The Belew Cemetery Association will have two celebrations Sunday —its annual Decoration Day and the recognition of a Historic Texas Cemetery marker.
The Texas Historical Commission designated the Belew Cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery in 2011. That designation is the first step toward the preservation of a historic cemetery, a two-step process required by the state to obtain a marker.
Cemetery association board members Mary Alice Reding and Jean Burk spearheaded the application process. Once the state commission approved the application, the cemetery’s boundaries were recorded in deed records at the Denton County Clerk’s Office.
After obtaining the historic cemetery designation, the cemetery was eligible for consideration for a historical marker. The state commission approved that last year.
“I’m proud that we got it, we have been working on it for two or three years probably,” Reding said. “It’s just honoring our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and all that are buried there.”
The ceremony, which is open to the public, will be at 3 p.m at the cemetery, 9500 Belew Road in Aubrey.
Burk, who researched and wrote the historical narrative on the cemetery, will discuss the cemetery’s history, which began in the mid-1800s before the original 2.8 acres of land was purchased from Aaron Belew and his wife, Mary Jane Belew, for $56.
The land was in an area called the Belew Community, part of the A.G. Stapp Survey north of Aubrey.
Additional land was purchased several times and today the cemetery has more than 3,200 graves; approximately 70 of them are marked with red sandstone rocks located in the west end of the cemetery.
“We don’t know the exact age of the cemetery because it was a burial ground started behind a church in the Belew Community several years before the citizens of the area officially bought land and purchased it for the cemetery,” Burk said. “Like so many of the old settlement areas, a little community would develop. You would have a school, a church and behind the church you would have burials that would start.”
Burk recalled that in the Aubrey area there were several little churches when the railroad came through, separating the area, and it was about that time when Belew became the official cemetery for the Aubrey area.
“Most of the important people, prominent Aubrey citizens are there. The different communities worked hard together to keep it in existence and to keep it going,” Burk said.
The cemetery is gaining importance as more and more people become interested in their family history, she said.
“During that time, families would come in and buy a plot together and be buried together,” Burk said. “We have had people who have asked us do we have their great-grandmother. We look in the records, walk the cemetery and we may find someone they have the name of and someone they didn’t have buried next to them.”
Burk said that further research into people buried in those family plots have led people to discover a lot of new information about the past generations.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and viaTwitter @BjlewisDRC.