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William James (born ca 1804 KY) first came to Texas with Joseph and John, sons from his first marriage, in 1839. He served in the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848. After he was mustered out in New Orleans, he came back to Texas where he became a Mercer Colonist 1 May 1850. He joined the Masonic Lodge in Dallas 10 April 1858. He married Nancy Doyle in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Their children were Rebecca and Farmer, who remained in Indiana when he returned to Texas after the Mexican War. James purchased 320 acres in the William Cude Survey for $320. from B. F. Winter 21 October 1871. He set aside two acres of his property on Giladon Creek, a tributary of the Sabine River, for a school and church and one acre for a cemetery.
After James.s (sic) death, his widow, Mary S. James, deeded the homeplace with 200 acres to her daughter, Mary Ann Daniel and her Husband, J. W. (John Wesley) Daniel, with the understanding that they would care for her the remainder of her life. William and Mary James had another daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, who married Thomas Canant. When they moved to Wharton Co., TX, Mary Ann and J. W. Daniel sold the property to J. A. O'neal 7 Sept. 1878, they honored James's (sic) wishes and reserved two acres for a school and one acre for a cemetery. His was the first burial in what is now New Hope Cemetery. New Hope is located five miles Southeast of Wills Point, five miles North of Myrtle Springs, and three miles South of Edgewood on VZ 3415.
A one-room school was built of logs near the Dallas-Shreveport Road. The earliest record for the New Hope school was March 1881 with Professor Jacob C. Rhodes as teacher. The first school burned a few years later and was replaced by a new school near the cemetery in 1884. The school was operated as a free public school during the week and the building was used by all religious denominations in the area as a church on Sunday. Joe James was among the first preachers. The facilities were quite primitive. As there was no well, water was hauled about a quarter of a mile each day for school or church. Boys used one side of the woods as a restroom and the girls used the opposite side. In 1882 the free age in the state was 8 to 14 years of age. The term usually started in November when the cops were laid by and went until March, then began again in July. A few years later the age was raised to 16. In 1930, as now the age is from six to seventeen.
First school trustees were Tom Canant, D. C. Cartwright, and Thomas Jefferson Tull. Early teacher, C. T. McKenney taught the July and September term. Miss Mattie Munus, a sister of Mrs. Tom Canant, and Miss Mary Freeze were other teachers. Miss Joanna Gillespie was one of New Hope's last teachers. The teachers were paid by order of the Commissioners Court. Salaries ranged from $30 to $70 per term. When the school was no longer in operation, New Hope students joined Ratney Chapel students to enroll in Bethlehem school. The school building was torn down in 1926 and the lumber was purchased by Tom Canant.
The oldest monument in New Hope Cemetery is for Frances E., wife of W. D. Whitfield, born January 20, 1857, and died June 6, 1876. A soman traveling with her family on the Dallas-Shreveport Road and died near the cemetery in 1880. She was buried in the cemetery. Her grave is covered with a heavy coating of concrete. A. M. Fears (1835-1900), a Confederate soldier who surrendered with General Robert E. Lee at the courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia, 9 April 1865, is buried there. Other Confederate veterans are: Davis Giles Baker, Co. C Goode BN. Texas Cavalry CSA August 18, 1843 0 Jan. 11. 1923; W. N. Canant, 1842 - 1926 Confederate Veteran; Joseph Thomas Ellis Co. E Tex. Inf. Confederate States Army, Jan 23, 1838, Feb. 11, 1911.
The cemetery was first worked once a year when people would gather, have dinner and hoe. In 1956, the Stringtown Home Demonstration Club and New Hope residents took it on as a club project and cared for it. They held fund raising projects to pay for a fence that surrounds the cemetery. Now the cemetery association, organized in 1984, elects officers and takes donations for the upkeep.
At this time there are 159 marked graves and an estimated 19 unmarked graves. From the late 1870s to the present day, residents and former residents take pride in their community. They continue to return once a year in the Spring to work on family plots and participate in a business meeting. Descendants of many of the families that settled in the New Hope area are living on their families' home places. The cemetery remains a well-kept burying place in a beautiful setting with many oak trees.
An historical marker was dedicated at the cemetery on 16 May 1998.