near Willis, Mongtomery County, Texas


Republic of Texas era ~

The original owner of the land on which the cemetery is located was Joseph Lindley. He emigrated from IL and obtained his land ca. 1835 when Texas was governed by the Spanish under Mexio. His land grant encompassed over 4,000 acres and he began partitioning it off through sale or donation within five years. In 1846, he donated 3 acres to the Trustees of the Methodist-Episcopal Church, (Montgomery Co., TX Deed Records, Vol. L:234-235). The Trustees were William Cude, James M. Smith, Daniel Robinson and Thomas W. Hoy. The deed states Lindley's intent that the church building be used by other Christian denominations when not being used by the ME congregation. This 3-acre church tract is the location of the area we now know as the Old Danville Cemetery, aka Shepard Hill Cemetery. It probably also includes some of the eastern part of the Catholic Cemetery section. At the same time, Lindley sold the land on three sides of the church tract to William Waters Shepperd, Jr. (112-3/4 acres, less the 3-acre Church tract = 109-3/4 acres). This 109-3/4 acre tract was key in following the sequence of events that detail the evolution of the cemetery lands. The land to the south of the Church tract was sold to John Spillers in April of 1846

Chain of Title ~

Tracing the chain of title was challenging because there is no deed made directly to the cemetery. More than likely, the burials were started on the grounds of the church and at some point the church ceased to exist. The tracts of land surrounding the cemetery were sold; usually "excepting" (excluding) the 3-acre church tract. It was by following the chain of title to these surrounding tracts that the true history began to be revealed. Following is the chain of events that reveal the history of the cemetery lands in the shadows:

1. Joseph Lindley and wife to W. W. Shepperd, Jr., 5 May 1846, Montgomery Co., TX Deed Records, Vol. L, pg. 232-234. Two tracts: 109-3/4 ac. (this is the tract that surrounded the 3-acre Methodist Episcopal Church) tract and 51 ac. tract.

2. Joseph Lindley to The Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 3-acre tract, dated 6 May 1846, Vol. L, pg. 234-235.

3. W. W. Shepperd, Jr. dies in 1846. (Black Box Packet No. 247; Abstract in Probate Records, Vol. 1, p. 87-88.

6 AUG 1850 - First marked burial: Mary Susan Spiller
1852 - Second marked burial: Green Wooten Taylor
1854 - George Spiller and Michael Weisinger

4. Law suit over land between Shepperd Jr.'s widow (by her father, Abel H. White) and W. W. Shepperd, Sr. 1846-1857. Judgment of the Dist. Court of Montgomery Co. and the Supreme Court of Texas. W. W. Shepperd, Sr. gets land. (Black Box Packet No. 247; Abstract in Probate Records, Vol. 1, p. 87-88. See also, Co. Court Probate Minutes Bk F:413-414.)

5. W. W. Shepperd, Sr. died in 1849. Probate in Black Box packet #319. Two tracts included. Described as "112-3/4 acres (less 3-acres held by the Trustees of the Methodist Church) leaving 109-3/4 acres; and 51 acre tract...." (Deed Records, S:334-336) Plat found in Black Box Packet No. 319, County Clerk's office, Probate Dept., Conroe, Montgomery Co., TX.

6. C. B. Stewart (Adminstrator of W. W. Shepperd, Sr. estate) to Jacob H. Shepperd, dated 10 May 1857, Vol. S, p. 334-337. 112-3/4 ac. Less 3 acre Methodist Church tract, and 51 acre tract (total 160-3/4 acres). Also, see Indenture from J. H. Shepperd to C. B. Stewart as Administrator of Est. of W. W. Shepperd, Sr. for payment of same, Vol. S, p. 338-340, dated 10 May 1857. This is an agreement for payment.

7. J. H. Shepperd to S. R. Smith, dated 9 Dec 1859, Vol. V:59-60. Deed for the two tracts. Apparently, Samuel R. Smith was acting as security for Jacob's debt on the land.

8. S:477-478, dated 10 May 1857. Mary S. Shepperd, widow of W. W. Shepperd, Sr. takes the note from Jacob H. Shepperd for mortgage on both tracts (112-3/4 less 3 ac. church tract and 51 ac. tract) as a portion of her part of W. W. Shepperd Sr.'s estate; so Jacob is now paying her a mortgage for the two tracts of land, but Jacob holds title to them.

9. See also, Vol. S:323-328 re: Trust drawn up by Mary Shepperd, (Mary S. Shepperd to James E. Scott and Gwyn Morrison) dated 11 May 1857; puts into Trust the promissory note executed by J. H. Shepperd and S. R. Smith in favor of C. B. Stewart, as administrator of Est. of W. W. Shepperd, Sr., dec'd....for the purchase money of two tracts of land, one of 112-3/4 acres and the other 51 acres, bought by said Jacob H. Shepperd at the Estate sale of the Est. of said W. W. Shepperd, Sr...and also...that certain mortgage dated 12 May 1857 executed by Jacob H. Shepperd in favour of C.B. Stewart as Administrator of said Est. upon the 112-3/4 acres of land less three acres belonging to the Methodist Church, leaving 109-3/4 acres...and 51 acres in the other tract...(see No. 6 above).

10. Vol. U:782-785, dated 20 Jun 1857, James E. Scott and Gwyn Morrison For Mary S. Shepperd To C. B. Stewart. The Trustees of Mary Shepperd's Trust appoint C. B. Stewart as Trustee.

11. Vol. U:778-781, dated 25 Jun 1861, Mary Shepperd to C. B. Shepperd. This is giving C. B. Shepperd more powers to manage the property in her Trust (which includes mortgage owed on the 2 tracts of land by Jacob H. Shepperd).

12. Mary S. Shepperd dies in 1863. Probate in Walker Co., TX

13. J. H. Shepperd to J. Carroll Smith, dated 18 Apr 1863, Vol. U, pg. 761-762. Jacob H. Shepperd is selling all of his interest in his mother's estate to J. Carroll Smith for $600.

14. J. Carroll Smith to Hamilton O'Banion, V:61-62, dated 16 Oct 1863. Payment was made to C. B. Stewart and a note was made to J. C. Smith for the balance due of the purchase monies due him on tract of land...being the same conveyed to J. H. Shepperd by Deed S:333-336, (160-3/4 ac.), subject first to the payment of balance due on a Judgement in the Dist. Court of Montgomery Co. in favor of Mary S. Shepperd against J. H. Shepperd and S. R. Smith rendered 22 Nov 1860 and then to the payment of said O'Banion's note to J. C. Smith by virtue of the Vendor's lien for unpaid purchase money.

15. O'Banion bankrupt on 26 Dec 1868, Vol. X:486.

16. X:486-488. L. T. Harris, assignee of the bankrupt estate of Hamilton O'Banion to James A. Hill, dated 23 Sep 1869. Land now referred to as 160 acres of land. Clearly the same land as prior deeds are referenced. Land still subject to Vendor's Lien in favor of J. C. Smith for $650.

17. James A. Hill to William F. Spiller and Susan J. Spiller, Vol. 2, p. 277-278, dated 29 Dec 1875. "163 acres... known as the Hamilton O'Banion place near the Town of Danville...same land conveyed to said O'Banion by J. C. Smith by deed dated 16 Oct 1863 (Vol. V, p. 61-62)... and same 163 acres of land sold and conveyed to Hill by L. T. Harris, assignee of the bankrupt estate of said Hamilton O'Banion by deed dated 23 Apr 1869 (Bk. X, pg. 486-488)..." (The acreage indicated in this deed apparently includes the 3-ac. Church tract).

18. Susan Spiller dies in 1898. Her estate inventory lists "1/2 interest in 163 acres in the Joseph Lindley Survey - Graveyard."; All property bequeathed to her son, William F. Spiller.

19. William F. Spiller dies 1913.

20. Partition of estate of Susan J. Spiller by the Spiller grandchildren. Chas. Spiller, et al to W. F. Spiller, et al, dated 10 Aug 1918, Vol. 94, p. 497. A (50 acre) tract to Mrs. Irmalie (Spiller) Tyree goes to a "S. E. corner of the M. E. Church lot, a S.W. corner of the Sarah McGary 320 ac. survey and a corner of a 163 ac. survey made for W. F. Spiller. A stake in Danville and Longstreet Road for corner." This is the land on either side (east and west) and south of the 3-acre church tract/cemetery.

21. On 2 Dec 1938, Irmalie (Spiller) Tyree and husband, L. E. Tyree sell to Dr. W. F. Spiller, Jr., Vol. 203, 189-190, 50 acres. (See No. 20 above).

22. Tract 24-South (located west of the 3-acre church tract) is 1.5 ac. referenced by Vol. 265:300. This was a deed from Dr. W. F. Spiller, Jr. to David Novark out of Spiller's 204.8 ac. tract, dated 1947 (W. F.'s 163 ac. tract (located north of the church tract + 41.65 ac tract W. F. bought from the Tyrees (See No. 21 above). This deed CLEARLY excludes the acreage on the west side of the church tract, thus adding additional acreage to the original church/cemetery land. Early Appraisal District maps also show that this land has become part of the cemetery lands.

23. Tract 25-South (located east of the 3-acre church tract) is 5.8 acres referenced by Vol. 280, pg. 36. This deed is from Dr. W. F. Spiller, Jr. to Frank and Martha Smith, dated 28 Apr 1948 and one of the lines of this tract is set in the "South East corner of a certain 6.1 acre cemetery tract" showing that by 1948, the 3-acre church tract had evolved into a 6.1-acre cemetery tract. Appraisal maps also clearly show the original 3-acre church tract directly west of and adjoining Tract 25-South which proves that the Old Danville Cemetery is on the land of the original 3-acre Methodist-Episcopal Church tract. Land measurements have shown that part of the east side of the Catholic section is also sitting on the original 3-ac. Church Tract.

The following 1938 Appraisal Map shows the cemetery land with the original road cutting through the cemetery. The road was moved in 1956 by donation deeds from the Spiller family. The road now runs on the north boundary of the present-day cemetery.


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Created September 26, 2004

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