Home > Uncategorized > Disappointment and Frustration: A Quest for Smalley Cemetery

Disappointment and Frustration: A Quest for Smalley Cemetery

We headed out early this morning. At 10:00 Lillie, Katie, Taylor, and I left campus heading south on FM 1460. We sat comfortably in the heat of Taylor’s Element chatting about Capstone and the GRE, watching lazy hills rise and fall against the gray sky. It wasn’t until we reached Hwy 79 that we realized finding the Smalley Anti-Slaveholding Union Baptist Cemetery would actually be difficult… or impossible.

Yes, it almost sounds like a bad joke, “How many Southwestern English Majors does it take to find an historical landmark?”

Well, more than four apparently, but certainly not for lack of trying.

We circled the area multiple times. We scanned the roadside for anything promising, but came up empty. We even stopped at an apartment complex so I could run into the office and ask for directions. Nothing…nada. With the clock ticking away, we had to give up and come back to Georgetown, but we didn’t want the morning to be a total loss, so we went over to the Old Georgetown Cemetery for a second visit.

The small rugged black side of the cemetery was where we spent most of our time, and I realized that although many people in the class noted the lack of care that side of the cemetery received, that might not be altogether true. If you look at the area as a whole, you can tell that there are signs of landscaping. Someone has made sure that the thickets surrounding the little cemetery does not encroach on it completely. That and the white crosses are sure signs of some care the cemetery continues to receive.

After we got back to campus, I was really frustrated that we weren’t able to find Smalley Cemetery. It irked me to no end. So, naturally, I googled it. I was excited to find quite a few results on the place.

According to findagrave.com, which is a really creepy website name, the cemetery was deeded to the Anti-Slaveholding Union Baptist Church in 1854. The Smalley had been involved in the church, and the family is buried there. The oldest grave is marked 1853, but Freeman Smalley Jr. is thought to have been buried there in 1849.

The website also had some directions to the Cemetery. It mentioned that it was located near “Timberline,” information our group didn’t have this morning. Being as stubborn as I am, I decided that I would try again to find Smalley Cemetery once I was done with class for the day.

I set out alone, stopping at the Williamson County museum on the square to ask for more information on the cemetery. The woman there couldn’t give me any new info, but I pressed on, still hopeful.

Despite the confusing construction going on on FM 1460, I found Timberline, it lead to a small suburban neighborhood, but NO CEMETERY. There was a small, relatively modern looking Baptist church on Timberline, and I stopped hoping to find someone who might know something about the cemetery, but it was all locked up for the week.

I drove back to Georgetown disappointed.

I have no doubts that the place exists, but apparently with all of the construction happening on 1460, it’s not easy to find. It seems that Smalley is well hidden among the vast developments popping up all around the area. Watching the construction men hard at work on the side of the road made me feel as if Smalley is getting tossed aside in the modern age and forgotten. It’s obviously an important piece of history. This was a cemetery made by a church of white land owners in Texas that were against slavery. The church also served as a Masonic lodge. I’m still determined to find it.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. meganvestal
    January 19, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Kate! I just remembered something, when Professor Stockton and Professor Evans came to my FYS class they mentioned finding a cemetery that was in the middle of a developing housing complex. They said it was completely fenced in, and the only real marker was like, a bird bath or a sun dial or something ornamental, and a stone in the ground. They mentioned that it looked like the area was someones back-yard, and a person would’ve never guessed it was a cemetery. Perhaps that was the cemetery you were sent to?

  2. January 19, 2011 at 1:39 am

    This is terribly disappointing. The fact that we’ve allowed development to swallow up a whole part of our past is just depressing. I hope Megan is right about the hidden location, and I hope that we can find this cemetery.

  3. January 19, 2011 at 2:20 am

    Seriously? We by those neighborhoods and that apartment complex assuming that surely suburbia wouldn’t have grossly subsumed a historical marker that way — I’m disappointed we missed out on the cemetery and I’m all the more disappointed in our Williamson County to allow such a site to be so consumed by suburban sprawl, barring others and outsiders from a piece of shared history.

    Thank you, Megan (I do appreciate knowing we weren’t totally blind or crazy! :p)

  4. katelongoria
    January 19, 2011 at 2:53 am

    Yay, Megan! Sounds like there’s hope!! I’m totally game to go back out there… once we get some more specific directions.

  5. katelongoria
    January 19, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that I went to one of the two cemeteries we saw off of 1460! The one after St. John’s or whatever. It didn’t have an historical marker, but the graves there were as early as the 1840’s and there were some as recent as 1974. It was really strange because it was so close to the busy farm to market road. It didn’t feel intimate or peaceful at all… I wouldn’t want to be buried there. Everything felt really exposed. I wouldn’t have liked to come and mourn a loved one at that site. It would have felt like everyone could watch what is usually a private emotion. I’ll post some pictures of it.

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