The cemetery adjoining the chapel building dates from its first grave in 1881, that of Elijah Earle who was buried in what was then the School Yard on January 1 of that year. The cemetery has always been available, not only to the congregation and the community, but to anyone who had need of it. It serves as a final resting place for six or seven generations of some of the early community families and more than a dozen marked graves are over a hundred years old. While most of the graves are marked in some way, a few burials have taken place where identifiable graves can no longer be found.
The graves include those of veterans of the Texas War for Independence and the Cherokee Wars, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. Studies of the gravestones reflect the tragedies of the community over the years—accidents, the 1918 influenza epidemic, the young soldier as well as the old veteran, and sadly, the series of small graves that reflect one family’s loss, year after year, of a new baby.
The original four acre tract of land set aside in 1858 was enlarged in 1889 with the addition of a little over an acre deeded by Elijah Earle’s youngest son, Lon and further expanded with the purchase of three acres in 1972. Within the memory of the oldest members of the community, the cemetery has always been carefully tended.
Until about the time of World War II, when families began to move further away from the area, friends and relatives cleaned the graves during “cemetery workings” several times each year. Everyone, young and old, scraped the graves clean of grass, mounded them carefully, and decorated them with seasonal flowers. At mid-day, everyone joined together for “dinner on the ground”, set out on wooden benches from the church. As it became more difficult for family members to carry out the grave-tending rites, a community caretaker took on the task, paid out of funds collected in an informal, but regular manner.
As the cemetery continued to fill with new graves, it became apparent that some more organized approach needed to be taken for proper maintenance. The cemetery is now under the care of the Earle’s Chapel Cemetery Association, chartered in 1966 as a non-profit organization, whose stated purpose is to “…maintain, beautify and promote the Earle’s Chapel Cemetery in the interest of all citizens and to those who had passed on and those who will come after.”