Rocky Hollow Historical Marker (also known as) - Little Arkansas - Bullion and Sedwick Cemetery

Rocky Hollow Historical Marker

aka Little Arkansas - Bullion and Sedwick Cemetery

At the corner of FM 2338 at CR247 about 7 west of Georgetown

GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 30.7373 - Longitude: -97.8002
Degrees, Minutes, Seconds
+30°44'14.28", -97°48'0.72"
Easting: 614857 Northing: 3401104

Historical Marker was missing from 1997 to 2010

Marker Re-Dedication Rocky Hollow Cemetery Association Historical Marker Dedication

Held on Saturday, October 9, 2010

Opening Song: God Bless America
Scripture: Debra Rose
Prayer: The Lord's Prayer
Welcome: Birdie Shanklin
Dedication Ceremony: Ralph Dixon Love

Unveiling of the Marker: Patsy Fisher May
Beverly Fisher Williams
Expression of Appreciation: Eunice Hastings
Closing Remarks: P.J. Stevens,
WCHC Chairman

Rocky Hollow Cemetery Association
President: Eunice Hastings
Vice President: Donald Ray Sedwick
Treasurer: Samuel Miller
Secretary: Birdie Shanklin



In the 1850s, a group of pioneer Black slaves came to this area from Union County, Arkansas, and founded what is now known as the Rocky Hollow Community. This cemetery soon was established on land given by Thomas P. Chapman. Although it was used before the Civil War began, the first marked grave, that of Confederate veteran William Bacon Tucker, is dated 1865. Known in earlier times as Bullion and as Little Arkansas, Rocky Hollow Cemetery continues to be maintained by descendants of the community's founders and of many ex-slaves. (1984)

New Marker Text

This cemetery was established on land owned by Thomas P. Chapman, along the route of the Georgetown-Lampasas road. Although it was mentioned in deed records as early as 1859, the earliest marked grave, that of confederate veteran William Bacon Tucker, is dated 1865. By 1870, the cemetery was no longer utilized by Anglo Pioneers but continued to be used by former slaves who lived in the nearby Rocky Hollow community. In 1974, graves from Sedwick Family Cemetery were moved to this site because of the creation of Lake Georgetown. Today, Rocky Hollow Cemetery continues to be maintained by descendants of the community’s founder.

Historic Texas Cemetery – 2007
Marker is property of the State of Texas

Sedwick Cemetery

The Sedwick Cemetery was on land that Lake Georgetown now covers and the graves were moved and re-buried at the Rocky Hollow Cemetery.

View full report


Rocky Hollow Cemetery Historical Narrative by Ralph Dixon Love

The area is known today as Rocky Hollow Community is situated approximately seven and one-half miles northwest of Georgetown on what was originally a cattle trail. It was also known as the Lampasas Road by early settlers and is presently identified as Williams Drive in the Georgetown City Limits, then Andice Road. It is now a part of the State Highway System and is F.M. 2338.

The Rocky Hollow Cemetery is located about four and one-half miles south­east of the village of Andice, Williamson County, Texas on the west side of said F.M. 2338 at its juncture with County Road 247. This property was given for a cemetery by Mr. Thomas P. Chapman [1], father of Mr. John Chapman. The cemetery was in use as early as the Civil War period or earlier. William Bacon Tucker, a brother of Rev. L, G. Tucker, and a Confederate Soldier, were buried in the Rocky Hollow Cemetery [2]. He was the husband of Aunt Nancy(Rhea) Tucker, [3] who is buried in the Matsler Cemetery a few miles away.

Grandad Love [4] related that in the early years, this part of the county, including the cemetery and the community, was called "Little Arkansas" because most of the settlers in the immediate area came to Texas from Arkansas. The Tuckers came from Yalesville, Arkansas. They were living in Little Rock County, Arkansas, in 1850. The family was found in the U.S, Census of that year. They lived in the community of Deep Creek, Little Rock County, Arkansas.

The community sprang up in this heavily rock-covered terrain.

It was settled by pioneer Negro Slaves who had come to Texas from Union County, Arkansas, and it is retained by descendants of these early residents of the community. The school was the first establishment in regard to buildings. The school/church was built in 1854 and was originally called Berry Creek Baptist Church and School [5]. It is recalled that the first school in the community was called Dennis Prairie for some duration. By 1859 the school and community had grown and developed and become organized and was from that time on has been referred to as Berry Creek.

Within a few miles of Rocky Hollow are Matsler and Wesley Chapel, known over the years as Conaway and Plow-handle communities. They developed after 1852, and cemeteries were located in each of the two settlements. They also had school/church facilities. There were many families who buried their dead in their home places in the founding years [6].

Clara Scarbrough gives this definition of this unique community: [7]

"Rocky Hollow. early settlement, schools, store, and church south of Matsler on Cowan Creek, usually pronounced by residents "Rocky Holler". The Rocky Hollow School, nicknamed "Stump Toe," presumably for the rocky terrain, was for Negro children and was also used as a church, The Yarbrough School was for white students. Although the schools were segregated, a community Cemetery near the church was integrated with people of white and black races buried there. The schools were in operation by 1880. A small store at the top of the hill from the school "hollow" was also a stage stop and was operated by a Mr. Beard in 1889 and later by Ellison Collins from about 1900 until 1915."

Mr, Jerry Arnold and his wife, Mrs. "ab" (Abigale) Arnold and family resided within the Rocky Hollow Community during the early period.

They established a homestead down in the "Shinnery Country" at the head of the Cowan Branch. Mr. Jerry Arnold is credited with having brought the first Spanish goats into this area of Williamson County, as well as the first Chevron Sheep. Mrs." Ab " sheared the sheep and goats to use the wool and hair for spinning and weaving into the fabric for covers and clothing.

Mr. and Mrs. Austin Smith [8] were among the many Negro Slaves who had come from Arkansas to this community to settle and buy land to setup homesteads and establish a productive way of life.

Almost all-Negro families within this area of Williamson County and Central Texas can number themselves among the legion of descendants of this early pioneer couple. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were among the earliest landholders in Williamson County. One of their daughters, who inherited part of her parent's estate, was instrum­ental in providing four acres of her inheritance to perpetuate the church and school in the Rocky Hollow Community.

Land was also provided for the establishment of the Rocky Hollow Cemetery.

It is recalled that the cemetery was originally called Bunion, then "Little Arkansas Cemetery" as [9] early as 1859, when the Chapman, Bullion, and Campbell families had buried their dead in this cemetery. [10] A Civil War Confederate soldier returned home from the War and died soon after. Mr. William Bacon Tucker was buried in the Rocky Hollow Cemetery on January 10, 1865. He has a well-identified tombstone. [11]

Approximately two hundred graves are maintained in the Rocky Hollow Cemetery today. Most are descendants of the Austin Smith Family who came to the area as slaves and later became original land­holders after the Civil War. The community has an active Cemetery Association, which has perpetuated this old burial ground of their ancestors. The first recorded Board of Trustee was in 1910 and was composed of three men: Jim Maxwell, Harvey Norvall, and John Smith. The present officers, in 1983, are Lester D. Fisher, President; Rev. James Shanklin, Vice-President; Bertie Miller Shanklin, Secretary; and Allie B. Haynes, Treasurer.

The Rocky Hollow Cemetery was not used after 1870 by the white settlers in the area but was used by many early-day Negro families and continues to be used and maintained by their descendants and friends. As stated before, most of the individuals buried here descend from one pioneer Negro Family, the Austin "AUS" Smith Family.

Most of the graves have been appropriately marked with military markers for those individuals who served in the United States Service of World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Viet Nam Crisis.

In addition, this organization has recently installed a per­manent all-metal fence around the cemetery. Other improvements are planned for the near future.

In 1974, the Army Corp of Engineers secured permission to re­locate a small family cemetery, the SEDWICK CEMETERY, and place it within the Rocky Hollow Cemetery Grounds. This cemetery was located in the North San Gabriel River Valley which is now inundated by the new LAKE GEORGETOWN. [12]

1. Mrs. Chapman and two children were buried in the 1850s, graves unmarked.
2. W.B.Tucker,1810 - 1865 C.S.A, Earliest marked grave.
3. Nancy Rhea Tucker was the first cousin of Stephen F. Austin.
4. Joseph Hutchison Love - see the bibliography.
5. Consolidated with Friendly Will Baptist Church in Georgetown Celebrated Centennial in 1954, O.T. Arnold, pastor.
6. See extra notes on page 6.
7. Scarbrough, Clara: Land Of Good. Water, p 449.
8. Buried in this cemetery in 1904 and 1911.
9. Williamson County Deed Records.
10. These were white families whose graves remained unmarked.
11. First marked white grave.
12. See enclosed official maps and a complete list of burials in the Rocky Hollow Cemetery.

Rocky Hollow Cemetery I. CONTEXT

The Rocky Hollow Cemetery is located 11 miles northwest of the Williamson County Courthouse, Georgetown, on the west side of FM 23381. It began as a pioneer cemetery for area residents but over time became more closely associated with the African-American residents of the nearby Rocky Hollow community [2].

The Delaney and Dyches headright leagues, which are adjacent, contain the Rocky Hollow cemetery and community, respectively3. Although the headrights were patented prior to the formation of Williamson county out of Milam county in 18484, many parcels from these leagues were formed during the 1850s5, an age consistent with other communities in the area: Stapp (today Andice) in 18576, Matsler in 18527, and Florence in the early 1850s8. The Rocky Hollow community formed later, with "white" (Yarborough) and "black" (Rocky Hollow) schools operational by 18809. A cattle trail that passed through the community and by the cemetery [l0] became the Georgetown-to-Lampasas road by 188511, and from 1900 to 1915, a stagecoach stop and store was in operation. [12] By the mid-20th century, the schools had consolidated with Florence [13] and today the cemetery is the only remnant of the community.


This overview is not intended as a replacement for the history prepared by Ralph Dixon Love for the marker in 1982 (see footnote 2), so while it touches on the most essential elements contained therein, it primarily explores additional issues.

In 1851, Thomas P Chapman purchased 370 acres from George Washington Glasscock [14], a prominent county landowner for whom the county seat is named". Mr. Chapman settled with his family and slaves on the site [16], purchasing another 54 acres in 185417. During some time in the 1850s, his wife and two children died and were buried in what are now unmarked graves [1]8. In 1860, Mr. Chapman sold his property to Thomas A Chapman [19] and by 1885 the land had been sold out of the family [20].

By 1859, "Little Arkansas cemetery" had been used by the Chapman, Bullion, and Campbell settlers for their dead.

The first marked grave is that of Mr. William Bacon Tucker, C.S.A. soldier, who died after the war on January 10th, 1865. By 1870, the cemetery was no longer used by the white settlers but continued to be used by African-American families [21].

One such family was that of Austin "Aus" and Nellie Smith, who, by 1872, had acquired 40 acres of the property nearby [22], followed by another 50 [23] and a lot in Georgetown in 188224. At one time, Mr. Smith owned 28 acres [25] just south of the cemetery in the Dyches league [26].

This 28-acre parcel has been the subject of speculation in recent years. According to this speculation, Mr. Smith owned the parcel while still a slave, Mr. Smith donated land for the cemetery out of the parcel, the cemetery's true boundaries are the entire 28-acre parcel and include graves outside the current property boundaries, and the Georgetown-to-Lampasas road ran through the parcel just west of the present cemetery fence line.

While the story of Austin Smith as a landholder and philanthropist prior to emancipation is engaging and unique, unfortunately, none of the above statements are supportable through known documentation. What is known is that a title search failed to reveal prior ownership of the land surrounding the cemetery by Mr. Smith [27], that the 28 acre Smith parcel is in the Dyches league rather than the cemetery's Delaney league [28], that the Georgetown-to-Lampasas road is described as a boundary to the 28-acre parcel rather than running through it [29], that an archaeological investigation revealed no evidence of graves outside the current boundaries [30], and that an action in district court regarding the title of the adjacent property resulted in a formal indication of error by the parties that had alleged an expanded historic boundary for the cemetery [31].

This author notes that the 28 acre roughly triangular parcel abutted the Georgetown-to­Lampasas road on one side and paralleled the league lines on the other two sides, much like the triangular-shaped portion of the Chapman parcel containing the cemetery [32].

This geometric similarity may have been a source of confusion regarding the parcels. Moreover, Austin Smith's story is significant regardless: his post-emancipation landholdings required substantial sums33, his ranching efforts have been noted as groundbreaking34, and many of those buried in the cemetery are his descendants [35].

It should also be noted that some of the themes underlying the speculation, such as unfair treatment of the African-American community associated with the cemetery, do have some substantiate basis. In 1910 the landowners of the property sold the cemetery "for $35 in hand" to Jim Maxwell, Harvey Norvel, and John Smith as trustees [36]. Use of land dedicated to burial for other purposes is prohibited [37], and the use of land for burial purposes is sufficient for dedication [38]. Thus, "purchase" of a cemetery is merely a transfer of trusteeship39, and requiring payment from the community seeking to continue their use of the cemetery may have smacked of opportunism preying on a minority population.

Formal records regarding the cemetery and its trustees were not kept for decades, but some records have been kept from the 1970s [40]. In 1974, the graves from Sedwick Family cemetery were relocated to Rocky Hollow by the Army Corp of Engineers as part of the construction of Lake Georgetown41. In 1982, the officers of the cemetery association were Lester D. Fisher, President, Rev. James Shanklin, Vice-President, Bertie Miller Shanklin, Secretary, and Allie B. Haynes, Treasurer [42]. That same year a title search regarding the cemetery occurred [43]. Shortly thereafter a Texas Historical Marker was applied for and received [44]. This marker disappeared circa 1997 [45]. In 2000, the officers of the association were sued by adjacent landowners regarding the boundaries of the cemetery, which created a variety of records, including an archaeological report concluding that no graves existed on a narrow strip just west of the cemetery [46]. The cemetery association is currently (2008) contemplating incorporation as a non-profit to allow for tax advantages by donors [47]; if such incorporation occurs, it will require significant additional record keeping.

Physically, the cemetery is level and partially wooded.

In addition to the natural live oak and cedar, roses and irises have been planted. The western boundary of the cemetery is demarcated with a woven wire fence. The northern and southern boundaries are partially demarcated by a chain link fence [48].

Recently (2007) added to the original acre was an additional 3/4 acre extending east to FM 2338, donated by the landowners49. This parcel had been used for some time by persons associated with the cemetery for parking and for dumping extra soil. Additionally, some graves had been placed such that they encroached on the property [50].

Graves are oriented facing east. The shaded section is full or nearly so, with additional graves along the fence lines of the open portion of the original acre. Two recent graves along what had been the eastern fence line have funeral home markers on the east end facing west. Families are generally clustered together, and there are a few small demarcated family sections.

The cemetery's grave markers are of a wide variety of styles and materials. There are unmarked graves, fieldstones, funeral home markers, pointed tablets with slotted bases, flat plaques (including military), slant-faced, modern, and vernacular. Footstones are present on some of the oldest graves. Marble and granite are in common use among the commissioned stones, with concrete and limestone stones also present. One of the military markers is metal, and one marker appears to be what this author has heard described as a "garden stone." Some markers are leaning, and some show signs of having been repaired. The original William Tucker marker is broken off at the base, although the military marker remains. The funeral home markers are, as is common, in various stages of degradation. Care for the markers, and the graves, in general, appears to roughly correspond with the recentness of interment.

Many of the modern graves are mounded. After burial, the rocky soil is mounded high back on top of the grave.

At one time, this may have been to avoid depressions or merely to avoid the costs associated with hauling off the waste. However, as it ought to be obvious now that less material is needed to prevent depressions and as the parcel to the east has been used in recent years for dumping waste material. As not all modern graves possess this feature, this practice may have taken the form of an elective custom. Grave mounding is also a feature at the predominantly African-American Miller cemetery near Jenks Branch (west of the Balcones fault) but is not present at the African-American Shiloh cemetery south of Brushy Creek near Hutto (east of the Balcones fault), and while this author does not claim to be a definitive source on the subject, mounding does not appear to be a common feature among non-African-American graves west of the fault.

As mentioned previously, there are some small family sections, demarcated with concrete curbing, brick, or rock. Some individual and coupled graves are demarcated with brick, rock, cut limestone, or garden fencing. Some sections and graves have been scraped at some time in the past to remove vegetation, a practice noted by Terry Jordan as cultural [51]. Some have been covered with gravel. In the case of one grave, the mound was covered with a vegetative barrier sheet followed by cinder rock [52].

This author has visited the cemetery the day after a cemetery association meeting and cleaning event and therefore has been afforded an opportunity to observe the results.

The grass that grows in the non-treed portion of the cemetery had been cut short, plastic flowers and other decorations had been placed on or near many (typically the more recent) of the graves. It seemed to this observer that some of the relatively recent graves had been weeded, but here was no evidence of recent scraping. Weathered decorations were still present on some, mostly older, graves. Plastic Bibles were the most popular decoration beyond plastic flowers. One marker had a rock placed on it; another, a pair of sandals. The grave with the garden stone had another (a pair of hearts) at the feet. One grave from 2006 had been demarcated with limestone blocks, been covered with gravel, a rose bush planted, a garden sculpture of children on a see-saw placed, several pots of plastic flowers on and nearby, a short flower stand nearby, and a large red bow tied to a nearby tree.

The line between vernacular grave marker and decoration is not always clear at Rocky Hollow cemetery. Several of the graves have small hollow yellow masonry bricks partially buried; sometimes one, sometimes several; sometimes in conjunction with a marker, sometimes not. Three graves have a marker of sorts created by placing two bricks standing up on a square concrete slab and sloping what appears to be a piece of cut granite from the bricks to the slab. One grave's concrete curbing has the name and dates scratched in near the head; this curbing also has PVC pipes buried in the corners, perhaps a one-time support system for the shade structure.

The cemetery, therefore, provides a demonstration of a variety of cultural and vernacular funerary practices relating to the residents of the Rocky Hollow community and their descendants.


The Rocky Hollow Cemetery is significant because it is the remaining primary vestige of the Rocky Hollow community. Its graves provide a record of pioneer families, military veterans, and the area's African-American residents. Still used, the cemetery today reflects the continuum of the area's history and demonstrates cultural and vernacular funerary practices. The cemetery has been the subject of a County ordered title search, a district court lawsuit, an adjacent archaeological trenching, the theft of its historical marker, and, in more recent and less contentious times, the donation of additional land by adjoining landowners. The area around the cemetery is changing rapidly as the development associated with the growth of Williamson County begins to encroach on the previously rural landscape. An Official Texas Historical Marker for Rocky Hollow Cemetery would provide an essential historical interpretation of the pioneer era and educate young people and newer residents about the names and events of the past.


In addition to the specific items referenced in footnotes, the following sources were consulted: Makemson, W.K. "Sketch of the First Settlement and Organization of Williamson County, Texas" Reproduced in England, Ken, Historical Sketch of Williamson County Old Settlers Association. 1966, second printing in 2003.