Abshier Cemetery in Hankamer gains historic designation

Clarence Abshier and Willie "Sonny" Harmon remove a drape to reveal the Historic Texas Cemetery seal on the historic marker at Abshier Cemetery in Hankamer on April 13.

Abshier Cemetery in Hankamer has earned the distinction from the Texas Historical Commission as a Historic Texas Cemetery (HTC). A ceremony on April 13 hosted by the Liberty County Historical Commission and Abshier Cemetery Association celebrated the unveiling of the HTC marker.

In 1848, the families of Benjamin and Hannah (Weed) Abshier and Benjamin and Sarah (Hanks) Weed settled in the Hankamer-Devers area, purchasing land and establishing farms.

In 1852, the Abshiers’ 27-year-old daughter, Lucinda Abshier Higginbotham, died, leaving a husband and six children. She was buried on the Abshier family farm on a plot of land that eventually became known as Abshier Cemetery.

Over the years, other generations of Abshier, Weed and extended family members have been interred at Abshier Cemetery, including veterans of the War of 1812, the Texas Revolution, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and Korean War.

In 1896, a cemetery association was formed to preserve the cemetery, which has grown from the original plot of two acres to three acres.

At the April 13 ceremony, Linda Jamison, county chair for the Liberty County Historical Commission, lauded the cemetery association members for their excellent care of Abshier Cemetery.

“The history of this cemetery association is amazing, that you have existed and taken such care of this cemetery for so many years,” she said. “Kudos to your cemetery association for taking such good care of this cemetery.”

Jamison explained that the cemetery’s designation as a Historical Texas Cemetery through the Texas Historical Commission means the cemetery is now legally recorded as an HTC site, an important step in ensuring its preservation for generations to come.

“This recognition is for cemeteries that are at least 50 years old and documented through the HTC designation process. Cemeteries are an important key to the history of Texas,” she said. “A designation as a Historic Texas Cemetery helps increase public awareness of these important cultural resources through knowledge and education, which are among the best ways to preserve cemeteries.”

While the HTC designation encourages cemetery preservation, Jamison said it is not a guarantee as it will require effort from the citizenry.

“Threats to historic cemeteries include urban expansion and development, vandalism, grazing animals and long-term deterioration from weather and uncontrolled vegetation,” she said.

Mary Abshier, president of the Abshier Cemetery Association, after accepting official certificates for the historic designation, said the cemetery association is now working toward establishing a memorial wall that will record the deaths of people who choose to be cremated instead of buried.

Jamison added that she believes a memorial wall will be a great addition to the cemetery.

“With the popularity of cremation, we are losing valuable genealogical information you would typically find in cemeteries,” said Jamison.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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