DICKINSON — A community cleanup at Magnolia Cemetery on Saturday revealed unmarked graves that had once been covered in brush.
There are about 150 marked headstones in the cemetery that bear names of Dickinson residents, mostly African-American, and many date to the 1800s.
But local historians Melodey Hauck and Lonny Martin said death records and obituary information indicate there could be as many as 400 more unmarked graves, many of which were for children.
“Even well-maintained cemeteries have unmarked graves, either because the headstones are too expensive for survivors to afford or because they were homemade and disintegrated over the years,” said Hauck, who is a member of the Galveston County Historical Commission.
Hauck and Martin began researching Magnolia Cemetery in 2006 to ensure local burial records matched those available online to better help people searching for graves.
“It’s a lengthy process, but every little thing helps,” Martin said. “We’re doing it for the people.”
The Rev. William King of Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, which is next to the cemetery, is in the process of seeking a historic designation for the cemetery from the Texas Historic Commission. King said he plans to include the information Hauck and Lonny gathered in the application.
About 50 people volunteered to do yard work on the property, which actually is in League City. However, Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters said the community has always laid claim to Magnolia Cemetery.
“No one is obligated to care for the cemetery, so we all volunteered,” she said.
Members of Keep Dickinson Beautiful, Galveston County Historical Commission, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, True Cross Catholic Church, New Jerusalem Baptist Church and the United First Methodist Church, all in Dickinson, were among the volunteers.
“It looks 100 percent better than it did a week ago,” King said. “This really shows the community cares.”
Alma Hobbs-Little volunteered to honor the members of her family buried in Magnolia Cemetery. Members of the Hobbs family were cattlemen and were among of the original settlers in Dickinson, she said.
“I have so many family ties here,” she said. “It’s important to recognize that this is the foundation of the area so we don’t forget there’s a lot of history here,” Hobbs-Little said.