Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

August 2, 2015

Close Cousins

Filed under: Cemeteries,Family,Genealogy,Taphophilia — Janice @ 10:15 pm

You know you never know when you are standing next to a cousin. Even I don’t know–as much as I try to!

I remember several years ago being at a show on the patio at Hill’s Café in Austin. I frequently tell anyone who will listen that I am related to Pinky Wilson who wrote the Aggie War Hymn for Texas A&M. I usually bring this up when someone has on one of those big gold rings they wear or an Aggie t-shirt, for instance. I ran into a friend who had heard that story before and he said, “Oh, you need to meet this guy.” He dragged me over to meet a guy that was a descendant of Pinky Wilson, so we were third cousins, I think. Pinky Wilson was his grandfather  and Pinky and my grandmother were first cousins. I know my first cousins really well and I know all of their grandchildren pretty well. But the chances of my grandchildren knowing their grandchildren well are pretty slim (well, in my case they are nil since I have NONE).

Tonight I found a picture of me and another cousin when I didn’t know her.

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I’m standing there in the Newburg cemetery a few years ago at a ceremony to honor our Texas Rangers. I’m talking to the legendary Comanche librarian, Margaret. She and I are distant cousins… fourth cousins once removed, maybe. This was a few years back, but last year she told me about a cousin I needed to meet that is also from the same family. I finally got to meet Cindy in person last March and we had so much in common. She has become a great friend and genealogy buddy. This weekend I am going to stay at her house when I am up there for my family reunion.

Cindy had told me she was at this ceremony years ago. In fact, it was her only trip ever to my favorite cemetery. This weekend I plan on taking her there and giving her the full tour and showing her EVERY SINGLE ONE of my relatives there. Ha. Even I don’t know every single one that is related. But I know a bunch.

But, as you have probably gotten ahead of me already, that is Cindy in the left of the picture. There were many folks there and I had no idea.

Of course, I found where my own grandparents were third cousins and they had both lived in the same community all their lives and you’d think they would know that they were related. But, if they did, they never told any of us about it.

May 3, 2015

San Antonio y San Marcos para Cinco de Mayo! O Dos de Mayo.

Filed under: Cemeteries — Janice @ 9:55 pm

Just a short report of a great weekend enjoying some of the fun my state has to offer.

One of my friends, Diana, is always up for an adventure and she took me on a great one Saturday. We made plans to meet up so she could give me a tour of the San Marcos Cemetery, where her family members are buried and so many people she has known. She has been in San Marcos her whole life and her grandparents were immigrants to the area, so she really does know everyone. But at the last minute we expanded our fun zone and started the day in San Antonio.10914950_10152687003775356_573296219455526282_o

I have lived in Austin 16 years, but I still forget how close San Antonio is. It is easy to go there for lunch on the weekend or even dinner during the week, if you are willing to put up with a little I-35 traffic. We started there Saturday and went to the mercado in search of flowy tops and dresses and maybe a Mexican wedding dress. If you aren’t from Texas, that doesn’t mean you wear it to marry a Mexican or that Mexicans wear it at their weddings or that I needed to be getting married or going to a wedding to wear one. As it turns out, I didn’t get a Mexican wedding dress, though they were lovely. The one I liked best was about as expensive as my real wedding dress so I held off for this trip. We did find some nice flowy tops and I will wear one tomorrow and hope I like it.

We ate wonderful Mexican food and drank margaritas outdoors at the mercado, too. It was fun to people-watch and gossip and hear the mariachis. In these dangerous times in the real Mexico, I’ll take this All-American Mexico anytime.

On the return trip we were in desperate need of a Diet Coke. Diana pulled off to go through whatever fast food joint was closest to the highway. I realized she had exited at Exit 191 where the famous Buc-ee’s is. I said, “Well, go anywhere but Buc-ee’s.” I said that, not because I don’t like Buc-ee’s, but because I had been in a Buc-ee’s a couple of weeks ago in Temple and it was super crowded and I had to stand in line for the bathroom and I didn’t want to go through that again. But Diana said, “I’ve never been in a Buc-ee’s.” What? That’s like saying you’ve never had a Whataburger. Like saying you’ve never been to the Texas State Fair. Like saying we put stars on too many things. So we remedied her Buc-ee’s inexperience quickly. And I have to admit that when you have time to stroll and shop and gawk, Buc-ee’s is a lot more fun. Also when you can do that with someone who gets what you laugh at and point to. While we were there I bought the first book I have bought for my new niece EJ. It is an indestructible book that can be chewed on and handled and it has lots of bright colors and drawings. I hope she likes it.

Diana1Back to San Marcos, we toured the San Marcos Cemetery. Diana just needs to write a book. Every grave we walked to or drove by had a story. Of course I believe that is true in EVERY cemetery, but I happened to be with the person that could tell me the stories of each of these occupants. Well, I started to retell one of Diana’s stories about “Joe, the babysitter,” and I realize I cannot do it justice. We’ll have to wait for Diana’s book.

We both like the Woodmen of the World grave markers, so I had my tour guide pose for me.












We were not alone in the cemetery. San Marcos seems to be a haven for deer. I know people in Austin say we have lots of them, too, but I rarely see them here. But the cemetery was full of deer, just lounging and sleeping and enjoying the peaceful, beautiful day. Occasionally one would jump and run, but mostly they knew we wouldn’t bother them and they didn’t bother us.

After the cemetery, we did make a quick stop to see the Kentucky Derby run and then I headed on home to Austin. I am a total homebody and only reluctantly get out of the house on a weekend, but I’m so glad Diana made time for me and we had this chance to not only go to the San Marcos Cemetery, like we’ve talked about for so long, but we got to go on our San Antonio adventure, too.

March 30, 2015

Cemeteries in Comanche County

Filed under: Cemeteries,Family,Genealogy,Travel — Janice @ 11:05 pm

I spent the weekend in the cemetery and now I am just dead tired.

Doesn’t work quite as well as the “And boy are my arms tired” joke, but I’m trying.


Saturday was the annual Newburg Cemetery Association meeting. I had never even heard of the association or knew they had annual meetings until last year. I don’t know how I was so uninformed about my favorite cemetery in the world, but now I know so I will attend the meetings. It isn’t just a dry meeting. It is a lively meeting of family interested in the welfare of our favorite cemetery and then there is a really nice potluck lunch with the group.

It is also a “Decoration Day,” as we call them in the South. I did not take any flowers for my family graves this year and I should  have. I usually take flowers in August when I go to the Cunningham reunion. All our flowers were pretty well faded so they do need a replacement soon.

I have 8 direct ancestors buried in the cemetery… my great-grandparents (Ed and Henrietta Hallford) and her parents my great-great-grandparent (Bill and Mildred Cunningham) and his parents (Capt. James and Susannah Cunningham) and then great-great-grandparents from another branch,  Joe and Trissia Moore. There is also 3 great-aunts and their husbands, several great-great-aunts and uncles, and so many cousin I would never be able to count. I know I’ve been to 4 funerals in that cemetery, including my very first one when I was 6 (for Grandma Hallford).  [Full disclosure: the picture of the cemetery is not from this year, it is from 2010. I didn’t take a good scene-setting picture this time.]

I got there early and went to the Albin Cemetery first and took more pictures there. It is just down the road and I have at least 4 direct ancestors there. It was a pretty day. I like this picture of the Albin Cemetery in panorama:

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I love the rock walls on these old cemeteries… can you imagine how much time and energy that took?

Now I am home and I’ve been wasting time researching some of the graves I saw (well, the people in them).

There’s just not enough hours in the day for the cemetery visits and research time I need.

March 17, 2015

A Fresh New Start

Filed under: At home,Austin,Bluebonnets,Cemeteries,Family,Food — Janice @ 11:29 pm

I guess the best way to return to a habit and get the ball rolling on this blog again is just to start.

And keep going. We’ll see if I can manage that.

I truly don’t know why I don’t. I write all the time, all over the place. This blog doesn’t have to be any more polished than the emails I write (since the same people will read it). So I will try.

I just had a beautiful fresh start to a New Year for myself with the big celebration for my 56th birthday (oops, I had a typo and put 65 first, can 65 ONLY be 9 years away?). It was a GREAT birthday. I have probably complained here in past years about how my birthday falls during Spring Break and, worse, during South By Southwest. South by Southwest is the Austin music conference/festival that is a fine event, but it keeps my husband, Mark, away from me much too much. But, every 6 years my birthday falls on the Sunday BEFORE SXSW and Mark can free up some time to celebrate my day.

It’s hard to believe it has been 6 years since we had a great lunch at El Chile on the east side and drove around observing the blooming mountain laurel and fruit trees and then visited the Texas State Cemetery. That was my first visit to the cemetery, even though we had lived here almost a decade by then. It was amazing and I’ve visited it many times since then. I am happily married to the only man in the world that would understand that a trip to a cemetery for a 50th birthday would be the best present.

This year Mark offered me a road trip to a Hill Country town or anything I wanted. I thought long and hard and decided a brunch at the 1886 Café in the Driskill Hotel and a trip to the Ransom Center would be my choice. Mark had some concerns about being downtown during SXSW, but we forged ahead and talked the café into letting us have a reservation even though they don’t take reservations  during SXSW or for brunch.

The Driskill is a beautiful hotel. It is Austin’s oldest and most opulent hotel, built in 1886. The lobby is big and marble with pillars and grand staircases and dark wood paneling.  We hadn’t  been there 3 minutes when I spotted Billy Crystal coming down the staircase. That’s the kind of magic that happens there.

With the ColonelHere we pose with Colonel Driskill. I was hoping for some orbs in the picture since he haunts the place, but no such luck. I was sniffing, trying to smell his cigar, but I didn’t get that either.

We enjoyed the cheese soup (amazing!) and I had quiche while Mark had steak and eggs. I also indulged in a bloody Mary.  It was fun to people watch, wondering if we looked like out-of-towners to them.


We took a walk around the Driskill and then walked down 6th Street a little. I honestly don’t know  if Mark and I have EVER walked down 6th Street together. It is Austin’s Bourbon Street…something the city is known for, but nasty, dangerous, and a place the locals don’t go. In the daytime it is not so dirty or scary. There were lots of people out and the streets were closed so there was lots of room. We had fun pointing to buildings and remembering…. “This WAS Joe’s Generic Bar. This was Steamboat. This was where I played for this…. This is where I used to go ….” It has changed tremendously since I worked down the street when we moved here 16 years ago.

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There was no shortage of people watching on 6th Street. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, we even saw leprechauns. We steered clear so I don’t know what they were soliciting. I have a feeling they weren’t going to lead us to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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On to the Harry Ransom Center. It is a museum where my cousin works, yet I have never been to it. I wanted to go just to see where it was and what it was like. I didn’t need to spend hours there. It is a very nice small museum, known for its traveling exhibits, I suppose. But it does have a Gutenberg Bible on display, which is AWE-some in the truest sense of the word. And the first photograph ever made, in 1824, I think. Mark looked at the piece of metal with dark shapes on it, hardly distinguishable as a landscape outside a window at all. Mark commented, “Well, it isn’t even a very good photograph…. kind of grainy.” We laughed. It was the kind of exhibit that makes me want to go read more about the invention of photography.

There was also a big exhibit going on about Alice in Wonderland. A lot of people were there to see it and it was a beautiful display with LOTS about the book and the whole history of Alice. Somehow, I grew up without ever knowing much about Alice in Wonderland. I knew about her, but I don’t know if I actually ever read the book. I think I saw a cartoon. I think I once had a ceramic figurine of her. But since Mark and I didn’t have a real connection with Alice in Wonderland, we took the quick view through that exhibit.

I was happy and satisfied and content to go home to open birthday cards that had come through the week (I always save them until the day) and maybe get in a good nap. Before we got all the way home, Mark took a swing through a rehab facility by our house. Each spring there are fields of bluebonnets around the center so he wanted to check to see if any were blooming. Neither one of us have seen a bluebonnet by the highways yet. Lo and behold, they were beginning to bloom. There is no piece of nature that makes me as happy as the bluebonnet does. We stopped to do the Texas thing and take pictures in the bluebonnets. We will be back when they are more abundant.



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Now Mark is deep into his long days/nights of working during South By Southwest and I am a SXSW widow, home alone overnight. But the birthday is over and I don’t have to think about it falling during SXSW when I don’t get any attention. It was a happy and fun birthday and I’m grateful to my sweet husband and to all who sent the cards and presents and called and texted and Facebooked and emailed. There was no shortage of love.

May 26, 2014

The Sneed Plantation and Mansion

Filed under: Austin,Cemeteries — Janice @ 11:49 pm

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the past. I’m fascinated by cemeteries and the stories they tell (or don’t) and I am thinking about my ancestry a LOT. You can’t begin to imagine how much of the time my head is full of a family that came to Texas in 1839.

Mark and I explored the Sneed Mansion from a distance on Saturday. It is a story that I’ve learned slowly over 10 years and I don’t know how I missed THIS giant puzzle piece until now. For 5 years I had a feature called “Let’s Learn About Austin” where I asked a trivia question about the city on the radio and gave away a prize. It was my favorite part of the show. Some questions were contemporary and simple, others were deep history that most people didn’t know, but it taught us all in the process. I loved researching those questions.  I don’t know how the history of the Sneeds escaped me.

About 10 years ago, Mark came home, excited because he had found me a cemetery. He has always been great about finding lost cemeteries for me and then taking me exploring. That day he took me over to I-35 and Little Texas Road and, sure enough, behind lots of brush, there was an old cemetery. We walked through it and took pictures. Where are those pictures tonight? Good question.

I came home and did research and found that this was Williamson Creek Cemetery and, as I had suspected while I was there, it is a slave and descendants-of-slaves cemetery. It had fallen into disrepair and was abandoned, but recently a group of Mormon youth had taken it on as a project and had cleared the brush and cleaned it up.

Fast forward to 3 or 4 years ago. I got a thank you email via Findagrave.com where a woman thanked me for having posted pictures of her g-g-g-grandfather’s grave. She and I exchanged some letters. She asked if this was also known as the “Sneed Cemetery.” I was unaware of the Sneed Cemetery, but I looked on the Austin Genealogy website and saw where it was a different cemetery. I did some basic Googling and read that there had been a Sneed plantation on the east side of I-35. I even found a fascinating interview with a former slave from the plantation telling about his days there and what happened when they were freed. Another interesting bit of the history was that the (now former) head of Hewlitt-Packard and (former) Republican candidate for Senate, Carly Fiorini, was a Sneed and was born in Austin.The woman I was emailing with was a descendant of slaves, but also a member of the Sneed family.  In my Googling I came to the conclusion that the Williamson Cemetery was, at one time, a part of the Sneed plantation. There’s now an interstate highway separating it from the area that appeared to have been the plantation, but obviously in those days they weren’t as separated as they are now.

Now, this week, Mark sends me a great article in the Austin Chronicle about the “Sneed mansion.” It had some pictures of the house as it had once been and the rubble that it is mostly reduced to now. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about this “ruin” at some point in the 15 years we’ve lived just a few miles from it.  I did some more basic research and found a Facebook page about the place: Save the Sneeds.  Lots more pictures and info about how the place was lived in until 60s (sadly occupied by a hermit-hoarder) and then it burned in the 80s. No one appears to want to take responsibility for preserving it or restoring it in any way. Developers would love to take that corner and continue their paving of Austin (it is already surrounded by beautiful apartments).

So Mark and I went there Saturday to see it and take some pictures. Mark had been curious about another old rock home he had seen in the past so we went to it first. I was almost convinced that THIS must be the Sneed home because it seemed big and impressive to me, but Mark was certain it was not. Later I learned that it is called the “Horton-Duval Home” and it may have been slave quarters at one time for the Sneeds. More research to be done.

But then we moved on to the main attraction, the Sneed Mansion. There is  a chain link fence around the property and (for once) we didn’t scale the fence to explore.


It is hard to grasp the scale of this house. Thick walls with layer after layer of Texas limestone… all hauled to the site by slave labor and placed to last 150 years.  More of Mark’s pictures are on his Facebook page.

I’ve been emailing with Bobby Cervantes, who is working to save the Sneed place. He was there this morning and sent some pictures from INSIDE the fence.

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After we went to the Sneed mansion, we went on to find the Sneed Cemetery. I appreciate Mark’s persistence. I knew where it was, but didn’t think we could get to it. Mark found a way. It, too, was surrounded by chain link fence, but it was easy to see how many stones had been destroyed on the graves. We got some pictures there, said our goodbyes to the spirits of the Sneeds and moved on.

I’m still doing some research and am fascinated by this place. My Cunninghams were in Travis County at the same time that this mansion was being built and they, too, may have had some slaves then (I know they did later). In Texas, while we are aware of our Confederate background and think of cottons and plantations in East Texas, it is hard to imagine the pre-Civil War, slave era that existed here in Austin. This home brought it a little more into my reality.

This was the place in 1937:

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My computer is trying to crash because I have 18 browser windows open along with 8 programs. It is as overloaded with processes as my mind is when I sort through this Sneed family history. I wish Bobby and Save the Sneeds lots of luck and look forward to learning more.  Go to Save the Sneeds and look at more pictures.

March 31, 2014

Getting There

Filed under: Bluebonnets,Cemeteries,Writing — Janice @ 9:57 pm

Well, I keep saying I have everything set up on my new computer in order to do my jobs and my fun stuff and then I think of something else I need. I just installed the Windows Live Writer. It does make it a little easier to get the blogs written and sent to the site and it makes the pictures a lot prettier, so I am glad to have it up and running again.

I did have dinner tonight with my “muse” Diana. We talked about writing and children and money and life and it was really great to see her one-on-one again. I think we talked on the phone last summer and were going to get together on my porch when the fall weather cooled things down and here we are having already made it through winter and it will be too hot on the porch before we know it.

Diana is about to finish her master’s degree in a specialized study of Texas music history and Texas writers. It’s a one-of-a-kind degree and she’s the perfect person to blaze the trail. It’s the kind of degree I would love to HAVE, but I’ve seen all the work she’s put into it and I don’t think it’s the kind of degree I want to work toward. I think my school days are over. I admire her for taking it on.

I am not a photographer, but I feel like I need to insert a photo for interest. This was taken about a week ago in LaGrange. I love their old city cemetery and the bluebonnets there are incredible. This doesn’t come close to doing it justice or really showing you how thick they are. I will have to purloin Mark’s good pictures one of these days.

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March 30, 2014

Blogging Again

Filed under: Cemeteries,Travel,Writing — Janice @ 8:08 pm

I have to learn how to write a blog post all over again. I did upgrade my computer after having the difficulties before. I got a nice pretty sleek new HP and it is working like a dream. Like many people, I didn’t like Windows 8. I went in with the intention of upgrading my knowledge and learning to like it, but soon learned it was invented for people with a tablet and the ability to swipe swipe swipe with their fingers to get to things. Like the lady says, "I ain’t got time for that s***." Finding that it took about 5 clicks just to get the power to turn off, I went in search of a better way. I found a program (and this reminds me I need to go actually buy it, I’m in a trial) that makes everything look like Windows 7 did. It’s called Start 8 and it is good. My menus are all just like they were before. I haven’t found a downside to it yet.

Mark and I have been out taking bluebonnet pictures today and last weekend. That sent me looking through old bluebonnet pictures. I could make album after album of me in the bluebonnets. It is awfully narcissistic to have so many photos in the bluebonnets, but when I’ve got a great photographer for a husband and I love the bluebonnets, I don’t care what others might say. I never had my picture in the bluebonnets as a baby or a child, so I’m making up for lost time.

I was looking through the pictures from a great trip we took 2 years ago. I can’t believe it has already been 2 years. After the craziness of South By Southwest, we ran off to Taos to give Mark several days in a row in the same place to rest and recuperate. As I recall, he felt no need to rest and we were on the go every day walking to the Plaza or driving to the canyon bridge or exploring something. It was a wonderful vacation with lots of adventures and a LITTLE bit of rest.

One memory was about how my keen eye for a cemetery gave me one to explore. We were driving down from Eagle Nest after a terrific hamburger at a little Mom and Pop roadside restaurant and enjoying the vista. Suddenly, off to the side, up a steep incline, I saw a grave marker or a cross or something that said CEMETERY to me. I hollered, "Cemetery," and Mark, being the great exploration companion that he is, threw on the brakes, put it in reverse and got us parked beside the road before I bailed out to see what I could find.


Very few graves were readable. There was one or two stone ones that were "real" carved tombstones. One was for a poor little 4-year-old boy that died in 1913. I can only imagine how tough the conditions were in the mountains of New Mexico in 1913. New Mexico had only been a state for a year or so when he died. He had a Spanish surname so his family may have lived in the area for generations, going back to Mexico. Or maybe they had just come there, looking to homestead.


I don’t remember how it happened, but I do remember turning in that cemetery and falling face-forward downhill. Luckily, I fell and stopped. I might have tumbled all the way to the road. It was a super sandy, fine dusty dirt and I came up covered. I wasn’t hurt and the fun continued with more careful footing.







There was no gate or sign on the cemetery, so I didn’t know the name, but I though I certainly would be able to find it on a map or on findagrave.com in the future. No such luck. I can’t even pinpoint exactly where it was and if I went back again I don’t know that my eyes would be able to find it.


This cemetery had no bluebonnets, which is what I really love, so I hope I can continue the postings and get to the fabulous pictures Mark took last week at a bluebonnet covered cemetery. My friend Diana and I are getting together tomorrow to turn over a new leaf and make a pact and write more in our blogs, so I hope that happens. I know the getting-together will happen. I hope the pact and the writing happens.

December 8, 2013

Cemeteries and Us

Filed under: Cemeteries — Janice @ 10:15 pm

Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of Mark giving me an engagement ring. I won’t say the 21st anniversary of our “engagement” because that truly came a week after we met in the summertime, but people tend to accept the giving of an engagement ring as a better indication of future marriage plans. I think I’ve written about the engagement ring before. There were beautiful Christmas lights all over town and they sparkled in my new diamond ring.

What does that have to do with cemeteries? No, there was no cemetery involved in our engagement at all. But I was looking through photos and a couple of good photos of us in cemeteries:


That one was near Independence, Texas, and we didn’t have any relatives there, but this one is in Mount Pleasant (Green Hill) and just about everyone around us is a relative of Mark’s:


Mostly our pictures in cemeteries don’t include us both, but we’re getting better about taking a “selfie” when we can.

People ask me about my cemetery obsession and Mark’s cooperation in my graveyard adventures. He may not be quite as interested as I am, but I was thinking about how many cemeteries he has taken me to over our 21 years and how often he’s thrown on the brakes and made a u-turn when I’ve hollered, “CEMETERY!” and craned my neck as I see one go by. I can’t recall that he’s ever said no.

I was smitten with Mark even before we had ever gone to a cemetery and I don’t think a dislike of cemeteries from his viewpoint would have made me change my mind. But it sure helped when we took our first cemetery adventure.

I’d have to check the diary to see when it happened, but somewhere in the summer or fall of 1992, there was a meteor shower that was supposed to be extra special and the weathermen were telling everyone to get out of town and see it where you could find a dark night sky. We lived in the suburbs of Dallas (Richardson for him and Carrollton for me) and there was light pollution wherever we looked. We drove out of town to find some dark sky and Mark said, “I have an idea of where to go, but I don’t know how you’ll feel about it.” Why? What could be wrong? “It’s a cemetery up on a hill.” BINGO! A guy that didn’t even shy away from going to a cemetery at night.

We headed north of town to the Zion Cemetery up on top of a very lonely hill miles from city. We crept up a very dark rutted dirt road to the top of the hill to this very old cemetery…. and found a dozen or more cars already up there. We weren’t the only ones with this idea. But it was dark and there were meteors and it was a great night, stretched across the hood of my car, talking and watching the sky.

Later, my parents moved where that cemetery was on our route to their house and we stopped there and took bluebonnet pictures. Now, I would hate to see it. I think all the suburb towns have invaded from every side.

I found this picture online and most of development seems to still be across the road at least. But I bet the night sky isn’t as dark as it was.


Holidailies 2013 Badge

November 17, 2013

A Little More Hallford

Filed under: Cemeteries,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 9:01 pm

I have thought of about a dozen things I want to write about and I want to write more often, but then I get caught up in something…

But I found this tonight that adds to the story of Sallie Hallford, who I wrote about before and finding her grave in Corpus Christi.

Most of my family of that era lived in Newburg, Texas. This grandmother Hallford was living with her son John there in the 1900 census. There is a church there, the South Leon Baptist Church, that was the church home of many of my ancestors and is still active in the sense that it exists. I believe less than 10 people attend the church each Sunday, but it is there, right by the cemetery. I found a short history of that church that was written in 1972. It gives me a little more insight into this Grandma Hallford.

The history tells about a combination church and school building that once existed (not the current building, but one near where the cemetery gate is now). Octavia Cunningham (the woman—yes, a cousin—that wrote the history) wrote:

“The men occupied the slatted pine pews in the south side of the building, the women sat on the north side and the young people, especially the young ladies with their beaus, occupied the center tier of pews. The pulpit was in the west end of the building. Near the north side of the pulpit sat Grandma Hallford (mother of J.H. Hallford) in her rawhide bottomed chair. She had to sit near the pulpit so she could hear the sermon. She was a great favorite in the community and her neighbors were always glad for her to come visit for a few days.”  

I like that. She sounds like a likeable person. Here’s one more picture of her grave and me with her. See the family resemblance?


I’ve also found her daughter’s grave in the Old Bay City Cemetery in Corpus Christi, but I hadn’t found it before we were there so we didn’t go to see it. It is a very impressive stone and has the fact that she was born in Missouri and points out more that she was a pioneer. She died only a few years after her mother.

November 3, 2013

Sally’s Corpus Christi Grave

Filed under: Cemeteries,Genealogy,Travel — Janice @ 10:32 pm

Mark and I went to Port Aransas for a very quick trip this weekend. He played a gig there for the Outdoor Dream Foundation with Tommy Alverson. Mark played with Tommy 20 years ago when we were newlyweds and this was the same four members of the band he played with then, so it was a very fun reunion for the guys. The band wives didn’t have the same kind of reunion because I was the only band wife that has stayed the same over the past 20 years. But I very much like the two band wives that were there, so it was a fun time for me, too.

The small portion of the trip I want to tell about right now, though, is about going to a cemetery (big groan from the audience—“Not again!”). Yes, we had to make a cemetery trip along with seeing the beach and friends and eating seafood.

I haven’t been to Corpus Christi or Port Aransas in a long while and in the meantime I have discovered that my great-great-great-grandmother was buried there. This is NOT a place I would have looked to find her grave since my family is centered in Central Texas. Her husband is buried in Dripping Springs, in Hays County, not all that far from our home. But he died in 1868 and she outlived him. I knew she was still alive in 1900 because she was living with her son’s family in Comanche at that time. But he died in 1902 so I could surmise that if she outlived her son she might go live with another child, but I just didn’t know much about the other children.

This trip makes me want to go back and do some more research on the Hallford family. I spent a LOT of time researching the Hallfords back in the days before I did research online. Now I can hardly remember how research was done before we did it online! Mainly what I did was write letters and people would send me good information and I compiled it. I wasn’t much of a good researcher then either. But I did write a book about our Hallford family just to give to the members of the Hallford family. That’s been 20 years and needs a good update with more of the information that is available in the world.

I had found the grave of “a” Sarah Hallford on findagrave.com at one time. The ages seemed right, but you still can’t be sure. But a summer or so ago I saw a book on Nueces County cemeteries and found just the bits of information I needed to prove that this Sarah Hallford was my g-g-g-grandmother. Of course, now I’m hunting to find what I DID with that information and I’m stumped, but I’ll come across it again.

So Sarah Hallford went to live with her youngest daughter Rebecca and her husband (and their name is the info I have misplaced). She is buried in the “New Bayview Cemetery” in Corpus Christi. I read up on it and found that the “Old Bayview Cemetery” has been protected and preserved because it is the oldest cemetery in Corpus. We found it first today. We didn’t get out to see it, but I did take this quick picture. It looked nice and cared for. The New Bayview Cemetery was established later in the 1800s and then it fell into disrepair and disuse and has not been kept up. Sadly, I also read that just this summer, most of the gravestones had been vandalized.


We found the cemetery easily. It is in a very poor, sketchy part of town. If I had been here on my own I might have snapped a picture from the car and driven on. Okay, maybe not that bad, but it wasn’t well kept. The cemetery is in two parts with a park in the middle. I don’t think that was the original plan and I’m not sure that the park wasn’t built on TOP of graves. But we found the further south section to begin with. There were very few graves visible and there were toppled gravestones, so this didn’t look good for finding her grave if there were no stones. We went on and checked out the more northern part of the cemetery and it looked much more like a cemetery should with lots of headstones… but they were almost all on the ground. It was the saddest sight. Sadder than the cemeteries I’ve been in where they have just been abandoned (well, like the cemetery where her husband is at in Dripping Springs, for instance). Huge headstones were laying everywhere and some were in pieces.

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We got out and started looking through the cemetery. There is a picture of her headstone on findagrave, so I had an idea of what it looked like. The picture appears to be black-and-white and it looked like her stone was gray and laying flat on the ground, but it was hard to tell because it had been tightly cropped. We walked in different directions and I took pictures of some of the other graves. I really didn’t think we would find it. Mark caught up with me to see if I had found anything and then he turned around and said, “There she is.”


Her stone was on the ground, not connected to the base, but it was face up so we could find her name. We took our pictures and then we put the headstone back on its base. At that point, though, we decided it was so top heavy and it wasn’t going to be firmly attached. If it got knocked over again it would probably fall face down and someone like us might never discover her. So we put it back the way we found it and will hope that vandals will leave it alone.

The cemetery is owned by the city and I think there are efforts to preserve it, but I know in tight times, money spent to memorialize someone long dead with no family is hard to come by.

Who she was:

This is just the short, off-the-top-of-my-head, version. I will go back and find all the details and make it a better history. But maybe this will help someone that is just Googling her name. Sarah Medlin Hallford was born in Bedford County, Tennessee, December 12, 1812. 201 years ago. 201! She went by the name Sally. Her husband, James Powel Hallford, was born in South Carolina. They married October 2, 1834, probably in Tennessee. They moved eventually to Moniteau County, Missouri, and both of their parents and families also moved.

In the last year of the Republic of Texas, Sally and her husband James, and her brothers and sisters and their spouses all moved to Texas as a group, by wagon train, of course. They were called The Missouri Colony and they settled near Lewisville and it was called Hallford (or Holford or Halford) Prairie. They also then settled near Southlake and Grapevine and were all charter members of the Lonesome Dove Baptist Church. I need to nail down the dates of all of these things. It’s all documented, I don’t have to dig it all up, at least.

Her oldest son, Andrew Jackson Hallford became a well-known preacher and is buried in the cemetery there at the Lonesome Dove Baptist church. He and his brother John Harrison Hallford (my great-great-grandfather) enlisted together in the Civil War.

Sally and her husband James and their children’s families and at least her brother and his family all moved to Hays County in the 1860s. They were charter members of the Friendship Baptist Church there and it, like Lonesome Dove, still exists.

Her husband died in 1868 at the age of 56. I don’t know from that point when the family moved to Comanche County. Well, at least my part of the family did. And, like I said, she was living with that family during the 1900 census. I would assume she may have moved from child to child. That was how it was done a lot in those days. But her son, John Harrison Hallford, went to Greer County, Oklahoma, to help with the cotton crop and died while he was there. I’ve always said he went to help his son with the cotton crop, but now I see that his son had already died. But that would have left his two sons to be only in their twenties so maybe they needed help from their grandfather because of that. I don’t know details, but I know he died in Blair, Oklahoma, and was buried there. That left Sally with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Comanche so at some point I can only assume she went to live with her youngest child, Rebecca, and her husband in Corpus Christi.

You’d think I wouldn’t have a photo of anyone that was born 201 years ago and died over 100 years ago, but, amazingly, I do have a photo. I was lucky enough to meet a cousin that was researching the family and she gave me a copy of this amazing photograph of my great-great-grandparents and his mother Sarah Medlin Hallford. The photo was made in Laredo and at one point I had a theory of why they were in Laredo. Now, of course, I can’t find the info I drew this theory from. But I believe that the wife (Mary Jane Leonard Hallford) had a brother Levi in Laredo so they must have gone to visit him. But, despite the short fat gray-headed woman looking like the oldest, she is the wife of the man, John Harrison Hallford, and the woman on the left is Sally Hallford, buried in Corpus Christi, Texas.


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