Settlement of the Earle’s Chapel community began several years before the organization of Cherokee County. W. J. Ragsdale (1811-1884), a veteran of the Texas War for Independence, and his wife Patsy McAdams (1816-1898) had settled on Prairie Branch (Mill Creek) in 1838. Elijah Earle (1804-1880), his wife Nancy Blanchett (1811-1852) and their children migrated here from Alabama in early 1846. They cleared a farm and Elijah built a mill on Prairie Branch. As the community grew, Elijah Earle and his second wife, Mary Elizabeth Jarratt Tatum (1824-1904), saw the need for a school and church. They donated four acres of land, and in 1859 a log building was erected at this site. It burned in 1875 and was immediately rebuilt. That same year, the Earle’s Chapel Society, with twenty-five charter members, was officially organized by the Rev. E. P. Rogers of the East Texas Conference of the Methodist Church. A new church building was constructed in 1889 by church members T. J. Skeleton and Robert Tatum. Although damaged in a 1987 tornado, the building was restored, and after more than a century of service continues to serve the community, including descendants of pioneer families.
Elijah Earle (1804-1880) and his second wife, Mary Elizabeth Jarratt Tatum (1824-1904), set aside land for this graveyard in 1858. Elijah selected his own burial site at the time, marking it by carving his initials on a tree trunk. He was buried here on New Year’s Day 1881. His is the earliest documented grave in the cemetery. W. J. Ragsdale (1811-1884), a veteran of the Texas War for Independence, is buried here, as are veterans of the Civil War, World War I and World War II. Other graves include those of area pioneers and several generations of their descendants; T. J. Skelton and Robert Tatum, who built the Earle’s Chapel Methodist Church building in 1889; and a number of victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic. The original four-acre plot was enlarged in 1889 when Elijah’s son, Lon Earle, donated an additional two acres of land. Three more acres were added in 1972. The Earle’s Chapel Cemetery Association, founded in 1966, maintains, beautifies and promotes the cemetery in honor of past, present and future citizens of the community. As part of Cherokee County’s cultural heritage, the Earle’s Chapel Cemetery stands as a testament to the area’s early pioneer heritage.