Clickable keywords for this article: George P. Laflin, Dora Stacey Laflin, Laflin's death, Laflin's burial, Dawes Commission, Nancy Rigney, WF Morris, Morris Cemetery, Morris' death and burial, Clifford and Alma Ball, Alex Cemetery, Morris Road, more about the Morris Cemetery, Official survey of the Alex Cemetery, Cemetery name change, Veterans in the Alex Cemetery
The burial ground currently known as the Alex Cemetery is located approximately 2.3 miles southeast of Alex on Cemetery Road. As shown in the graphic to the left, the southern portion of the cemetery is known as Morris Cemetery or the Old Alex Cemetery. The northern portion of the burial ground is known as the new Alex Cemetery.
(Click the map to the left to open a larger, high-resolution version of the graphic.)
Before the southern part of this area was a recognized cemetery, the land where it is located was controlled by early Alex settler George P. Laflin, who was born November 20, 1840, in Allegheny County, New York. As a young man, Laflin came west and settled among the Chickasaw Indians. Laflin married Emily Frazier, a full-blood Chickasaw, and the couple made their home southeast of Alex, in approximately the same location as what is now known as the former residence of Clifford and Alma Ball. Emily Frazier Laflin died on an unknown date and is buried in Stonewall, OK.
Still living in the Alex area, George Laflin married a second time to Dora Stacey, born September 24, 1866, in an unknown location. Dora Stacey Laflin died on February 17, 1890, and was the first person with a marked grave to be buried in the area that would become the Morris Cemetery, and later the Alex Cemetery.
George Laflin died on the morning of Sunday, April 11, 1897. He and some neighbors were branding stock that morning when a horse kicked a branding iron through his eye. As he was being carried to his house, Laflin reportedly said, "Boys, this is the result of working on Sunday." Laflin died within 20 minutes of the incident.
Left, Dora Laflin's gravestone, in the fenced Laflin plot in the Morris Cemetery in Alex. Middle, a close-up shot of Dora Laflin's headstone. Right, George P. Laflin's grave marker, located next to his wife's in the family burial plot.
By 1900, the Dawes Commission had begun allotting land in Oklahoma to officially recognized members of the five civilized tribes who were to be included on the final Dawes roll. This transfer of property was mandated by federal laws that ended tribal land ownership and transferred property rights to individual tribal members. (Click here for more information about the Dawes Commission). By 1905, George Laflin's widow, Nancy, who had remarried and was by then known as Nancy Rigney, surrendered Laflin's property to William Frank (WF) Morris, who was required by law to pay Rigney only for the improvements Laflin had made on the property. Morris paid Nancy Rigney $5000 and assumed ownership of Laflin's holdings.
Born on November 28, 1854, WF Morris is a direct ancestor of the Boatwright familiy who lives in Alex today. Before Morris came to Alex in 1905, just prior to assuming ownership of the Laflin property, his wife and four of his nine children died in unknown circumstances. Morris' deceased wife was Salina (McClure) Morris. Salina was the daughter of Tecumseh A. McClure, who was at one time President of the Chickasaw Nation Senate, and was Acting Governor of the Nation from June 1894 through October 1894. Salina's mother was named Mary. Mary's father was Chickasaw Tribal Member Aho-che-tubbe and her mother was the Chickasaw Suth-a-hacha.
Once the family relocated to Alex, Morris' five remaining children attended school near the town. When Morris' eight year-old daughter, Susie, died, he buried her on land he had set aside for a community burial ground, which came to be called the Morris Cemetery. Apparently the third person to be buried in the Morris Cemetery, Susie Morris has no known marker grave marker there. However, one of two rocks located adjacent to the tombstone of WF Morris could mark the site of her grave. See information at Find A Grave about WF Morris and pictures of his tombstone, including the rock markers nearby. Thanks to Shirley Horn Bray for this information.
Legend has it that an African American man working for Morris was actually the first person after the Laflins to be buried in the Morris Cemetery. Some have heard that this man died after being kicked in the head by a horse and other tales have the "black" man succumbing to an illness. If this story is true, there is no marker designating his grave and nothing is known of this man.
In 1909, WF Morris sold his personal Indian allottment to Dr. Powers of Iowa. Morris left the Alex area but his surviving children remained, living on their own allotted Indian land. Morris returned to Alex to be with his children shortly before his death on January 20, 1921. He was buried in the cemetery that bears his name, his simple grave stone standing only a few yards from the much more ornate and fenced-off monuments commemorating the lives of Dora and George Laflin.
Over the years, the Morris Cemetery proved too small to accomodate the needs of the growing community of Alex. Long-time Alex resident Clifford Ball donated land to expand the cemetery to the north of the original burial ground and this area was known from its creation as the Alex Cemetery. Clifford and his wife, Alma, are buried in the new Alex Cemetery.
The road that separates the old and new burial grounds has been named Morris Road for mapping purposes. Although the entire burial ground was legally renamed the Alex Cemetery, the obituaries of many old-time Alex residents who died as recently as the 1960s state they were buried in the Morris Cemetery in Alex.
Particularly in sections 1 and 2, the old Morris Cemetery has expanses of open areas to the south where no grave markers are located. The area's physical appearance suggests there are numerous unmarked graves present. Like the graves near WF Morris' last resting place, some burial plots are denoted only by uninscribed rocks, chunks of concrete or simple slabs whose hand-hewn inscriptions have become illegible over time. It has been reported that attempts to dig graves in this area have revealed long-buried human remains. Because of this, no new graves can be opened in the Morris Cemetery unless the deceased has direct relatives buried there and opening a grave does not reveal human remains.
An official partial survey and other old photos of the Alex Cemetery can be found here.
The certificate to the left officially changed the name of the Morris Cemetery to Alex Cemetery. This change was effective on June 26, 1962. The certificate was filed in District Court of Grady County on October 14, 1963. Click the document to load a larger version that can be zoomed or printed.
As of Memorial Day 2014, 120 military veterans were buried in the Alex Cemetery, including both the new and old sections. The downloadable, official list of these individuals, including the locations of their graves, can be found here. Please email the webmaster with any changes or additions that need to be included in this list.