Deer Stands and Graveyards

By Linda Stewart, 4 September 2018

The web site is the world’s largest gravesite collection, with over 170 million memorials created by the community since 1995.  Contributors upload pictures of the tombstone, personal data and photographs, give the location of the cemetery, and often make family connections of other deceased relatives posted on the site.

The cemetery associations, as well as the locate funeral homes, keep valuable records on the deceased.  The funeral home records make up the data that is printed in the obituary.  The cemetery associations will have the plot, lot, and space of where the deceased is buried.  Often a family member will purchase a plot which will contain eight lots.  The cemetery records will list the names of the people who are, or will be buried in the plot.  This information will help you make family connections.

Avail yourself to the records of findagrave, cemetery associations, and funeral homes, but don’t forget to visit gravesites.  To me it is a humbling experience to visit where an ancestor has been laid to rest.  It can also be quite the adventure.

Thirty-five years ago, when my husband and I were first married, we belonged to a deer lease in Llano, Texas.  It was a beautiful little town and we enjoyed our time on the lease immensely.  For years we were on the lease with the same families, so year after year we got to see their children grow.    I especially enjoyed when we would spend a week or two on the lease, because while he was sitting in a deer stand hunting deer, I was sitting in a courthouse hunting ancestors.  The adjacent counties to Llano are San Saba to the north, Burnet to the east, Mason to the west, and Gillespie to the south.  These were the counties where my husband’s family had lived during the 1800’s.  Years later I would learn that my Paschall’s and Clarks had also lived in the area.

One particular year my husband wanted to spend two weeks on the lease.  I really did not want to go, but he promised me if I would go and spend two weeks with him on the lease, then on the weekend he would take me to Round Rock and Milano to the cemeteries.  I agreed.

Late Friday night we arrived in Llano.  Saturday and Sunday we enjoyed the fellowship with our friends.  Monday morning I dropped him off at the deer stand and I drove to a courthouse.  The following Saturday morning my husband was getting ready to go to his deer stand when I reminded him of his cemetery promise.  Begrudgingly, we drove east to Round Rock, Texas.

We found the Round Rock City Cemetery and the caretaker was mowing a beautiful cemetery.  We asked where the oldest section of the cemetery was and he pointed in the direction of a field where the grass was chest high.  He told us the association has not maintained the mowing of that section of the cemetery because the graves were in disrepair.  My husband did not want to go into the cemetery, but I would not take no for an answer.  Neither tall grass or snakes would deter me from looking for a rock with initials carved on it.  We go in … he is on one side and I am on the other.  We are basically fussing back and forth when he disappears.  He had fallen into a sunken grave.  After the initial shock, I start laughing.  I take one step and I fall into a sunken grave.  My husband managed to climb out and came to pull me out.  Deciding that he was right, I took a picture of the old section of the cemetery and claimed that my husband’s great-great grandmother was buried there.

We leave Round Rock and head east to Milano, Texas.  By the time we found the cemetery, it was beginning to be dusk.  The cemetery was surrounded by houses.  It was a nice cool evening and we had two flashlights in the car so we decided to hunt the ancestors.  We were walking the rows when the dogs start barking and a little child yelled, “Mama, Mama, there’s somebody in the cemetery!”  I started laughing and tripped over a tombstone.  I turned the light on the stone, there she was, my maternal great-great grandmother.  We returned the next  morning and took pictures of the ancestors tombstones.

We made it back to the deer lease for my husband to hunt Monday morning.  We were bruised and scratched up from our cemetery adventures.  After all these years we still remember falling into those sunken graves, and the voice of that sweet little child … and we are still laughing.

Happy Hunting!

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