CHURCH HILL – Rusk County has a rich history that dates back nearly 200 years or more with respect to cemetery sites.
One of the better-known sites is the Strong Cemetery on the east end of the county.
Started in the 1850s by the John Strong family, the first grave belongs to John A. Young – the grandson of John Strong, and the son of William and S.E. “Betty” Young.
As with some or most of the cemeteries not only in Rusk County, but the state as well, they are segregated still to this day.
Rayford V. Pryor Jr. who has family on one side of the cemetery, is wanting to change that and have the demarcation fence taken down.
“It is time, way past time, to remove the fence at Strong’s Cemetery,” he said in a letter to The Henderson News.
“It is segregated with a heavy wrought iron fence, no gate between the white section, recently enlarged by eight to 10 acres. The African-American section is 98 percent filled.”
While the two cemeteries are adjoining, they are operated separately, according to sixth generation family member, Matt Strong.
“The board meets once a year in May and we can talk about this,” he said Wednesday during a tour of the cemeteries. “But there are two boards, ours and the other Strong Cemetery board.”
Pryor claims to have relations on the Caucasian side of the cemetery, but an initial review of a registry indicates that the Caucasian side has Priors listed, but with an ‘i’, not a ‘y.’
Not too long ago in Dayton, Texas, a fence was eventually removed thus desegregating one of that town’s cemeteries.
According to visible headstones, there are approximately nine plots bearing the Pryor name with burial dates in the 1940s.