The historic Linney-Acie Cemetery in Dayton, located at 399 N. Colbert St., is the final resting place for 300 military veterans with some headstones dating back to the Civil War and World War I. Exposure to the elements and the passage of time has taken its toll, prompting the cemetery association to dedicate its annual spring cleanup project on April 1 to the veterans’ headstones.
“Since October 2022, myself and Rodney Marshall have been working on these headstones, getting 15 of them reset and cleaned. Because it is such a big undertaking for two volunteers, I decided to turn it into a bigger project and include the cleaning of all the headstones as the project for our March cleanup,” said Lynda Young, superintendent of the Linney-Acie Cemetery Association. “We have some gravestones that have settled so much that all you can make out is the person’s name and rank. You can’t even see when they were born or died. Some of the headstones are discolored from mold. Some might need the names stenciled in because the information on the headstones is worn.”
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.
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 peacetime 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.
In 2019, at the dedication and unveiling of a Historic Texas Cemetery marker, the fence that separated the two sections was removed, and the name of the cemetery was changed to Linney-Acie.
Every year, around 50-60 volunteers turn out for the spring cleanup, including students from Dayton ISD, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts.
“We do annual cleanings three times a year. Typically, we have a good turnout. Each year, we focus on something different. Last year it was the fence line. We had Dayton High School basketball team members, honor students and Scouts help with that project. We have one more fence line that will be cleaned up this year in addition to the headstone project,” Young said.
Volunteers will need to commit to working four hours from 8 a.m. to noon. The youngest volunteers will be assigned to picking up trash, old flowers and debris. Older youths and adults will be tasked with the headstone cleanup and the fence line cleanup. Volunteers are asked to dress appropriately for the weather and the work, and bring gloves, shovels, chainsaws and pole pruners, if they have these items.
The cemetery association will provide snacks, bottled water, buckets and cleaning solution that will be used on the headstones. The organization is still hoping to connect with a local restaurant or group that is willing to provide lunch to the volunteers after the clean-up project.
For questions about the cleanup project, send a text message to Young at 832-427-9096 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The association also has a website, https://www.linneyacie.com/, where financial donations can be made.