If “These Stones” could talk…

These Stones‘… being Tombstones, that is.   Located in the historic, Old City Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas… the starting point of many of the ‘Cattle Trails‘ used by Texas Ranchers to get their steers to the Kansas Rail Heads during the 1860’s – 1880’s.   Legendary ‘Cowtowns‘ like Abilene, Wichita, and Dodge City were the drover’s destination with Cemetery’s like Dodge City’s ‘Boot Hill‘ becoming famous.  But what brought us to the ‘stones’ in this cemetery… is a 1985 ‘Trail Tale’ with a strong factual background in history.

Lonesome Dove“, the famous 1985 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Larry McMurtry,  was about two Texas Rangers… a cattle drive… and the American West.   Author McMurtry borrowed extensively from the true story of two Texas Cattlemen – Charles Goodnight & Oliver Loving.   Alice (my Texan wife) and I came here to find Oliver Loving’s burial site… and marvel at how he came to be buried here.

We readily found Mr. Loving’s grave (below).  Note the coins left on the monument bases… A common occurrence for many markers in this cemetery.   Reasons given for this custom vary… but generally it is believed to be a mark of respect by visitors.

Burial site of Oliver Loving.

Burial site of Oliver Loving, early Texas Cattleman, co-founder of the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail, and model for “Augustus McRae” in Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” novel of the American West.   Click on image to enlarge for a better view.   Mr. Loving’s wife, Susan Doggett Morgan Loving, is buried on the left.

In memory of Oliver Loving, Died Sept. 25, 1867, Aged 55 y's, 9 m's, 20 d's

“In memory of Oliver Loving, Died Sept. 25, 1867, Aged 55y’s, 9m’s, 20d’s”

"Citizen of the Republic of Texas" ... 1836 1846.

Marker denoting “Citizen of the Republic of Texas“… 1836∗1846

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  “Republic of Texas” refers to the Nation of Texas… as it existed for 10 years after winning its War for Independence from Mexico by defeating Gen. Santa Anna in the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto. On December 29, 1845, Texas was annexed into the Union as the 28th State.

The Oliver Loving Historical Marker describes the true story that was borrowed by Larry McMurtry in Lonesome Dove.   In the book, ‘Gus McRae’ (Oliver Loving) scouts ahead, is shot by Indians, and eventually dies from gangrene – and his partner ‘Woodrow F. Call’ (Charles Goodnight) promises to bury Gus back in Texas… and does.   Here is the actual story as described on the Historical Marker… story wording is highlighted:

THE DEAN OF TEXAS TRAIL DRIVERS
OLIVER LOVING
(1812 – 1867)
FOUNDER OF THREE MAJOR CATTLE
TRAILS, OLIVER LOVING CAME FROM
KENTUCKY TO TEXAS IN 1845 AND TO
PARKER COUNTY ABOUT 1855. DURING
THE CIVIL WAR (1861-1865) HE SUPPLIED
BEEF TO CONFEDERATE FORCES. WITH
CHARLES GOODNIGHT AS PARTNER ON
A DRIVE TO NEW MEXICO, LOVING
SCOUTED AHEAD OF THE CATTLE, WAS
BADLY WOUNDED BY INDIANS, LAY FIVE
DAYS WITHOUT FOOD BEFORE HIS
RESCUE, AND DIED OF GANGRENE ON
SEPT 25, 1867. HIS DYING WISH WAS
FULFILLED WHEN HIS SON JOSEPH
JOINED GOODNIGHT TO BRING THE
BODY 600 MILES BY WAGON FOR
BURIAL IN THIS COUNTY.
RECORDED – 1977
Oliver Loving Historical Marker

There is more.   In McMurtry’s story, another echo from History is ‘Joshua Deets‘, a long time trusted partner from Gus & Call’s Ranger days, and a Black man.   ‘Deets‘ was in real life an emancipated slave named Bose Ikard, that did serve with Goodnight & Loving, and is buried in Greenwood cemetery not far from Oliver Loving:    Read the base marker.

Monument to early Black Cowboy, Bose Ikard.

Monument to early Black Cowboy, Bose Ikard, 1859 – 1928. (Other sources show Mr. Ikard being born in 1843) Click on picture to see a readable close-up of the Historical Marker.   Also… Note the granite base marker that was provided by Charles Goodnight upon the passing of Mr. Ikard… it reads:

Served with me four years on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, never shirked a duty or disobeyed an order, rode with me in many stampedes, participated in three engagements with Comanches.  Splendid behavior.”                                                                                                     C. Goodnight

 

This Testament By Charles Goodnight to Bose Ikard… is one of the most moving & stirring tributes of one man to another that I have ever read.   What great men these were!

 As Alice and I continued our cemetery walk, other ‘stones’ begin to speak up…

We saw many graves of small children… This picture shows two sibling infants that died, the 1st year… first child… then the 2nd year, the other.   Life was hard on the Texas Frontier.

Two small Tombstones... Baker Family plot.

Two small Tombstones… Baker Family plot.
Cullum Clark, 1916… Our Baby, 1917.

This next stone speaks of Confederate soldier… William O Harrison, and tells us that he first served in the infantry, then joined Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 7th Alabama Cavalry.   Riding beats walking.

Pvt. William O Harrison, Co C, 11th Alabama Infantry, CSA.

Pvt. William O Harrison, Co C, 11th Alabama Infantry, CSA.
7th Alabama Cavalry, N B Forrest Calv

And then this stone… Horace Baker, born in The Republic of Texas… served with the yankee 8th Wisconsin Infantry… and then was buried in this Deep South cemetery.   What did his friends & family think…when in 1861 he went North and joined the Union Army?   And then after the war came back to a defeated South?   Wish this stone could talk louder…
Update:   A reader found ancestor information on Mr. Baker.   His father died before Horace was 12 years old… and in 1855 his Mother moved the family from Texas to Wisconsin… where Horace enlisted in his Wisconsin Unit in October, 1861.   In 1880, 15 years after the War had ended, Horace returned ‘back to his beloved Texas’.

Horace Baker, Co K,. 8th Wisconsin Infantry

Horace Baker, Co K,. 8th Wisconsin Infantry, Civil War.
Born in Republic of Texas.

Similar thoughts for Tennessean Isaac Curtis, served in the yankee 11th Illinois Cavalry, yet buried in the South.   How was he accepted by his Southern friends & neighbors?   His epitaph indicates that he was a popular local Fiddler…   He must have played well!

Isaac Robert Curtis, Co F, 11th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry.

Isaac Robert Curtis, Co F, 11th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry. This unit fought at the Battle of Shiloh, Tenn., April 6-7, 1862.   “Beloved Tennessee Fiddler Known Locally as ‘ Ike Bob’ “

This next stone is for Samuel Joseph Redgate, early Texas pioneer, and one of only a few Texas State legislators that voted against Secession in 1861.   His only wife had been widowed previously… In that marriage, she and her two sons had been kidnapped by local Indians, taken to Oklahoma, where she gave birth to a daughter… and then subsequently ransomed and returned with her baby, but the two sons were kept & raised by the Indians.

Tombstone of Samuel Joseph Redgate.

Tombstone of Samuel Joseph Redgate, who had the distinction of being the last survivor of the “Original 300” pioneers of Stephen F. Austin’s 1828 colony in Texas. His wife, Mary Yergins-Redgate, is memorialized on the monument, but buried in Dayton, OH.

This next stone talks of Civil War Hero, Sgt. Chester B Bowen, Medal of Honor, Co I, 19th New York Cavalry, that settled here after the war… Another yankee in the Deep South.

Tomb of Sgt. Chester B Bowen, Medal of Honor, Co I, 19th New York Cavalry.

Tomb of Sgt. Chester B Bowen, Medal of Honor, Co I, 19th New York Cavalry.

This next stone for Edward R. Fawks, Co D, Missouri Inf., CSA, is unique in that it has an American flag and a Confederate Battle Flag displayed.   Must have descendents close by.

Edward R. Fawks, 1835 - 1916, Co D, Missouri Inf., CSA

Edward R. Fawks, 1835 – 1916, Co D, Missouri Inf., CSA. This resting place… is decorated with an American flag, and the Confederate Battle Flag.

And the last stone that calls to us… Cavalry Lieutenant James Wilson Hale, a designated ‘Son of the Texas Republic’… That means a lot down here.

James Wilson Hale... Son of the Texas Republic.   Co B, Texas Cavalry, CSA.

James Wilson Hale… Son of the Texas Republic. Co B, Texas Cavalry, CSA.

This wrapped up our visit to this pleasant & historical Cemetery.   Every stone had its story… and we can only wonder at the details from the few hints available.   Texas is full of history and the people of these stones were part of it.   If they ever look down… I think they’d be proud of what they brought about.   Its quite a State.  

In another later trip, we will look for the Grave site of Charles Goodnight – located near Amarillo, Texas, I believe.   He was a big part of the Texas story… a Texas Ranger, Indian fighter, and Rancher.   And we also learned after our trip here that Mary Martin of ‘Peter Pan’ acting fame is buried in this same cemetery.   A return trip may be in the offing!

Thanks for reading our post.   We hope you enjoyed it.   If you are so inclined, we’d appreciate hearing any of your thoughts, comments, or questions…

 Jim & Alice… the ‘Tex Gal’    

15 thoughts on “If “These Stones” could talk…

  1. Time for the 14th Talking Tombstones Tour

    Old City Greenwood Cemetery 300 Front St. Weatherford, Texas
    Theme: COD Causes of Death
    First tour 1:00 p.m. Last tour 3:00 p.m. Tours every 15 minutes
    Tickets sold at the front gate the day of the event.
    Personalities share how they met their demises.
    Meet a young man whose life “flue” by in a flash, a young lad who
    misses his train, a contractor who attempts to avoid having a
    bridge installed and so on.
    Come and enjoy a stroll through an historical outdoor museum. Hope to see you there.

  2. Come enjoy the Talking Tombstones Tour in the cemetery next October 15. The 2016 tour will highlight the western heritage of the area. Costumed actors share the life stories of former citizens of the “Silent City.”

    • Thank You for the invite! As it will probably turn out, my wife and I will be in the area for several weeks… and most definitely put this Tour on our Calendar.

      See you in October!
      Jim

  3. Hi Bob. Yea, I recall you mentioning that your daughter had gone to San Antonio. We’ve spent a little time there… it is a pretty place, especially the Riverwalk area. And for any Texan (Alice) the Alamo is a must! Hope all is well with you and Paula back in Tennessee. We will be heading back to Michigan for the Holidays… snow, cold, ice… We’ll be glad to get to get to Arizona in January.

    If you get to Michigan during December, give me a shout. I could drive down to where you are, and we could have lunch.
    Jim

    • Hi Dennis. Good to hear from you. We are going to be in Yuma, AZ about the time of the Gem show. Good possibility that we will go over for a couple of days. We will give you a call for sure… that Supper a couple of years ago was great! Also,, we are heading back to Michigan this December… How about a coffee at Mr. Burger or something like that?
      Jim

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Donna. It is worth a visit. We hope to do some more time around there next year… I recently read a book on the Butterfield Overland Mail stage… and It references a lot of local places that the author was able to find. If he can find them, then we can too!
      Jim

  4. As Ulysses Grant described in his memoirs, the travel that Union soldiers endured during the war gave many the drive to travel far and wide from their homes after the war ended.

  5. Thanks for the travel log and history update. Being our daughter is now in Texas (San Antonio) we have a increased awareness about things in Texas. Mainly how big the state is. Thanks for sharing.
    Bob & Paula

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