Liberty Chapel Cemetery History

Williana, Grant Parish, Louisiana

Liberty Chapel Cemetery and the Liberty Chapel Methodist Church were originally started in the 1849 -1850 period and the church was built of logs.  Any property records would have been kept at the Rapides Parish Courthouse before the Civil War as Grant Parish was established in 1869 from parts of Rapides Parish and Winn Parish.  General Banks burned the city of Alexandria including the Parish Courthouse when he was retreating from his defeat at Pleasant Hill.  Those early records are no longer available at the courthouse.  The first burial in the cemetery was a Bellamy, a preacher's son that was killed by a horse.

A smallpox epidemic swept through a company of Confederate soldiers encamped on the old Military Highway about four miles from the cemetery.  Twelve of the soldiers died and are buried side by side near the center of the cemetery.   Rough cedar limbs marked their graves.   Today, they have markers.  The first headstone placed in the cemetery links the present with the early history of our country soon after the adoption of the Constitution.   It was John Richardson whose birthday was May 16,1794.  At Liberty Chapel, four centuries are thus to be found.

Both Matthew Nugent and his wife, Julia Ann Mackie, are buried at Liberty Chapel Cemetery.  Most of their children and many of their descendants are buried there.  Matthew's headstone shows a birth date of 1808 and death February 21, 1879 but other records show he was born on May 19, 1802 in Rapides Parish.

The second church was built as a frame church in 1881-1882 to replace the log church.  The third church was built in 1888 and also served as a schoolhouse.   It was after this third church was built that 40 acres of land was purchased.  The church and cemetery were in use for 44 years at the time of this purchase of land at auction.

Land where Liberty Chapel Cemetery and the Liberty Chapel Methodist Church are located was purchased at public auction on May 26, 1894 in Colfax.  Matthew Nugent (born July 26, 1839) who rode horseback throughout the area collecting money collected the $50.00 in funds used to purchase the 40 acres.  Matthew gathered almost $60.00 for the Board of Trustees of Liberty Chapel Church to use to bid on the property being sold by the Grant Parish School Board.  Surplus funds were returned to the contributors.  W. L. Richardson, President of the Board of Trustees, made "the last best and highest bid" of $50.00 for the property.  (Ref: Deed of Sale, recorded in Conveyance Book "H", page 97, Grant Parish, LA) Matthew Nugent attested to the deed.

This Matthew Nugent answered the "call to arms" of the Confederate States at the age of 22.   He was enlisted at New Orleans on 11 March 1862.  Matthew's service lasted over three years in which time he was wounded once and Prisoner of War twice.  The Slave Schedule of Rapides Parish (1850) listed Matthew Nugent (his father) as a slaveholder.

The fourth and current church was built about 1910.  In the spring of 1949, a cemetery committee was formed to raise funds for the care of the Liberty Chapel Cemetery.  The current Liberty Chapel Cemetery Association is the result and the fund continues to grow for perpetual care of the ancestors buried there. You can mail a donation for cemetery maintenance to the address shown in Dry Prong, LA. Checks should be payable to the "Liberty Chapel Cemetery Association".

The families gather for a homecoming on the first Saturday before the first Sunday in May.

Contact person at the cemetery for grave sites is Mr. Kenneth Maddry at 318-899-5368.

Liberty Chapel Cemetery Association

P.O. Box 91

Dry Prong, LA    71423-0091

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