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March 8, 2010 / dcwisdom

A Visit to the Graveyard and Some Texas History

I always thought that people that visited graveyards were weird.  They are, you know. 
Especially people who travel great distances just to see where their ancestors are buried are in their own bubble.   Have you ever talked to those sorts of folks?  You know, the ones who go on and on and on about their frightening escapades through the cemeteries? 

My pastor recently told our congregation a story from his teenage years.  Bro. Bill and his best friend liked to wonder through the cemetery going from his house to his friend’s house.  One late evening, they were walking through and noticed a bright light shining out from behind a very large marker.   They had the fight or flight thing going on; one of the boys fainted and the other took off.  They later learned of a big brush pile being burned somewhere beyond the marker.

When I was in high school, a group of us girlfriends bound and blindfolded another girlfriend and took her to the black cemetery in town and dumped her.  It was her birthday.  A few minutes later, we turned the car around to go find her, and she was hightailing it up the road, screaming all the way.  I’m sure her therapist has attributed all of her life’s problems back to that one incident.

Anywho, Rick and I went to visit my dad today at the cemetery.  Actually, he’s not really there.  Just his earth suit.  I sure miss him.

This massive magnolia tree is probably one of the oldest trees in the county – probably even the world! 
Underneath the tons of branches are markers that date back to the early 1800’s.  One such family was the Lumpkin family.
In 1988, my dad and mom purchased their homestead and fifty acres from my dad’s aunt, which was a fraction of land previously owned by my great-grandparents. 
But, back in the mid-1800’s, the Lumpkin family owned the land.  And here’s the rub:  My sister married a Lumpkin whose ancestors were prior owners of Mom and Dad’s property. 
The old water well still exists where the Lumpkin home once stood.  Interesting, huh?
Thirty years ago, I didn’t give a whiff about information found in a graveyard.  Is it just me?  Or does history seem to come alive when one gets older?   Is it the appreciation of life and legend?  Or is it knowing that the old bones in the wooden boxes indicates a life fully lived in another time?
1803.  Thomas Jefferson was in the White House.  He ordered the expedition of Lewis and Clark.  President Jefferson acquired the Lousiana Purchase from Napoleon for $15 million.   In Tejas, the settlements were sparse and miles apart with friendly Caddo Indians in this area.  Then began an inpouring of Irish, Scott, and German settlers wanting to purchase cheap land from Spain who required all new land buyers to convert to Catholicism.
Settlements and small towns were being established.  In 1844, the King of Spain heard of Texicans wanting independence, so he sent Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana to quell the unrest.  Santa Ana won the famous Alamo battle (yeah, like, the Spanish outnumbered the Texicans 400 to 1!) and chased fearful Texicans to San Jacinto.   That’s when Sam Houston entered the picture.  A small, loosely formed band of Texicans that SA had just run over just about brow beat Houston to lead them to fight old SA.  The Texicans were out for blood!   And not theirs.
I love this story.  Such a picture of a chicken.  War was somewhat different back in those days.  Respectful, even.  The Spanish are famous for their siestas, and Santa Ana required at least a two hour siesta every day for him and his troops.  Siestas were also reserved for his ‘manly time’ with local mulatto women.
Sam Houston, knowing that the soldiers and Santa Ana himself would be off duty for siestas and ‘manly time’ in mid-afternoon, slipped his troops across a bayou at San Jacinto, launching a surprise attack on the Spanish camp about three o’clock.  Santa Ana came to the door of his tent with his pants down (really) and turned and ran chicken.  Just left his troops.  He was later found a few miles away at a farm house dressed in some dude’s farm clothes, hiding in some bushes.  Such a picture of bravery!
He was then marched back to camp and tried, even offered an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with the president.  At the end of negotiations, the old bas coward fully surrendered and told his men to walk home.  That’s a long walk from Houston to Mexico.
And, the rest, as they say, is history.
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7 Comments

  1. The Ag Teacher's Wife / Mar 9 2010 4:14 PM

    I guess I am a weirdo, too. I like to prowl around the cemetery where my peeps are buried. Oddly, that particular cemetery doesn't scare me like some do. I suppose I think my ancestors won't let anything get me! There are grave stones in the cemetery from the early 1800's. There is even an old hitching post in the very back of the cemetery where they used to tie up the horse and buggy used to transport the caskets to funerals. Cool, huh? There are a ton of Mason markers and markers belonging to a certain fraternal order that has to do with wood. I want to say the Fraternal Order of Woodsmen, but I Googled it and couldn't find anything about it. I hate to say it, but there are also a lot of markers with the KKK emblem on them. It is east Texas. That isn't an excuse, but I am just sayin'.

  2. Diana / Mar 9 2010 4:06 PM

    Enjoyed this post. My sister says we are definitely going "cemetery hopping" this summer.

  3. Rayanne / Mar 9 2010 12:08 PM

    First off…let me thank you for your oh so nice words to me, they mean a lot!And thank you for the history, I love Texas history.I think I know that tree ????Again, thanks so much Debbie, you are a sweety.

  4. Nola @ the Alamo / Mar 9 2010 11:24 AM

    And I've heard that the mulatto slave woman he was with at the time of the raid was Emily Morgan, and she is the famed "Yellow Rose of Texas".

  5. Nezzy / Mar 9 2010 10:55 AM

    Oh if that big old tree could talk, can you imagine the tales! Sweetie, I just wanted to thank ya'll for poppin' over with your sweet comment.God bless and ya'll have a glorious day!!!!

  6. Vickie / Mar 9 2010 10:35 AM

    Me, too, love history I mean, Texas history. Interesting bit about Santa Ana – I didn't know about the siestas & "manly" time, as you so delicately put it! haha! It's raining here today, and I'm on allergy medicine and I could sure use a siesta today! Maybe when I get home. I've dozed off here at my desk at least a half dozen times already…

  7. Debbie / Mar 9 2010 3:25 AM

    Great! Bring your camera and join the ranks of the rest of us 'weirdos' that like to check out old cemeteries:) Jefferson's old; there must be some there we can see too. That looks like a good one where you were. I've checked them out in NC where there are graves of soldiers who fought in the war for independence. I've checked them out in Maine where men died in shipwrecks and were killed by Indians. Neat epitaphs too.Wives were called 'consorts'. I always thought a consort meant she was up to something, but it used to mean wife.I love Texas history! Love it! Thanks for the lesson; brought back a lot of memories. Ready for the trip…..Debbie

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