Saturday, July 03, 2010

Old Shiloh

Attended the Old Shiloh Cemetery picnic today. I think it is one of the few East Texas homecomings we still call a picnic.

The Old Shiloh Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Rusk County, and a very large country cemetery. The first recorded burial is 1853. The picnic is only a shadow of its former days. Once there were two churches at Shiloh and two singings -- one "little book" and one Sacred Harp. By the time I came along, the old church (org. circa 1843) and the Sacred Harp Singing had died out, and there was only the little-book singing in the Southern Baptist Church (org. 1902). It was a big deal in the days of my youth. It was probably the largest picnic gathering/singing in the area. In addition to singers and those who had family in the cemetery, it was big draw for politicians and singing groups. The church house was always full and overflowing. Today perhaps a third the building was filled. The singing crowd was bigger than the last time I attended. The overall crowd was much smaller.

Tradition has it that the picnic as we know began in 1867 when my great-grandfather's sister, Susan E. Vaughn Pierce (wife of Wylie Matthew Pierce), and others met for a picnic and cemetery cleaning day.

The cemetery is located just east of Hwy. 315, about 6 miles northeast of Mt. Enterprise, Texas.

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