Every town has one, and every one of them is special…especially when it is your town and your cemetery, and especially when it is your town’s first cemetery. I don’t know what it is that makes it so special; I suppose it is simply because the first cemetery is the oldest cemetery and that, of course, means that the oldest graves lie there.
The community of Dublin is no different, and I was very excited to be invited to tour the cemetery with Patty Hirst, Stephanie Keith, and Cowboy Poet Tyler Guy and his sweetheart, Syliva Headrick.
It was a beautiful day, with just enough breeze to cause the ancient old trees to whisper to us as we entered under the arch containing the words “Old Dublin Memorial Park,” as the old cemetery was renamed in 1961. However, for just three years shy of a century, the cemetery was called simply Old Dublin Cemetery, and to me that was exactly what it was…old, peaceful, and beautiful…and I couldn’t help but wish that those lying there would suddenly decide to sit up and tell me something about themselves and the times in which they lived.
The oldest grave in the cemetery was placed in 1864 for Ellen Keith, daughter of J.H. Keith. Can you just imagine what the Keith family could tell us of the hardships of 1864? The Civil War still raged although, of course, the writing was more than on the wall by that time, and it was clear that the South had suffered about all that she could withstand.
In Texas with so many men either in the Confederacy or serving as rangers (not Texas Rangers), many of the women had simply loaded up and gone somewhere…anywhere that they would be safe from the constantly marauding Indians who took the men’s absence as an invitation to invade.
Of course, in retrospect this was a blessing for the state of Texas, a blessing that other southern states could not claim. You see, the women left their herds behind to fend for themselves and as the years passed, the cattle multipled and became likened to that upon a thousand hills.
When the men returned after the war and families were reunited, that cattle provided about the only cash crop available to those who were willing to do the back-breaking work of rounding them up and driving them to market.
Well, as I said, the first grave in the Old Dublin Cemetery is that of Ellen Keith. Her nephew, the man we all have come to know as Big Bill Keith, donated the land for the cemetery, with the understanding that there would never be a charge for burials. And time passed.
Today, the old cemetery holds babies and moms and dads and war veterans and once venerable members of the community, including Uncle Billy Kloster, Mr. Dr Pepper. Somehow, Uncle Billy’s stone more than any other reminds me that life moves swiftly, leaving us such a short time to fulfill our purpose here on earth.
And you thought we just took Ty to the cemetery because we couldn’t think of anything else to do with him, didn’t you?