History of Hawkins' Cemetery
by Dianne Chance April 13, 2010

Hawkins' Cemetery is named for Harvey Hawkins who came to Texas from Tennessee. He first settled in Rusk County where he married Mary Ann Elizabeth Elliot Hitt Turner in 1848. This was the third marriage for them both. In 1856 Harvey Hawkins's name appeared on a tax list as owner of 160 acres. In January, 1860 a land grant was issued to Hawkins for 160 acres in Tarrant County by Sam Houston, Governor of the State of Texas. This property was and is still known as the Harvey Hawkins Survey in southeast Tarrant County. A burial plot was located in the center of the poperty.

According to legend, a slave girl named Poly Penn was the first to be buried in the cemetery. No documentation has been found as to her date of burial and no gravestone has been found that locates her grave. The oldest marked grave in Hawkins Cemetery is that of Mary Ann Elizabeth Hawkins who died in 1868. Her husband, Harvey Hawkins was buried near her in 1869 while they still owned the land. A son, Charles Harvey Hawkins was buried between Harvey and Mary about 1881. Jason B. Little, another settler married Rebekah, a daughter of Mary Hawkins. Jason and Rebekah were buried here along with other members of the Hawkins and Little families.

George W. Kee later owned the property around and including the cemetery. In 1890 Kee sold the one and one-half acre cemetery to members of the community for fifty dollars for use as a public burying place, as found in deed records of Tarrant County, Texas in 1895. The Kee family was buried near the Hawkins family on the ridge in the northern section of the cemetery. The Edwards and Tunnell families later acquired portions of the Hawkins Survey and deeded an additional 11/12 acre to the cemetery in 1919.

As more and more people settled in the area, many pioneer leaders used the cemetery. Gravestones record the life-span of these settlers whose names now designate local streets and roads such as Little, Hawkins, and Sublett. In the early 1900's the surrounding area became known as the Tate Springs Community. The men of the community dug graves by hand with picks and shovels in clay, iron-ore gravel and sandstone for burials. Graves were always dug early on the day of the burial so as not to leave a grave open overnight. Relatives and members of the community gathered with picnic lunches once or twice each year to clean the graves and maintain the cemetery. These gatherings became meetings where those present discussed the care of the cemetery. In time a board of trustees was appointed to oversee operation of the cemetery on a free, non-profit basis with no charge for burial lots or maintenance. Expenses for maintenance were paid for by donations and work continued to be done by dedicated volunteers.

Written records of meetings began in 1949. A meeting was held on October 3, 1949 at the cemetery for the purpose of forming the Hawkins Cemetery Association and to elect officers for the same. The then current group of five trustees resigned (H.T. Brannon, R. C. Williamson, A. K. Busbee, T. W. Maxwell and C. V. Tunnell). A new board of four members was elected (Delmer Hiett, Brian Lotspeich, Ira A. Williams and Mabel Cole). Mrs. Cole served as secretary/treasurer and she, along with her husband, Floyd Cole volunteered countless hours during the next 35 years marking gravesites, updating maps and records and investing donations in a small fund used for upkeep. Carl L. Ferguson, Norman "Bud" Busbee and other volunteers donated many hours of work and materials to add a cattle guard, culverts, fencing, gates and driveways. They placed markers and created and updated maps. Mr. Ferguson, the Ira and Charles Williams families and others donated the use of pick-up trucks, tractors, mowers and tools to remove debris, level graves and mow when needed.

As the area population grew, friends and supporters of Hawkins Cemetery passed away and families of the Tate Springs Community scattered. In the late 1960s, Hawkins Cemetery was taken into the city limits of Arlington, Texas. Developers built homes on adjoining properties. Volunteers and donations diminished while burials and demand for upkeep increased in the urban setting. Hired workers took over mowing and dirt work as beautification became a priority. In May, 1979 Hawkins Cemetery acquirred an additional 0.71 acre of land on the west side of the cemetery donated by Harvey Properties Company. The newly acquired land afforded much-needed access to the cemetery from the west. Once a small community cemetery, Hawkins was now joined on three sides by residences and on the west by U.S. Highway 287.

Secretary/treasurer Mabel Cole resigned in 1984. Neita Horton was elected as the new secretary/treasurer with Dianne Chance as assistant. Floyd Cole resigned as trustee in 1985. Board members, Norman Busbee, Charles Williams, Helen Williams, Carl Ferguson and Billy Horton renewed their efforts toward a goal of perpetual care and asked families to donate a small fee per space each year for upkeep. Later, Connie Burleson, descendent of Harvey Hawkins was elected as Historian.

Many original gravestones were hand-carved red sandstone. Some were scattered or lost over time and were replaced by more permanent markers. The original red sandstone marker for Harvey Hawkins was lost in 1985 and original stones for M. Hawkins (Mary) and C. Hawkins (Charles) were detoriorated. In recent years these three stones were replaced with granite markers by descendants of the Hawkins family. Some original stones remain with the names Turner and Brooks, which mark the graves of their five other children and other family members. A new west gate, stone entrance wall, landscaping and driveway improvements were added in 1988. Work days and open meetings were held each fall but were discontinued due to poor attendance. In December, 1988 the Hawkins Cemetery Association was incorporated with the State of Texas.

In recent years, board members Billy and Neita Horton have volunteered much of their time to mark graves, maintain records and maps, invest donations, oversee maintenance and make improvements. They are currently assisted by seven other board members. The goal of the association is to honor the memories of the departed, to attain perpetual care of the cemetery in the future, and to provide a final resting place for anyone wishing to be buried there.

Credits go to Connie Burleson, great, great granddaughter of Harvey Hawkins and her mother, Betty Hawkins Bridgewater for providing the history of the Hawkins family.