Fort Hood Sentinel
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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2014  03:02:42 AM

Two post cemeteries designated as historic during annual family visits

Email   Print   Share By Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
May 29, 2014 | News
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Betty Brown (center) leads a ceremony Sunday to commemorate Ruth Cemetery’s deignation as a place of historical significance in Coryell County. The designation was made possible by a former Ruth resident. Photo by Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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Betty Brown (center) leads a ceremony Sunday to commemorate Ruth Cemetery’s deignation as a place of historical significance in Coryell County. The designation was made possible by a former Ruth resident. Photo by Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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A sign from the Texas Historical Commission sits outside Ruth Cemetery and details the history of the cemetery. Photo by Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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John Rufus Easley visited Ruth Cemetery as often as possible to clean and care for the grave of his sister who died as an infant before Easley was born. Photo by Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
Families of former landowners made their annual visit to the cemeteries that Fort Hood’s training lands on Sunday, but this year was a little different as families gathered for special dedication ceremonies at two of the post’s 19 cemeteries.

The ceremony, which marked Ruth Cemetery and Pleasant Grove Cemetery receiving the designation of Texas Historic Cemeteries, was a labor of love and several years for John Rufus Easley, who was born at Ruth and kept ties to the former community.

Easley, who passed away last year, was not there to see the fruits of his labors, so it was important for the families to be there to mark the occasion.

Betty Brown stood in Easley’s place Sunday to official mark the Ruth and Pleasant Grove cemeteries’ designations as historic cemeteries.

“Today, we are completing the journey John Rufus started three or four years ago,” Betty said. “We are recognizing history.”

Easley was born in August 1932 at Ruth, where he and his family lived until Camp Hood was established in 1942, effectively taking over Ruth and 18 other communities.

Every year, Easley would come to the cemetery to care for the grave of his sister, who died as a baby in 1931 and was buried at Ruth.

“He would come out and take care of his sister’s grave,” Betty said. “He was a very religious man and it was important to him to maintain the history.”

For the last decade or so, Betty, her brother Rebel, her cousin Catherine Brown-Fulton and other family members have joined Easley for the legacy visits.

“I thought it was very important to come here today for the people who started Fort Hood,” she said.

Danny Corbett, a representative from the Coryell County Historical Commission attended the ceremony at Ruth on Sunday.

The process to have a landmark designated and recorded as historic is a two-step process that takes awhile, he said.

“First, the landmark, or in this case, cemetery, has to be recognized not only for the time period or its age, but also as something of importance,” Corbett said. “The second step is to complete the application for the marker.”

Though the dedications were important, the reason for the families’ visits was the same as every other year.

“We’re here for these people,” Betty, whose ancestors lived in Ruth and neighboring communities, said, motioning toward the 87 graves at Ruth cemetery and noting another 77 unmarked graves of families. “This is important.”

Betty’s roots to Fort Hood trace back more than 150 years to communities across what is now North Fort Hood.

“This is our roots, it’s our introduction to Texas,” Betty said. “Our great-great-grandparents settled here in the 1850s.”

Her great-great-grandparents are buried across post from Ruth at Brown Cemetery.

Ruth was an established community until 1942, with a schoolhouse, general store, a church, a carbide plant for electricity, a gin and mills.

Rebel and Betty’s grandmother taught at the Ruth school, but most of their grandparents moved from Ruth after a house fire that killed two of their daughters.

The former communities and their members were close knit and remained that way even after the communities dissolved, the descendants said.

“It was like a commune out here,” Catherine Brown-Fulton, Betty’s cousin, added. “(The communities) all connect and we used to have picnic here every Fourth of July.”
 
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