Zion Hill Cemetery on La Nana Creek Trail in Historic Nacogdoches
The Rev. Lawson Reed came to Nacogdoches in 1878 to Find
no organized Baptist Church serving the Black Community. For
a time, he attended the Union Church with other Baptists as well
as Presbyterians and Methodists, sometimes leading services
there. The Rev. Mr. Reed prevailed upon local Baptists to organize
their own church, and in 1879 they began to meet under a brush
arbor. Frank and Ellen Walton, Annie K. McClain, Jim and Annie
Rigsby, Harriet Moore, Hattoe Vaughns, Velma Williams
McCullough and the Reeds were the charter members of the
church. The approach of Winter forced them to seek other
accommodations, and the Waltons gave two acres of land for
Though the presence of the church and a number of
unmarked and undated graves suggest earlier interments at
this site, the earliest marked grave is that of Julia Harris, who
died on February 8, 1897. Hers is the only marked Grave dating
from the 19th century.
The Zion Baptist Church grew steadily from its inception
and by the 1890's the congregation required a larger structure.
Early members continued to be buried on this site until the burial
of Charley Blakey in 1945.
Among those buried here are the Rev. Lawson Reed (d. 1924),
whose grave is marked by two stones; John B. Liggins (d. 1919),
Amiel Rivers (d. 1932), and Jim Smith (d. 1938), who served in World
War I. There are several markers denoting members of fraternal
organizations. Over time, the cemetery fell into disrepair. In the
early 1970's a movement began to have the city assume
custodianship of the cemetery. The burial ground remains a
chronicle of the African American pioneers of Nacogdoches.
(Texas Historical Commission Plaque)
(Next Picture: Looking Back)