Conroe Community Cemetery

There is a cemetery in the middle of Conroe, Texas, that nobody seems to care about or even know about. The plat map at the appraisal district just shows a black space where this cemetery is. Hundreds of people drive by it on a daily basis and have no idea it is there. The dead lie there in their sleep completely forgotten.

I hope to change that.

Conroe Community Cemetery is also known locally as the Unknown Name Cemetery. It is located on 10th Street in Conroe and butts up to the north side of Oakwood Cemetery, located at Highway 105 and 10th street. Conroe Community Cemetery is reportedly one of the oldest burial grounds for blacks in Montgomery County, Texas. (1)

Mr. Clarence Lewis of Clarence Lewis & Sons Mortuary is the direct descendant of Luther Dorsey (1878-1939) who purchased and donated the land for a cemetery. I spoke with Mr. Lewis in person on 5 September 2011. He said his aunt was still alive and he believed her to be the trustee for the cemetery. I brought up my desire to restore and reclaim the cemetery and while he said he was all for it, there would be problems with him or Clarence Lewis & Sons Mortuary being a part of it. He said if they tried to get it cleaned up and to make it a community project the other black funeral homes in Conroe would become upset thinking they are doing it in order to have more land to bury folks on. He also said nobody would donate the heavy equipment or the time to do the work.

I told him I was willing to take the lead and get it done, but he was very hesitant, saying he needed to talk to his aunt and would get back with me on it.

He has never called me back or returned my messages.

I have a need to have this cemetery cleaned up, restored, reclaimed, and to receive a Texas Historic Cemetery designation due to its history. Unfortunately part of this may include declaring the cemetery abandoned and lay claim to the land through a non-profit organization.

Things to do:

  • Encourage them to set up a non-profit cemetery association
  • Get location listed as a Texas Historical Cemetery
  • Get it listed as a Texas Historical Site
  • Apply for grants
  • Work on donations
  • Arrange cleanup through local churches and other organizations
  • Approach City of Conroe and Montgomery County about supporting and assisting in cleanup

If you are interested in helping out or if you have any ideas, please let me know.

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Sources:

(1) Jane Keppler. (15, July 2013). Conroe Community Cemetery, Montgomery County Texas, aka Unknown Name Cemetery. Retrieved from http://www.countygenweb.com/txmontgomery/oakwoodblack.htm

More Texas than the Mexicans ;-)

It has been a while since I posted, or even posted at all. Work and life in general has been too busy for this aspiring genealogist and taphophiliac.

My aunt and her has just published a book about their adventures in Afghanistan and with the federal government. The nae of the book is An Impossible Situation: A True Story Of Patriotism, Dedication & Retribution While Helping America Rebuild Afghanistan. She asked that I dig through my research and provide documentation that would allow her to become a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

While I have know, and have had certain proof of our link to the Republic of Texas, I wanted to develop and provide documentation furthering that proof. I finally have it all together now.

My aunt (and myself) are direct descendants of Jasper A Seargeant and and John C Burke through my great-grandfather William Andrew Russell.

William Andrew Russell’s (1891-1932) mother was Mary Alice Seargeant (1867-1936). Mary Alice Seargeant’s parents were Andrew Harrison Seargeant (1838-1906) and Irena R Burke (1841-abt 1882). Andrew Harrison Seargeant’s father was Jasper A Seargeant (unk-1839) and Irena R Burke’s father was John C Burke (abt 1800- abt 1847).

Jasper A Seargeant came to Texas in January 1831 and was listed in Stephen F Austin’s Register of Families, Volume 1, page 73, family 560. He is listed as coming from Alabama and being accompanied by his wife, Jane Maria, one son and two daughters. He was issued a land grant by the Mexican government on 20 May 1831 and again by the Republic of Texas on 3 February 1838. Jasper A Seargeant was shot in the head and killed by Mason Foley on 10 November 1839.

John C Burke was reportedly born in Virginia or North Carolina about 1800. He was given a land grant by the Mexican government on 1 September 1835. In this land grant it is noted that he had arrived in Cohuila y Texas in 1820. The arrival date of 1820 is also confirmed in an affidavit dated 29 August 1835.

The long and short of it, my family was here in Texas before Mexico was even a country.

Now that I have all the documents, except for my aunt’s birth certificate, which I know she will be able to handle herself, I am able to turn it all over to her so she can begin the process of joining the Daughters of the republic of Texas.

Been a while, sorry

Well, it has been a while since I have even looked at the blog. To be truthful, I actually forgot about it. But thanks to a wonderful contributor at FindAGrave I was reminded that it exists and I have been rather remiss in updates. Will see what I can add to help folks out or pass on genealogy news.

The Social Security Death Index is at Risk

It is time to get motivated and do something to not only protect a vital resource for genealogists, but also to help in PREVENTING identity theft.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a list of deceased individuals that is regularly updated and released through a subscription program with the federal government. The SSDI lists over 89 million people who have died along with their name, date of birth, date of death, social security number and last place of residence or benefits received. Access to this list is available at a large number of free and subscription web sites.

Now you may think that making this information available would result in a large amount of identity theft and fraud. The thing is this is list is used by credit agencies, banks, insurance agencies, medical professionals, governmental agencies and many other businesses to prevent fraud and identity theft. When someone supplies a name and social security number it is very easy to check that number against the SSDI to determine if the social security number belongs to someone who is deceased, thus preventing fraud and identity theft. The SSDI is also an invaluable aide to the amateur and professional genealogist.

It has probably come to your attention that bill H.R.3475, entitled Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011, has been introduced in House of Representatives by representative Sam Johnson of Texas and cosponsored by Representatives Rick Berg of North Dakota, Kevin Brady of Texas, Wally Herger of California, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Kenny Marchant of Texas, Aaron Schock of Illinois, and Patrick Tiberi of Ohio. This bill will effectively shut off access to the SSDI to the public, including genealogists. (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.3475:)

The reason cited for the bill is the identity theft of children who have died. The media and the government have focused on the SSDI as the cause of all this identity theft, a study by ID Analytics released on September 20, 2011, shows that of all the children’s identities stolen, over 500,000 of them have been by a parent, not because of the SSDI. Genealogist Megan Smolenyak went on a search for statistics showing the number of children whose identities were stolen because of the SSDI and was only able to find an article that listed 28 children overall. (http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111127/NEWS/111270337)

It can be reasonably assumed there are more than 28 children whose identities have been stolen because of the SSDI, but the number I obscenely less than the half million stolen by their own parents.

CyLab atCarnegieMellonUniversityreleased a study this year entitled “Child Identity Theft; New Evidence Indicates Identity Thieves Are Targeting Children For Unused Social Security Numbers.” This research study shows that 10.2% of children had their social security number stolen versus only 0.2% of adults. Out of all the stolen identities they discuss not a single one was from the SSDI. (http://cbsmiami.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/child-identity-theft.pdf)

Obviously the dead are not as good a resource as the media makes them out to be. The living, now that is an entirely different matter.

Almost daily there are news stories of people’s identities being sold or stolen through data breaches, lost or stolen computers, and even from our own government employees selling the information.

Obviously the number of identity thefts through the use of the SSDI pales in comparison to just these three stories.

What to do…

We need to contact our representatives in Congress and let them know we are against H.B. 3475. Let them know that they are looking in the wrong direction in regards to identity theft. The SSDI is an efficient tool against identity theft. The National Technical Information Service which releases the SSDI says it best on their website:

 The SSA Death Master File is used by leading government, financial, investigative, credit reporting organization, medical research and other industries to verify death as well as to prevent fraud and comply with the USA Patriot Act. (http://www.ntis.gov/products/ssa-dmf.aspx)

 Here is a list of the contact information for each of the sponsoring and cosponsoring representatives.

REPRESENTATIVE SAM JOHNSON (TX)

Washington DC Office
1211 Longworth Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-4201

Texas Office
2929 N. Central Expy, Ste240
Richardson, Texas 75080
(972) 470-0892

REPRESENTATIVE RICK BERG (ND)

Washington DC Office
323 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2611

Bismark Office
220 E Rosser Ave.
328 Federal Building
Bismarck, ND 58501
Phone: (701) 224-0355

Fargo Office
170 43rd Street S
Fargo, ND 58104
Phone: 701-235-9760

REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN BRADY (TX)

Washington DC Office
301 Cannon Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone:(202)225-4901
Fax:(202)225-5524

Conroe District Office
(Serving Montgomery County)
200 River Pointe, Suite 304
Conroe, Texas 77304
Phone:(936) 441-5700
Fax:(936) 441-5757

Huntsville District Office
(Serving Walker, San Jacinto, Trinity, Polk, and Liberty Counties)
1202 Sam Houston Avenue, Suite 8
Huntsville, Texas 77340
Phone: (936) 439-9532
Fax: (936) 439-9546

Orange District Office
(Serving Orange, Newton, Jasper, Tyler, and Hardin Counties)
420 Green Ave
Orange, Texas 77630
Phone: (409) 883-4197
Fax: (409) 883-6550

REPRESENTATIVE WALLY HERGER (CA)

Washington Office
242 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3076
Fax: (202) 226-0852

Chico Office
2595 Ceanothus Ave #182
Chico, CA 95973
Phone: (530) 893-8363
Fax: (530) 893-8619

Redding Office
280 Hemsted Drive, Suite 105
Redding, CA 96002
Phone: (530) 223-5898
Fax: (530) 223-5897

REPRESENTATIVE LYNN JENKINS (KS)

Washington DC Office
1122 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6601
Fax: (202) 225-7986

Pittsburg Office
1001 N. Broadway Street#C
Pittsburg, KS 66762
Phone: (620) 231-LYNN (5966)
Fax: (620) 231-5972

Topeka Office
3550 SW 5th Street
Topeka, KS 66606
Phone: (785) 234-LYNN (5966)
Fax: (785) 234-5967

REPRESENTATIVE KENNY MARCHANT (TX)

Washington DC Office
1110 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6605
Fax: (202) 225-007

Texas Office
9901 E. Valley Ranch Pkwy., Ste. 3035
Irving, TX 75063
Phone: (972) 556-0162
Toll Free: (866) 213-3803
Fax: (972) 409-9704

REPRESENTATIVE AARON SCHOCK (IL)

Washington DC Office
328 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6201
Fax: (202) 225-9249

Peoria District Office
100 N.E. Monroe, Room 100
Peoria, IL 61602
Phone: (309) 671-7027
Fax: (309) 671-7309

Springfield District Office
235 S. Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 670-1653
Fax: (217) 670-1806

Jacksonville District Office
209 West State Street
Jacksonville, IL 62650
Phone: (217) 245-1431
Fax: (217) 243-6852

REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK TIBERI (OH)

Washington DC Office
106 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5355
Fax: (202) 226-4523

Ohio Office
3000 Corporate Exchange Dr, Ste 310
Columbus, Ohio 43231
Phone: (614) 523-2555
Fax: (614) 818-0887