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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.

 

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Happy San Jacinto Day!

20150104_125252_DSC_6258Oscar Farish was born on December 18, 1812, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and emigrated to Texas in October, 1835 to pursue his profession of land surveyor. He joined Captain McIntyre’s Company of Col. Sidney Sherman’s Regiment, and participated in the Battle San Jacinto. He was one of the last surviving veterans.Texas-arial-monumentleftside

In 1837 he was elected engrossing clerk of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. Mr. Farish was elected to be the first Clerk of Galveston County in 1856 and was holding that office when he died May 25, 1884.

Farish and his wife rest in Galveston’s Old City Cemetery, one of
locations included in “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries,” releasing in July from Arcadia Publishing, and available for pre-orders on Amazon.

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Tragedy on the Homefront

The United States Navy regrets to inform you…Holman-1-1

When we see military markers and the date of death falls within a specific war, we often assume that the serviceman or woman died in battle. Albert Andy Holmans is one of the exceptions that prove that isn’t always the case.

Holman-218-year-old Albert was an aviation radioman, third class in the United States Naval Air Force. He was one of five officers and enlisted men killed in a PBY Catalina bomber that crashed and burned as it attempted to take off near San Diego Bay. Six other members of the crew were rescued.

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The Catalina PBY is the most famous Navy long-range patrol
bomber, reconnaissance and rescue boat of World War II.

When searching through old newspapers within a two week period of this crash, I was shocked to find numerous accounts of bomber crashes on home soil. It’s heartbreaking to think that the families of these victims probably felt relatively secure abut their loved ones safety since they had not departed for “action.”What a shock it must have been.

Albert was the youngest son of Charles Albert Holmans and Marion Palmer. His father died from appendicitis when Albert was only three years old.

According to a family member, his mother was unable to financially care for the children, so they were split up. Douglas, Pearl and James traveled by train to Fort Worth to live at the Masonic Home and School of Texas. The two older brothers, Charles and William (Bill) were “too old” to live at the Masonic home, so they “made it on their own.”

masonic-homeMasonic School Home, Fort Worth, Texas

Because he was so small, Albert was sent to live with his widowed, maternal grandmother Marion Moore, and his uncle John Palmer.

All five boys served in the armed forces during World War II.

Albert was survived by his mother, Mrs. James McBride of Houston; his grandmother, Mrs M. More of Dickinson; a sister, Mrs Pearl Dement of Columbus Ohio; four brothers (Charles, William, DouglasBecause and James) and his uncle John Palmer of Dickinson and other aunts and uncles.Fairview

Of the family of six children, the surviving five went on to live productive lives and have families of their own. Quite impressive considering the Holmansrough start the endured.

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Albert rests in the serene Fairview Cemetery of League City, Texas. His poignant epitaph reads, “My loves goes with you and my soul awaits to join you.”

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One wonders if his mother, who missed precious years with her youngest child, chose the inscription.

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Saving a Crumbling History

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There are many facets to saving the history held within cemeteries; not all of them chiseled in stone.

During a cemetery workday when volunteers were busily cleaning gravestones and picking up trash, I went into one of the old buildings on site to ask a question of one of the men in charge. A new friend greeted me with a handful of crumbling papers and a horrified look on his face. “Look at this! They’re everywhere.”

Sure enough, the original sexton records for the cemetery were scattered across the floor and heaped in a corner. Unfortunately, they had obviously been there through hurricane flood waters, insect and rodent feeding frenzies, and currently had paint cans and scrap wood laying on them. The disintegrating bits of paper had seen better days.

coroner-aMost of the scraps were smaller than a fingernail with only a letter or two visible. I carefully lifted the partial and mostly full pages and stacked them for removal. The heartbreaking realization was that only a few could be retrieved. And yes, even those that I picked up were extremely fragile, and covered in feces. But they HAD to be saved!

It will take quite a while, even with the little stack rescued, to gently separate and scan the papers, transcribe the information, and store the originals in an archival manner.

The exciting thing that I have noticed about the few that I have looked closely at, is that there seems to be no other record of the burial.

The set of cemeteries these records are from is quite unique. I am very familiar with them because I am currently writing a book about them called “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries” for Arcadia Press. It is due out in July 2015, so I am still finalizing research.

Appearing as one large, two-city-block cemetery, it is actually seven distinct cemetery that have been through a number of grade raisings…therefore losing the location many of the burials.

Using a variety of records, including transcriptions over the years, old photos, plot maps from different sextons and additional “treasures” of information like these slips of paper, we can more fully understand the history of our cemeteries and reconstruct who is at rest there.

coroner-7PLEASE NOTE: I AM WORKING WITH THE CITY, WHO OWNS THE CEMETERY, TO RESTORE RECORDS. If you are not working directly with the owner of the cemetery, please notify the correct authorities of your discovery for permission to remove (even temporarily) any paperwork from a cemetery.

So while transcribing the grave markers in graveyards and cemeteries is vital to saving there history, there are other sources I hope you’ll consider including in your research…and OF COURSE share the results with others!

Let me know what surprises you have found in cemetery research!