Fannin County, Texas

The following is from the application for the historical marker:

Arledge Ridge Cemetery

Although neighbors were few and far between in the early days of settlement of Fannin County, occasionally settlers in a particular area would manage to band together in some semblance of a community not only for companionship but also to share in the trials and tribulations of frontier living.  About 5 miles south of Bonham, in Fannin County, a sharp rise of land overlooking the lowlands of Bois d'Arc Creek, is a prominent geographic feature of the countryside.  Though portions of the surrounding terrain were and still are heavily timbered, many miles of rolling prairie with an uncluttered view are still a major configuration of the area.

Among the earliest settlers on this ride was Captain Mabel Gilbert, who, about the same time as Bailey Inglish built his fort on the site that was to become Bonham, constructed a blockhouse as protection bands of marauding Indians for his neighbors.

By the time the Indian problems had quieted in the mid 1840's, more and more settlers began to take up residence on the ridge.  Among these later arrivals were two brothers, William and Joseph Arledge of Limestone County, Alabama who settled on the ridge about 1850.  Both men purchased acreage from the Davis and Pendergrass surveys along the high point of the ridge.

Both men had been attracted to the area by the rich, black farmland that offered prospects for successful farming operations.  And although both were very successful in their agricultural pursuits, neither was satisfied to limit their activities to farming.  For many years Joseph operated one of the first freight lines in Fannin County with regular runs to the riverport of Jefferson to keep many of the storekeepers of Fannin County well stocked that were shipped by steamer to that East Texas port.

William, for his part, realized that the burgeoning cotton crop of Fannin County offered an opportunity to answer the need of many of his neighbors for a way to process their cotton.  Shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, William Arledge constructed and placed into operation on of the first cotton gins in the central part of the county.

By this time a distinct community was in evidence along the ridge and out of respect for the two Aledge brothers, who contributed much to the development of the area, the community was usually referred to as Arledge Ridge.

By 1858 William Arledge was serving as trustee for School District #14 at Arledge Ridge.  Later, to offer more assistance to the development of the Arledge Ridge community, he sold, for the sum of one dollar, one acre of his land to be used for "a school house and union church.  The property was deeded to Irvin Curlee, C. C. Curlee, and W. J. Majors acting as trustees for the school and church.

William Arledge was also to address one other important need of the community, that of a property place for the families of Arledge Ridge to inter the bodies of their dead.  Although not originally deeded in a formal manner to any particular group or trustees, a one half acre of land, part of the property acquired by William Arledge from the A. L. Davis survey, had for many years served as the burial ground for the community.  Records from this time period do not exist, but community tradition has long held that burials began in the late 1840's.  The earliest burial of record is that of Joseph Arledge in 1855.

To insure the legality of the burial ground, Arledge on August 9, 1876, sold, for one dollar, to James C. Arledge, as trustee, this one half acre plot for "the purpose of a graveyard and burial ground for the dead."  This plot of land was the present eastern section of the Arledge Ridge Cemetery about 200 yards east of the main entrance.  The road now bisecting the property was the western boundary.

The cemetery was enlarged on March 2, 1893 when William Arledge deeded, at no recorded cost, an additional one half acre to trustees W. J. Majors, J. M. Jones, and O. K. Stone, for "the purpose of enlarging said Arledge graveyard."

Two other expansions of the cemetery property have taken place ove the years.  On December 17, 1948, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Fairchild, fo the sum of $650, sold to the Arledge Ridge Cemetery Association, through trustees W. T. Miller, J. W. Brown, Bud Stone, Oscar Harris, and John Hale, three small tracts on the south side of the property and a tract adjoining the west side.

The second expansion, on March 16, 1965, involved a tract of land approximately 858 feet by 99 feet on the north side of the cemetery.  This tract was deeded by Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Russell to trustees W. T. Miller, Bud Stone, Oscar Harris, John P. Hale, Lynwood, Hale, and Rae Hightower London, for $450.

In 1958 several improvements were made to the property including the erection of marble entrance markers at the two entrances from Highway 78.  The markers were donated by Neal London.

Several Confederate veterans are buried in the old part of the cemetery and scattered throughout are markers in the shape of tree trunks attesting to membership in the popular men's lodge of the 1800's, Woodmen of the World.  In the oldest part can still be seen a few remains of wood markers erected during the earlier burials.  In one section of the newer part are two rows of veterans graves, the burial place of men who died without families to provide proper burial for them.

The Arledge Ridge Cemetery is a beautifully maintained cemetery operated by the Arledge Ridge Association.  An annual homecoming is held each year.

Arledge Ridge Cemetery

Marker Text:

Among the early settlers of this area were Joseph and William Arledge, brothers who arrived from Alabama in the 1850s.  Both established successful farms in the area, and the growing settlement became known as Arledge Ridge.  Joseph Arledge operated one of the earliest freight lines in Fannin County, with regular routes to the Port City of Jefferson.  William Arledge established a cotton gin in the central part of the county and later sold an acre of land to be used for a community school and church.

A tract of land, deeded by William Arledge in 1876, was designated as a community burial ground.  According to local tradition, burials may have taken place in the cemetery as early as the 1840s, but the oldest documented grave is that of Joseph Arledge, who died in 1855.

Interred in the Arledge Ridge Cemetery are many early settlers, as well as a number of Civil War veterans.  Additional land acquisitions in 1893, 1948, and 1965 enlarged the cemetery tract.  The Arledge Ridge Cemetery Association, organized in 1948, maintains the historic graveyard and sponsors an annual homecoming event.

Directions:  From Bonham take SH 78 south approximately 4 miles.

​More information on this cemetery is on the Fannin County GenWeb site.