The Wharton Cemetery Association (WCA) was the recipient of a record amount of funding, money that will bring it closer to its goal of maintaining a cemetery located in the city.

The WCA recently acquired a substantial boost through a $30,000 grant from the Dickson-Allen Foundation, based in Hallettsville.

“We have been working hard to solicit donations; this money was a giant help for us,” said Tim Barker, who is on the Board of Directors for the WCA. “Many people think the City of Wharton owns this cemetery, and that city workers clean it, but they don’t, so it needs to be maintained.”

Barker is also the mayor of Wharton. 

A letter addressed to Barker in his capacity as a WCA board members explained that the Dickson-Allen Foundation presented the money for the “preservation of the Wharton Cemetery,” which is located at 801 East Caney Street. 

The WCA applied for this grant as part of a larger fundraising campaign, an effort that began in 2019. Board member Jeffrey Blair said the goal is $750,000, and the goal is to raise an endowment large enough that the income generated by the endowment will provide funds for the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of what he and others consider to be a historic cemetery.

More than $250,000 has already been raised by at least a dozen donations, according to the WCA.

Jessie L. Allen, a trustee of the Dickson-Allen Foundation, said the grant was awarded in memory of a Wharton County Sheriff who was killed in the late 1800s. Sheriff Hamilton Bass Dickson was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 7, 1894 after being shot while attempting to arrest a suspect who had earlier murdered Constable Mose Townsend, of Colorado County, during a jail break.

Allen said the Dickson-Allen Foundation was granted charity status in 1961 as the Dickson Foundation and was started in Raymond Dickson’s honor, after his death in 1956. Raymond Dickson was the son of Sheriff H.B. Dickson, whose monument still stands on the grounds of the Wharton Courthouse in downtown Wharton.

Dickson was sheriff four years at the time of his death. He left a wife and two sons.

According to the WCA, the Wharton Cemetery has available lots/spaces for purchase. If you are interested in the cemetery, call 979-533-0086. The cost for each lot is $1,650 per space. WCA officials can sell one space or a group of spaces up to 12. 

One of the most recent Wharton residents to be buried at the Wharton Cemetery was John McCain, who was 102 at the time of his death on Dec. 20, 2020. After McCain died, the family requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Wharton Cemetery at P.O. Box 681, in Wharton. 

According to the grant letter, the WCA is working to secure 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. It is currently accepting donations through the Team Wharton non-profit, which already has a 501(c)(3) determination. The WCA is a 501(c)(13) non-profit organization, and contributions to the endowment are already tax-deductible.

If you would like to donate your time to clean, cut brush or pull weeds at the Wharton Cemetery, call the same number.

“A portion of this grant will be used to repair and restore some of the historic grave markers and monuments in the cemetery,” Blair said.

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