The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

April 16, 2014

Preserving history

Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — To the editor:

I left Hunt County in 1965 to attend college and have only returned intermittently since to visit family and friends.

As part of a geology project, I went in search of the grave for William J. (Uncle Billy) Lewalling, a noted Hunt County resident buried in Elk Creek Cemetery. I was both appalled and embarrassed by what I found.

Unlike the Center Point Cemetery or Bethel Cemetery, there is no sign pointing the way to the cemetery. One has to know where to look and then there is a sign stating “Private Property; Do Not Trespass” at the end of CR 2014. The entire cemetery is in disrepair — not from vandalism, but from neglect.

Gravestones are overturned because of the elements, gravestones are overgrown by hackberry trees and other assorted underbrush, and there is a general lack of care for the cemetery. There is evidence that someone has made an effort to clean up the cemetery, but the effort has not been successful.

Reclamation of Elk Creek Cemetery will not be accomplished in a day or a week, but over the course of several months because the neglect occurred over the course of several years. Careful attention will be necessary to ensure that graves of the residents are not violated or overlooked. Gravestones must be righted, trees cleared and burned / disposed of, and other mundane tasks.

I find it hard to believe that the residents and the government of Hunt County would allow such an action to occur. I also am sure that Elk Creek Cemetery is not the only cemetery where noted Hunt County residents are buried, but neglect or oversight has not occurred to preserve this piece of our history.

Were it not for the genealogical project, I would not have discovered the deployable state of Elk Creek Cemetery. What must we do to make sure our history is preserved and those who are integral to Hunt County are remembered? Who bears responsibility for the reclamation process?

Michael Burchett

Cullman, Ala.