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Forgotten Past

I have been shopping in Wolf Ranch for as long as it has been in existence. I have driven down that road hundreds upon hundreds of times… never ONCE did I assume that there was a cemetery right across the street. Now, granted, it is hidden by a storage company and some other stores as well as being behind a large area of tall grasses, and the only road leading to this cemetery is not marked and is a dirt road with no parking. Still… I have lived here since I was about 6; that is 11 years of ignorance that could have been prevented.

Once we had parked off on the shoulder of the road we came upon a stone wall about 25 feet long. On this wall was a sign clearly displaying the name of the cemetery. Unlike the Old Georgetown cemetery, however, there were no historical markers to indicate who was buried beyond it’s wall, nor was there a working office (there appeared to be a building, but all the windows were broken and there was no sign to indicate it was or had been an office of any kind). This was the only indication that this was a historical cemetery.

The first thing that struck me was the set up of this cemetery. As we said in Old Georgetown, most cemeteries are build on a grid. This one appeared to have been planned by several people in different years and no communication whatsoever. On either side, there appeared to be the newer graves; most of them had fresh flowers, toys, and “nicer” headstones. The center, then, appeared to be the old section. Most of these headstones were either impossible to read, very old, or in complete ruin. To the right appeared to be the “newest” section and most of the family names were the same (the two most frequent being City and Rose); this is where the most recent man was buried. There were two Hispanic names on this side, but with the rest it was impossible to tell ethnic or racial background. To the left were the Veterans, all of them were in one war or another ranging from World War I to Vietnam. They were decorated with toy airplanes, flags, and fabric flowers. Even the oldest of either of these sides (most of them not any older than 1986) were still being looked after. However, the middle section was barren and in disrepair. In most cases, as in this one, your eyes are drawn to “pretty things”, so from the very beginning I ignored the middle section and went right to most heavily looked after section… thus reinforcing the cycle.

Also, an interesting thing I discovered was that the sign indicates that the cemetery was established in 1906, however there were no grave stones with dates earlier than 1908; this leads me to believe that there might be bodies we do not know about. I know you probably can’t read this, but the date is 1908, it was the earliest gravestone we could find. There were actually several gravestones from 1908 (names included: Charlie M. Harris, Pleasant Monroe, Jefferson, Hubbard); and, like this stone, there were at least 6 hand carved headstones, most of which were incredibly hard to read. Several graves were just cement blocks stuck into the ground in a rectangle. The most recent grave we found was 2010. What struck me about this particular grave was not just the date, but the name. There were no graves surrounding this one that indicated that he had family buried in the cemetery. What was also interesting is that the little white sign on at the bottom of the plaque gives an address. It is Taylor, TX which is about 40 minutes away. Obviously, this area is very meaningful to a lot of people. There might be a church involved, or a particular community of people how know about this area’s history and still care about it.

It was very moving to see this new grave and to see all the flowers and toys that were memorializing these people; the people that I didn’t even know about two days ago. People fear death not only because they will cease to exist in the human world, but also because they fear rejection or not being remembered. Those with flowers and toys are lucky, but what about the headstones like the one below? What makes them different from the veterans? Are those people black? Slaves? Latino, or just forgotten? I don’t know because the Georgetown community, for the most part has forgotten about the Citizens Memorial Cemetery.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 19, 2011 at 1:44 am

    That’s amazing that you’ve been living in this area for so long and never knew about this cemetery. If it can happen in a town as “small” as Georgetown, I can’t imagine what I’ve missed out in Austin, or places like Dallas and Houston. I started looking up slave cemeteries in Austin, and found one in a cemetery that I’ve been in before that I had no knowledge of. The teachers focused on the famous Austinites there, not the slaves buried so close. I also found an article on a cemetery in Dallas that up and disappeared in the 1800’s. They didn’t rediscover it till 1998. This really shows how little we look at the world that surrounds us on a day to day basis.

  2. katelongoria
    January 19, 2011 at 3:18 am

    This makes me want to investigate my hometown, Galveston. When I was in elementary school we went on a similar field trip to one of the historical cemeteries on the island. We only searched for 1900 storm victims or WWII veterans… I wonder if any cemeteries on the island go back further than 1900 because of the restoration the island had to go through after the 1900 storm. Love Cemetery even mentions Galveston’s role in the Civil War; that the slaves weren’t emancipated until word had reached Galveston on Juneteenth. I’m going to google this.

  3. January 19, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Hi there. When Caitlin and I went to explore this cemetery, we actually found a few graves from before 1906. There were graves from 1856, 1848, and even 1822. However, with some of those graves, we had to do a little bit of detective work. On one, for example, we could make out the second two digits in the date of birth and the first two digits in the date of death. The second two digits of the birth date were 06 and the first two of the death date were 18. With this stone, we did not have an exact year, but we know the date of death was in the early to mid 1800s. This is what interested me most, actually. It’s crazy to think how difficult it is for us to ascertain this information, so I can’t even imagine what it will be like for the generations after us. I think that’s why we need to leave a trail.

  4. diamondc
    January 19, 2011 at 5:42 am

    I was also really struck by how hidden the cemetery was. Between that and the Old Georgetown Cemetery, I’m wondering how many graveyards are buried secretly throughout the places we visit every day. I’m so moved by the immensity of the unsaid history that is so close to home.

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