a Pecan Shell
Old Center was
settled quite early by the Rowe Brothers who arrived and opened a
tannery sometime around 1830.
Land was donated in 1856 for a cemetery, church and school. A frame
building replaced the original log church in 1900 and in 1906 forty-six
students were taught by two teachers.
The church, school, and a few residences comprised Old Center during
the Great Depression - when the population was a mere 30 people. The
school merged with those in Carthage
in the late 1940s.
In 1990 Old Center had a church, cemetery, a few houses and a population
estimated at less than 100.
When I was a teen ager I used to attend “home coming’s\Grave Yard”
cleaning there with my father, W.Y. Massey, who was raised in this
area. That would have been in about 1949-1955. This was a big event
with services at the church and most of all a “dinner on the ground.”
It really wasn’t on the ground but that was what it was called then
and think still is. As I took these photographs, on July 9th, 2009,
it came to me as I walked the area and cemetery I jokingly thought
about “how many chicken bones I had thrown upon these grounds.”
Old Center isn’t much now but in the 1840's it was quite a place.
About all there is now is the church but, I checked and there are
many mailboxes in the immediate area with the name Rowe on them. So,
from one standpoint, history still lives one. - Gerald
| Historical Marker
In 1856, land for
the Old Center Cemetery was first donated by James Rowe, a community
pioneer and a veteran of the Texas War for Independence. Rowe's grave,
dated 1868, is one of the oldest in the cemetery. The earliest marked
grave, that of Arminta C. Cash, dates from 1865. One of the few physical
reminders of the Old Center community, the graveyard contains several
unmarked graves and about 400 marked burial sites. Over the years,
the descendants of the original land donor have given acreage to enlarge
the boundaries of the cemetery.
Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 - 1986
|James Rowe Grave
(March 17, 1811
- Dec. 3, 1868)
Texas War for Independence soldier (1836) James Rowe
had migrated from North Carolina. Prospering as a tanner, he was commissioned
to help organize Panola County (1846); served as senior warden of
Sam Sanford Lodge No. 149, A. F. & A. M. (1851); served in 4th Texas
Legislature (1851-53); and gave the land now occupied by this cemetery.
He and his wife Mira (Tippett) had eleven children. Descendants include
citizens in many walks of life.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact