ETX community sets out to save historic cemetery - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

ETX community sets out to save historic cemetery

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The East Mountain Cemetery in Upshur County is overgrown and needs a lot of attention.

The city says they can't do anything about it because it's privately owned land.

"It's just like a family cemetery, that's what everybody called it," says Donald Adkins, an East Mountain resident who knows almost everyone buried at the cemetery.

"Just about everybody that's here is related one way or another," says Valencia Smotherman, another East Mountain resident.

Smotherman's grandparents used to take care of the East Mountain cemetery. That responsibility was passed on to several others, until now.

"Its fallen through the cracks, there is nobody who is actually willing to take it over … I was sitting here this morning in the car just sitting here looking at it and I wanted to cry," Smotherman says.

So she is teaming up with Tony McCullough, a man who came to visit his parents' grave and couldn't believe what he saw.

"I couldn't even see the grave as I was walking near it ... everything was just overgrown," McCullough says.

McCullough took his disappointment to the Internet.

"Come to find out there's others in the area who have been trying for a couple of years to get things done. A lot of people are more than willing, they just want some leadership."

McCullough plans to lead them. He helped organize a cleanup day and found out where people can donate money to the cause.

Smotherman says the land was donated to the community many years ago. You don't have to pay to be buried at the East Mountain Cemetery, which means the cemetery runs solely on donations.

Smotherman says those donations are needed to help preserve the cemetery's history, "I don't want it to be some forgotten little patch in the woods, I'm going to be right back there on that back row one of these days and I don't want to be forgotten either."

The East Mountain Cemetery cleanup day is set for Saturday August, 17th.

A donation fund for the cemetery is set up at the First National Bank in Gilmer. 

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