Eaton Cemetery is located two miles south of Thornton just off of Hwy 14 on LCR 725. The cemetery began as a family burial plot and soon became a community cemetery. The earliest grave is marked 1848.
Richard Eaton and his wife, Mary, came to Texas as part of the Robertson Colony and received land in and around Robertson and Limestone Counties. Richard and Mary were married in Logan County, Kentucky on January 3, 1803 and along with their children, Lucinda, Rachael, Richard, Daniel, Jessee, Sarah E., Silas, and Benjamin, entered Texas with the Daniel Parker group in 1833.1
Daniel Parker, father of the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptist doctrine, felt his work in Illinois was completed and focused his attention on moving to Texas. On a scouting trip to Texas, Parker learned that Mexican laws forbid the establishment of any but the Catholic Church. Daniel Parker stayed long enough to study the laws and reasoned that if a church was organized in another state and migrated in a body no laws would be violated. Returning to Illinois, a church was organized on July 26, 1833, at Palestine, Illinois. The congregation departed in August from Crawford County, Illinois, heading to Texas.2
“On October 20, 1833, in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, Pilgrim Church held its first church conference since leaving Illinois. Received into membership by letter were Richard and Polly Eaton, Joseph Jordan, Nancy Faulkenberry, Rachael Eaton, Elizabeth Eaton, and Elder Garrison Greenwood. All of this group, with the exception of Greenwood, were closely identified with Limestone County.”3
The Pilgrim Church caravan entered Texas by way of Logansport, Louisiana, and proceeded westward to San Pedro Creek where they built Fort Brown. After staying at Fort Brown for about a year, thirty-four members of the group, which included Richard and Mary Eaton, moved to an area along the Navasota River in present Limestone County in the summer of 1834 and built Fort Parker. 4
According to church records, Richard Eaton and his family were devoted to their church, with Richard serving as a Deacon and Mary (Polly) welcoming the members in their home. Their letter of resignation was submitted on August 5, 1845.5
Richard’s brother, Stephen Eaton married Charity Arnold in Logan County, Kentucky on March 4, 1807. Stephen and Charity with their children Alfred, Samuel, Malinda, Richard, Mary Ann, and Thomas H. migrated to Texas in 1835.6 Stephen Eaton and his family are listed in the first Texas census, 1928-1836. Their oldest son, Thomas, is listed separate as he was not living with his parents.7
Stephen Eaton received his league of land in Jefferson County, Texas at the present site of Beaumont.8 Stephen appears to have become disenchanted with Texas, and was killed or died near Nacogdoches on his return to Illinois in the early 1840’s. The family then abandoned their return trip and resettled in Robertson County on land Stephen had received there.9 The grave site of Stephen has not been located but is believed to be in the Nacogdoches, Texas area.
Mary (Polly) Eaton died in 1848 and was the first person buried on a plot of land on the family farm. The plot later became known as Eaton Cemetery.10
Eaton Cemetery, a burial site for early Limestone County settlers, is located on one acre of land that was reserved by Rachael Eaton Culp, daughter of Richard and Mary Eaton, when the land was sold to William H. Mitchell in 1856. Mrs. Culp inherited the tract of land, “in said Limestone County, and the State of Texas on Steels’Creek.”11 This was part of Richard’s head right survey of 22 ½ labors of land in present Robertson County, which completed his one league due him as a married man..12
“Richard Eaton was considerably advanced in age and died in 1855. His children selected a place under a solitary magnificant oak tree in the Eaton Cemetery, known as EATONTOWN. Polly, his first wife, is buried on his left side, and Charity, his second wife, who was the first wife of Richard’s brother, Stephen H. Eaton, is buried on his right. These graves are at the foot and slightly to the left of Silas Eaton’s curbed lot.”13
Benjamin Eaton, a son of Richard and Mary Eaton, and his wife Malinda are also buried at Eaton Cemetery at the foot of Silas and Mary Mirandi. Benjamin is the father of Silas.14
The community of Eaton, located two miles southwest of Thornton, was named in honor of Silas Eaton who settled on Mill Creek about 1854. Silas built a grist mill and people from all sections of the country brought their corn here to be ground into meal. A school was founded at Eaton.15
Today Eaton Cemetery consists of a small fenced area sheltered by a grove of oak trees. There are 43 marked graves. The last burials were in 1933. Three Confederate veterans buried at Eaton are John Eaton, Ramond Randolph Cox, and George W. Fullen. While Stephen H. Eaton was not buried at Eaton Cemetery, a memorial was erected in his memory and states that he served in the Texas Revolutionary War. Richard Eaton’s monument indicates that he fought in the War of 1812 in the MTD Ranger Brown’s Co.16
1 Malcolm D. McLean, Papers Concerning Robertson’s Colony on Texas (Arlington: University of Texas Press, 1987), Vol. IX. p. 212, 213.
2 Ray A. Walter, A History of Limestone County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1959), p. 12.
3 Walter, p. 12.
4 Walter, p. 12, 13.
5 McLean, Vol. VII, p. 484-487.
6 Hazel Arnold MacIvor, Some Ancestors and Descendants of Benjamin Arnold (Michigan: Arnold Family Association of the Sount, 1974), p. 73.
7 Marion Day Mullins, First Census of Texas 1829-1836 to Which are Added Texas Citizenship Lists, 1821-1845 and Early Records of the Republic of Texas (Washington. D. C.: National Genealogical Society, 1976), p. 32, 60.
8 Clifford White, First Settlers of Jefferson County, Texas (Arlington: University of Texas Press, 1984), p. 42.
9 McLean, Vol. XI, p. 40, 441-443.
10 Limestone County Historical Museum. A Family History of Limestone County, Volume 2. ( Taylor Publishing, 1993), p.183.
11 Limestone County Deed Records, Vol. 20, p. 171; Vol. 27, p. 612.
12 Thomas Lloyd Miller, Bounty and Donation Land Grants of Texas 1835-1888 (Austin: University of Texas Press, ####).
13 Virginia J. Bounds and Imogene C. Barham. Limestone County, Texas Cemetery Survey, Volume I, Part I. (Texas: Limestone County Historical Museum, 1988), p. 90.
14 Bounds, p. 90.
15 Walter, p. 47
16 Bruce Jordan, Survey of Eaton Cemetery.