McKenzie Cemetery is located in the southeast corner of Limestone County, Texas, on LCR 742 off FM 937, 18 miles from Groesbeck. The area surrounding this graveyard was known as McKenzie Prairie, named for Joseph S. McKenzie and his family who settled there in 1853. The cemetery was originally known as McKenzie Prairie Cemetery. 1
In the 1840’s Joseph S. McKenzie and his family were some of the original settlers of the area known as Pottersville in Limestone County. The community later became known as Oletha. 2
The oldest grave in McKenzie Cemetery is that of Elizabeth Etemon and her infant daughter, who died of smallpox while traveling through the area in May 1865. It was marked with a sandstone rock carved by Elizabeth’s husband, who then left and continued his journey.3 Joseph S. McKenzie and his wife, Permelia Shipp, set aside land close to their homestead for the burial.4
Gradually the one-acre plot became a community burial ground for the neighbors and descendants of the McKenzie family. Members of the Joseph McKenzie family buried in the cemetery include Joseph McKenzie, Permelia Shipp McKenzie, his first wife, Louisa Jane Blackwell Thomas, his second wife, six of his children: R. A. (Rance) McKenzie, W. J. (Jodie) McKenzie, Pamelia McKenzie, Amanda McKenzie Sherrod, Sadie McKenzie Thomas, Elizabeth McKenzie Thomas, and step-daughter Lillie Thomas Martin.5
William S. McKenzie, the brother of Joseph S. McKenzie, was buried in the cemetery in 1885. He served in the Army of the Republic in 1836 as a member of G. A Parker’s Company organized in Lumpkin County, Georgia.6 Five veterans of the Confederate Army are buried in McKenzie Cemetery: W. M. (Rev. Manse) Thomas, Isaiah Shields, William J. Choate, R. A. (Rance) McKenzie, and John Jutson, Sr. A memorial was place for Sgt. James R. Martin, U. S. Army, whose body was never returned after he was killed in Korea.7, 8
The cemetery is currently maintained by the McKenzie Prairie Cemetery Association which was organized in 1967.9
1 Nola Blanch McKenzie. Interview with Syble Shields, 1963.
2 Ray A. Walter, A History of Limestone County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1959), p. 12.
3 McKenzie, 1963.
4 Limestone County Deed Records, Original Surveys. Volume A, p. 212.
5 Aaron Shields and Preston Shields, Survey of McKenzie Cemetery (Thornton, Texas: 1989). Copy on file at the Limestone County Museum, Groesbeck, Texas.
6 Texas State Archives, Pension #1133, January 21, 1875.
7 Shields, 1989.
8 National Archives and Records Administration: Records of Confederate States Soldiers (Washington, D.C.).
9 Syble Shields, History of McKenzie Cemetery (Groesbeck, Texas: 1963). Copy on file at the Limestone County Museum, Groesbeck, Texas.