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Myrtle Cemetery Historical Marker
The inscription on the plaque reads as follows:
W. H. PARSONS DEEDED THE ORIGINAL TEN ACRES AT THIS SITE IN 1875 FOR USE AS A CEMETERY. THE BURIAL GROUND WAS NAMED "MYRTLE" FOR A CHILD WHOSE SINGLE GRAVE WAS INCLUDED IN THE TRACT OF LAND. ALSO BURIED HERE IS FREDERICK H. RANKIN (1795-1874), A MEMBER OF STEPHEN F. AUSTIN'S "OLD 300" COLONY AND VETERAN OF THE TEXAS REVOLUTION. OTHER GRAVES INCLUDE THOSE OF AUTHOR KATIE DAFFAN (1874-1951), AND MARINE LIEUTENANT JACK LUMMUS (1915-1945), WHO WAS KILLED AT THE BATTLE OF IWO JIMA DURING WORLD WAR II AND LATER AWARDED THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR.
On Veterans Day, at
10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 11, 1980, Mrs. Thelma Moore, president of the
Myrtle Cemetery Association, extended a warm welcome to those gathered near the
front of the chapel to the left of the main entrance of Myrtle Cemetery in
Ennis, Texas. The occasion was the dedication ceremony for the unveiling of a
Texas State Historical Marker for Myrtle Cemetery.
The Reverend Del
Medlin, pastor of Baylor Baptist Church, gave the invocation.
McMurray read a resolution from the cemetery association.
presented the principal speaker, The Honorable A. Royce Stout, former judge of
the District Court of Ellis County, the 40th Judicial District. Governor James V
Allred appointed Judge Stout to the bench to fill the vacancy caused by the
death of Judge Tom Ball on March 13, 1938. Judge Stout served at the will of the
voters of Ellis County until his retirement on November 6, 1969.
acknowledges the introduction, and speaks to the gathering:
“We meet to
commemorate the establishment of a historical marker to Myrtle Cemetery more
than 100 years after its beginning.
“As you all know,
the cemetery was named for a little girl whose name was ‘Myrtle,’ the first
person to be buried here. Though her days on earth were not many, her name has
lived on for these many years, and will likely continue to live as long as we
have a cemetery on this hallowed ground.
“Etched in my
memory, from what the early settlers and old timers have told me, is the
recollection that a beautiful little girl’s parents were going through Ennis
in a wagon when she suddenly became gravely ill and died within a very short
time; that her name was Myrtle, the only name that was ever known at the time,
and since she was the first one to be buried in the present Cemetery, it was
named for her.
“However, on page
152 of the 1972 ‘Ellis County History,’ which was completed by four Ennis
women during that year, it is written that ‘Myrtle Cemetery was named for the
first person buried there, a little girl named Myrtle Wright, who died while her
parents were in Ennis for a short time.’
“I have read in
an edition of the Ennis Daily News, published quite a few years ago, that the
date of this burial was in 1865, but I am persuaded to believe that this was a
misprint and was probably intended for the date of 1875 when the Cemetery was
first established. Moreover, Ennis did not come into existence until after the
railroad had been extended from Houston through it in the year of 1871 or 1872.
“In any event all
agree that ‘Myrtle’ or ‘Myrtle Wright’ was the first person buried here
and that Myrtle Cemetery was named for her many years ago. There is a marker to
‘Myrtle’ near the entrance, and early settlers have said that, either at the
time of the purchase of the original cemetery tract or right after, there was
the grave of a child which was marked by a wooden slab with the name of
‘Myrtle’ on it.”
“In 1875, a group
of Ennis Citizens met for the purpose of forming a burial association to
purchase a plot of land for the burials of the dead of Ennis and its environs.
Ten acres for that purpose were bought from W. H. Parsons of New York, the land
being conveyed to the cemetery association by a power of attorney to Cyrus T.
Hogan. Mr. Hogan lived to a hoary age and some of you older ones may still
remember him. The cost of this ten-acre tract was one hundred dollars.”
“And we are not
without our notables: Frederick Harrison Rankin is buried here. His father was a
soldier in the War of 1812; his grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary
Army in the war for our independence from England. He himself was a soldier in
the war for the independence of Texas. He was present when Santa Anna
surrendered and his name was sixth on the list in Stephen F. Austin’s Original
Colony of 300.
only winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor ever, Andrew Jackson Lummus Jr.,
son of ‘Jack’ Lummus and Laura Lummus, is buried here. His remains were
brought back from Iwo Jima, where as a first lieutenant in the United States
Marines, he fell in action while urging his troops on to victory. Undaunted and
undeterred by a flesh wound that would have stopped the advance of many, he kept
going until he stepped on a land mine that decapitated his lower limbs. But with
both legs gone, he continued to urge his men onward until he expired. His men
carried the day, due to his example and influence. R. F. Newcomb, author of the
book on ‘Iwo Jima,’ wrote, ‘No question but that they did it for
“April 20, 1948,
a memorial service was held in the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Ennis for Jack
Lummus Jr., when he was reburied in the Cemetery. A star football player for the
Ennis High School, Baylor University and the New York Giants, his name was
placed on a bronze tablet in the Polo Grounds in New York, and also on a bronze
tablet, along with a light in the honor near the Baylor Gymnasium in Waco.
Daffan, daughter of the first superintendent of the old H&TC Railroad, was
born in Brenham but lived most of her life in Ennis. She was gifted in speaking,
writing and in literature and was the author of seven books on Texas and United
States History. Two of her books were adopted by the State Textbook Commission
and were taught in the public schools for several years. She was perhaps our
best-known citizen away from home. Many honors came to her such as being the
president several times of the Daughters of the Southern Confederacy. She was
the first president of the State Historical Society. Miss Katie as we called
her, knew more about Texas and Southern history than anyone I ever knew and as
much about United States history as any teacher that I ever had. Then there were
fine and unselfish parents like my own and hundreds of others like them who are
interred on this sacred ground.”
“The little girl,
'Myrtle', gave us our name. Rankin and his comrades made it possible for us to
have a Cemetery while Lummus and his men and three other lads from Ennis who
lost their lives on Iwo Jima, made it possible for us to keep it. By her
stirring speeches and writings, Miss Katie Daffan and the hundreds of others who
are buried here, have given us the desire and inspiration to keep these grounds
holy and secure and to honor and revere them.”
Templeton Atwood, who furnished the historical material to the state for the
granting of the marker that we pay honor to, has fittingly said that this
cemetery is a part of the history of our past and a prologue to our future, as
well as a part of the mystery of our pilgrimage.”
“We have done an excellent job in the past in keeping old Myrtle worthy of our dead. Surely, as long as we continue to be worthy of those noble souls who sleep here, we shall continue to care for this last resting place in a manner that is in keeping with the highest type of our Christian and spiritual ideals.”
Historical Marker Library A Hero's Grave at Sunset
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