Mansfield Cemetery Is One Of The Oldest In The State
History, while often fascinating, isn’t always easy to navigate. For example, the Mansfield Cemetery Association has spent two years journaling all graves and headstones, along with mapping.
The cemetery, located south of Main Street near downtown is a big part of Mansfield’s history. It is among the oldest cemeteries in the state.
Cumberland Presbyterian (north and south) is the oldest section of the cemetery and bears a Texas historical marker. The land was deeded for the Cumberland section by Ralph Man in 1876.
Another part is the section dedicated for the descendants of the Bratton family. The T.E. Blessing section (north and south) was dedicated by Ernie Blessing. He and his wife Hattie owned a furniture store and the funeral home. Hattie was the first licensed female embalmer in the state of Texas.
In addition are the Garden of Memories Southeast and Garden of Memories, A, B, and C. The cemetery also includes a plot known as the Mansfield Colored Cemetery, which used to be separated by a fence that is no longer there, said City of Mansfield Volunteer Coordinator Priscilla Sanchez.
“The first time I got involved helping out there was on the black side of the cemetery. It’s unbelievable how many graves were there,” Sanchez said.
Approximately 2500 Graves
In all, there are about 2,500 graves in the cemetery, noted Mansfield Cemetery Association President Paula Dycus-McKay.
“The work is being done to save for future generations to be able to locate and honor their ancestors,” she said. “The data collected is being stored in a cloud. This will also benefit future association members in inventory sales.”
As a result of the work being done, the association will be able to find and sell available plots, family and genealogists will be able to locate ancestors more easily and the association will have a more accurate number of veterans laid to rest there.
Dycus-McKay detailed the work, which is being done one section at a time. Following maps, individuals walk from one grave marker to the next noting name, dates of birth and death, along with any sentiments engraved. Also noted are locale of veterans’ graves. Reaching unmarked areas, measurements must be taken and researched for unmarked graves or vacant plots.
“We had seven association members working this journaling project back in 2020. We had weather (heat) delays, but were able to begin storing data in 2021,” she said.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic added some to the delays, but she stressed that mostly weather and technical difficulties forced the temporary backup.
Accomplishing A Lot Thanks To Teamwork
But now they’re back at work, and they’ve enlisted help from the likes of the City of Mansfield and the Sunrise Rotary Club. They’ve even garnered the help of a few local youngsters. A scout, along with his troop, plans to journal/document/photograph the rest of the cemetery beginning for an Eagle Scout project.
“I’ve been here almost 17 years and I’ve seen a lot of people working together,” Sanchez said. “When you’ve got a bunch of people working together, it makes a big difference what you can get done.”
While no funding was needed for this project, Dycus-McKay offered a reminder that the Cemetery Association functions on donations alone, largely from descendants of those buried there. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the association held one or two fundraisers each year.
Dycus-McKay added that helping is not only preserving the cemetery, but also preserving Mansfield’s celebrated history.
“Early settlers, who helped found the town by starting churches, schools, gristmills and civic organizations, are buried here,” she said. “Mansfield honors all those who’ve gone before us.”