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The Tombstone/Grave Marker Thread

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  • 2 weeks later...

This pretty much blew me away. Holly Tatnell's grave lies in the middle of a street in Hearne, Texas. It is all that's left of what was once a cemetery for African Americans. Those houses are built on an old burial ground, a reminder that history is everywhere around us, including right under our feet.

The historical marker reads like this:

Colored Graveyard in the Old Town of Hearne

"This cemetery, now represented by a single grave, was a burial site for African American residents of the area. According to folklore, it originated as a farm or slave cemetery. The earliest known burial here dated in 1879, and residents used the graveyard 1912. In 1947, developers purchased this property, descendants of the interred were forced to move and rebury relatives. However, the children of Hollie Tatnell (d.1911) , a former slave, refused to reinter their mother, forcing developers to build around her grave. Today, this single grave serves as a reminder of the area's early African-American community and of the sanctity of burial grounds. (2007) (Marker No. 14329)"

You can read an article about the grave here:


A tip of the Stetson to TOT reader Libby Samford for sending this in. I had no idea that it exists but now that I know I am going to have to go and look at it.


Holly Tatnel's Grave in Hearne Texas.jpg

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This is the grave of Eva Speed Donohoo. As you can see, she was killed by a circus elephant. The elephant's name was "Black Diamond" and it happened on the streets of Coriscana in 1929. What a way to go, huh? She woke up that morning and little did she imagine that she'd be killed by an elephant on a city street. Black Diamond was subsequently put down. His skull and skin were preserved by a man who was there as a young boy that day. They were on display in Corsicana for a long time. You can see them and read about that here:


RIP Eva Speed Donohoo.

Eva Speed Donohoo grave.jpg

Eva Speed Donohoo obituary.jpg

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This small abandoned cemetery is located where North Fork and Donohoe Creek converge--in Williamson County (Lat: 30°49'28.72"N, Long: 97°32'31.79"W)--approximately 2 miles west of Schwertner, in a pasture.  The cemetery was documented in a transcription done in 1974 by the Williamson County Genealogical Commission.  At the time of the transcription, the cemetery was called Harrison Cemetery.  In 1892, the cemetery was called "Anderson Graveyard,"  according to an affadavit from a relative my ancestor.  Currently it is listed as the Donaho Cemetery on Find-A-Grave.  

It took us 5 years to find our ancestor here after finding the cemetery in 2008.  In June 2013, a mother, daughter, aunt, and cousin team finally located "A. STARR," We had the help of Gene Fojtik, who managed the property where the cemetery was located.  He told us that he had noted the headstone as a child walking the pasture with his father.  It had been knocked askew and he had picked it up and leaned it up behind a tree--a fair distance from the other headstones and facing the opposite direction.  He told us that Alexander's headstone was the only name in the cemetery that he could remember because he had noted that he had been a Confederate soldier.

Moravian Church records found in North Carolina revealed that his given name was Paliman Alexander Stohr.  He was born in 1843 to an unwed mother from the Moravian Church.  He was illiterate and didn't seem to know how old he was.  He was much younger than his headstone says--possibly because he didn't know exactly how old he was as he was raised by several families over the years and likely lived a very hard life.  Or possibly because of the vanity of his wife:  His headstone said he was 6 years older than she was--60 years old vs her 54 years.  In reality he was 5 years younger than she was.

It also turns out that A. Starr was not only a Confederate Soldier, but also a U.S. Army soldier after the Civil War ended.

To date, this has been the most interesting, time consuming "find" I've experienced as an amateur sleuth/genealogist.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Donaho Cemetery is under active restoration by the Williamson County Historical Commission Cemetery Restoration Volunteers. A Texas Historical Cemetery Designation is in process which will protect the cemetery from any future development or destruction.  Here's a bit of its history: 

Donaho Cemetery, which has also been called Anderson Cemetery, Harrison Cemetery, Donahoe and Donahue Cemetery, lies on a parcel of land between the north and south forks of Donahoe Creek in Williamson County.  (There is a Donahoe Cemetery about 17 miles away in Bell County, near Bartlett.)

J. Hampton Kuykendall was granted by the state of Texas 320 acres in what is now Williamson County 10/8/1847, described as Section 17, Abstract 376.  The land was divided in half and sold.  One of the subsequent owners was named Absalom Anderson, so the cemetery is sometimes referred to by that name.  The east portion containing the cemetery was sold several times until,  on 9/12/1893 PR Trayler sold for $5 “two acres more or less” of the land for the purpose of a cemetery in perpetuity to E.M. White, W.D. Harrison, and Joe Roe.

The first burial was Jane Anderson in 1863. The three burials after Jane Anderson were Harrisons, which is likely the reason the cemetery was called Harrison Cemetery at one time.  The most recent burial was Mary Ann Thomas Bowen in 1910. There are familial connections between many of the people buried in the cemetery, including the Harrisons, Traylors, Bowens, and Andersons.

There are 6 Confederate veterans buried in the cemetery:  Andrew Jackson Anderson; John M. Anderson (who died of typhoid in a Civil War hospital in Columbus TX; Jefferson Monroe Anderson; Andrew Jackson Harrison; Jonathan Harrison; and (Paliman) Alexander Starr (wounded at Chancellorsville).

24 out of 38 graves are children under 10 years old.

Although the deed referenced above describes a two acre plot of land, the current perimeter of the cemetery is about 100’ by 300’ or .69 acres.  There is no evidence of any burials outside of that area.  There is no fence around the cemetery, but there are remnants of posts at various points that indicate there may have once been some type of fence around the burial area.

Attached is a deed mentioning the cemetery.  Also below is one photo from 2018 showing the sorry state of the cemetery then. The CRV volunteers have cleared the entire cemetery of brush and weeds, and continue to maintain it throughout the year.  We have also repaired monument and leveled monuments where needed.  The England monument was found in pieces scattered on the ground and it was painstaking work to find them and fit them together once more.  My personal favorites are the monuments for Doll Baby Spruill and the one for Gertrude and Grace. 

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I took these photos in Glenwood Cemetery in Crockett last week. The inscription is great, and the Find-a-Grave page for this stone says:

“Isaac Peacock died as a result of an incident with James Madison Hall. The Crockett Argus has the following concerning the killing of Peacock by Hall, in that town the other day: --
The material facts, and such as may be stated without prejudice to any one, are, that Mr. Isaac Peacock, an enterprising, industrious and much esteemed gentleman of this town, one who had long been on the most intimate and friendly terms with Maj. Hall, the proprietor and publisher of this paper, had inconsiderately interfered in a domestic matter, and in a manner to exasperate the feelings of that gentleman, already wrought up to a very high tension. The interference consisted in aiding a much beloved child to carry out an act of insubordination and to place herself in opposition to the wishes of her parent. We accord to the memory of Mr. Peacock the justice of believing that he did not think he was transgressing the bounds of friendship, and that he thought Maj. Hall unreasonable and prejudiced in his opposition to the marriage which he assisted in bringing about. This marriage had taken place in a clandestine manner, on the morning of Tuesday of last week. Immediately after supper that afternoon, Maj. Hall was standing, in conversation with another gentleman, on the gallery of Hall's hotel, when Mr. Peacock drew near, and, apparently under the impression that a remark had been addressed to him, began to participate. Maj. Hall applied some abusive epithet to him, and bade him begone. Mr. Peacock replied, not violently nor in denunciatory terms, but denying the right of any one to drive him away. A very few words, and an almost inappreciable short space of time sufficed to bring the parties into collision, in the course of which Mr. Peacock received the stab of which he died on Friday night succeeding.

We would "nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice;" but believing that no controversy can arise as to the material facts, so much may be said without prejudice to truth, or to the interests of any one. We cannot, therefore, expect them to accompany us into a full contemplation of the processes through which the mind of a gentleman of education, liberal fortune, enlarged views, and essentially philanthropic purposes, such as characterize Maj. Hall in a high degree, must have passed, before he could be induced to deal a fatal stab to one of his long tried and most intimate friends. Our intimate knowledge of the facts of the case, enables us to say in the most positive manner, that the act which caused Mr. Peacock's death, was not of a moment's premeditation. The instrument with which the fatal stab was inflicted was a pocket knife, the blade of which was about three inches long. Whether Maj. Hall had it in his hand at the commencement of the difficulty, as some suppose, or found time to draw it in the course of the brief struggle, is not known, and the darkness was such as not to enable those who stood nearest speak positively.

We have only further to say, for the information of Major Hall's numerous friends and acquaintances, that he is at present a fugitive, wandering, we know not where. We know enough of the character and disposition of the man, to satisfy us that he is as an unhappy as his most inveterate enemy could desire; and that, whatever may be the future course of events, the balance of his life will be one of continued scene of suffering.”




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Near the Walls Unit prison is a graveyard where prisoners, whose bodies were not claimed by family, were--and still are--buried. The cemetery was once known around the area as Peckerwood Hill but now it is called the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery.  Executed serial killers Henry Lee Lucas and Kenneth McDuff are buried here along with over 1000 others. In the mid-1960s assistant prison warden Joe Byrd and a crew of prisoners started to clean up the overgrown cemetery.  Some gravesites were originally marked with wooden crosses that had rotted away, and the names of those buried there were not recorded until the 1970s.  Some graves are unmarked. Other, more recent graves are marked only with a prisoner number and date while some are marked with the names of those interred there.  There are both cement crosses and tablets, and most grave markers look as if they were hand made, possibly at the prison itself.  

From 1951 to 1986 the Walls Unit was the site of the Texas Prison Rodeo.  In addition to the rodeo events featuring prisoners, there was music and entertainment for public enjoyment.  One prominent gravestone is that of Lee Smith, who was a famous prison rodeo cowboy. The Houston Chronicle says Smith was killed while trying to steal another prisoner's commissary goods. https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Prison-system-s-cemetery-a-place-of-historical-1917583.php

I took these photos at the cemetery on February 16, 2023.







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