East Hamilton Cemetery

Shelby County Texas

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Transcribed by Leonard Irish &  Ray Jackson October 2, 1999

Take Highway 87 South from the Center square through Shelbyville to Patroon which is 18.7 miles.  Turn left onto F. M. Road 2261, go 6.2 miles and turn left onto Forest Service Road 126.   Go 1.1 miles and turn right onto Forest Service Road 106 go .3 miles and turn left on Forest Service Road 159.  The cemetery is about .2 miles at the dead end.

GPS -93.89082 Longitude, 31.63082 Latitude

In the year of 1847, the Saunders Family held a wedding for one of the girls of the family, all were invited.  The first supper table was spread, and the second was eating when the first began to become ill and it was discovered there had been poison place in the food.  All stopped eating and the third table never sat down to eat.  Some died there that night and some on their way home.  The death toll was seventeen, the last to die from the effect of the poison was three years later.   From that day until this, no one has ever known who applied the poison or the instigator of it.   It was generally believed that a former lover of Miss Saunders had followed the family from Georgia and bribed a cook to place the poison in the cake or coffee.  The victims of the Saunders' Wedding tragedy were buried in what is now East Hamilton Cemetery.  Several grave stones can be seen.   The listing identifies some of the victims of this famous wedding event.

Inscription on the Texas Historical Marker



     North Carolina native William Brittain (1774--1850) became a preacher in his home state at the age of 25.  In 1802 he married Rosanna (Wright) (1784--1856), the daughter of Revolutionary War Veteran John Wright III.  Inspired by missionary possibilities in the frontier regions to the west, William and Rosanna Brittain left North Carolina in 1824.  After living in Alabama and Arkansas, they migrated to Texas in 1837 and constructed a log cabin at this site.  One room of the structure served as a classroom and church sanctuary for the pioneer settlers of the Sabine River Steamboat Port of Hamilton, later known as East Hamilton.

     A pioneer leader of the Baptist faith in East Texas, Elder Brittain was instrumental in the formation of Hamilton Church in 1846.   Originally aligned with the Predestinarian movement of Daniel Parker, he later joined Missionary Baptists of the Sabine Association and served as moderator of the organization in 1847.

     East Hamilton declined with the end of the steamboat traffic.  All that remains is this cemetery, the site of the Brittains early home and chapel.


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To view the list of persons interred in the cemetery click here