TX Bethel Cemetery, Limestone County, Texas

bdtex

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Corp. John W. Tompkins, Co. F, Bradford's Regiment Texas Cavalry . "Tomkins" in fold3 and NPS. Only 2 pages in fold3....an Index Card and a "tri-monthly Regimental Return dated by order of Col. Bradford since Aug. 4". Couldn't find a description of Bradford's Regiment in NPS. Found this at the Texas State Historical Association:

https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/bradford-charles-mcpherson

He filed a Pension Application in August 1899, approved March 1900. In it he said he "served about 3 years". His Widow filed a Pension Application in April 1924, approved same month. A Headstone Application was submitted by his youngest son/child in March 1930. He has 2 Confederate gravestones. There are 15 "Tompkins" buried in Bethel Cemetery.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/52529129/john-wesley-tompkins


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bdtex

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On Saturday, June 5, 2021, I visited Bethel Cemetery off County Road 420 in a very rural area of Limestone County, Texas. It's maybe 10 miles northeast of Groesbeck, the county seat of Limestone County. The occasion was a Saturday daytrip to Waco, Texas to visit my son, whose birthday was June 1st, and grandson. The cemetery is about a 2.5 hour drive from my house. There was a lotta rain in the forecast that day and it had rained a lot between here and there the day before and earlier in the week. I left very early that morning hoping there would be a window in the weather for a visit to Bethel Cemetery. It had been on my list for awhile but a good opportunity hadn't presented itself. I had contingency plans depending on the weather. The forecast was wrong and I had a very pleasant, but humid and soggy, visit. It didn't rain on me any that day, except in a couple of places on the way home late that afternoon. My first picture shows that I arrived at 8:08am CST. I had to go low angle to get a lighter backdrop on the cemetery name at the top of the gate. You couldn't read it with trees as the backdrop.
 

bdtex

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Outside the fenced burial ground is a pavilion and some wooden tables(?). I used to think those were for funerals at the cemetery but I've been told their primary purpose is for the Cemetery Association/Foundations' annual meetings and other association/foundation functions. I guess the tables are for laying out a spread of food, tea/water/lemonade dispensers and eating/drinking utensils. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.


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bdtex

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There are around 300 burials at Bethel Cemetery. From FindAGrave, Ancestry,fold3 and NPS, I was able to determine that 6 Confederate veterans and 2 Union veterans are buried in Bethel Cemetery and that 5 have military stones and 3 have civilian stones. I went with my usual list of names of the veterans, their regiment and type of gravestone. I also had grave marker flags and a small stone cleaning kit. I only had Wet & Forget this time. With rain in the forecast all weekend, I wasn't sure how much stone cleaning I would be able to do but I went prepared to do a little anyway. Didn't have a lot of time for that either on this trip. Only 3 of the stones looked like they needed cleaning from the pictures thereof in FindAGrave. I made note of the ones that looked to need cleaning. 4-5 of the gravestones got some degree of scrubbing and/or spraying. As usual, I had the place to myself. The ground was very squishy in some places as you can see in some pictures. I had a change of clothes and shoes with me. I also had a small can of mosquito repellant. It'd be nice to go back some day when it's dry and mowed. The cemetery does not have a historical marker.


https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2362/bethel-cemetery
 

bdtex

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Sgt. Archibald Freeman, Co. E, 124th New York Infantry. I went there to visit all the veterans' gravesites but this is the one I was looking for first. Wasn't hard to find. I sits kinda out in the open just to the right a ways after you go through the gate. His gravestone was already flanked by 2 American flags. I had a special one for his gravesite that I ordered from the American Legion. I sprayed the dark patches on his gravestone with Wet & Forget before I left that day. Nice little write-up in FindAGrave. I found some documents that I'm also gonna post and comment on. Not sure what brought him to Limestone County, Texas. I'd like to know.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7242182/archibald-freeman


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Here's a Muster Record for Sgt. Freeman that I found in fold3. It says that he enlisted on July 24,1862 for 3 years and that he was 18. He either lied about his age or the recruiting officer did. I have his Death Certificate and 1880 Census record. His Death Certificate says he was born on August 13, 1847. In the 1880 Census, he, his wife and youngest child were living in Limestone County and he was 33. He was 14 when he enlisted in the Union Army. His Muster Record says he was wounded at and captured the flag of the 17th Louisiana Infantry at Spotsylvania Court House on May 12, 1864. He was only 16 at Spotsylvania Court House. Hard to tell from the records when he was promoted to Corporal. He was awarded the Medal Of Honor on December 1, 1864. He was promoted to Sergeant on March 1, 1865 and Mustered-out on June 3rd 1865. He was 17 when he Mustered-out. His wife and all 4 kids are buried at Bethel Cemetery too.



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Pvt. Isaac C. Wheeler, Co. C, 3rd Michigan Infantry. The other Union soldier. Buried near Sgt. Freeman. Only found an Index Card and some kind of undated Pension Card in fold3. Some information found in Ancestry says he enlisted on 8/17/1864, Mustered-in on 10/8/1864 and Mustered-out on 8/9/1865. It was a late war regiment.

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UMI0003RI02

Other veterans' gravesites were already marked with flags from Memorial Day when I got there. His wasn't. I took care of that. There are 5 "Wheeler"s buried there, all with similar gravestones. FindAGrave doesn't say how they are related. Pretty wet and muddy around his gravestone.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/117200758/isaac-c.-wheeler


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bdtex

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It is a very unique thing that you do, and you are certainly commended for that.
Thank you sir. We don't have much in the way of battlefields in Texas but we have a lot of cemeteries just like Bethel Cemetery. What I do brings me a lot of peace. I try to clean their wives' stones too when I can.
 

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Pvt. Matthew C. Lofland, Vol. Co., Mtd Men, Beat No. 8, Hill County, 28th Brigade, Texas Militia. All I found was a Texas Muster Card. He enlisted on August 10, 1861. He would have been 35 then. I searched fold3 to see if he may have re-enlisted in a Texas CSA regiment but found nothing. His father was a Mexican War veteran and is buried there too. They are in the very back of the cemetery and it was very wet back there. There was a lot of standing water on the other side of the fence line behind them. Got buzzed a little by mosquitoes back there. I had a long sleeve shirt and long pants on.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36867096/matthew-clark-lofland


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Pvt. A.T. Cowan, Co. K, 20th Texas Cavalry. 5 fold3 pages. He enlisted on July 7, 1862 for 12 months. He was paid a $50 bounty on 7/11/62.The Receipt is in his records. He is also on a Receipt Roll for "Commutation of Rations" dated 7/30/62. Not exactly sure what that means. May-July 1862 Company Muster Roll doesn't say whether he was present or absent. No other records. Couldn't find a Pension Application either. His gravestone is close to Pvt. Lofland's and in the back row of the cemetery. It's underneath an oak tree with limbs starting to hang low. It was wet and gloomy underneath that tree that morning. If I'd had more time that morning and there wasn't a threat of rain, I would have given that stone a good scraping and spraying. As it was, I sprayed the inscriptions real good before I left. If I make it back there, that stone is gonna get a good cleaning. It's a shared stone with his wife. The 20th Texas Cavalry fought Union troops in Indian Territory.

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=CTX0020RC

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35627584/alexander-truman-cowan


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Pvt. Sam Bradley, Co. D, 43rd North Carolina Infantry. 19 fold3 pages. He enlisted on May 26, 1862 for the war. The May - August 1862 Company Muster Roll says "Absent. Sick in camp near Drewry's Bluff." Listed "Present" on the September 1862 - December 1863 CMRs. "Absent on furlough" in January/February 1864 CMR. "Present" on the July 1864 - February 1865 CMRs. On a List of Prisoners of War of the ANV surrendered and paroled at Appomattox Court House on 4/9/65. I couldn't find a Pension or Headstone Application. He and his wife share a civilian gravestone. Their one child is buried elsewhere. I gave his Confederate gravestone a good scrub and spray before I left. The 43rd NC Infantry saw some action.

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=CNC0043RI

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35626862/sam-bradley


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Pvt. Samuel Ingram, Co. I, 6th Alabama Cavalry. 5 fold3 pages. He enlisted on April 9, 1863 for the war. On the 8/31-10/31/63 Company Muster Roll he is "Present. Without a horse for 76 days. Pay for horse 40 cts. per day $24.40." Appears on a Muster Roll " of Co. A, Detachment of Troops from Camp of Correction, ordered to duty by Maj. Gen. D.H. Maury and commanded by Maj. R.A. Harris, at Mouth of Dog River, near Mobile, Ala. for dated Aug. 31, 1864." Listed as "Present. Send to to Camp of Correction " Last record is a Receipt Roll for clothing on 8/24/1864. His Widow filed a Pension Application in January 1910. It was rejected in February 1910 for "Too much property". His gravestone got a scrub and spray after the picture.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/26404427/samuel-columbus-ingram


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Pvt. John Nelson Moody, Co. G, 13th Alabama Infantry. 34 fold3 pages. He enlisted on July 19, 1861 for the war. Company Muster Rolls in his records run from July 1861 - October 1864. Listed as "Present" on half of them and "Absent. Sick..." or "Absent on furlough" on the other half. 13 pages of Hospital Registers in Richmond and Receipt Rolls for clothing in his records. Confusing records near the end of the war. He took the Oath of Allegiance at City Point, VA on 10/31/64. He signed it by making his mark "X". Also appears on a List of POWs from the ANV surrendered by Gen. Lee at Appomattox C.H. He took the Oath Of Allegiance again on May 12,1865 in Montgomery, Alabama. Paroled 5/12/65.

He filed a Pension Application in October 1913, approved December 1913. His Widow filed a Pension Application on March 16, 1915, approved same day. I couldn't find a Headstone Application. There are 13 "Moody"s buried in Bethel Cemetery. Scrubbed and sprayed his gravestone before I left. The 13th Alabama Infantry saw some action.

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=CAL0013RI

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/52187562/john-nelson-moody


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bdtex

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One last picture. The gravestones of Pvt. Moody, Pvt. Wheeler, Sgt. Freeman and Corp. Tompkins are visible in this last picture. The times on my first and last picture show I was there an hour and 40 minutes. Great visit.

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