Clarksville, Texas—The Texas Historical Commission (THC) recently designated The William Becknell/Robbinsville Cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery. The distinction means the cemetery has been legally recorded through the THC’s Historic Texas Cemetery Program, an important step in ensuring its preservation.
A ceremony to commemorate this historic designation was held on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm at the cemetery located six miles west of Clarksville on US Highway 82. The dedication ceremony was hosted by the Historic Red River County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee and the Red River County Historical Society. At the dedication, Allan Wheeler, a former Santa Fe Trail director who is known for his reenactments of Captain Becknell, presented some of Becknell’s many history-making accomplishments. Wheeler later presented a more extensive reenactment that evening at the Red River County Historical Society’s meeting at the First Presbyterian Church in Clarksville.
The Texas Historic Cemetery designation is reserved for cemeteries that are at least 50 years old and documented through the Historic Texas Cemeteries process to record their historic association and significance. Captain William Becknell is credited for establishing the Santa Fe Trail in 1821. The trail opened the west for trade and expansion. In 1835 Becknell relocated his family to Texas and Red River County. He became a landowner of significance, is believed to have fought in the battle of San Jacinto in 1836, in 1841 led local minutemen in the protection of settlers in frontier settlements, and was buried in Red River County in 1856.
The importance of the site was first recognized in 1957 when local historians worked to have a granite marker installed by the state to record the historic value. The cemetery had fallen into disrepair and was nearly lost until recently when work began to have the site officially recognized as a Historic Texas Cemetery. Cemeteries hold valuable historic information and they are often the last reminders of early settlements’ historic events, religious beliefs, lifestyles and genealogy. While the Historic Texas Cemetery designation encourages cemetery preservation, it cannot guarantee that a historic cemetery will avoid destruction.
For more information please call the Historic Red River County Chamber of Commerce at (903)427-2645. For information about Becknell and the Santa Fe Trail please see the web site williambecknell.com.