From Florence, Texas, go north on Main Street, which turns into FR-487. After about three miles, turn left (west) on FM 2843. At the junction with CR 230, turn unto CR 230, and the Lawler Baptist Church will be on your left. The Lawler Cemetery is behind the church, with a dirt road leading to the cemetery gate. The GPS coordinates were taken in the middle of the cemetery.
Founded before mid-1800s. Named for early settler L. T. "Uncle Lee" Lawler. Beloved by citizens, for years he leased land free to community for school, church, and cemetery. First school, named for Edward Stevenson (land donor) began before 1872. Now farm and ranch area.
The Lawler Community Cemetery and School - Church Building
The Lawler community got its name from L. T. Lawler, who gave the land for the Cemetery, School, and Church building and grounds.
Uncle Lee, who was affectionately addressed by friends and his neighbors, moved to the Community before 1861. In 1861 he bought 256 acres of land on the Wittenburg Branch three and one half miles ea at of Florence, on the W. G. Lang Survey, paying $450.00 for it.
It is on this survey that the Lawler Cemetery, School, and Church are located.
On first moving to this survey, he gave an acre of land for burying purposes.
In 1902 he deeded this acre to J. W. Shafer, the Lawler Cemetery trustee, for$10.00. In 1878 he bought additional land on the Edward Lang Survey by paying the taxes against it.
Uncle Lee was a community-minded man loved by those who knew who him, especially the children, as he always kept candy for them and told them interesting pioneer stories. He was interested in community projects, lo his church, and his lodge.
He gave 0.94 acres of land in the Edward Lang Survey just east of the cemetery, in 1904, to the community for a school and church which waged as such without pay, rent or deed until June 9, 1959, when it was deeded to the Lawler Baptist Church Deacons, T. 0. Lindsey, Millie Lindsey, and Chester Strawn, and their followers, by Mrs. Laura Lawler, the daughter-in-law of Uncle Lee Lawler. After a two year period of non-operation of the church, it is to revert back to the Lawler Memorial Association.
The Lawler Cemetery was first used as such by travelers passing through the community, and the graves were marked by rectangular gravestones made of native stone.
The oldest visible marking on one is 1850. Several were marked before 1870. Uncle Lee Lawler and their wife, along with the fore-fathers of the community, are buried there. The cemetery is cared for by a regular caretaker who is paid by the Lawler Cemetery Association. It is fenced with a chain-link fence. The Association is working on a plan of permanent care for the cemetery and is looking forward to the dedication of a Texas Historical Marker. The Cemetery Association Homecoming is the last Saturday in April.
Mr. Edward Stevenson gave the land for the first community school, which was located a few hundred yards north of the present location.
The School was named for its land donor and was a frame building not far from Stevenson Branch. The exact date of establishment of the school is not known, but it is known that Mrs. J. W. Shafer started school there in 1872, and Mrs. Will Lawler started there in 1880. It was likely built by the men of the neighborhood with probably ahead carpenter.
In 1892 the Stevenson School was transferred to Center Point about two miles south-east of the Stevenson.
Mrs. Georgie Hickman started school here in the first grade. The school was held here until 1904, when it was transferred to Lawler. The Oak School was located about one and one-half miles north of the present Lawler Church and School. In 1904 the Oak School housed in a new building built chiefly of new lumber but some from the old Stevenson building was consolidated with the Center Point School.
The Oak Schoolhouse was moved to the present Lawler location, where the school continued until the Lawler School District was consolidated in 1939 with the Florence Independent School District. Farmers, ranchers, preachers, teachers, carpenters, and people of almost all occupations have gone to school here.
Probably the three trustees who served the longest terms were Mr. Lee Shepherd, Mr. Red Tom (T. H.) Lindsey and J. McLeod.
Some of the teachers were Miss Helma Paulson, Della Campbell, Miss Effie McGee, Miss Lucy Monroe, Miss Bessie Whiteley, and bliss Esta Lee Green.
Trustees hauled the wood and often furnished it free of charge -even cutting it from their pastures. Also, they hauled a good part of the water in barrels, but part of the time, the children carried it from Uncle Joe Williams well about one-fourth mile away, north of the school.
The Lawler Baptist Church was organized in Spring Valley about eight miles east of Florence, sometime before 1883.
The first minutes on the record are for Saturday before the first Sunday in April 1883, with G. N. Proctor as Church Clerk and J. J. Thompson as pastor. The church continued to have services here until after September 1889, when it moved to Center Point on the north Salough Creek about four and one-half miles east of Florence. The church had grown to a large congregation with huge crowds attending the protracted meetings in the summer, under the brush arbor--lighted by torch lights, conducted by visiting ministers usually with baptizing of large numbers of people at the Seven Foot Hole on the North Salough, about 2 miles east of the Church.
In 1905 the Church moved to its present location where Brother Albert Everts is pastor and Sister 011ie Lindsey is Church Clerk. Some of the pastors have been Brother M. A. Darby, J. K. Griggs, N. R. Denson, and T. J. Langford.