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The Old Paris Cemeteries

Several tent graves, including one for a child, at the Old Cemetery in Paris, Lamar County, Texas.

The Old Paris Cemetery (Lamar County, Texas) is a fascinating look at early Anglo burials, where most of the dead are from Kentucky/Tennessee. Some of the graves sport stone "tents." This cemetery is unique in the quantity of these kinds of burials. They are not above-ground crypts but rather, low houses on top of the burial plots that cover the entirety of the plot. Most of the inscriptions on the graves have become illegible, but I was able to find one that is still relatively intact.

The "tent houses" were often used to stop cattle and other animals from rooting around. They could have also been adapted from "house graves" that were constructed by native people, like the Choctaws. All of these graves are inside the city's original cemetery, now inactive. Most of the dead were moved to the southern edge of town and now reside at Evergreen Cemetery. Paris actually has several inactive, old cemeteries within its city limits.

Finding an old burial ground in Paris when I was a young kid is the reason I became a historian, actually. Read on to find out more.

The partial destruction reveals the construction materials used in the Old Paris Cemetery.

Water pools inside the destroyed tent, or house grave, at the Old Paris Cemetery.

Tomb Stone
One of the stone house graves with legible inscriptions at the Old Cemetery in Paris, Lamar County, Texas. Sacred to the memory of Thomas Wortham Born in Warren County NC Oct 23 AD 1776 and departed AD 1847 Aged 71 y 9m 17 Days

I was born and partially raised in Paris, Texas, and decided to visit the old neighborhood where I lived briefly as a wee girl. Across the street from our former house once stood an overgrown and neglected patch of "woods," with some large trees and lots of brush ( including poison ivy). As a kid, my sister and I loved to play out there. One day, my sister came home with a stone on which praying hands had been carved. Apparently, she had discovered an old, forgotten cemetery in the woods. Her discovery made me excited and envious at the same time, and it was then, at the age of five, that I wanted to study history. Today, this pioneer cemetery, with some pre-Civil War burials, has been marked off Pride Circle Road and is easily accessible. Not many of the tombstones remain visible, but here is a photograph from my visit that reminded me of the exact moment when I "knew what I wanted to be when I grew up."

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