History Hunt #2

Saturday was another glorious day to spend exploring San Marcos. We decided to find the three cemeteries listed on the Stopping Points website we have been using to locate historical markers. http://www.stoppingpoints.com/texas/city.cgi?city=San+Marcos&cnty=hays I find the small stories told by the headstones intriguing and am fascinated by the history revealed through the family groupings and various plots.

Our first stop was the Pitts Cemetery, because it was closest to our home. This cemetery is locked and we weren’t able to explore the grounds.

“John Drayton Pitts was born at sea on August 26, 1798, during the voyage of his parents, John and Jane Pitts, from England to Charleston, South Carolina. … and in 1843 eleven Pitts families moved to Texas. … Pitts Cemetery began in 1850 with the burial of John Malone, infant son of James L. and Eliza (Pitts) Malone and grandson of Eliza and John D. Pitts. … The cemetery continues to serve as a burial site for the descendants of John D. and Eliza Pitts.” (From the Historical Marker)

Our next stop was the San Marcos City Cemetery. We wandered the grounds for nearly an hour looking at the gravestones, old and new. This is both an old cemetery and an active one so there is quite a range of dates and styles.

“This cemetery lies within the Mexican land grant acquired by Thomas J. Chambers in 1834. Chambers died in 1865 and in 1867 his widow, Abbey, sold 3,000 acres containing this site to H. N. Duble at an estate sale held in Galveston. A portion of the cemetery site was purchased by Freedman Peter Roberts in Galveston in 1868. Local tradition suggests that slaves of the area’s earliest settlers were buried here prior to the first recorded burial, that of Major C. Rogers in 1876.” (From the Historical Marker.)

On our way to the third cemetery we unexpectedly found a fourth that wasn’t on the list we were using. However, I later found a website that told us about all of the cemeteries in the county. (See the resource page for the link.) Most of them are on private property, but this one was open so we explored it as well.

“Guadalupe Cemetery or Cemetery de Guadalupe as it is named in Spanish is a Hispanic cemetery located a short distance out of San Marcos on the old Austin Highway (Post Road). … There are many graves in the cemetery which are not marked. Many are marked with only funeral home markers which are temporary as they are easily destroyed, unintentionally, while mowing or raking grass. (From the Hays Historical Commission website, see Resources.)

Next we went to the final cemetery on the list, the San Marcos-Blanco Cemetery.  We only took a few pictures there since a staff member was clearing up after a funeral and we didn’t want to take pictures of that work. It is a beautiful, serene place.

“In 1893 five trustees of the newly formed San Marcos and Blanco Cemetery Association purchased 10.62 acres of land from w. O. and Leonora Hutchison. … The land purchased was intended for use as a cemetery by the African American citizens of the communities of Nance’s Mill and Mountain City, together known as the Blanco community. The graveyard site was located midway between the two communities. The site was called the San Marcos Colored Cemetery. More than 300 graves are marked with headstones and exist along with numerous unmarked graves. among those buried here are teachers, farmers and ministers.”

I’m intrigued with looking around cemeteries and all four of these were fascinating each in their own way. But together they tell a story of San Marcos’ history. The Pitts Cemetery serves as an example of the many family graveyards throughout the county. The other three, San Marcos Cemetery, Cemeterio Guadalupe, and San Marcos-Blanco, each one further out from the heart of the city, are stark reminders of the history of segregation in our communities.

If you haven’t explored a cemetery, I highly recommend it. Exploring the multiple cemeteries of San Marcos taught us a complex story of our community.

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