Santa Fe Trail Association member, Marion Lowe, is overseeing the restoration of William Becknell’s gravesite. The site is located about six miles west of Clarksville Texas on the south side of Highway 82, on a corner of what is still called “Becknell’s Prairie”. Clarksville is located about 25 miles south of the Red River border with Oklahoma in the upper eastern corner of Texas.
In 1861 William’s wife, Mary, deeded some six acres to the Methodist Episcopal Church. While there are only four documented burials, exploration, during the clean up process, indicated that a number of other burials have taken place there and nearby.
The restoration has been in process since Mr. Lowe got the idea, in 2009, that the gravesite of such a famous person should be better cared for. The completed site will consist of a small roadside parking area with a 450-foot long gravel pathway that leads uphill to the small cemetery. The parking area will allow visitors to read a new cast bronze sign that briefly tells who Becknell was. As is the custom in Texas, the site will be announced about one mile in advance in either direction on Highway 82.
Visitors who wish to do so will be directed up hill to the approximately 90 foot by 50 foot cemetery which will be enclosed with a new, gated wrought iron fence. At the site are several gravestones and the large granite monument placed there by the state of Texas in the 1950’s. A new cast bronze sign will provide some additional information related to Becknell. It will also correct an error on the granite monument related to Becknell’s date of death which should have read “1856” but was transposed to read “1865”.
Mr. Lowe and a group of volunteers, in previous years, have done extensive clearing of the accumulation of brush, briers and grass that had nearly covered up the cemetery plot. Now it looks much like it could have in Becknell’s day with its cover of oak trees. After completing the restoration this year the site will be submitted for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.