Drainage efforts for the Tamina Sweet Rest Cemetery are continuing despite delays, and preservation efforts are underway as community members seek an official historic marker and historic cemetery designation for the site.
Despite several delays, according to Elijah Easley, Tamina Cemetery and Community Project CDC, progress has been made on preserving the nearly 150-year-old plot of land. His organization is currently in collaboration with Texas A&M University for a case study of the cemetery.
"[We] are working with Commissioner [James] Metts [in our funding process] to get the water removed from the cemetery," he said. "We are also in the marker process for the community and cemetery, where they will be declared historical. We are looking to have a response for that by November."
Easley said the Texas Historical Commission is in the process of declaring the location historic, but no additional work can be done in the meantime. Once the declaration is official, work will commence on draining the cemetery, and the graves will be cataloged.
"We have to use a ground-penetrating radar," Easley said. "There are graves that are out there that are not marked. We want to make sure that as we go through the restoration process, we know they are there. Right now, ... we will not know until that GPR process is done."
The Historic Texas Cemetery designation program is separate from the Official Texas Historical Marker program.
According to information from the Texas Historical Commission, although the HTC designation is a prerequisite for a historical marker, the designation is not itself either an application or an approval for such a marker.
An HTC cemetery must be at least 50 years old and deemed worthy of recognition due to its historical associations.
Easley said his organization is not pointing fingers regarding the drainage issues, as he would rather focus on getting the cemetery restored.
"We just want to get it fixed," he said. "We have partnered with so many organizations outside of Tamina, even the federal government."
Easley said the water has been a problem in the cemetery for the past decade, and he recently met with Metts to continue discussing the issue.
"I think we are going to get a fix for it, but because we're in the process of getting it declared historical, we can't touch the grounds," he said.
Once the site is declared historic, Easley said the county government will be the decision maker for the project, so a timeline cannot be estimated at this time.
Efforts have been made to get the site drained since at least 2018.