Janie Harrison (Mrs. Rayford) has known for many years about a small cemetery north of Big Spring because her father had told her about it when she was in high school.
He showed her the small fenced area and said, “I want you to know about this so that it won’t be forgotten. We don’t know who is buried here.”
He called it the Phillips Cemetery because the Phillips family had owned the land at one time. The McCauleys owned the land before the Phillips family and Craig Ingram is the present owner, his father having purchased it from the Phillips.
Ingram discovered that the cemetery area was purchased by the county in 1908. According to the county record, Howard CountyJudge L.A. Dale, and his successors in office paid $1 to F.W. Coffee for three acres of land for “Public Free School purposes and uses” on May 30, 1908. The instrument mentioned that a previous transaction for the land had never been recorded and had then been lost.
The document stated that the school house on the land “where public school is taught, church services held and where the community gathers for its meetings and also on which part of ground there is a cemetery located for the burial of the dead.”
The exact legal description of the location of the three acres is included. The transaction was duly recorded by J.J. Prichard, Howard County Clerk, on June 1, 1908.
No one who knows about the cemetery knows who is buried there or how many graves there are. Several folks in that area of the county have heard that there were four graves there, said to be a family who was coming through the country about the time of the 1918 flu epidemic and whose members had died of influenza. Mrs. Harrison has not been able to confirm that story nor completely discount it.
One member of the Phillips family had told family historian Doyle Phillips that there were four people buried there: two adults and two children. He thought the name he had been told for the family was McClisky or McKessel. There are two small metal funeral home-type markers at the gravesite, which seems to discount the graves having been placed there in 1918, since the markers are rusted but mostly intact. They bear no information.
The Howard County Historical Commission is seeking to have the cemetery designated as a historical cemetery and they would like to be able to have more information about it. Work crews from the county have come out to help clear brush and make the site accessible to visitors. The HCH Commission has purchased some decorative metal fencing to enclose the area, and the county workers are helping to prepare the enclosure site.
Anyone having any knowledge or further information about this graveyard north of Big Spring is asked to notify Janie Harrison at 432-267-9422 or Nancy Koger at 432-267-7809.