In 1869, John Collins and Winnie Radford Oakes, their five sons, two surviving daughters, and two nephews migrated from Perry County, Alabama to Limestone County, Texas. The family settled in the area, becoming land owners and farmers; many of their descendants are still residents of the county and the surrounding area.
The earliest date on a tombstone in the Oakes Cemetery is 1861 for Mary C., daughter of D. and A. J. justice. In that time, many cemeteries began as family plots on the family’s farm; this is probably the beginning of the Oakes Cemetery. The second oldest burial in 1865 was that of Roland Pair who in 1852 acquired 88 acres in the area from the Juan Luis Chavert 11 leagues land grant. John Collins Oakes acquired 200.5 acres on January 3, 1870; he was buried on the land now known as Oakes Cemetery in 1876.
On March 20, 1891, Mrs. W. Oakes, widow of John Collins Oakes, “for and in consideration of the purpose of having a purmant family grave yard.” It was “deeded to J. M. & G. W. Oakes, Trustees of said Grave Yard & their successors & said successors to be some of the family or Decendance of the said Mrs. W. Oakes, have Granted, Sold and Conveyed, and by these present do Grant, Sell and Convey, unto the said – of the County of ---- State of --- all that certain tract of land in Limestone County, Texas, containing one acre out of my said homestead tract and is described as follows, to-wit:
Beginning at a stone set near the SW corner of the fence that is now put up for said grave yard, thence East 75 vrs to a stone set whence a P.O.6 in. brs. N 61 E 3 vrs: Thence N 75 vrs to a stake whence a B.J. 8 in brs NW 6 vrs; thence West 75 vrs to a stone whence a P.O.17 in brs West 3 vrs: Thence South 75 vrs to the beginning, said land is a part of Section NO 35 of the J. L. Chavert 11 League Grant, & it is further given in this deed that a permanent right of way be given from some convenient point from the out side line or lines of the original homestead Tract to said Graveyard & if fenced then a gate is to be kept up & the right of way to be sufficient to let wagons pass and repass on said right of way.”
Since the deeding of the land and in accordance with the deed’s stipulation, the Oakes Cemetery has been maintained by descendants of the Oakes family. In 1950, additional land was acquired to extend the cemetery property to the road. The Oakes Cemetery Association was incorporated in 1971. In 1986, the Fair Oakes church building and land were donated to the Association, and the building was moved to the cemetery property. The church is used for funeral services on request and provides a meeting place for the Association’s annual meetings held on the second Saturday in June.
The Oakes Cemetery continues as a family cemetery as the Oakes descendants marry into other families, adding new lines to the genealogy charts. Each June brings together all ages of Oakes’ descendants to honor their loved ones, to renew family friendships, to meet new family members, and to remind a community of its founding families.