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Magnolia Grove: Galveston’s Lost Victorian Era Cemetery

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An article I wrote about the history of Magnolia Grove Cemetery (established 1871) will appear in the September issue of Galveston Monthly Magazine. Now, lost this once elegant, Vithrasher-gravectorian Era cemetery was the most beautiful burial ground on the island.

Not all of the bodies were moved, but the grounds of the cemetery now lie beneath the runways of Scholes Airport and the back nine fairways of the Moody Gardens Golf Course.

My investigation led me to many of the usual resources for history in Galveston, such as the Galveston & Texas History Center (always wonderful), but led me on new research paths as well. No single source seemed to MagnoliaCemeteryJournalhave all of the pieces of information, and many whom I contacted had no knowledge of the lost cemetery at all.

There unfortunately simply wasn’t room to include all of the fascinating information that I found about the lost cemetery, so I will list some of the details here for those who are interested or researching their families.

Magnolia Grove was comprised of 100 acres, divided into 25 sections. They were identified as Sections A through X, and City Circle, otherwise known as Rest of Honor. This circle was reserved for the interment of people of distinguished merit or achievement. The first two burials in this section were the first and last presidents of Texas, David Burnet and Aaron Jones, who were moved from previous burial sites.

Sections 6 and 7 (also known as F & G), which were located on the waterfront, were consecrated by the Catholic Church and reserved for exclusive use of members of that faith.

A portion of Section 2 (B) was purchased by the Masonic lodges and used for burials of Masons and their families. The Tucker faMagnoliaCemeteryInvitationmily, headed by the president of the Magnolia Grove Cemetery Association, was also located in this section.

Many of the larger lots in the cemetery were purchased by wealthy families and organizations.

Less expensive public lots for white “clients” were located in Section 4, and for “colored” loved ones in Section 5 of the Eastern Division of Magnolia Grove.

The Spanish Benevolent mausoleum still stood after 1900 in Section D on lots 31 and 32, which was part of the southern half of lot 258. Although heavily damaged by weather and vandalized, the mausoleum still stood in the 1920s.

MagnoliaGroveBylawsGalveston’s Fireman’s Relief Association purchased a portion of Section B for their members in August 1878.

Plots in Section J were purchased by Joseph W. Rice and David Guthrie; Section M included family plots for Adriance and Trueheart; Section N for August Kleinecke; and Section P plots belonged to the Sealy, Ball and Hutchings families.

General Wigfall’s plot was in Section Q, and J.P. Davie purchased four lots in Section R.

Section S was home to the The French Benevolent Society lot, as well as the Nahor Biggs Yard and Grover families.

Adolph Flake chose his plot in Section T, but now rests in the Historic Broadway Cemetery District.

John Sidney Thrasher, who married the widow of Galveston’s founder Michel Menard, was buried in the City Circle in 1879.

Of the many illustrious citizens in Galveston who were interred in Magnolia, some remain on the grounds, some were moved to other cemeteries, and some were lost to weather events.

Among the well-known Masons interred at Magnolia Grove who remain there are Henry S. Pearce, First Master of Hope Lodge in another part of the state; Adolph Cycoski, a Civil War veteran and teacher of French in Galveston, also a prominent Mason; and Dr. Benjamin Ball, a prominent businessman who was buried with Masonic ceremonies Feb. 13, 1880.

French native Achilles Mingell; Captain John Price, who formerly owned part of this property, and a residence in the early days; and Isaac McGary, veteran of Texas Revolution,; Mexican American War: and the Battle of San Jacinto are just two of the illustrious people whose graves wer never relocated and are now lost.

6475360_130510553456David Burnet (pictured at left) , the first president of Texas, was moved from Magnolia Grove and now rests in the Sherman plot at Lakeview.

William Tennant Austin of early Texas revolutionary fame, was mo3753_1018045175ved from Magnolia to Lakeview Cemetery.

Anson Jones (pictured at right), the last president of Texas, was originally buried in Trinity Episcopal Cemetery, moved to Magnolia Grove Cemetery five miles away in 1871 as part of the opening ceremonies. His remains were moved to Glenwood after 1892.

After the article runs in Galveston Monthly, I will share more information about this fascinating, and sad, loss of history.

 

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Mystery Solved!

AlexanderIn our last blog visit to the cemetery, we were pondering whether Elizabeth Israel’s husband was ever laid to rest beside her or if he had been interred away from his beloved wife.

I am happy to report that I received a reply to my question from a genealogist whose husband is related to the Israel couple.
She shared that they had been told that Alexander died while visiting his sister in St. Louis, but that they had discovered a receipt for his burial next to Elizabeth. The receipt had the payments broken into monthly payments, so it may be assumed that the engraving was too expensive for the family to undertake at the time.

ElizaIsrael I am so grateful to know that the couple is together. I don’t know about you, but these situations can make me grieve a bit for those involved, even if they are no relation to me. Yes, people interred in cemeteries are “real” people who led very real lives. I would rather find out about them than read a fictional account of someone who never actually existed.

I’ve added Alexander’s name and information to the Findagrave database for anyone who has the same question in the future.

I was also glad to be able to share a bit of fun information about Alexander with our informant, as well. Although her family knew that he had a registered patent for a washing machine, they had not yet seen a picture of it. Here it is:

p.txt Alexander was quite ingenious, and surely his blacksmithing skills came into play with the design.
The description of the machine is in Alexanders own words, so it gives an insight into his engineering skills.

“…the clothes are thoroughly washed or scoured and boiled at the same time. The clothes are thoroughly cleaned without danger of injuring oUS706418-0r tearing the same, and the machine is adapted for washing the finest fabrics – lace curtains and the like. The water is kept constantly boiling by the heater and s continuously circulated throughout he revolving drum an brought into contact with the clothes contained therein. The clothes are constantly carried upward and dripped by means of the radially-disposed ribs and are at the same time subjected to the scoring or rubbing action of the rotary washboard.”

It actually sounds quite like our washing machines today!

Thanks to Jan for solving our mystery.

FullSizeRender-2 copy 3This story has now come full circle, and I got to meet Jan and Eddie in person this week! Eddie even brought me a copy of the undertaker’s bill for Alexander’s funeral. Though the spelling is a bit amusing, once you realize that the funeral cost was quite high for the time it becomes clear that the family probably couldn’t also afford to have his side of the gravestone engraved at the same time.

Jan and Eddie are looking into having the stone engraving completed.

After having lunch and hearing more about their family genealogy, we went to see the home where Eddie’s family survived Galveston’s 1900 hurricane.

It has been restored, and is adorable! That’s Eddie and his lovely wife Jan standing on the porch.FullSizeRender-2 copy

They weren’t able to find out who currently owns the home, but are very interested in finding out. Now the only thing left undone is to hopefully someday see the inside. Hey…it doesn’t hurt to dream!

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Is Elizabeth Eternally Waiting?

(I’m re-posting this from my former blog “Headstones and Footnotes” because I have some fun updates to share as a follow-up!)

ElizaIsrael While walking through the LaPorte Cemetery in Harris County, Texas this gravestone caught my attention. It’s a lovely marker in wonderful shape, despite being over 100 years old. But what intrigued me is that someone seems to be missing.

Only half of the stone is engraved.

“Eliza, beloved wife of A.C. Israel”was interred here in 1910, having passed away at the age of 64. The other side of the marker was obviously left blank in wait for the passing of her husband…but where is he? Unless he is breaking a Guinness World record for age, surely he has passed away by now.

“A.C. Israel” was Alexander Charles Israel, who was born in Ohio in 1844 to native residents of that state. The family also lived in Meigsville, Ohio (1850 census) and St. Louis Missouri (1860).

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On September 8, 1864 Alexander married Elizabeth Williams, who was born n 1845 in New York. She was the daughter of Henry Williams (b. 1823) and Harriet (born 1825).

Alexander and Elizabeth lived in Concord, Missouri (1870 census) ad Rock, Missouri (1880) before moving to Texas. They had three daughters together:
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Harriet Israel (Serface) b. 1867-1913
Emma Florence Israel (Serface) b. 1869 – 1954
Cora Belle Israel b. 1871 – 1923

Family photo shows : Alexander Charles and Eliza and their daughters Emma Florence (left), Libby (top) and Cora Belle (bottom).

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Elizabeth died in 1910, leaving Alexander a widower.

He was recorded as living in LaPorte, Texas by the 1910 census with his occupation listed as owner of a blacksmith shop. A 38-year-old servant, Lillie Brown, and her six-year-old daughter Helen lived with him. He was still living in Harris County at the time of the 1920 census.

Alexander passed away on May 22, 1922 in Harris County, Texas.

I can find no record of his burial in the LaPorte Cemetery, or in the cemeteries where Elizabeth Harriet (who died just three years after her mother and is interred in Houston) or Emma Florence rest. I have found no grave listing for little Cora.

So the mystery remains…where was Alexander buried. It’s possible that he was laid to rest beside his wife and the engraving was never ordered. It’s sad, but I’ve seen it happen several times.

I have contacted a descendant of the family in an attempt to find Alexander, but haven’t received an answer. Perhaps someone reading this will have a clue.

Until then, his resting place remains a mystery.

Is Eliza still waiting for her beloved husband to join her? “Stay tuned” to find out…

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Bounty of Souls

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During the Thanksgivi4fd3151700e18d3acab293cb952eedccng holidays, we are surrounded by symbols of harvest and bounty. One of the most popular symbols of the season’s bounty is a sheaf of wheat, which is why it is often incorporated into decorations.

lincoln-wheat-pennyThe image is so connected with bounty and prosperity that it was at one time used on United States currency.

Religiously, the image of wheat has a deeper meaning. Wheat is baked into the 67bd297f31d93d7f8069455b09a58857Eucharist, a motif of everlasting life through belief in Jesus. Therefore when wheat is used on gravestones or memento mori, it represents a divine harvest – being cut to resurrect the “harvest” into everlasting life or immortality.

Wheat has also been symbolic of love and charity in the bible, and was a popular emblem used by Masons.

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20151120_110201_DSC_5871The wheat sheaf can also signify a long and fruitful life, often more than 70 years.

So the net time you see an image of wheat on a grave, check the lifespan of the person who the stone memorializes.

 

 

 

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Hold Your Breath & Other Cemetery Superstitions

a4a9d33b085192708051db439483f4bdFolklore and customs concerning death and cemeteries can run from humorous to gruesome, and are almost always entertaining. Most of us have heard it’s bad luck to walk across a grave or speak ill of the dead, but if you didn’t know that collecting epitaphs could cause you to lose your memory perhaps you should read on…just in case!

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Mirrors

  • As soon as death occurs, the mirrors and pictures in the room should be covered or turned where they can’t be looked upon. It is bad luck to let the reflection of the corpse be seen in the mirror.

  • Cover mirrors with black crepe or veiling to prevent the deceased’s spirit from getting trapped in the looking glass

  • A European tradition says that if you look into the mirror before the body is removed, you can see the deceased looking over your shoulder.

 

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  • Sweeping the home before the corpse is taken out will ensure that the person who does so will be the next to die.

  • Take care that you do not see your reflection in a hearse, or you will be the next to be carried in it.

  • Being the first to leave the cemetery after a funeral is bad luck and could bring you death.

  • The person who walks out in front of the coffin as it is being taken from the house will be the next to die.

  • If the body of the deceased is limp for some time after death, another member of the family will soon follow.

  • A corpse should leave any home or building feet-first, or else the corpse would be looking back at the building and calling for someone within to follow him in death.

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Please Proceed

  • Locking the door of your home after a funeral procession has left the house is bad luck.

  • It is also bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approaching, turn around or hold on to a button until the cortege passes.

  • If a funeral procession passes your home, draw the curtains or close the blinds to prevent the dead from entering your home.

  • Never count the number of cars in a funeral procession, as it is considered counting the days until the your own death

  • The corpse should not pass over any part of the same road twice or the spirit will lose its way.

  • If the funeral procession stops on its way to the cemetery, another death will soon follow.

  • It used to be believed that carrying a baby in a funeral procession would ensure that it would die before its first birthday.

  • A black cat crossing in front of a funeral procession means another death in that family.

  • It is a sign of bad luck, if a horse in a funeral procession becomes frisky.

  • Never look backward while in a funeral procession, or you will soon go to another funeral.

  • After a funeral, if two carriages from the same funeral meet at the intersection of two streets then go in opposite directions, expect another death.

Flowers

  • If the deceased lived a good life flowers will bloom on his grave, but if he has been evil only weeds will grow.funeralflowersinparlor

  • Having only red and white flowers together in a vase (especially in a hospital) means death will soon follow.

  • Never take flowers from a grave or that spirit will haunt you.

  • A living flower taken from a gravesite will not grow.

  • If you smell roses when none are around, someone is going to die.

  • A single snowdrop growing in the garden foretells a death

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Clothing

  • Do not put the clothes of a living person on a corpse. That person will die once the clothes decay.

  • A witch must be buried face down to prevent the community further supernatural spells. If this doesn’t work, unbury them and turn their clothes inside out, then re-bury them face down.

  • Removing the bed sheets from the home before the corpse leaves ensures another member of the family will soon die.

  • The Irish believe in wearing black to appear to be a shadow, so that the dead person won’t enter your body.

  • It is bad luck to wear anything new to a funeral, especially shoes.

  • If you bury someone with a veil over their face and the veil gets in their mouth, they will call the family away.

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Home

  • Family photographs should be placed face down to prevent any of the close relatives and friends of the deceased from being possessed by the spirit of the dead.

  • If you hear three knocks and no one is there, it usually means someone close to you has died. The superstitious call this the three knocks of death.

  • A knife falling to the floor means a loved one has died.

  • If a picture suddenly falls off the wall, someone has died.

  • Stop the clocks at the time of death to show the departed that “time was over” for him or her.

  • On the night after November 1, a candle should be lit for each deceased relative and placed in a window.

  • If coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup form a straight line, you can expect a funeral

  • Dropping an umbrella on the floor or opening one in the house means that there will be a murder in the house.

  • A hat on the bed means death in the family.

  • If you spill salt, throw a pinch of the spilt salt over your shoulder to prevent death.

  • If an undertaker leaves anything of his trade at the house and it remains there after the funeral, someone in that family will soon die.

  • If a broom is rested against a bed, the person who sleeps there will die soon.

  • Taking ashes out of a stove after sundown will bring a death in the family.

It’s Black & White

  • A white moth inside the house or trying to get in means death.

  • If several deaths occur in the same family, tie a black ribbon to everything left alive that enters the house, even chickens and dogs. This will protect against deaths spreading further.

  • A diamond-shaped fold in clean linen foreshadows death.

  • If you bury a woman in all black with no color on her dress, she will always come back and haunt the family.

  • Meeting a white chicken on your way to a funeral is an omen of bad luck.

Fending Off Spirits

  • A corpse should be carried out feet first to prevent the spirit from looking back into the house and beckoning another member of the family to follow.60ba1b4e0b47b03736184f82709a5b2d

  • You should always cover your mouth while yawning so your spirit doesn’t leave you and the devil enter your body.

  • Hold your breath when passing a graveyard so evil or the spirit of someone who has recently died can’t enter.

  • As soon as the person is dead and in the clothes in which they are to be buried, a dish of salt should be put on their chest to keep evil spirits away.

  • Never cry on a dead person because if the tears fall on them, it makes it harder for the spirit to leave this world.

  • If for some reason you find yourself needing to bury a body, bury them at a crossroads and their spirit won’t be able to leave.

  • Make sure windows and doors are open after a person dies to ensure their spirit a speedy journey to the other side.

  • Turning over a shoe under the bed when the dogs howl at night to prevent death from possessing you.

  • Pallbearers must wear white gloves so the spirit can’t enter their bodies.

East or West

  • Graves should be oriented so that the bodies lie with their heads to the West and their feet to the East. This old custom appears to originate with the Pagan sun worshippers, but is primarily attributed to Christians who believe that the final summons to Judgment will come from the East.

  • The bed of a gravely ill person should never be placed north and south, and always east and west with the head toward the west. This will speed the process of dying and reduce suffering.

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In the Cemetery

  • Tuck your thumbs into your fists when passing a cemetery to protect your parents.

  • The spirit of the last person buried in a cemetery must stand watch over all the others.

  • Never whistle inside the cemetery walls, or you will summon the devil.

  • A pregnant woman should not go to a cemetery or her infant may be possessed.

  • Visiting a cemetery after dark will bring you bad luck.

  • Go to a cemetery, get some black dirt off a grave and put that dirt under steps you have to walk over, and you will always have luck.

  • The person who takes something from a cemetery will return more than he took.

Graves & Burials

  • Being near an open grave will cure a toothache.

  • Being buried on the north side of the church is considered unlucky because of the lack of sun. That area is usually reserved for criminals and suicides.

  • The shovels and other tools used to dig a grave used to be left at the gravesite for a day or more after the burial, as moving them too soon would bring bad luck.

  • Graves should never be left open overnight. It will lead to another death.

  • If the casket slips while it is being lowered into the grave, another death will soon follow.

  • Leaving the grave before it is filled will welcome another death to follow.

  • It is bad luck to point at a grave, because the dead will see you.

  • Naturally, the post of guardian was to be avoided if possible, so, when two bodies arrive for interment at the same time, a rush was made by the friends of the deceased in order to prevent their friend from being “last man in.”

  • If the coffin does not go into the hole easily, it is because the devil does not want the deceased.

  • If you have an involuntary shiver, someone has just walked over your grave

  • Never bury anyone on Thursday or Saturday, as it will result in bad luck.

  • Never bury anything, such as toys with a child, or other family members will soon die.

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Wild Things

  • If a firefly or lightening bug gets into a house someone will soon die.

  • If a bird pecks at or crashes into your window, there has been a death.

  • If a sparrow lands on a piano, someone in the home will die.

  • The cry of a curlew foretells a death.

  • If a red-breasted robin flies into a house, death will shortly follow.

  • When the head of the household dies, one must go out and whisper the news of the death to the bees, or all in the home will meet the same fate. Bees were believed in past to be the messengers of the gods, so when informed, bees would take the news to them.

  • If the deceased cared for an orchard or any fruit trees, the trees must be informed of the passing.

  • If a turtle dove flies upward after a death, the soul of the deceased will go to heaven.

  • A person cannot die on a mattress with feathers of wild fowl, so when someone is dying a slow death, the person must be carried to a different mattress to ease the suffering.

  • If a cow moos after midnight, it is an evil omen.

  • If you are going to a funeral and meet a mad dog, it will cause you bad luck.

  • The cry of an owl symbolizes death. Where it builds a nest, ghosts will haunt for as long as the bird stays.

  • The crowing of a rooster signals wandering ghosts that it is time for them to disappear until nightfall.

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It’s in the Numbers

  • Death comes in threes.

  • If thirteen people sit down at a table to eat, one of them will die before the year is over.

  • If three people are photographed together, the one in the middle will die first.

  • If two people in the same house are sick and one dies, the other will improve in health.

  • The first person that leaves the graveyard after a funeral will bring a death to his family.

  • A person who walks over three graves will die before the year is out.

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  • One who sees themself die in a dream, will die in reality.

  • If a person dreams about a birth, someone they know will die.

  • To dream of a deceased person in an agitated state means that they are in hell. To dream of them in a pleasant state means they have gone to heaven.

  • Touching a corpse on the forehead assures you will not dream of the dead.

On the Money

  • Leave a coin at the gate of the deceased family’s home for good luck.

  • Coins placed over the eyes of the deceased kept them from coming open. If the eyes of the corpse remained open, he was said to be looking for a follower and another death would soon happen

  • Finding a four-leaf clover on a grave foretells a friend coming to visit to give you some money.

  • As long as the funeral bill remains unpaid, the corpse will not rest in its grave.

A final word to the wise: shaving with a dead man’s razor will turn a beard prematurely gray. Consider yourself warned.

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Angels of Grief

AngelOf the more than 90 angels to be found at Houston’s historic Glenwood cemetery, one stands apart in its pose and popularity. The “Weeping Angel” at the Hill family plot is one of the most visited statues on the grounds for good reason: she is stunningly beautiful. Her hair, unbound, is highly unusual for the portrayal of heavenly being during this time period as well.

Angels of Grief, or Weeping Angel statues can be found all over the world. They portray an angel dressed in classical Roman clothes, collapsed across a monument overcome by sorrow. Her drooping wings and face hidden in crossed arms depict a deep state of mourning.

The phrase “Weeping Angel” has a totally different connotation for fans of the BBC show “Dr. Who.” Interestingly enough, those characters were inspired by writer Steven Moffat’s visit to a family graveyard, where he saw similar statues.

R20150822_132234_DSC_3828 copyGlenwood’s angel is one of five of these mournful creatures that can be found in Texas.

Locally known as “Grief,” the angel in Waco’s (McLennan County), Holy Cross Cemetery marks the resting place of merchant Emilio Davila (1864-1928) and his wife Juanita (1886-1928).

Dallas’ Grove Hill Memorial Parks angel guards the graves of Frank W. (1872-1921) and Myrtel Pickens Blakeney (1878-1962).

William Scott Youree (1872-1904) died while in Mexico. His parents and sister erected a Weeping Angel to mark his grave in the Scottsville Cemetery in Scottsville (Harrison County). His sister Susie Rose Youree (1881-1974) now rests there with him. She is missing her left hand – the most common damage found in these statues. (Houston’s version lost her hand to vandalism, but it has been repaired in recent years.)

In Denison’s (Grayson County) Calvary Cemetery, a grieving angel watches over the Lindsay family plot.images

Famed sculptor Frank Teich created the angels in Houston and Scottsville. Scottsville cemetery has been said to have the largest collection of the famous stone artist’s work in one place. Glenwood has numerous, stunning examples of his work as well.

Frank Teich was a sculptor and stonecutter, born in Germany in 1856. He supervised the stonecutters and inspected the granite used in for the state capital building in Austin. He later opened Teich Monumental Works creating such pieces as the Confederate and Firemen’s monuments on the capitol grounds in Austin, the Sam Houston monument in Houston, and other famous stone and bronze works.
WWStoryRomeThese five Texas angels, as well as others across the world, are based upon the “Angel of Grief,” a 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story. It serves as the grave marker of the artist and his wife at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, Italy.800px-William_Wetmore_Story_-_Brady-Handy

When Story’s beloved wife Emelyn died at the age of 74, the sculptor fell into despair and ceased to work. His children encouraged him to return to sculpting, if only to create a monument for their mother, and he did. After completing the statue, he left his studio and never returned. He died the following year.

The story associated with these beautiful creations is just as poignant and beautiful as they are.

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Fun Book Signing Event at the Galveston Bookshop

 

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An immense “Thank You” to everyone who came out to Saturday’s book signing event at the Galveston Bookshop for “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries.”

I had such a great time meeting everyone and learning about their individual interests in history, cemeteries or personal connections with the cemeteries on Broadway. I hope to follow up with some of you to learn more!

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Leaving Family Behind

On our way to visit the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, my husband agreed that since that outing was “his thing,” we should make a stop on the way that was something I would especially enjoy. And, yes…he knew that would entail sitting in the car as I roamed an old cemetery somewhere along the route, taking photos. He’s a good sport!

So, with a bit of quick Googling, I found Lavaca County’s Old Moulton Cemetery. It seemed to have a good number of older headstones and offer some exploring opportunities.

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It was in this cemetery that I came across the marker of R.H. and E. J. McGinty – both born toward the first part of the 19th century.

The stone is in remarkably good shape, given that it has been exposed to Texas weather for over 100 years.20150623_125804_DSC_1840

The engraving itself was obviously not done by a seasoned professional. But whoever did carve the marker took great care and engraved the names, information and epitaph to the best of their ability. The extra effort makes it all the more poignant.

So, who was this couple?

20150623_125802_DSC_1839Robert Henry McGinty was born to Shadrach McGinty and Mary “Polly” Lamar McGinty on April 17, 1824 in Jones County, Georgia. Mary’s father James Lamar, according to family stories, was a first cousin to Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas.

Shortly after 1840, Robert’s family moved to Dallas County, Alabama where he would meet his future wife. Her name was Elizabeth “Eliza” Jane Lucas, who was born in Dallas County on November 14, 1828. They married on Feb. 6, 1844.

By the 1850 census, Robert, his new wife Jane (age 21) and their sons John Henry (age 3, born Dec. 1, 1846) and James Milton (age 1, born Jan. 10, 1849) lived on a farm next to Shadrack’s in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

Another family story explains that both were farmers on the Dubois Plantation at the time. Although there is still a Dubois Plantation Road off of Highway 190 in Tammany, Louisiana near the famous River Road District, this is in St. Tammany Parish.

Catahoula Parish is far north of this location, closer to Natchez. But, of course, there is nothing to say that they did not live on plantation grounds, and that the family just misinterpreted the name through the years. Plantation names were not listed on the censuses, but Catahoula Parish had the highest number of slaves in the era, so it makes sense that the area was plantation/farm country.

But I digress…history does that to me.image_018

The next handful of years were filled with joy and sorrow: the birth of daughter Mary Jane in 1851; the death of son John Henry in 1853; the birth of daughter Susan E. in 1854; the birth of son Obediah L. in 1857; the birth of son Robert in 1859, and the death of Susan the same year.

Evidently, during that time Robert’s parents Shadrack and Polly moved to El Dorado, Union County, Arkansas to farm. Shadrack disappears from the records soon after that, and is assumed to have passed away.

So to help his mother and leave the heartache of lost children behind, Robert and Jane moved their family to Arkansas, inheriting and farming his father’s land. His mother Polly lived with them and appears in their household on the 1860 census.

artilleryRobert left to serve in the Confederate Army, Company C, Second Battallion of the Arkansas Infantry on September 22, 1861. He was wounded by enemy artillery and sent home in December, probably in time to see the birth of daughter Nancie (Nannie) Aresenith on Dec. 20, 1861.

In the spring, he returned to the army and served until the end of the Civil War, joining Company I of the 6th Arkansas Regiment while it was stationed in Corinth, Mississippi.

After the war, as was the weight of large families of this era to bear, more children came into and passed from their lives.

The family welcomed another daughter, Sallie Micou, on Dec. 3, 1863, but mourned the death of their son Robert within a few months.

Their last son, Calhoun, arrived the 5th of November, 1866., and their last daughter Georgia was born in Lavaca County on May 5, 1871. (They had moved to Lacava County, Texas in 1870.)

And the losses continued, with Mary Jane (who had recently married) dying in March of 1869, Obe in Sept. of 1886 and little Calhoun just five days later.

Robert Henry joined the five of his ten children that passed before him on Dec. 19, 1896 in Moulton, Lavaca County, Texas. Imagine how sad the holiday season must have been for their family that year.

His epitaph reads, ”Eternity Called, He Answered Ready.”

In 1901 Jane filed for and received a Confederate widow’s pension. This document still exists and is a goldmine of information, confirming the above story.32241_1220701439_2218-00176

Jane passed away on February 25, 1904 in Alvin, Texas. Her son James Milton lived there, and although she was not listed on the most recent census in the household, perhaps she was visiting him at the time.

She had left five of her children behind, buried in different states. I’m sure she thought of them often.

Her touching epitaph reads, “Mother, our best friend on earth.”

Ironically, James Milton is buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Alvin, where I took some photos in May. I did not seem to get a shot of his marker though, so I guess I’ll have to go back for another visit.

Always looking for an excuse to find more stories.

 

Robert Henry McGinty (1824-1896) age 72

Elizabeth Jane Lucas McGinty (1828-1904) age 76

Their Children:

John Henry McGinty (1846-1853) age 7

James Milton McGinty (1849-1926) age 77

Mary Jane McGinty Slaughter (1851-1869) age 18

Susan E. McGinty (1854-1859) age 5

Obediah Lamar McGinty (1857-1886) age 29

Robert McGinty (1859- ?)

Nancy Aresenith McGinty Harris (1861-1940) age 79

Sarah Micou McGinty Crouch (1863-1955) age 92

Calhoun McGinty (1866-1875) age 9

Georgia McGinty Murphy (1870-1954) age 84

 

 

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The Answer Reveals More Questions

Sometimes, when you delve into history to solve a mystery, you end up with several more. That’s just what happened when I came across the simple grave maker for “Mrs. Appleton.” (And yes, that’s part of a snakeskin…seven feet long…laying next to the marker.)

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I found this marker in20150624_152805_DSC_2502 Rocky Community Church Cemetery, sometimes referred to as Rocky Creek Cemetery, in Johnson City, Blanco County, Texas. Unmarked graves make me incredibly sad, but those with only names are sad as well. When did this person live? Where is the family? Not even her first name was included.

 

That creates the challenge of filling in information with some research.

So who was Mrs. Appleton ?

Her name was Sarah

AppletonSarah Jane Null was born On December 23, 1839 in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1859 she married James B. Appleton. James, whose middle initial is sometime listed as “R,” was born in Pennsylvania in 1830.

They had their first child James William the following year in Indiana. They then moved to Shelbyville, Shelby County, Indiana in 1865.

From February to October 1865, James served as a private in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

Soon after his return from service, the couple had two more sons: John Morris on September 29, 1866 and Wallace P. in 1871.

1870 Sarah and her husband James lived in Shelbyville with with son “Willie” (James William), who was 10, Morris, who was 3 and a house servant named Mary Wilcher who was 37 years old. Sarah was listed as a milliner, and James was a painter.

In the 1880 census, the family was living in Blanco, Johnson County, Texas and farming. They were still there in 1890 when James was listed on the veteran’s schedules.

But either farming wasn’t a good choice for them, or perhaps they were homesick for Indiana, because the were back living in Shelbyville by 1895 when James passed away (according to Sarah’s obituary).sv_pub_sq_west1

Prior to his death, the couple operated a millinery and dry goods establishment in town. Their store was at the corner of West Washington and Public Square. (The site later became home of the First National Bank Building.) They lived in a home at the corner of Franklin and West streets.

We can assume that Morris took his father’s place in the business, since he was living in his mother’s home in 1900. That year’s census lists her occupation as a milliner and his as a salesman. The 1910 census information remained the same.

John Morris Married Lida G. on May 19, 1912. They eventually moved to San Antonio, Texas where he worked as a grocery store clerk until he retired. They lived at 1023 Alamo Street. Both are buried in Shelby County, Indiana, though.

In 1920, Sarah was living in Shelbyville with her son James, who was 59 and worked at a tobacco company.

Something quickly changed again, however, because Sarah was living in Morris’ Shelbyville home when she passed away on November 26, 1921, the following year. Even more mysteriously, James and Sarah’s other son Wallace were listed as “whereabouts unknown” in Sarah’s obituary.

Where could they have gone, and why wouldn’t their family know?

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At age 81, Sarah died of apoplexy and was said to have been ill for some time. Apoplexy at the time was commonly used as a term for a store or brain hemorrhage.

Mrs. Appleton had been a member of the First Presbyterian church here for several years. She was also a member of the Woman’s relief Corps, the Rebekahs and Royal Neighbors. Her name appeared often in the local newspaper, for attending or hosting social affairs and being involved in community activities. She obviously led a full life and had many friends. (Obituary appeared in the Shelbyville Republican, Saturday, Nov. 26, 1921.)

She is buried in City Cemetery in Shelbyville, Indiana.

 

So a few questions remain.

If James died in 1895 after they returned to Shelbyville, why is he buried in Texas? Was he perhaps visiting one of their sons who had remained in the area?

Sarah’s obituary even mentions her burial arrangements to be interred in Indiana, where there is a marker for her. Why is there also a marker for her by her husband’s? Did someone assume she was buried nearby, or was it simply placed as a remembrance?

At least we now know her full name and a bit about her. Mrs. Appleton obviously led a full, active life and had many friends. Something not reflected by the simple marker in the Texas hill country.

 

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Bon Jour, Professor!

Maton

I’ve walked through the seven cemeteries on Broadway in Galveston countless times, photographing, doing research, assisting in restoration, and simply enjoying the history. So I was very surprised this week to find a grave marker that I haven’t taken notice of before.

AngelFlowersMay is my favorite time to take photos there, because the city allows the coreopsis of spring to overtake the cemetery for the month. No one can resist veering off the main avenue to enjoy a closer lookCFTnPXsUMAAng9l.jpg-large at the exquisite sight.

Wandering down one of the sidewalks to get some close-ups, a stone that was obviously facing the “wrong direction” caught my eye and I walked around the other side to investigate.

Imagine my delight to see “Professor” J. B. Maton as the name, and that he was born in the 18th century. Now, there simply HAD to be a story there! I hadn’t ever heard his name before, but I was determined to investigate once I got home.

The first evidence I have found of John B. Maton living in Galveston was the 1850 Census. In it, he is listed as a 56-year-old schoolteacher who was born in France. Living with him was a 19-year-old male named Martin Maton, who we can presume was his son.

By the fall of 1851, Maton was running advertisements in the local newspapers for his “Male and Female Academy,” stating that he had lived all of his life in the principal cities of France, England and Germany and devoted the last 27 years to teaching.

1885MapMaton School blockThe professor conducted the academy from his house on Twenty-fourth street, one door south of Church Street opposite the Tremont garden. It contained two classrooms “besides every other convenience for an institute as also a large garden with fine shrubbery and a good cistern.”

Mason also taught for a period of four years in Liberty county, between 1852 and 1856.

He signed his name as “Prof. T. Maton” so he presumably went by his middle name, but I could not find any record of what that was.

For two seasons of five months each beginning in September, students could attend the academy for $3 per month ($30 per year) for seniors (older students) or $2 per month ($20 per year) for juniors (younger students), requiring all fees to be prepaid. Compared to today’s private school, this seems like quite a bargain!

School hoil_570xN.654914034_gmsyurs were from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon. Subjects included English, French and German languages, history, geography, astronomy, and arithmetic, each taught in “an agreeable style.”

His ads also always emphasized that “particular attention will be paid to impress the pupils with good morals and fine manners.”

“Miss Maton will take charge of the female department.” This could have been Maton’s sister, or daughter. I have not been able to find any mention elsewhere of a female Maton living in the city, much less the household. If anyone has any information about her, I would love to hear about it.

Prospective families could register their students either directly with Professor Maton, or at William Armstrong & Brothers Great Southern Bookstore and Stationers on Tremont. (For more about Civil War veteran William Armstrong, see “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries,” available on Amazon.com)

With the advent of war, John Maton enlisted in the Confederate 11th Battalion of Texas Volunteers in Company F with a rank of private. This unit of cavalry and infantry were under the direction of Lt. Colonel Ashley W. Spaight and Major J. S. Irvine.

The professor’s death occurred just one year after enlistment, but I have been unable to find any details. It could just as likely been the result of disease as injury in battle. Either way, his body made it back to Galveston for burial in Trinity Episcopal Cemetery alongside some of the era’s most illustrious citizens.

(NOTE: There was another John Maton from Refugio County, Texas who served in the Civil War, but he survived. Keeping their records distinct from each other takes a bit of care.)

Professor Maton is just one of the stories that hides beneath the stones in historic cemeteries, waiting for someone to take the time to discover and remember them.