Sunday, May 16, 2021

Much Needed Day Trip to a Historic Texas Cemetery

I decided yesterday to drive out to a little community northeast of Austin to see if I could locate an old cemetery someone on Facebook was talking about last month. After driving the 150 miles to get within what should have been just a few hundred feet of the little dirt road I needed to turn left on, I couldn't find it. And then, just when I was about ready to give up, I spotted a gate with a sign on it that I hadn't noticed before...and there it was: 


The Hornsby family cemetery is located about a quarter of a mile down this road, but this section of the road is misleading, to say the least. There are long ruts just a bit past this section where the road curves to the left that are so deep that I had to almost scrape the fence line in order to make my way past them.

The state of Texas put up this historical marker in 1936 to mark the spot where the Hornsby family settled exactly 100 years earlier. The marker is almost 100 years old now itself, but it can still be pretty easily read if you click on it for an enlarged view.:


The gravesite shown below is one of the biggest ones in the section devoted to the Hornsby family, and it tells a little bit about them. There are also numerous Texas Rangers from the era buried in this section:



The Rangers' graves all have the small crosses with badge replicas near the headstones.



Only a "hurricane fence" separates this cemetery from the one that contains the graves mostly of Mexican Americans and (possibly/probably) Tejanos who were buried here a few years before Texas became first an independent nation and then one of the United States.  The gate to that section looks like this:


Just as in the Hornsby part of the cemetery, people continue to be buried here on occasion, but the Mexican-influenced part of the cemetery is much more colorful.




There are at least two older graves that ended up being on the "wrong" side of the fence that segregates the two populations:


And, baseball fans will want to note that the Hornsby cemetery is also the final resting place of one of the greatest players of all time, Triple Crown Winner and Hall-of-Famer Rogers Hornsby who played for the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, among others. Note the little pony someone placed on the grave marker in respect, I suppose, for Hornsby's love of betting on the horses:


This little trip marks the first time in over a year that I actually believe that we are getting closer to returning to pre-pandemic days now. I even stopped off for a burger - and ate inside the restaurant - on the way home. What a wild and crazy guy.

16 comments:

  1. Sam, loved the little bit of history and the fact that you traveled such a distance to try and find this cemetery - great pics as well. We drove 4hours RT on Friday for a lobster roll (indoors) at in a neighboring state. Bit by bit life is starting to feel more normal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's slowly, but surely, happening, Diane, and I am getting more and more optimistic about the possibility of being able to travel late this summer. I love old cemeteries and have spent hours in them taking pictures and reading headstones. So much history there.

      Those lobster rolls must really be something if they justify driving two hours each way to enjoy them. I totally understand why you would do that, though...it's not just the destination that's important; it's the return to a freer, less stressful lifestyle that really matters.

      Delete
  2. Wonderful pictures and an interesting narrative about the historic cemetery. It reminds me a bit of a visit we made a few years ago when we were visiting Big Bend National Park. We stayed in Terlingua and one day visited the old Terlingua cemetery. It was around All Souls' Day and the cemetery was colorfully decorated. I found it to be one of the most soulful places I had ever visited.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dorothy, I passed through Terlingua on November 2 or 3, right after All Souls Day, back in 2017 and spent a few hours there and in the little cemetery. It was fascinating, and the colors and reverential displays were something like I had never seen before. So much history in that little mining town and in the final resting place of so many of its former citizens. I've been wanting to explore the border towns a little more, but now is definitely not the time to do it, so I'll wait.

      Delete
  3. Loved this post, Sam, and I'm glad you decided to make the trip. Almost made you feel human again, didn't it?

    My mother and grandmother belonged to a local genealogical society in central Illinois, and they spent a lot of time searching out old, forgotten country cemeteries. As a teenager, I tramped up hill and down dale, waded streams, kept an eye peeled for snakes, and dodged brambles with them to write down the information from all the headstones so it wouldn't be lost forever. Interesting way to spend some time, and I got to visit a lot of lovely, peaceful places I hadn't known existed. Despite my grandmother's constant warnings, I never got into any poison ivy (but she did).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really feel a lot better for having forced myself out the door and behind the wheel, Cathy. Even a day trip is therapy for someone like me who lives for long summer road trips.

      Your mother and grandmother were definitely on to something by looking at cemeteries as a source of genealogical information. Those old headstones often tell a story to go along with the name and dates, and it's easy to picture the times that they lived in because of that. My wife's family has a family cemetery that earned a historical marker from the state of Texas as being one of the oldest in the state but it's in East Texas, the part of the state that was settled first. Many of her relatives, going back generations and generations, are buried there...very peaceful setting off the beaten path and well-maintained by a rotating line of family members who still live nearby.

      Delete
  4. I love old cemeteries and the Hornsby Cemetery appears fascinating. I love the Texas Rangers' with the badge replicas and the Rogers Hornsby grave with the baseball caps and the baseballs. Thanks for sharing all of your cemetery history!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a wonderful bit of history to find, Jen. I am lucky that I went on Saturday because it started raining on Sunday and still is, and the road would be impassable today and for the next few days as the rain continues. I moved my trip up by a week because I'd seen the forecast...and they actually got it right this time.

      Delete
  5. Such fun to read this post... great photos, too. Isn't it wonderful to get out and do something out of the ordinary again?! And eating a burger INSIDE a restaurant - wow! Glad you had such a good day, Sam. Thanks for sharing it here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a really nice day, JoAnn, despite the fact that the roundtrip was five hours and I only stayed in the cemetery for about 90 minutes. But, you know, eating inside a restaurant was just as much fun as anything because it had been well over a year since I set foot inside one.

      Delete
  6. I love old cemeteries! Those Texas Ranger graves were very cool. What a fun trip back in time. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lots of history in this little place, Lark. I can't imagine what it must have been like when the Hornsby family decided to call that spot home back in 1832.

      Delete
  7. Strange that such a beautiful and historical place was so hard to find. Loved this post, Sam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cath. That little road is private and requires the driver to exit the vehicle, open the gate, drive through, and exit again to re-lock the gate. I assume that the cemetery is also on private land, but that access is allowed for families of those buried there and people who want to study the historical grave markers. I missed it the first two times I drove down the highway because the gate is set back about 40 feet and, at first glance, looks to be the entrance to a pasture. The road behind the gate is a little hard to see at first.

      Delete
  8. You really know how to live on the edge, Sam! LOL. I love cemeteries, especially ones with historical significance and interesting stories/gravestones. Thanks for sharing your adventure with this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I almost slipped right off that "edge" and into a deep rut, Susan. That would have been an expensive visit, I think, if that had happened. ;-)

      Delete