Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site is recognizing the 100th anniversary of the year the United States entered World War I with a cemetery walk on Saturday.
The cemetery walking tour at Willow Wild Cemetery is a part of the site’s archaeology day open house events. The tour begins at 10 a.m. and the open house will be held from 1-3 p.m.
“We have been doing this since 2010 and we like to have it on the last Saturday in October,” Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site Curator Anne Ruppert said. “It’s generally close to Halloween. Sometimes that makes it a little spooky, but that is not really our goal.
The cemetery walking tour will begin at Sam Rayburn’s grave near the cemetery entrance gates. There will have coffee, hot chocolate and other refreshments.
“We have different themes for our cemetery walk,” Ruppert said. “The first couple of years we did Mr. Sam and his family. Then we did Mr. Sam’s friends and early Fannin County settlers. Last year, our theme was women of influence. We chose teachers and some of Mr. Sam’s sisters-in-law.
This year’s tour will honor 11 veterans who are buried in the Willow Wild Cemetery. They will also visit Rayburn’s grave.
“It’s important to recognize all of the veterans, not just the ones who died and not just the ones that fought in World War I,” Ruppert said. “However, with this year being the centennial of our entrance into the war, it seemed like a great time to recognize those from this area that fought in the war. This is just a small snapshot of those that served and fought for us.”
Saturday, historic site patrons can also take a look at archaeological materials collected from the grounds during an excavation of the site in 1977. Around that time, archaeologist Warren M. Lynn found evidence of lost brick and mortar structures that used to stand in the area. He also found items from the time that Rayburn would have lived on the grounds.
Both the Cemetery Walking Tour and Archaeology Month Open House are free and everyone is welcome. There will be free guided tours of the house.
“We will have one more big event here at the house before the end of the year,” Ruppert said. “We will have our holiday open house in December. We will be decorating the house to look how it would have looked when the Rayburn’s celebrated the holidays.”
The open house will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 8 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9.
“We are going to take a cedar tree like the ones Mr. Sam had out here and put it in the house,” Ruppert said. “We will have simple ornaments decorating the tree. There will also be greenery and fresh candles all around. We will play some music and set up a table of holiday treats and a gingerbread house.”
The theme of this annual event will also be World War I.
“The Sam Rayburn House is a true time capsule of what a mid-20th century northeast Texas farm would have looked like,” Ruppert said. “It’s nice for us to be able to see that they did not have iPhone and air conditioning then because it makes us thankful for the things that we do have today.”
Ruppert said people will find it interesting to know that Sam Rayburn played a role getting electricity into this area.
“He helped write the legislation necessary to get legislation,” she said. “He also helped write the legislation to get paved roads in this area. He helped with hospitals. Because of Mr. Sam, the Denison Dam is a very important part of this community.”