AUBREY — A historical marker was unveiled Sunday afternoon at the Belew Cemetery in Aubrey in front of city officials, local residents and families of those buried in the cemetery.
The dedication ceremony was sponsored by the Belew Cemetery Association and the Denton County Historical Commission.
“A cemetery tells the history of a town,” said Beth Stribling, Denton County Historical Commission chairwoman. “It tells the story of the people who came before us.”
County Judge Mary Horn and Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco, were also in attendance.
Horn welcomed the audience, and Fallon read a resolution commemorating the dedication of a Historic Texas Cemetery Marker at Belew Cemetery.
“Those who have found their final rest in these peaceful grounds have contributed in myriad ways to shaping the history of this North Texas community,” he read. “And this historical marker represents a fitting tribute, both to their memory and to all those who have worked to preserve and care for this important cultural site.”
The Texas Historical Commission designated the Belew Cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery in 2011.
Receiving the designation is the first step in a two-part process to receive a marker.
Mary Alice Reding and her daughter, Jean Burk, both serve as directors of the Belew Cemetery Association. They are credited with completing the application and other necessary work to receive the marker.
“I wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for my mother,” Burk said.
The dedication ended with Burk telling the story of how the cemetery developed and expanded. Burk researched and wrote the historical narrative on the 165-year-old cemetery.
Around 1856, about 40 families traveled from Tennessee to Denton County, according to Burk’s research.
The families established the Belew Schoolhouse Settlement near Aubrey. According to Burk, the first piece of land for the cemetery was bought in 1880. In 1902, the Ladies Cemetery Society was formed and set out to raise funds to care for the cemetery. The cemetery has grown over time and has expanded through several land purchases.
The society was later renamed the Belew Cemetery Association. Today, the cemetery holds more than 3,200 graves. Some of the first Belew settlers are buried in the cemetery along with the founding members of the Ladies Cemetery Society.
Officials said veterans from the Civil War, Spanish America War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Gulf War are buried in the cemetery.
“We’re just thankful for all those who grew the cemetery,” Burk said. “I pray it will continue to carry on like it has done in the past.”
For more information on the Belew Cemetery, contact Stribling at 940-231-2523 or Burk at 940-453-2758
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.