Located off Tenth Street, the Conroe Community Cemetery is the final resting place for a Buffalo Soldier, the first black school principal in Conroe, noted black ministers and others.
Saturday, Oct. 12, marked the first of several Saturdays that cleanup of the African American cemetery will take place.
The Montgomery County Historical Commission, with the support of Commissioners Court and the City of Conroe, donated funds to build a fence along 10th street and provide some cleanup for the sacred tombstones in the cemetery.
“The cemetery has been called in the records either the No-Name Cemetery, the Conroe Cemetery or the Community Cemetery,” John Meredith, treasurer of the Conroe Community Cemetery Restoration Project, said. “It was registered in 2014 by our president of our group, John Edens, and he registered it as the Conroe Community Cemetery.”
According to Meredith, in 2011, Edens was recording graves over in Oakwood Cemetery, located next to Conroe Community Cemetery, and he looked across the fence that divided the two cemeteries and saw a grave with the name Dora Anderson.
“He crosses over the fence and starts wandering around and finding more graves,” Meredith said. “In 2011, he made it his mission in life to get this cemetery restored.”
Meredith said Edens worked on the restoration project plan for about four or five years, trying to get notoriety with Larry Foerster (Montgomery County Historical Commission Chairman) and various people.
“There’s actually a real famous burial in here of a guy Luther Dorsey, the only known Buffalo solider buried in Montgomery County,” Meredith said. “There’s living descendants of his that live in town, the Lewis family.”
Edens interviewed some of the Lewis family, and he has made it his goal to get the cemetery restored.
The Conroe Community Cemetery Restoration Project was incorporated in 2016, and they are now a 501c 3 with a Board of Directors.
The first burial at the Conroe Community Cemetery was in 1892, but it’s possible there’s one earlier than that.
“The first burial is of a young girl, doesn’t even live a month, don’t know her first name, can’t read it on the headstone, but it says Armstrong is the last name,” Meredith said. “There’s some other Armstrongs that are buried, so probably a child of Dora Armstrong, or somebody like that.”
That’s the earliest burial. The last burial at the cemetery was in 1966.
Meredith said a lot of the help they get for the work that needs to be done, including the cemetery cleanup, has been done pro bono.
“We have recently had two really good people come in to help us,” Meredith said. “One company, a lawn maintenance company, is going to come in with chainsaws.”
According to Meredith, he and the other volunteers do the “safe” cleanup with the small stuff, so the maintenance company will do a lot of the cleanup with the trees.
“We’ll leave everything over six inches, and periodically, probably about every 40 to 50 feet there will be a tree,” Meredith said. “We want to keep a restful peaceful sort of place.”
Meredith said a survey company has volunteered to come in and do a boundary survey, which he says typically costs about $2,000.
The Project volunteers will cleanup the cemetery every two weeks until Dec. 7 of this year, then continue the cleanup in 2020. Meredith said they hope to finish the cleanup of the cemetery by March 1 of 2020.
For more information on the Conroe Community Cemetery Restoration Project, log onto: https://cccrp.org/