Connersville Cemetery




This cemetery is located adjacent to the Richters Cemetery off FM 1457 outside of Round Top. It sits below the hill from the white graves and is mowed. No doubt there are unmarked graves here. Surveyed 7 May 1990 by Kathy Carter, Helen Muras and Annette Ruckert and again in 1998 by David Collins of Missouri City.

From the historical marker dedicated on November 15, 2021:

Connersville Primitive Baptist Church African American Cemetery

African American Citizens of Fayette County established Connersville Primitive Baptist Church sometime between Dec. 10, 1883 and Nov. 10, 1885. By the later date, Thomas Cooper owned 11 1/4 acres of land adjacent to Richter Cemetery on FM 1457. Cooper gave permission for the black community to erect a building for the church.

The Connersville Primitive Baptist Church African American Cemetery is the burial site of many slaves and their descendants who lived and died in the area. The cemetery site is located within the west property line of land once owned by the Ledbetter family. Oral tradition indicates that this site was used by several slave owners to bury slaves long before the abolition of slavery. It is the only known black cemetery within a three-mile radius. There are many unmarked graves within the cemetery but marked graves are significant. The earliest dated grave marker is for George Craft (1848-1904). One of the earliest births recorded is for Piggy Dwiard (1812-1912). The inscription reads "Asleep in Jesus Peaceful Rest, Whose Waking is Supremely Blest." Another inscription reads "In the Back Woods We Lay," a reference to a common trait for historically African American cemeteries. Several markers are for people born shortly after emancipation.

Additional land was deeded to the church on May 20, 1957. The officers given the deed to hold in trust were Beatrice Breedlove, Shelley Ferguson, and Pastor J. Joseph Ferguson. In 2003, the sanctuary was relocated to the Carroll A. Wood Annex in Round Top by the Round Top Area Historical Society. The building was dedicated as the Connersville Primitive Baptist Church African American Museum in honor of African American pioineers of Fayette County. The cemetery remains as a testament ot the lives and legacies of African Americans in Round Top and Fayette County.

Historic Texas Cemetery - 2018

A Footprints of Fayette article by David Collins:

William H. Ledbetter's Link to the Connersville Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery

By David L. Collins, Sr.

In circa 1839, the William Hamilton Ledbetter family relocated from Perry, Tennessee to the James Winn League in northern Fayette County with the intent to establish a plantation.  At the time, William and his wife, Jane Amanda Peacock, had four children.  Five additional children were born in Fayette County. Prior to their move, records indicate that they already owned eleven slaves.

Ledbetter eventually amassed 1,559 acres in four leagues and by 1860, he owned 34 slaves and six slave houses, primarily in the James Winn League.  Another major land owner in the same league was Christopher H. Taylor, who owned 4,000 acres of land and 46 slaves.  Festival Hill at Round Top is now located on a small portion of Taylor’s original land holdings.  Three additional large plantation owners in the William Jack League were W.F. Wade with 1,100 acres, 54 slaves and eight slave houses; John R. Robison with 1,407 acres, 39 slaves and eight slave houses; and Samuel K. Lewis with 1,647 acres, 13 slaves and eleven slave houses.  These three plantations, located just north and east of present-day Round Top, Texas, encompassed 9,713 acres with a total of 186 slaves.

The Connersville Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery that fronts on FM 1457 is located just inside the west property line of land once owned by the William Hamilton Ledbetter family.  This cemetery more than likely was used by Ledbetter and the other area plantation owners to bury their slaves long before the abolition of slavery, because no other black cemetery has been located within a three-mile radius of this area. 

Based on an old County Survey Map now in the Fayette County Annex, there was a site labeled “Colored Church” located in the south line of the James Winn League (south line of the George Wagner property) and its intersection with the northeast corner of Richard Wagner’s property.  This is northwest of the intersection of Hackemack Road and FM 1457.  The original church was probably torn down with no recorded history being left.

On December 10, 1883, Thomas Cooper of Lincoln County, Oklahoma purchased 11.25 acres of land from Thomas Albert Ledbetter, a son of William Hamilton Ledbetter.  This land was described in the deed as being adjacent to the “Old School Presbyterian Church and Round Top Academy” land.  Today this is the vicinity of the Richter Cemetery on FM 1457. Cooper gave permission for the black community to build a church – the Primitive Baptist Church.  This would indicate that the original Primitive Baptist Church was the “Colored Church” that was located some 1100 feet southeast of the current Connersville Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery and the Richter Cemetery.

Two years later, on November 10, 1885, Cooper sold ten and a half acres of this land to William Zander, reducing the original acreage to three-quarters of an acre. On September 1893, Thomas Cooper deeded the remaining land to the Primitive Baptist Church for $1.00.  The deed gives no metes and bounds description, but merely states, “immediately surrounding the present site of the Primitive Baptist Church”.

It is not known when the congregation ceased using their church at this original site, since there is no recorded history.  In an apparent desire to build a new church, a group of individuals, probably descendants of earlier slaves, purchased 0.65 of an acre of land from Richard and Hannah Wagner for a new church site.  It is interesting to note that part of this same tract of land was previously owned by the Primitive Baptist Church with no record of it ever being sold.  The survey of the deed indicates that this 0.65 acre of land fronts FM 1457 adjacent to the Richter Cemetery.  The property was deeded to the Connersville Primitive Baptist Church on May 20, 1957 for $243.00.  The officers of the church who were to hold it in trust were J.J. Ferguson, Shelley Ferguson and Beatrice Breedlove.

J. Joseph Ferguson was the pastor of the Connersville Baptist Church at the time.  He is interred in the church cemetery – the same cemetery that now serves as a burial site for many of the descendants of slaves who once lived on surrounding plantations and who are probably buried there as well in unmarked graves. One of the earliest marked graves in the Connersville Baptist Church Cemetery is that of George Craft, who died on March 1, 1904.  One other noted person with a marked grave buried there is Piggie Diward, born in 1812, who died 100 years later in 1912.

Many African American pioneers and their descendants are buried in the historic Connersville Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, including members of the following families: Leonard, McCoy, Sampson, Shelby, Wade, Craft, Rivers, Williams, Townsend, Vincent, Lewis, Goins, Knotts, Boyd, Ferguson, Jefferson, Collins and Cole.    

This history was obtained from several sources and compiled by the author with the hope that an historical marker can be erected at the site of the old Connersville Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery in the foreseeable future.

Photo Captions:
Top: showing the Connersville Cemetery sign and
Bottom: the tombstone for Piggie Dwiard, born in 1812; died in 1912 at age 100; photos courtesy of David Collins, Sr.
Fayette County, Texas Abstract Maps
Fayette County Surveyor Maps – 1920
David L. Collins, Sr. 1998 Connersville Cemetery Survey
1958 USGS Map

The data with notes below was provided by David Collins.

Name Birth Date Death Date Notes
Boyd, Jane R. 8 Feb 1862 26 Aug 1932
Boyd, Jeff 4 Jan 1896 18 Oct 1957 Pvt 544 SVC BN Engr Co WWI
Cole, Lorine Craft 20 Aug 1905 24 Oct 1992 Bud Craft's daughter
Craft, A. J. 15 Apr 1879 17 Apr 1967 Alice Jane Craft; nee Shelby; Death certificate states birth date 15 Apr 1881
Craft, Bud
Craft, Dora Mae 25 Nov 1918 29 Jun 1931 No marker; death certificate states daughter of William Craft and Mabel Holmes
Craft, E. C. 1 Jan 1879 20 Mar 1960 Ebenezer Craft; death certificate states birth as 2 Jan 1877
Craft, George 12 Jun 1848 1 Mar 1904
Craft, James 28 Nov 1882 4 Mar 1937 No marker; death certificate states son of George Craft and Julia Wade
Craft, Julia 1843 24 Jul 1913 No marker; death certificates states daughter of Aggie Wade
Craft, L. D. 11 Jun 1923 14 Feb 1962
Craft, William 28 Dec 1879 18 Nov 1938 No marker; death certificate states son of George Craft and Julia Wade
Dwiard, Piggie 1812 3 May 1912
James, E. 26 May 1825 24 Nov 1907
Ferguson, Oliver A. 10 Mar 1896 29 Apr 1965 TXPVT US Army WWI
Ferguson, Robert 29 Feb 1980 Age 75
Green, Lucretia 27 Sep 1873 15 Feb 1967 No marker; death certificate states daughter of George Craft and Julia Wade
Goins, Lillie 12 Dec 1889 9 Feb 1958
Jefferson, Mary 1879 1943 King Funeral Home, Austin
Knotts, Andrew Lee 20 Dec 1939 death certificate states 25 Jan 1892 - 21 Dec 1939
Knotts, Lizzetter 1 Nov 1900 11 May 1954
Leonard, Algie 1902 1980
Leonard, Roxie 1 Jan 1907 31 Oct 1983
Lewis, Lee Etta 8 Oct 1893 6 Jul 1967
McCoy, Annie 19 Jun 1918
McCoy, H. K. 2 Sep 1893 28 Nov 1970 David Rivers' cousin
McCoy, Sarah Ann 21 Jan 1905 16 Mar 1996 Willie McCoy's wife
McCoy, Willie 10 Mar 1895 5 Jan 1960 TX PVT 412 Rex. Labor Bn OMC
Mims, Sharon 13 Apr 1956 18 Sep 1972
Phoenix, Clarence 29 Nov 1934 12 Dec 2011
Phoenix, Pauline 18 Jun 1929 18 Jun 2011
Rivers, Emmo 1875 1932
Rivers, Ethel 25 Aug 1914 14 Jul 1967 Wife of Raymond Rivers
Rivers, Jarrett 5 Jan 1879 1946
Rivers, Mary 1876 1972
Rivers, Matthew Jr. 1866 8 Jan 1955
Rivers, Robert Sylvester 1954
Rivers, Robert 15 Jan 1893 10 Mar 1962 No marker; info from death certificate; son of Paul Rivers and Amelia Wade; possibly same as Robert Sylvester Rivers
Sampson, James 1869 1923
Sampson, Richard M. 1895 1984 PFC US Army WWI
Sampson, Roy 22 Feb 1922
Scott, Mahalia 1873 1948 Miller Newby Funeral Home
Shelby, Albert, Sr. 21 Feb 1881 21 Jan 1964 Death certificate states 23 Feb 1882 - 26 Jan 1964
Shelby, Albert. Jr. 1910 1963 Death certificate states 11 Jul 1910 - 1 Jan 1965
Shelby, Clarence 8 Feb 1919 4 Feb 1969 W. D. Shelby's son; 2 Aug 1911 birth date from SSDI
Shelby, Emily Jan 20 Nov 1910 Age 56
Shelby, Gertrude 15 Oct 1883 13 Oct 1940
Shelby, Glynn M. 18 Mar 1912 3 Oct 1984
Shelby, Herbert
Shelby, T. L. 4 May 1843 20 Feb 1908
Shelby, T. M. 23 Feb 1883 30 Dec 1907
Smith, ___ 1863 20 Nov 1952
Toney, Allen 23 Oct 1862 7 Nov 1928
Toney, Charlotte 29 Jun 1858 21 Jan 1931 Name listed only as "Charlottie"; surname from Texas Death Index
Townsend, Ernest 29 Mar 1915 23 Apr 1971
Townsend, Riley 11 Sep 1883 May 1973 Birth date possibly 1880
Vincent, Emma 10 Aug 1889 16 Mar 1971
Vincent, James 3 Mar 1878 7 Apr 1921 Temple 243, Waco, TX
Vincent, Norris 15 Apr 1876 6 Dec 1909
Vincent, Powell 8 Mar 1884 16 Jun 1958
Wade, Deck
Wade, G.
Wade, G. W. 1873 1945 G. "Washington" Wade, 23 Jan 1893 - 8 Mar 1945 from death certificate and census; son of Henry
Wade, Henry 4 Dec 1873 2 Apr 1928 No marker; name and dates from death certificate; burial place "Ricktor"
Wade, Sarah 1878 1949 Daughter of Adam Rivers; 20 Jul 1872 - 21 Jul 1943 on death certifcate
Williams, Jimmie