Friday, January 30, 2009

Menard Chapel Cemetery

The Menard Chapel is located in the southwestern part of Polk County, Texas near Menard Creek and the Trinity River. The Menard’s Mill post office was established in 1838, but the name was changed to Menard’s Chapel in 1862. The chapel from which the town took its name was the Mount Gilead Baptist Church, which had been organized in 1854. In 1906 the Menard’s Chapel had four schools, with four teachers and ninety-one students.


The Menard Chapel history can be traced back to 1833.  Peter J. Menard and M. B. Menard came to Texas from Kaskaskia, Illinois.  They started a small community near Menard Creek.  Menard Chapel was near and old camp ground, in the vicinity of a road known as the Indian Trace (1)
    1.  Menard Chapel Cemetery consist of eight acres.  Polk County deed records show this land was owned by Joseph Rhoden when the first person was buried in what is now known as the Menard Chapel Cemetery. (2)  Ruth Nicholas, mother of Mary Jane Oliver, was buried there on March 1, 1876. (3)  Three known Confederate Soldiers are buried in this cemetery.  They are Matthew Franklin Oliver, John Lowe, and Samuel Wilson. (4)  Lowe, Oliver, Duff, Collins, Richardson, Bailey, Rhoden, Chambliss, Baxter and Steagall are a few of the names you will find there.
    On May 16, 1981, a Prepetual Care Fund was established for the care of the cemetery and church grounds.  A cemetery meeting is held annually in May.   The Mt. Gilliard Chruch building is used for these meetings.  The cemetery church & school is located approx. 14 miles Southwest of Livingston.  It is two miles off Farm Road 943 on the Menard Chapel Road.
    2.  The earliest history of a church being organized at Menard was in the early 1800's.  The church was a Missionary Baptist Church.  It was named Mt. Gillard Baptist Church. (1)  Minutes of the Union Baptist Association meeting at Bethel Baptist Church at Bold Springs in May, 1854 stated "The next meeting appointed at Mt. Gillard Missionary Church." (5)  The old church was a box building with the wall boards running vertically.  According to eighty year old Eddie Baxter, the present building was built in the early 1920's.  Brother Tom Lilley was the pastor at the time and helped with the construction.  This church was actively used for services until about 1983. The last pastor was Brother A. J. Castilow. Some of the previous preachers at Mt. Gilliard were three generations of the Duff Family. They were James E. Duff, Amos Duff, and Ferguson Duff. Brother W. D. Wadsworth and Tom Moye also pastored this church. Prayer was an integral part of the church. When the community was suffering from a drought, the men of the church met to pray for rain. Bro. Tom Moye ask Bro. Morgan Walters to lead the prayer. The next day a BIG, BIG rain came.
3. Menard Chapel School was organized after the Civil war. (6) Mrs. E. O. Rhoden conveyed two acres of land for the Baptist Church and School. (7) School was taught in the church building. Water was used from a spring on the property behind the church. The spring is still there today. Early records from the Polk County School Supt. office show that in 1873 Menard Creek School received $28.15 to be credited on books. In 1886, the record shows Menard Chapel School received $493.58. T.J. Franklin and B. F. Collins were trustees. (8) “In 1887, V. A. Collins took an exam to teach the school at Menard’s Chapel. He taught in the fall, after crops were gathered.” (1) Mr. Collins later became an attorney and was elected to serve as a Senator representing Polk County. A. A. Duff was another early teacher at Menard Chapel School. He taught school for forty years in Polk County. Some of the students who attended Menard Chapel School were Robert, Henry, Harren, and Watson Walters. Berry lowe Davis, Lyester, Josephine, Gabriel Collins, Willis, Patience and Dace Collins, Polk Mooore, Travie Murphy Baxter, Lizza Murphy baxter, Exer Griffin Walters, Francis Lilley Bailey, Sam Jack Murphy, Arbelia Murphy Oliver and several Duff’s.
Menard Chapel Community was a lively place to live. Dances and log-rollings were common forms of entertainment and work. “Mrs. Sam Morrison remembered that the women cooked an enormous amount of food for dinners and mid-night lunches. She saw a twelve pound cake that was left untouched from one log-rolling, dinner and dance. Mrs Matthew Oliver once cooked a barrel of flour into bread and cakes for one such occasion.” (6)
The cemetery and Church are beautiful, restful places. Green grass and beautiful flowers abound at Menard Chapel.

1. “A Pictorial History of Polk County, Texas” by Ruth Peebles, Published by The Heritage Committee of the Polk County Historical Commission in 1976 - Revised in 1978.
2. Polk County Deed records Volume “O” page 507 dated 10-27-1874 John O. Bartee to Joseph Rhoden
3. Information verified by ninety year old Lev Davis
4. “There Never Were Such Men Before” by Ruth Peebles; Published in 1989 by Polk County Historical Commission.
5. Copy of the Records of Bethel Baptist Church, Polk County, Texas. Book I 1849-1898 by Moody Stone Jackson, Jr. and Family & Jack Garvey Jackson & Family. (Murphy Memorial Library-Livingston, Tx.)
6. “The History of Polk County” by Miss Emma Haynes located in the Murphy Memorial Library, Livingston, Tx.
7. Polk County ded Records of Polk County, Tx. Vol. 32, Page 447 Mrs. E. C. Rhoden to T. A. Bailey, for the Baptic Church and school known as Menard Chapel
8. Copies of records furnished by Luther C. Moore, former Polk County School Supt.


Menard Chapel Cemetery Marker
Texas Historical Commission
Menard Chapel Church, School, and Cemetery

Michel B. Menard, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and his brother Pierre J. settled here in 1833.  According to local tradition sometime prior to 1854 the Mt. Gileard Baptist Church built a small sanctuary here in Menard Chapel, a farm and ranch community which developed along Menard Creek.
    Shortly after the Civil War ended Mrs. E. O. Rhoden donated 2 acres here for church and school purposes.  The Baptist congregation constructed a new church building which for many decades served as a house of worship as well as a schoolhouse for the Menard Chapel School.  Early teachers A.A.Duff also served as Pastor.  Another early teacher, V.A.Collins, went on to serve Polk County as Texas State Senator.  The school was discontinued in 1935 when it was consolidated with the Livingston Independent School District.
    The cemetery was established with the burial of Rutha Nicholas in 1876.  Church and cemetery acreage was set aside in a deed executed by Eli and Unity Rhoden in 1902.  A new sanctuary, built here in the 1920s, served as a place of worship until 1983.  The cemetery is maintained with perpetual care funds by the Menard Chapel Cemetery Committee.  Veterans of the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, are buried here.

Family Members at the Menard Cemetery:
• William Allen Walters 06Sep1894-19Feb1903
• Ida Mae Munson 19Feb1903-18Mar1986
• Peyton, Son of A & I.M.Walters 24Oct1920-15Oct1926
• Raymond Leveritt Massey 25Dec1922-21May2001
• Henry W Walters 26Oct1894-06Mar1959
• Hattie E Walters 1901-1936
• Elter V Walters 1932-1936
• W D Walters 16Aug1919
• Dorothy Walters 02Jul1926
• Robert Stace Walters 16Dec1917-24Nov1960
• Mary Callie (Futch) Walters 11Nov1878-12Sep1947
• Robert Warren Walters __Apr1880-14Sep1919
• ? Granny Futch [Headstone next to Mary]
• John A Smith 17Jun1914-18Sep1988 (Inez's husband)


• Texas State Historical Association -

Additional Resources:
• Menard Chapel Cemetery = 409-563-4421
• Emma Haynes, The History of Polk County (MS, Sam Houston Regional Library, Liberty, Texas, 1937; rev. ed. 1968)

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