Hidden from the main streets of the historic city of Hinton, The Hill Top Cemetery sits peaceful and pristine. It is a place where lifelong resident, Bobby Cox, spent his whole life escaping from the real world.
“We used to come up here and it was like an adventure,” Cox remembered. “As a kid your imagination can run wild here.”
It was inevitable that he would become the “expert” of the Hilltop Cemetery. Once he retired, he volunteered his time to maintain the grass and head stones. As he wandered without direction and grew curious of who was lying in unidentified plots, he began compiling research for a new book.
“People take notes and write little essays and everything like that,” Cox said. “But when you have a book then you’ve got something you can put on a shelf or put it somewhere that can be preserved from now on.”
Flipping through the pages takes people to everything from obituaries in old newspapers, to a map of where specific people are buried. The information brings history alive through tragic death stories and tributes of railroad workers, pioneers, and former neighbors who once walked the streets of Hinton.
Deep within the history of the people buried in the cemetery, include the founders. Avis Hinton was the second wife of John Hinton, after whom the city is named.
She was the first person to sell plots at the cemetery before she died in 1901. Now the town of Avis is named after her within the city of Hinton.
Through some of the mausoleums, above ground vaults and monuments, it is clear which families served high in society. Unfortunately, Pivont Funeral Home Owner, Ray Pivont, confirmed there are many buried at Hilltop who have no descendants or relatives left in this area.
“Years ago we used to have several burials at Hilltop Cemetery,” Pivont recalled. “But in lighter years most of the people related to families that have been buried there, have moved away from Hinton or they all died, so we have very few burials up there, maybe just two or three times a year.”
But Cox said that does not keep people who do visit Hilltop from sensing a presence when they think they are alone.
“I’ve had people that tell me that they’ve seen this or seen that,” Cox said. “We did have a guy that hung himself on a tree down the road still in the cemetery and some people say they’ve seen his shadow hanging from the tree.”
It is not something that scares Cox though, who will forever believe that Hilltop is the most peaceful of all cemeteries, and will continue to raise funds to preserve the history of his city.
“This is where it ended for some but those were the ones that found this place to begin with,” Cox said.
People can purchase this book at the Hinton Railroad Museum. Proceeds from the sales will benefit The Hilltop Cemetery.