WEATHERFORD — By BILL WARREN
Special to the Democrat
WEATHERFORD – Members of the Abandoned Cemetery Association (ACA) recently placed a marker at the grave site of Bennie Clayton (1885-1886) in Murr Cemetery 128 years after his death. His plot no longer needs to be listed as “child’s grave with iron fence.”
Clayton was the infant son and seventh child of nine children born to Thomas Nelson Clayton (1844-1921) and Mary Emaline (Moore) Clayton (1848-1923). No newspaper recorded his death as there were none, and no death certificate was issued as such formalities would not come about until the next century. He did not live long enough to be included in any U.S. census. Like so many others in Parker County, he seemed destined to be forever “unknown.” It was quite by accident that the gravesite was identified as belonging to Bennie Clayton.
Just over 40 years ago, relative Belva Clayton collected stories and pictures from old family members. A copy of the manuscript she produced found its way to the Genealogy Room at the Weatherford Public Library where it was uncovered by this author doing research on the cemetery. In it, Clayton identified her kin and provided a picture of the gravesite as it appeared in 1972. Its unique fence is immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with the cemetery.
In an interesting aside, Ms. Clayton noted the last bear in these parts was killed on Silver Creek in the winter of 1879 near where the Silver Creek United Methodist Church is located today.
Mr. and Mrs. Clayton at one time owned the 320 acres of land on which the cemetery sits. Their home, which still exists, is located just up the hill not far from the cemetery. The land had been used as a cemetery for at least 21 years prior to young Bennie Clayton’s untimely death as the oldest recorded grave is from 1864.