By: Lani Hansen, Senior Reporter
CHECOTAH, Oklahoma– It was not until April 2019 when maintenance began at Fishertown Cemetery. Before then the place was overgrown and had fallen into a state of disrepair.
According to Fishertown Cemetery Manager Carolyn Reece, Fishertown was a small town founded by Samuel Fisher. In 1847, he came to Indian Territory with his wife Sally and brought with him his two sons, William and George and his daughter Ann. The family then started building homes and stores in the area.
By 1872 a track from the Missouri Kansas Texas (MKT) railroad was laid across Indian Territory and bypassed Fishertown. A post office was built and operated from 1883-1893. Fisher’s grandson Henry Clay was the first postmaster. As other towns rose up around the area, many of the residents moved homes and businesses to Checotah or Eufaula from Fishertown.
In 1963, not much was left of Fishertown, and with the formation of Lake Eufaula, it’s land marks were swallowed up by water. Fishertown Cemetery is the only reminder of Fishertown left. The south side of the cemetery was moved to higher ground in preparation of the lake. Reece said Samuel and Sally are buried there but their graves are unmarked now. Others buried in the cemetery are the daughter Ann, son William and his wife Sarah and several of their family members.
Reece who is the descendant of William and Sarah has taken over managing and cleaning the cemetery. She is the great-granddaughter of William and Sarah. Reece is the fifth child born to Samuel Aubrey Fisher and Christine Barnes Fisher. She began fixing up the Fishertown Cemetery in April 2019.
After her brother passed away in April 2019, Reece had to mow and weed eat an area for her brother to be laid to rest. She continued to mow and began searching for who may be responsible for the upkeep of the cemetery.
“No one should have to mow or weed eat the day before their loved one is buried,” Reece believed.
During her search, Reece met with the community to help with the cemetery. She visited with the Muscogee Nation Cultural Preservation Department to get help from them. Throughout her search, Reece and community members worked together to help the overgrown and nearly forgotten cemetery. After a while, Reece realized she was the one who was in charge of the cemetery and immediately made improvements.
Reece keeps the grass mowed to a short length and weed eats around the headstones. She and others hauled off downed trees, other trees are kept trimmed, much brush has been cut back and burned. The cemetery sign and post have been painted; the front and back gates have been painted. A new maintenance building has been built consisting of a small office and area for equipment.
Every year on Memorial Day, Fishertown Cemetery is decorated with large 3×5 ft USA flags at each entrance purchased by Reece. Smaller flags are attached to fence posts along the front and back of the cemetery.
“Red, white and blue flowers are placed on veterans headstones along with a small USA flag,” Reece added. “Many family members bring flowers to place next to their loved one’s headstones and next to their ancestor’s headstones.”
For the past three years, Reece and volunteers have made improvements to the cemetery. Fishertown Cemetery is a non-profit entity and maintained with donations from people. Donations can be made at any Armstrong Bank to the Fishertown Cemetery account.