Limestone County Historical Commission
Limestone County Historical Commission

Big Hill Cemetery

The Big Hill Cemetery is located in Western Limestone County on Farm Road 2489 seven miles west of Thornton, Texas.  By 1985, only the abandoned church building and the cemetery were left to mark the site of the Big Hill community that was established in the 1880s.

 

The community of Big Hill was named for the highest elevation in the area used by Native Americans for a lookout point.  Settlement of the area took place during the 1880s, and a post office was established in 1894 when Bailey A. Garrett was appointed postmaster.  The Big Hill Methodist Church, which served as the focus of the community for many years, was organized in 1879.  The Big Hill school district was created on February 29, 1896.  The town's population reached a peak of about 100 in 1915 but began to decline by the 1920s as business grew in nearby Groesbeck. The Big Hill post office was closed in 1924, and by 1949 the population had declined to twenty. After World War II the church disbanded, and the school was consolidated with Groesbeck ISD on July 1, 1949.

 

Walter G. Caddell was the first to settle in the area.  In 1873 the State of Texas issued him a 160-acre land grant located near the present-day Big Hill Church and Cemetery.  He sold the land in 1880 and moved to Burnett County.  He later returned to Limestone County.  He died on July 7, 1886 at Big Hill and was buried in the Cobb Cemetery near Thornton.  Many Caddell descendants still live in the county.

 

When he sold his land in 1880, Mr. Caddell sold it to G. W. Brown, who with Dr. John St. John, was the first to farm in the area.  The early families that came from Blue Ridge in Falls County, Texas in the late 1870s were the ones who formed the community, worked hard, and reared their children.  The first seven families to settle Big Hill were Daniel and Rebecca Davis, S. A. and Cynthia Davis, Howard and Lucinda “Lou” Smiley, Samuel Benton and Alice Maffett, Sam and Lucetta Adair, Frank and Eliza Adair, and H. A. Leach and his wife.  Mr. L. S. Davis was also a member of this group.  He was a brother of S. A. Davis and Lucinda Smiley and lived with Mr. and Mrs. Smiley.  All the youngsters called him “Uncle Live.”  He never married.  To the little community were soon added Mr. Bynum, Andy Banks, and Dab Ridgeway.  Each year brought new inhabitants to the area, and at the turn of the century, Big Hill had become a well-populated community.

 

Big Hill Cemetery was established by deed of four acres of land from J. E. Barron to Sam Adair and Sam Davis, trustees, executed on December 28, 1888.  The citizens of the community contributed the purchase price of $32.  The original plat designated 163 lots that were surveyed and numbered.  The southeast corner is marked as “Potters Field.”  The cemetery was enlarged on the north and east sides by a gift by Warranty Deed from Harold Maffett to the Big Hill Cemetery Association on September 10, 1962, with Edgar Davis and Rudolph Wilson as trustees.  On November 9, 1969 the Methodist Church conveyed the Big Hill Church House and the lot to the Big Hill Cemetery Association.

 

The first known burial in the cemetery is that of Nannie Davis, the 18-year-old daughter of Samuel and Cynthia Davis.  She died on November 5, 1888.  Many other members of the first families to settle in the area and their descendants are also buried at Big Hill.  Also buried in the cemetery are numerous veterans of various wars including the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. 

Memorial services are held each year on the first Sunday of June.  The trustees have supervised the maintenance of the property, and it remains a beautiful and well-kept final resting place.  Means of maintenance for the cemetery and the church building are by contributions and a few memorials. 

 

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