Roderick Rawlins, Lancaster’s First Settler, Honored

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Roderick Rawlins first Lancaster settler
Photo by Jenny Conley

More than sixty people attended a ceremony to mark the grave of Roderick Rawlins, Lancaster’s first pioneer settler, at Edgewood Cemetery on March 21. The grave-marking ceremony for the historical site was hosted by Cedar Mountains Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) and Children of the Republic of Texas (CRT). Both groups worked to clean and clear the historic cemetery in preparation for the grave-marking ceremony.

Roderick Rawlins first Lancaster settler
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Photo: Jenny Conley

Cedar Mountains DRT President Anita Williams gave the welcoming address. She noted that “Looking into our past can provide a source of inspiration for our future.” Cedar Mountains DRT Treasurer Sandra Conley and Chaplain Trish O’Donnell, with CRT President Madison Conley, all helped organize the grave-marking ceremony.

Elected Officials

The audience included elected officials like Lancaster Mayor Clyde Hairston and City Councilmember Carol Strain Burk. A number of descendants of Roderick Rawlins came from near and far. One member traveled from Llano, Texas to see her 4th great grandfather’s grave marked. The oldest descendant, Lancaster resident Martha Rawlins, recently celebrated her 85th birthday. Mrs. Suzy Rawlins Weaver also attended.

DRT President General Carolyn Raney, Secretary General Ora Jane Johnson, State Parliamentarian Dr. Joy Duncan, State Chaplain Dusky Waters, and District III Representative Roxann Garcia attended the Sunday afternoon program. Historical Site Chair Arlene Garrey also attended. Peggy Anderson, Regent of Pleasant Run Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); Paula Conrad, President, Lancaster Genealogical Association; and Ora Jane Johnson, state officer of the 1812 Society, also attended the event.

Roderick Rawlins, first settler of Lancaster, honored
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Photo by Jenny Conley

Members of the Cedar Mountain DRT and CRT offered an opening prayer and patriotic pledges to the American and Texas flags. The CRT members, Rhett Gary, VP Trevor Easom, President Madison Conley, Historian Addison Gary, Will Conley, and Ben Conley, directed by four-year-old Hazel Gary and her grandmother Barbara Rushing, performed the state song, “Texas Our Texas.”

Roderick Rawlins History

Lana Filgo, Registrar of Cedar Mountains DRT, presented a biography of Roderick Rawlins. At age 68, he came from Indiana to settle in the Lancaster area. A veteran of the War of 1812, Rawlins received a Texas land grant for the Williams Settlers. His approximately 495 acres of land stretched from what is now Belt Line Road at Nokomis to the Ellis County line.

Roderick Rawlins first Lancaster settler
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Photo by Jenny Conley

Thirty men, women, and children arrived with Rawlins. Thomas McKee Ellis, Valentin Wampler, Pleasant Taylor, David Lewis Hall, Samuel Keller, Carlos Wise, John Kiser, John Mullican, and Benjamin Cos arrived with their families. Madison Moultrie Miller also came to select a site to settle for his family later.

In 1846, Rawlins sold a portion of his land to a Mr. A Bledsoe for a city square with businesses and streets. Bledsoe renamed the town of Hardscrabble to Lancaster for his hometown of Lancaster, PA.

Roderick Rawlins first settler of Lancaster
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Photo: Jenny Conley

Rawlins donated the land for the small cemetery where he and his wife are now buried after a young girl from their area died in 1845. Edgewood Cemetery is on Nokomis Road near Ten Mile Creek. He died in 1848, leaving behind his wife Milly Parks Rawlins and their family. Rawlins always claimed he was part of the Peters Colonists who voted against the annexation of Texas into the United States in 1845.

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