Historic cemeteries in Dayton to be dedicated with official markers

Volunteers cleaned up the Linney-Acie Cemetery on Saturday, March 30, in preparation for a historical marker dedication on April 13.

The Liberty County Historical Commission will host an official marker dedication at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 13, 2019, honoring Linney-Acie Cemetery.  The dedication ceremony will be held at the cemetery located at the corner of Linney and Colbert Streets with a reception following in the Family Life Center, First United Baptist Church Dayton. 

Linney-Acie Cemetery will be honored with a Historic Texas Cemetery designation from the Texas Historical Commission.  A special HTC medallion will be affixed to the current state marker. Also, Acie Cemetery will be honored with a Liberty County Historical Commission marker honoring black history and the contributions of the citizens interred there.

Linney Cemetery was founded in the 1850s and established to serve the citizens of West Liberty (now Dayton).  Although there was no early organization of the cemetery, sections of the burial ground were known by the names of families interred there, such as Smith and Alford.  A section was reserved for black families in the early years, later known as Acie Cemetery. 

Several land acquisitions and donations over the years have combined to bring the cemetery’s total size to 13 acres.  There are many unmarked burials in the cemetery.  The earliest documented interment is that of Joseph Monroe Linney, who died at the age of six days in 1880.  Other early burials include those of Jane Francis Hunt, who died in 1881, and Marie Louise Schneider Gossie, who died in 1885.  Those buried in the Linney Cemetery include pioneer settlers, city and county elected officials, community leaders, members of fraternal organizations, and veterans from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and peace time veterans.   

Austin Bank

Within the boundaries of the predominantly white Linney Cemetery, a separate graveyard was designated for African-Americans, once called the Negro or Linney Black Cemetery.  The earliest marked grave is Malinda Day who died in 1894 but it is believed there are earlier unmarked graves among the over 500 burials.  The name Acie Cemetery honors Acie Richardson who owned adjacent property purchased in 1888, and who voluntarily cared for the cemetery during his lifetime. 

In 1928, Aaron Day Sr. requested the cemetery boundaries be set, access be provided and the formation of an association to maintain the grounds. Members performed the physical labor to restore the premises, bringing picnic lunches and participating in an annual Memorial Day program at the graveyard and recruiting new members. 

The Acie Cemetery Club evolved into the Acie Cemetery Association benefiting the maintenance and beautification of the grounds.  The cemetery memorializes and preserves the record and history of influential black pioneer families of West Liberty, now Dayton. 

Among the burials in Acie Cemetery are six born into slavery and emancipated, veterans of World War I, World War II, including a Purple Heart recipient, Korea War, Persian Gulf War and peace time veterans.  Other burials include clergy, educators, business owners, midwives, civic and fraternal leaders as well as numerous unmarked graves that hold untold stories of the rich history of this community.

The Linney Cemetery Association was established in 1903 and the Acie Cemetery Association was established around 1928 to care for this once-segregated cemetery.  The two cemetery associations are joining together to form a new association, Linney-Acie Cemetery Association, to care for this graveyard. The fence that once separated two burial grounds has been removed.  This historic cemetery serves as a reflection of the area’s early heritage, history and reminder of early pioneer citizens of Dayton.

Cemeteries are important keys to Texas’ past.  They are reminders of settlement patterns and reveal information about historic events, religion, lifestyles, and genealogy.  The HTC designation was developed in 1998 to help protect historic cemeteries by recording cemetery boundaries in county deed records to alert present and future owners of land adjacent to the cemetery of its existence.  Every county in Texas has at least one cemetery designated as a Historic Texas Cemetery through the THC program.

Please attend this important dedication and help celebrate this history of these two cemeteries which will go forward as one.  The dedication is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.  For more information, email lchc318@gmail.com .

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