Things are moving now

After about three years of research, brick walls, talking with folks, more brick walls, site surveys, more brick walls, et cetera, it seems I am finally going to get something done with Conroe Community Cemetery.

I spoke with Tom McNutt of McNutt Funeral Home about the Conroe Memorial Cemetery (across the street from the McNutt Funeral Home), conversation moved to Conroe Community Cemetery. He stated he is aware of the cemetery and that he had cleaned it up many years prior. I discussed the historical significance of the cemetery and he agreed that something should be done. He said if I was able to get folks to help clean it up to restore it, he would help out as well with some of his equipment.

Well, that got the flame under my arse a bit warmer. I did some further research and decided to speak with the City of Conroe Administrator’s Office to see if the city would take possession of the cemetery in accordance with the Texas Health and Safety Code 713.009. I spoke with a lovely woman who admitted she had no idea how I would even get started on petitioning the city to do such, however she did give me the name and phone number for Larry Foerster, the chairman for the Montgomery County Historical Commission whom I did contact.

I contacted Mr. Foerster and he appeared excited about the prospects of getting the cemetery restored. He admitted he did not know much of the history of the cemetery so I filled him in on a little of it. Again, he appeared excited, even saying they may have some funds available to have a fence put up around the cemetery.

Shortly after I ended my call with him I received an email from him in which I was CC’d along with many of the church leaders in the area and other folks. In his email he said:

“I am approaching  various black and white church leaders in Conroe with the hope that this winter a collective group of black and white church members can join together in clearing the underbrush and restoring the tombstones.  I believe that funds can be found to actually place a chain link fence around the property to further protect these monuments.”

I guess sometimes connections do matter, especially in this case.

I am meeting Mr. Foerster at the Conroe Community Cemetery to discuss its history and possible future this Saturday. I am hopeful that things will continue moving forward as quickly as the past two weeks.

New Addition (and not the band)

In May of this year My Lovely Bride gifted me with a beautiful son. He was named Owen Thomas after his great, great grandfather. Now I have someone to educate in history, family history, and just plain bother.

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 https://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.