A Brief History of the Moffat Cemetery

Compiled by William A. (Steve) Stephens, 2003, revised in 2006

Moffat Cemetery originally began many years ago as a Masonic and family cemetery. The first record of the cemetery was a deed from J. A. Grimes in March of 1869.1 He sold his farm to Mary E. Dean and made a reservation of two acres in the form of a square, near the center of the 109 – acre tract, conveyed for the purpose of a graveyard. In the center of this was a live oak tree marked “G”.

Although no deed to anyone has been found showing these two acres as a cemetery, they were included in a deed, dated July 23, 1921, from the Leon Lodge #193 A.F.& A.M. to the Moffat Cemetery Association.2

The second tract was conveyed by Mary E. Dean to the Leon Lodge #193 A.F. & A.M. in a deed dated December 26, 1893.3 This consisted of a two-acre strip around the original tract. It is these field notes that locate the first tract for us.

The third tract was also conveyed by Mary E. Dean to the Leon Lodge #193 A.F. & A.M. as a gift in a deed dated December 26, 1893.4 This tract consists of two acres joining the second tract on the North side.

R. J. Goode and Hattie Goode conveyed the fourth tract to the Leon Lodge #193 A.F.& A.M. in a deed dated August 28, 1916.5 This consisted of a 75’ wide strip extending from the Southeast corner of the existing graveyard eastward to what was known as Winkler’s Gin Road, containing one acre. The eastern portion of this tract, approximately 300 feet, was later abandoned by agreement.6 This was done because of a conflict of claims reflected in the filed notes by the surveyor in a deed to J.W. Arnold, dated January 28, 1958.7

All of the four tracts above were deeded by the Leon Lodge #193 A.F.& A.M. to the Moffat Cemetery Association on July 23, 1921.8

The fifth tract consists of a 90’ wide strip along the entire West Side of the tracts two and three and extends south past the southwest corner of these tracts to the north line of State Highway 36 containing 1.3 acres. This tract was taken by condemnation, in the County Court of Bell County in cause # 7719 in July of 1946.9

J.W. Arnold and Bertha Arnold conveyed the sixth tract to the Moffat Cemetery Association in a deed dated December 30, 1974.10 This tract consists of 3.45 acres adjoining the fifth tract on the west and runs from an extension of the North line westward to Arnold’s west line, south along his west line to the highway and southeasterly along the highway to the west line of the fifth tract.

Until the Cemetery Association was legally organized in approximately 1975, the community had to get together to clean the cemetery several times a year with no funds available to do anything. The State of Texas incorporated the Moffat Cemetery Association as a perpetual non-profit corporation on December 23, 1976 to exist under the laws of the State of Texas.11 All donations are therefore tax deduct able.

A Declaration of Trust12 was made at that time to create a Trust fund for the perpetual existence of the cemetery. All funds donated to the Association go into this trust fund and only the income from the trust may be used for the purpose of maintaining the general care and beautification of the Moffat Cemetery grounds. The Association, which administers and maintains the cemetery, meets on a regular basis once a year to elect officers and transact business. Our officers and directors and many others, perform services for the association voluntarily and no fee is paid to anyone.

The oldest grave listed is that of Mary Marshall, who died 1-21-1861. Since there are many unmarked graves, it is possible there are older ones.

Among those buried here is one of the Bell County pioneers, Isaac Thomas Bean, who was granted a land certificate dated June 6, 1839. An immigrant to Texas, he had been born in Arkansas on March 5, 1821. He moved with his family to Texas in 1823, and they settled near Alto. He lived in Moody and died in Bell County, on July 5, 1899.13

Many other prominent local families are represented here as well. The Browns, for example, date back to William Brown, who died on October 21, 1886. The Nibling family had an ancestor who had a large tract of land in the area patented to him. The McLaughlin family, whose members were instrumental in developing much of the Moffat area, is also represented here. All three families still have members living in the Moffat area.14

Possibly the most colorful, and best known outside of the Moffat area, are the Evetts and Haley families, who have ancestors and many members of the family buried here. William Caperton Evetts (aka Brazos Bill) was born in Washington on the Brazos to a San Jacinto battle veteran, James Evetts, on November 13, 1839. William was a colorful cowboy and cattle driver on the trails that go through Bell County. He left home at the age of 14, joined the South in the Civil War at the age of 17, became a POW for a time, and finally, after the war came back to Moffat to marry and have 16 children. He died May 19, 1895, and is buried here.15

William Evetts’ eldest daughter, Julia, married John A. Haley – the father of J. Evetts Haley, who developed the Haley Ranches which now include ranches in Loving, Winkler and Gray Counties in Texas, and in Sequoyah County in Oklahoma. (Ranch headquarters are in Midland, Texas.) J. Evetts Haley was also an author who wrote several books, including Rough Times – Tough Fiber. He was a well-known historian and was a one-time candidate for governor of Texas. He died October 9, 1995. He and his wife, Nita Stewart Haley, are buried here.16

Also buried here is the other grandfather of J. Evetts Haley, Dr. James Haley, who died February 20, 1887, along with several other members of the Evetts and the Haley families.17

Perhaps there are many other historically significant grave sites in the Moffat Cemetery of which we are not yet aware.

We now have been designated an historic cemetery as of October 2003 by the Texas Historical Commission. There was a Historical Marker ordered and was installed at the front gate and formerly dedicated on November 27, 2004.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[THIS IS THE INFORMATION SENT TO THE HISTORIC COMMISSION TO GET APPROVAL FOR THE MARKER]

For a PDF file of the personal account of Wm. A. [Steve] Stephens detailing the organization of records, mapping of the cemetery and the work of the Cemetery Association please click here. The file will open in a new tab or window.

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