Compiled by Leroy Byers Chr., Muriel Burleson, May 27, 1987
The first settlers in Ladonia were James McFarland and Daniel Davis in 1840. The settlement was on the Central National Board built in 1844. It extended from Dallas, Texas to the base of Kiamichi Mounts in Oklahoma. The location of Ladonia is described as beautifully located on a sandy prairie, the timber extending to the northern border.
The Ladonia Cemetery is divided into two general areas. The part lying to the north is known as the IOOF Cemetery. It was under the control of the Odd Fellows Lodge during its early existence. From a field map drawn by William Cummens in 1896, it shows cemetery lots drawn and numbered. It also shows graves marked unknown on the map.
The Presbyterian Cemetery is to the south. There is a small drainage ditch between this tract and the IOOF Cemetery.
This tract was a gift from John Nail and his wife. For the consideration of the sum of one dollar ($1.00), it was deeded to Elders, Danial S. Redner, Israel D. Maloney, and Elbert Early of the New Hope congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of the town of Ladonia, Texas.
The deed stated that the property be held in trust for the said congregation, and they shall cause to be built for the use and benefit of the same church on said lot, a two-story structure. The upper story was to be used for public worship, and the lower story was to be used for a school. The school was to be under the control of the Board of Trustees to be appointed by the patrons of the school also their successors in office.
The first Cumberland Presbyterian ministers to preach in this church were Rev. Bob Jones, Dr. Sam McKee, Rev. Givings, and Rev. Piland.
Professor S. D. Lowry was the first to teach in the building. he came to Ladonia from Cane Hill, Arkansas about the beginning of the Civil War. Professor Lowry's little daughter was the first one to be buried in this new section of the Presbyterian Cemetery in 1885. The next was Mrs. Pilant, an aunt of Mrs. Lowry.
There were already graves. One of them was William Lovelace Foster. he died August 6, 1869.
The bell, which now hangs in the U. S. A. Presbyterian Church, was bought in 1871. It was hauled from Jefferson on a wagon as it was several years before Ladonia had a railroad. It was always tolled on funeral occasions.
William Lovelace Foster (1830-1869) was born in Foster's Settlement, Alabama, on January 29, 1830. He graduated with distinction from the University of Alabama in 1850. He served in Company F. of the Mississippi Infantry Regiment in 1862. He was appointed Chaplain on February 1, 1863. He became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ladonia, Texas, in September 1868. He died less than a year later on August 6, 1969. he is buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery. His wife died in 1885 and is also buried there.
Mr. J. D. Maloney was made ruling elder of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1859. Pastors of the Methodist Church preached in this church regularly until they built a church in 1860.
In May 1865, the soldiers came home from the Civil War. A bountiful dinner was served them just east of the church. The came marching in with guns on their shoulders, stacked arms, and Captain Roderick made an address. Next they drilled, stacked arms, and then marched to the table.
This building was torn down in 1875-76. The congregation worshiped in the school building just east of the Bishop home.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church of the U. S. A. purchased the parcel of land known as the Dan Redner homeplace. it is approximately two acres. They paid Eighteen Hundred Dollars ($1,800.00) to Felix D. Evans, George M. Evans, Jr., and Julius Evans. The elders of the church were Neal T. Scott, J. E. Fuller, and J. C. Wise. The General Warranty deed was acknowledged on April 18, 1907, by P. A. Diederick Notary Public, Western District, Indian Territory.
On June 10, 1956, a committee was appointed by the Presbyterian Church to make necessary repairs to the church building. The members of this committee were Mrs. Joe Forshee, Mrs. Elmer Fuller, Carl Jordan, and James E. Fuller. Mr. Arthur Bradshaw staked off cemetery lots and sold them to pay for needed repairs. This tract included property from the last section used for graves up to the church lot.
The Presbytery of Trinity of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America for the in consideration of the sum of Ten and no/100 ($10.00) and other valuable consideration have granted, sold,and conveyed unto the Ladonia Cemetery Association the real property in Fannin County, Ladonia, Texas.
It is to have and hold the premises unto grantee, its successors and assign forever.
This deed was recorded on July 13, 1976. (Fannin County Records, Vol. 566, p. 585)
A certain parcel of land situated in the city of Ladonia was sold to the Trustees of the Ladonia Cemetery association and their successors in office. It was sold for Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00) by John L. Bishop and his wife, Jane Bishop Moore, Joe B. Prew, Barrie L. Hale,and Anna Lou Rochester. These are descendants of John Bishop.
This purchase was recorded on May 30, 1980. (Fannin County Records, Vol. 597, p. 076).
Alvin Fields and his wife, Sue J. Fields, for and in consideration of the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) and other good and valuable consideration grant, sell, and convey unto the parcel of land situated in the City of Ladonia, Texas out of the N. T. Myers Survey recorded in Vol 566, page 546 in the Fannin County Records.
This deed was recorded on March 4, 1987.
The northeast corner of the IOOF Cemetery is known as the Mexican Cemetery. The story is that a group of mexican farm laboreres came to Ladonia. There were about twenty men. They developed typhoid fever. They all died and were buried here.
In the Presbyterian Cemetery, there is The Stranger's Tomb - died at the residence of J. A. Donaldson on the 4th day of October, 1867. It is told that he came into the yard of J. A. Donaldson with high fever and incoherent. The Donaldson family cared for him. he died about three days later, but was never able to tell who he was. The Donaldsons buried him on their family lot.
There are 1761 recorded graves in the Ladonia Cemetery. The earliest birthdate noted is Rowland Cobb. He was born on May 20, 1796 and died on August 26, 1867. The earliest death date noted is 1866. This was child, Joe Shelby. She was born on October 3 and died on May 11, 1866. She was the daughter of J. E. and S. T. Shelby.
There are seven recorded Civil War Veterans and many World War I and World War II Veterans buried in this cemetery. It is estimated that there may be as many as 1500 unrecorded graves.
The principal burial ground for members of the Ladonia community, this graveyard has historically been divided into two sections: The I.O.O.F. (Odd Fellows) Cemetery and the Presbyterian Cemetery.
The oldest recorded grave, that of Joe Shelby (D. 1866), infant daughter of J. E. and S. T. Shelby, is located in the Presbyterian Cemetery section. Also in that section is the "Stranger's Tomb," marking the grave of an unknown traveler who died in October 1867. Another early burial is that of William Lovelace Foster (1830-1869), Civil War veteran and pastor of Ladonia's first Baptist church at the time of his death.
The I.O.O.F. section of the cemetery was originally maintained by the local Odd Fellows Lodge. The earliest recorded grave there is that of Mrs. P. T. (Marie) Hockaday (1838-1881). The Lodge continued to care for its section of the cemetery until about 1902, when management of the two sections of the graveyard were merged.
Those interred in the Ladonia Cemetery include veterans of the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, as well as early settlers of the area, Fannin County officials, and many generations of Ladonia citizens.
Location: Near the intersection of 200 Church and 200 Paris St. in Ladonia
Additional information on the Ladonia Cemetery is at the Fannin County GenWeb site.