Larkin Newton’s kin visit cabin

Direct descendants of Ellis County pioneer gather in Midlothian to celebrate genealogy

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
Direct descendants of local pioneer Larkin Newton gather on Saturday at the Newton cabin in Heritage Park in Midlothian. The cousins came from as far away as Massachusetts, Illinois and California.
A weathered headstone marks the final resting place of local pioneer Larkin Newton at the Newton Family Cemetery near Midlothian. Nearly a dozen direct descendants of Newton gathered this weekend for a reunion.

It’s a long way from Cape Cod to a little cabin deep in the heart of Texas. It’s also a long way from when Ellis County pioneer Larkin Newton built his cabin near present-day Midlothian to today.

That didn’t stop direct descendants of Newton from getting together this past weekend for a reunion. A total of 10 descendants, all of them cousins of each other, gathered in Midlothian to view the Newton cabin and the cemetery where Newton is interred.

“I had wanted for years to mark the graves of my great-grandparents and my great-great-grandparents,” said Marla Vincent, a second great-granddaughter of Larkin Newton who helped organize the reunion. “The grave markers are in place. So this was a visit for us to get together for the first time and meet each other.”

Vincent said several grave markers in the Newton Family Cemetery had been missing when she first started with her genealogy project, but that has been since fixed. She gave a shout-out to Giles Monument Co. in Waxahachie, who handled the order and arranged for the installation of new markers.

Joining in the Midlothian family gathering were Vincent’s sister from Williamsburg, Va., and other descendants who came from Texas, as well as from Illinois and California.

Vincent, who hails from the Cape Cod town of Dennis, Mass., said she has seen the Newton cabin before, but most of her relatives had not. Vincent became interested in genealogy years ago and said she has been communicating via email with other distant cousins for more than 20 years.

Stuart Pryor, who is a direct Newton descendant and whose mother carried the Newton maiden name, and his wife Marlene are Midlothian natives. Stuart is a longtime civic figure in the city and the head of the city Cemetery Commission, and helped facilitate the visit. 

The visitors from out of state flew in on Friday, while fellow cousin Ernest Young drove up from Floresville, Texas. The original plan was to split everything up over two days, but the group was able to hit all the landmarks on Saturday and spent the day Sunday visiting and updating the substantial Newton family tree in the Courtyard at Marriott lobby before departing on Monday.

The site of the original Hawkins Spring, on FM 1387 a mile east of downtown, is not open to the public, but the group was able to visit the spring on Saturday with permission. The name of the spring lives on with a nearby 21.7-acre city park.

The Newton cabin was built in 1848, when the Newton family arrived from Missouri to accept a 640-acre land grant awarded by the Peters Colony.  According to a state historical marker on the cabin’s present site, the hewing of the logs and the quality half-dovetail notching make this cabin a noteworthy example of the craftsmanship of the day.

The original cabin site was designated in the 1960s as a quarry for the TXI Industries cement plant, but the structure was rescued and moved to a farm two miles north of Midlothian, where it was preserved. In 1992, the cabin was relocated to its present home in Heritage Park in downtown Midlothian, just across from the former Fire Station No. 1.

Vincent thanked Ted Howard, a member of the Midlothian Area Historical Society, for setting up the visit.

“It was sort of a quick planning thing that took a couple of months,” Vincent said.