863||20 Nov 1952|
|Toney, Allen||23 Oct 1862||7 Nov 1928|
|Toney, Charlotte||29 Jun 1858||21 Jan 1931||Name listed only as "Charlottie"; surname from Texas Death Index|
|Townsend, Ernest||29 Mar 1915||23 Apr 1971|
|Townsend, Riley||11 Sep 1883||May 1973||Birth date possibly 1880|
|Vincent, Emma||10 Aug 1889||16 Mar 1971|
|Vincent, James||3 Mar 1878||7 Apr 1921||Temple 243, Waco, TX|
|Vincent, Norris||15 Apr 1876||6 Dec 1909|
|Vincent, Powell||8 Mar 1884||16 Jun 1958|
|Wade, G. W.||1873||1945||G. "Washington" Wade, 23 Jan 1893 - 8 Mar 1945 from death certificate and census; son of Henry|
|Wade, Henry||4 Dec 1873||2 Apr 1928||No marker; name and dates from death certificate; burial place "Ricktor"|
|Wade, Sarah||1878||1949||Daughter of Adam Rivers; 20 Jul 1872 - 21 Jul 1943 on death certifcate|