LAKE JACKSON — City Council will allow a historical association to mark two graves in the city after a resident said his aunt was one of the two people buried near a church that once stood near Shy Pond, officials say.
Council unanimously approved Nancy Howard, president of Brazoria County Texas Historical Cemetery Guardianship Association, placing two headstones and a Texas Historical Cemetery Marker in the median of Any Way.
Former city manager A.A. MacLean helped develop Shy Pond and the subdivision in that area where there once was a “freedmen’s church,” City Manager Bill Yenne said. The developers were aware of the former church and two graves nearby, so they made an effort to keep that area a median in the road and not build over it, he said.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Yenne said of the markers.
The graves belong to Maggie Robinson McBeth, who was born March 15, 1883, and died in Sept, 1946, and Maggie Mattalane Beasly Barnes, who was born Oct. 28, 1948, and died in December of the same year, Howard said.
McBeth was the aunt of a current West Columbia resident, and that man attended the Willis Point Methodist Church before it was torn down, Howard said.
The infant and woman will be recognized with light gray granite headstones, she said, and the historical marker will be black granite mounted on a 4-foot metal post. Other historical markers have been made with bronze or precious metal, leading to theft, Howard said.
No one will want to steal the granite and it looks nice, she said.
Larry Taylor, a resident of Any Way, expressed concern that only two markers are planned, asking if there were more graves there and bringing up the Mount Zion Cemetery near Brazos Mall.
That is another cemetery the association is hoping to properly recognize, Howard said. There are two granite stones marking the gravesite there already, she said.
The former slave burial ground had largely been forgotten until August 2014, when four graves were discovered next to the known Mount Zion Cemetery boundary, The Facts reported. Brazos Mall uncovered the unmarked graves after attempting to install infrastructure for a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
The association has verified 21 names from that cemetery so far, which adds to the 36,000 names and 164 cemeteries the association has in its database, Howard said.
Taylor said he was not opposed to any markers, but the location near his home and lack of discussion before the motion passed at the meeting caught him off guard.
There are only two graves in the Willis Point Cemetery, Howard said, and the association hopes to mark all the graves in Brazoria County that people sometimes try to hide or forget about.
“We have so many historical cemeteries, we’re trying to honor those people who made (Brazoria County) great, whether they’re black, white, Hispanic,” she said.
Howard assured the council those buried would not walk around and disturb anyone.