Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cemetery Research: Preserving a legacy

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If you'd like to know what Terry Grumbles is doing when it comes to family
history, ask him, and he'll tell you about the 1/4 acre family cemetery he
discovered is located in the middle of shopping district in City of Sunset
Valley, Travis County, Texas. It is the final resting place of Eliza J. Grumbles, who married the
brother of Terry's 3rd great-grandfather. It seems the next few months will be
spent cleaning up the cemetery -- no easy task.

The chain link fence shown in the background on the
photo at the right was put up by the developer to protect the cemetery
from the construction going on around it. Before that the old iron picket fence
in the foreground was used to keep the Texas cattle and sheep out of the place.

The tombstone is Eliza J. Grumbles. Here is a close up of
Terry kneeling over his ancestor's gravestone. Terry & his grandson Michael
Torrez had to remove quite a few briars to get the photos for this column. I
asked Terry to take some additional shots for this column, and to tell me a little more
about his day at the cemetery.

Terry writes: "Sunset Valley is not a
real city, other than they have city limits to protect their neighborhood,
and they do that well and beautifully. A few years, ago, they even imported
people for a new section in the middle of the city from the richest part
of West Austin. It is so small there is no daily newspaper or library.

This Sunset Valley area has LOTS of green
space. So much so that if you use GoogleEarth you can see the subdivision
installed in the middle of it, a few years ago. There is a 50 Year
Anniversary (1954-2004) article in Sunset Valley's informal history book. This
book can be purchased from the Public Works Department in Sunset Valley, Texas
78745. [...]

It is still very much still a country setting there. Very nice place, with open
spaces. The city office is beside Lone Oak Trail. Lone Oak, bull, there are so
many substantial trees there. Actually, the lone Oak for which it was named
stood at the end of the road, but fell from Oak wilt rot, probably. It lay by
the side of the road for years. That
was Fowler Road for a long time. Not to be confused with the Fowlers in the
Grumbles family. I saw a picture of Marie Fowler's horse, which I used to ride
out to William Cannon area, still was way out from Austin at that time.

John D Grumbles is a cousin, but like so many
people, I just fell in love with Capt John J Grumbles son's family plot. I guess
too, it is like an oasis, eh? Capt. John J was a Texas Ranger in the '50's....
1850's that is. He also owned everything south of The Colorado River at one
time, out to south of Sunset Valley, bound by Williamson Creek, which runs
through Sunset Valley.

I also was going to get some photos of a bunch
of deer feeding, and I mean a bunch... but the sun was wrong. We were looking
at where the 1882 railroad ran down to the creek and the abutment on the other
side of the creek, then we saw the deer grazing. (Gahhhhleeee, another train is
going ...creeping.. by already). We were facing straight into the sun, so no go
on that one. When they ripped up the rail in Sunset Valley about 1888, some of the
roadway became a popular dirt (gravel?) road to the picnic area on the creek,
across from and west of the limestone cliffs.

John D. Grumbles' dad was an uncle of mine.
My ancestor, Jesse Grumbles, was Capt John J's "brother" in Travis County. I
think that makes John D a first cousin. I mention how people love this cemetery
-- makes me wonder if those on the other side still notice when visitors arrive.
These are a loving people buried there. There is another cemetery that I am
working on that Michael and I have studied. Michael was standing on a set of
stones that represented the porch in front of a school/church way out in the
country. Suddenly Michael started acting weird.. What's the matter. "I have a
strange feeling. People are watching me." Bad vibes. I told my daughter,
Jennifer, (whose birthday is today), later about our going over there. Jennifer
said that when she goes to the playground there, she gets a spooky feeling.

to this cemetery -- We want so much to honor John D Grumbles, b 1833, by
renaming his family cemetery to be Grumbles Cemetery. It is presently known on
the records of the county as "Fowler Family Cemetery."

Within the confines of Sunset Valley, it is
nestled on 1/4 acre amongst a big shopping center, including Home Depot and
Office Max, on Brodie Lane in South Austin, Texas. It is so begging to be
converted from a forest to a park, matching the others in Sunset Valley. Sunset
Valley still loves beauty in landscaping, and the other City projects show it.

There are about 6 Grumbles members buried there, amongst them are two family friends, the Carpenters. There is possibly another kin buried in the Grumbles Cemetery, but yet to be proven: Mr. Lafayette Benedict (Buddy) Best, a son-in-law of Capt. John J. (which makes him John D.'s brother-in-law). He
was married into the family of the Plumleys, intertwined in the Grumbles family. Across Fredericksburg highway from the Grumbles Cemetery, the Plumley family also had a large ranch there.
Lafayette died in March 1888, but no record of his burial site has been located. This could be the spot, since the cemetery was an active burial ground at that time.

Things were so overgrown, that my grandson, Michael, and I clear a trail back to the main part of the cemetery. Here is a
picture of Michael as we first "uncovered" Eliza's tombstone. It tells us that Eliza J
Grumbles lies amongst the grand oak tree there.

One of the first things we want to do is put a granite marker in the plot, showing who has been laid to rest amongst these shady trees. That granite marker we propose is shown below.

While we have found Eliza J. Grumbles' tombstone, and based on first hand notes from his descendents, it is believed that John D Grumbles lies beside her, along with a grandson, baby Chester Allen Grumbles.

Click on these
thumbnail to view a larger version of each photo.

Picture #1: This is the view from
Brodie Lane facing the
hidden cemetery. A Home Depot was built in front of the cemetery as part of
strip mall.

Picture #2: This is the view from the loading dock at the
now vacant Home Depot, facing the trees of the heavily wooded cemetery.

Picture #3: Walking closer to the cemetery with Home
Depot now not showing because it is behind us.

Picture #4: This is
the corner with the huge oak tree, where we found Eliza’s marker.

Picture #5:

Michael entering the cemetery. Terry writes "When I was taking a picture at Michael on the fence, with Home Depot in the
background, I started getting a fog ... mist on the screen as I watched it
develop. Once or twice near the end from inside the gravesite of Eliza J
Grumbles. I left a little fog on the one coming from the oak tree. I made a
comment to Michael about it."

Picture #6: Looking in
from outside, at corner of cemetery. Michael has made his way to other side
of Eliza's iron picket fence.

Picture #7: Terry's
grandson Michael took this picture of him outside the tiny family cemetery.
The limbs of the oak tree at Eliza’s grave marker, hang over his head.

Picture #8: Michael
has made his way around to the iron picket fence in the corner of Fowler
(hopefully to be renamed Grumbles) Cemetery in Sunset Valley.

Picture #9: Tombstone of Eliza J.

Picture #10: LC
Carpenter's tombstone. According to tax records, the Carpenters were
neighbors out on the ranch.

Picture #11: details of tombstone
inscription, which reads:

L. C. Carpenter


Sept 17, 1831


Aug 25, 1902.

Picture: #12: The little cemetery
stands de-annexed by Sunset Valley, on the left, middle of this map. You can
go to Google Earth and see the forest behind Home Depot. It is just begging
to be cared for. If only we could learn who has the deed, we could go in
there full force. Sunset Valley tells us we can be re-annexed under those

The RED CIRCLE marks the spot.

GoogleEarth View:

Longitude: 30.229612

Latitude: -97.822975

And so, DearREADERS, let us hope that Terry
Grumbles and his grandson succeed to clearing the 1/4 acre cemetery. Perhaps
there will be more tombstones to uncover. What a wonderful project to preserve
this little part of his family history.

Happy family tree climbing!

Myrt :)


6023 26th Street West PMB 352

Bradenton, FL 34207

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