Lamar County was formed in 1840, but there were people living in the area for many years before that happened. Historians and genealogists tell of badly eroded gravestones bearing dates of death as far back as the early 1830s.
For much of those early years, those who passed on were buried on family property or in nearby churchyards. Among the oldest community cemeteries in the county is McDonald Cemetery, about 1/2 mile from the intersection of State Highway 19/24 on FR 1184, in the southwest quadrant of the county near the Broadway Junction community. The oldest inscribed gravestone there is from 1847, and it stands over the grave of twin babies.
Another burial of note at McDonald Cemetery is that of William F. Scott, a man who fought in the War of 1812, four decades before he moved his family to Texas.
On Sunday, members of The Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Texas, Craig Austin Rowley Chapter, and the National Society United Daughters of 1812 Texas State Society, John Cavet Chapter No. 39 (Dallas) will be at McDonald Cemetery to place a pair of bronze markers at the grave of W.F. Scott to honor his service to his country in the war between the U.S. and Great Britain.
The two organizations locate and document War of 1812 veterans buried in the North Texas area, said Carol Tatum, a member of the Cavet Chapter.
“The markers are each about 5 inches in diameter,” said Tatum, who heads up the Scott dedication effort. “We also clean the markers and participate in dedication ceremonies.”
The dedication ceremony is set for 2 p.m. at the cemetery. The event is open to the public.
William F. Scott was born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, on Oct. 5, 1786. He married Nancy Jones in June 1812 in Jasper County, Georgia. In October 1814, at the age of 28, he enlisted in the Mississippi Militia, serving until April 1815 as a private.
William and Nancy had one child, possibly two, before he went to war, according to information collected by Tatum, and after his return they had more, for a total of 11 children, five daughters and six sons. Tatum’s research turned up birth dates only for the first three of the brood, as well as the sixth and the ninth, possibly indicating they died young.
Nancy Scott eventually applied for and received a widow’s pension from the U.S. government beginning Feb. 14, 1871, while living in Lamar County.
William and Nancy’s fourth child, James Madison Scott, born in 1818, enlisted in the Confederate States Army in March 1862 as a sergeant in the Lamar Artillery, according to information from local journalist and author A.W. Neville’s “The History of Lamar County.” He died at the age of 44 in January 1863 in Little Rock, Arkansas, as a corporal in the 9th Field Battery, Texas Light Artillery. He is buried in that city.
All of the Scott children were born before the family moved to Texas. At least five of them lived until just before or after 1900.
Tatum’s research, based on census records, shows that the family of William F. Scott was living in Madison County, Alabama, in 1830, 1840 and 1850. She also uncovered a land grant, dated 1831, and signed by Andrew Jackson, for the 80-plus acres of land. That document, printed on sheepskin, was on loan to the Sam Rayburn Museum from 1968 to 2010, when it was returned to a descendant of the Scott family, Tatum said.
In 1851, Tatum recounted, Scott, then 65, sold land near New Market in Madison County “in order to move to Lamar Co., TX.”
“The family tradition says they bought a farm near Broadway [southwest of Paris] with a log cabin on it when they came to Lamar Co., TX.,” Tatum said. “The 1860 census shows William F. Scott, 74; his wife, Nancy, age 67; and two of their daughters — Sarah, 37 and N.E., 25 — were living in ‘Lamar Co., TX — Pct. 3, Post Office: Paris.’ His occupation was listed as ‘Farmer.’”
William lived until October 1864; Nancy lived until 1875. They are both buried in McDonald Cemetery. The cemetery also contains three of their daughters, Emily Caroline Scott Horton, Martha Ann Scott Moore and Nancy Elizabeth Howard, who all married and lived long lives.