Sunday, March 22, 2020

2018-05-13: More Geocaches, a Bridge With a Swing, Ghost Towns, Cemeteries, and Texas History

On today's 360+ mile drive in my new GeoJeep, I find a swing on a bridge, some old cemeteries, an abandoned ranch house, a missing motel, and much more. There's a lot to see in Texas, so let's get started.

My first stop after leaving Killeen is the Bear Creek Cemetery in Bertram and my first two geocaches (GC7DVVQ, GC442E2). Established in 1865, this cemetery has over 1500 permanent residents here. This one in particular is Texas Ranger Millard S. Moreland who died in 1891 at age 35.

Continuing westbound on Hwy 29, I arrive at the Colorado River and the Old Inks Lake Bridge. Built by the Austin Bridge Company in the mid-1930's, this truss bridge is now a pedestrian bridge after the new bridge was built along side. I parked at the east end to grab that first cache (GCMQ7H) near the entrance.

I started to walk down towards the other geocache on the bridge, but it was almost to the other side. Plus the last few cachers had logged DNF's. Having second thoughts, I was about to turn around back to the GeoJeep. But then I figured I'd walk across and get some good photos from the middle. Well it was a good thing I did. I've been on plenty of old bridges. But this was the first time I ever saw a swing on one! (See the first pick up top.) Now that's what you call a swinging bridge! Took some more pictures, then looked and looked and found the missing geocache (GC52MVG).

Moving along down the road, I exit from Hwy 29 onto US-377 in the community of Grit, Texas. A few miles down from there I stopped for a quick roadside geocache called Weird Rock Ranch (GCZMJT).

A couple of miles later there was another roadside geocache for a Texas ghost town called Streeter (GC11953). The first settlers were Irish (1855) and within a few years they were joined by German immigrants. Settlement was first along Big and Little creeks and Honey Creek and the town was first known as either Bluff Creek Community or Honey Creek Community.

In September, 1890, a post office was established and the submitted name was Streeter after early settler Samuel T, Streeter. In 1870 a Baptist church formed and the town had a cotton gin and a flour mill. There had been a school, earlier, on Honey Creek, but Streeter didn't have a school of their own until 1900. Streeter was quarantined for smallpox in 1903 and telephone service began in 1917. The post office closed its doors in 1970. The population of Streeter which had been reported as 100 people from 1925 dropped to only 60 by 1964. Streeter has since rebounded to about 100 people.

Nothing to see except the old house near the cache which was buried deep in the trees and overgrown brush. Supposed to be a cemetery there too but not exactly sure where.

I did find Gamel Cemetery to the southwest. There wasn't a geocache hidden there and unfortunately all of my geocache supplies were back in the GeoPrius in Fort Stockton. But I did look around a little bit at the headstones and hiding places. I'll talk a little more about this cemetery when I return to hide a geocache soon.

Continuing southwest on US-377 towards I-10, I got off the main road to get to my next geocache. On the corner was this old abandoned house engulfed by nature. It would have been cool to go in and explore, but being on private property that's not such a good idea.

I made it to Red Creek Cemetery (GC1JR4E). Red Creek Cemetery is located in Kimble County. There is no sign identifying the cemetery.There is no historical marker. The land for Red Creek Cemetery was donated to the Community by Frank Latta on 23 May 1896, to be used "for general burial purposes." The first marked grave is that of T. Roy Black (31 August 1897). Frank Latta was laid to rest here 23 March, 1902.

Three young men who made the supreme sacrifice for their country repose here in final rest. Thomas St. Clair lost his life in World War I in Europe; a memorial stone in tribute to Lloyd G. Ivy was placed here following his courageous death in World War II; and John Wilbur Gentry (World War II) rests here. The latter's brother, Lawrence Gentry, lost his life while serving as a military mechanic during the second World conflict. At least eleven veterans of the Civil War - one who served the Union Army and ten who fought for the Confederate cause - are among early settlers buried in Red Creek cemetery.

Continuing south on Ranch Road 385 for a couple of miles, I arrived at my next geocache at the ghost town of Yates, Texas (GC1M4K5). Yates, also known as Yates Crossing, is twelve miles northeast of Junction in eastern Kimble County. It was named by Joseph A. Yates, who opened a post office in June 1907 on his land near a ford of the Llano River on the road from London to Fredericksburg.

Camp meetings were held by early settlers under the live oaks near Yates. Tully J. Lange became Yates's second and final postmaster in June 1909. By the 1920's Yates was the center of a farming community in the Llano River valley. Throughout the decade Yates had a post office, a general store, a gas station, and a population that reached at least fifty-one. The area was advertised as a vacation spot for tourists and campers.

The post office closed in March 1930, and though Yates continues to be shown on maps, its last reported population was ten in 1958. Aside from a few scattered houses, the only thing business related that I saw was this old Kimble Motel sign.

Through Yates on this same spot on the Llano River is the Old Beef Trail Crossing. This Llano River crossing became a main line of the Spring cattle drives from 1867 to the 1880's. Capt C. A. Schreiner and his partners herded cattle on their way to Abilene and Dodge City on the Western Trail; many area cowboys rode with them. Preceded by a trail boss and chuck wagon, as many as 2,000 cattle per herd took half a day to cross. With the air full of dust, local ranchers sat on their own horses watching their own cattle closely to ensure that none of their own herd joined the trail drive. This site later became a vehicle crossing.

Back on US-377 south, I caught this old truck parked by this broken windmill and had to turn around for a photo.

Just down the road was my next roadside geocache near a historical marker (GC1M4J3). Teacup Mountain was named for its peculiar formation. Probably used as a lookout post by both whites and Indians in pioneer days. Near here occurred the Indian killing of pioneer James Bradbury Sr., 1872; and the capture of a wanted man by Lt N.O. Reynolds and four fellow Texas Rangers in 1878.

Named for the soaring Teacup “Mountain” to the west of the site, not much is known of this community other than there were 10 inhabitants at one time and they were served by a single store. The post office “may” have been located in the general store according to The Handbook of Texas. 1947 was the last year anyone bothered to count the number of residents and now there’s no one left to ask.

My last geocache of this trip was at Gentry Creek Cemetery (GC1M4HX). Raleigh Gentry was one of the first settlers in Kimble County, coming to the county in the early 1850's, when he settled on Bear Creek, some five miles with its junction with the North Llano. Here he built a home, erected stables, corrals, outhouses, cleared land and had an ideal paradise from a material standpoint. He prospered, farmed enough land to produce grain for use of his family and his stock, raised cattle, and enough hogs for his family use. In the early 1860's the war clouds gathered and became darker and darker, and finally the able bodied men had to go to war or join the frontier defense. Raleigh Gentry had six stalwart sons; Alan, Lee, Guliford, William, George, and Jack.

His son William married Nancy Frazier, but he answered the call of the Southland and joined the Confederate forces. He left his wife and son John at home, never to return.

In 1862, Raleigh Gentry sold his holdings on Bear Creek and moved some fifteen miles northeast and made a new location, now known as Gentry Creek, but here trouble awaited them. The Indians taking advantage of the lonely situation and the further fact that many of the men folks had gone to fight with the South made repeated raids on Gentry Creek, stealing horses and killing anyone that got in their way. On one occasion, two of the Gentry boys were hunting horses about a mile from home, when they saw the horse herd surrounded by a band of Indians and being driven off. The boys escaped to their home.

In 1867 Allen Gentry and his brother, Lee, went northeast to the Little Saline on a hog hunt and were soon joined by Felix Hale. Their hunt led over the line into Mason County. The part divided, Allen Gentry took one side of the creek, and Felix Hale and Lee another side in their hunt for the hogs. Allen was attacked by the Indians and killed in the very sight of his brother, Lee, who wanted to rush to the defense of his brother but he was told by Felix that it would be suicide and he would lose his own life. Hale and Lee dashed to the first neighbors' and gave the alarm, and parties organized to rescue the body of Allen Gentry and also to pursue the Indians. The body was found and placed on a blanket, and the four corners tied to a long green pole, and in this was the frontiersmen formed a hearse and conveyed the body to the residence of Matthew A. Doyle, the nearest neighbor, a distance of four miles. Here the body was placed in a hack and carried to the Gentry Creek. The body was buried in what developed into the Gentry Creek Cemetery.

Another buried here and worth mentioning is Dan C, Bird, grandson of George C. Kimble, an Alamo hero for whom Kimble County is named. Bird's son, Jack, passed away in California in 1981, and according to his wishes, Jack's cremated remains were scattered above Teacup Mountain that looms in the distance from Gentry Creek Cemetery.

That was it for today. Drove onto I-10 at Junction all the way to Fort Stockton. Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you next week for another tour of Texas.

Monday, March 16, 2020

2018-05-12: Making The Deal For A New GeoJeep

Hey welcome back to the AwayWeGo Geocaching Adventures Blog. If you remember from last week, at the end of the day my GeoPrius blew the engine. So throughout this past week, I contacted four Jeep dealerships to start working on a replacement geomobile.

The first and closest dealer was right there in Fort Stockton, Texas, Ram Country Fort Stockton. They actually had exactly what I was looking for! A new white 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK 4-door Rubicon, fully loaded with navigation, heated seats, trailer hitch, remote start, and much more. Sadly though the only thing the salesman was interested in was getting me down there for a test drive.

Hello! I don't need to test drive it. It's a Jeep Wrangler, it's gonna have a rough ride, a lot of wind noise, and bad gas mileage. "What's your BEST selling price?" Salesman: "I'm sure we can get you the best price possible. How soon can you come down to discuss putting you in your new Jeep?" That's all he would say. He wouldn't give me any numbers. I don't have the time nor do I want to sit there in your dealership for hours on end to negotiate a deal. So I gave them a bad review on Google.

Next I called the Jeep dealer in Odessa, All American Chrysler Jeep Dodge, and got a hold of a sales guy willing to work with me over the phone. They had one there with everything I wanted just like Fort Stockton except it was bright red. Now if I were buying another Corvette, that would be perfect. But every other vehicle I prefer to have in white. It was still tempting.

This guy was working hard for me though. He even called Fort Stockton to see if they could make the trade and then sell it to me, but they refused. There was also another Jeep he thought I would like that was a couple of years old. The couple that was wanting to trade it in also had a motorhome so the Jeep was already equipped with the tow brackets. But they couldn't take in the motorhome. So that couple ended up going back to the RV dealer who bought back the motorhome and the Jeep.

Even though I didn't buy a Jeep from them, I left them a good review anyway because they put in a good effort. They just didn't have the right inventory.

I also had a call into All American CJD in San Angelo. They had some possibilities but nothing really filling all the option requirements that I was looking for. So there too was an inventory problem.

Checking several other dealer websites as well but nobody had the right Jeep I was looking for.

Another call that I had made was to Freedom Jeep in Killeen, Texas. They had a 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK Sahara 2-door. I actually like the 2-doors better, but I knew the 4-door would be more practical. But this one had the navigation, XM radio, heated seats, the right colors and all. The only thing it didn't have already on it was the tow hitch.

And best of all they could work with me over the phone. Especially since I was over 300 miles away! We made an agreement on the price. But when it came to financing their interest rate was a bit high. They said they can work with outside sources, so I called my credit union back in Florida and got a rate less than half what the dealer quoted. After letting the dealer know, their finance manager called me back the next day and said they could do it for 0.2% higher than the credit union. I figured it was close enough and agreed to complete the transaction there to save time. By now it was Thursday and they would have to wait to release the Jeep until they received payment from my credit union.

After work Friday, I caught a ride home from a co-worker who also lives in Killeen.

This morning my wife dropped me off at Freedom Jeep and they had my Jeep parked right there by the showroom. They had all the paperwork ready to go. I could have signed the papers and been on my way in less than 30 minutes. But remember it didn't have the trailer hitch option from the factory. So after I arrived they immediately sent it into the shop as I went into the finance office. They got a GREAT review on Google from me!

Now I have my new GeoJeep II. Now I just got to get some Travel Bug decals made for it.

The former GeoJeep I

So if you're ever in the market to buy a new/used car, there's a couple of things to remember as a buyer:

1) Research! Know what kind of car you want BEFORE you talk to the dealer. If you want a test drive, rent the car you're thinking about. You'll get a better idea if you like it or not versus driving it around the block.

2) Shop Online! Don't be constrained to the dealer nearest you. If you can get a better deal from a dealer over in the next town wouldn't it be worth it to take a longer drive? And don't worry about letting them know you're shopping around for the best deal.

3) Probably the most important thing of all: shop with your brain and NOT with your emotion! That's why the salesman want you there to drive, feel, and smell the car. They want you to fall in love with it and make it an emotional purchase. Then they have you hooked. But if you buy with your brain, you have the upper hand. And you have to be willing to walk away from the deal. Remember they want to sell you that vehicle. Work out the numbers and come up with an agreement before you even get there and you won't be wasting a whole day and into the night going back and forth.

Now to go places the GeoPrius couldn't get to!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

2018-05-06: Geocaching Through Texas Cemeteries Then KABOOM! My Car Dies!

WOW! What a day! It was going good for the most part. But ended with a huge bang. Today's Geocaching Adventure was a 360+ mile drive from Killeen to Fort Stockton, Texas. So let's get started...

Just south of Killeen is a little town called Ding Dong. Now before your mind goes too far off the deep end, let me tell you the story as provided by the website. Ding Dong is in Bell County but that's how it originated. Ding Dong was named for a Bell all right, but not Peter Hansborough Bell, the third governor of Texas and the man for whom Bell County is named.

According to historical accounts, the Bells in question were Zulis Bell and his nephew Bert Bell. In the early 1930's the two Bells bought and ran a country store on the Lampasas River about midway between Killeen and Florence, at a place then known as McBryde Crossing. The Bells hired a talented sign painter by the name of C.C. Hoover to paint the sign for their new store. It was suggested to Hoover: "Why don't you do something original with this sign. How about drawing two Bells with the name Zulis in one and Bert in the other. Then print 'Ding Dong' on the sign." After a while the little community around the store took on the name of Ding Dong.

Now I mentioned McBryde Crossing which brings me to my first geocache of the day. Mancel T. McBryde (1821-1896), who brought his family here from Georgia in the early 1860's, began this family cemetery (GC480KN) in 1885 upon the death of his wife, Jane W. Goar McBryde (1826-1885). A farmer and rancher, McBryde selected a site south of his family's home on which to bury his wife. The McBryde's had eight children, four of whom married into the Hoover family. McBryde and Hoover descendants are also interred here. The oldest McBryde family graves are enclosed in stone.

A few hundred feet to the south is a tree lined dirt road which led to my next geocache and cemetery. ​Emily LeSeur Haynes Sharp (1824-1880) came to Texas from Alabama with her first husband, William Glenn Haynes. They settled in Harrison County, where they owned a large amount of land and operated a cotton gin. William Haynes died in 1849, and three years later Emily married Augustus V. Sharp (1810-1868).

The Sharp family moved to this area in 1859 and settled along the Lampasas River. When their six-year-old daughter, Sarah, died in 1864, she was buried on the family farm. Four years later Augustus Sharp died and was laid to rest next to his daughter. In 1879 Emily Sharp deeded three acres of land surrounding the graves to establish a community cemetery (GC68YMO).

The. G. W. Dockery family deeded another 1.9 acres for the Rock Creek Church of Christ which was established in 1882, and in 1905 the members built a sanctuary. Among the interments in the Sharp Cemetery are those of Sharp, Haynes, and Dockery Family members; veterans of several wars; and a number of infants and small children, many of the earliest graves are marked only with field stones, and some are surrounded by 19th-century rock fences.

Driving westbound on Highway 29, I was passing through the community of Mahomet and spotted a cemetery sign. I didn't see a geocache listed here but I had to go check it out anyway. The Mahomet Cemetery, with interments dating back to the 1850's, became a community graveyard for the Sycamore Springs and Mahomet rural communities. In 1909 J. W. Williams and J. W. and Nellie Greer deeded the cemetery property to the community of Mahomet. Among the hundreds of people buried here are many of the area's pioneer settlers and their descendants and veterans of wars ranging from the Mexican War (1846-1848) to the Vietnam War. Mahomet Cemetery remains active and is maintained by an association of descendants of people buried here.

Since there wasn't a geocache already hidden here, I decided to place one there myself. Checking out the headstones, I spotted a William Williams (1833-1884). With a name like that I had to hide the geocache near him (GC7PA3G).

A couple hundred feet down from the entrance to the cemetery is the Mount Horeb Lodge. Chartered January 21, 1854, they first met in a log schoolhouse. They erected their own lodge hall in 1856 on land given by Grand Master Sam Mather and B.K. Stewart. The first floor was used as a church and school. A fire in 1915 razed the hall. The lodge was rebuilt here in 1916 on land given by G.T. and W.J. Williams.

On the west side of Burnet, I came to the Post Mountain Cemetery (GC4EKFV). Burnet, Texas is known as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas. Burnet was founded next to Fort Croghan in 1852, when Burnet County was established. The town was originally named Hamilton after John Hamilton, who owned a league and labor of land in the area. In August 1852 a post office named Burnet was established in Hamilton, and then In 1858 the name of the town was changed to Burnet.

Post Mountain Cemetery is the largest of four cemeteries maintained by the city. There are over 1200 interments here. Of the photos I took, this is the one that I found most interesting. The tall obelisk leaning against it's base.

Still driving west on Highway 29, I stopped for two quick roadside caches (GC777ET, GC658HJ) between Llano and Mason.

Before you get to Mason, there's a little town called Art, Texas. Even though it's population is less than two dozen, I don't think it's considered a ghost town as it has never reached 50 people. Though being that small there are still three cemeteries, but only one geocache. (GC1NVFV)

Heinrich Conrad Kothmann (1798-1881) and his wife Ilse Katherine Pahlmann (1810-1905) and their family sailed from Germany to Indianola, Texas in 1845. Among the first families to settle in Fredericksburg, the Kothmanns were issued a 640-acre land grant in Mason County in 1848. In 1856 they moved to Art and were among the first immigrant families in this area. A trained cabinetmaker and musician, Kothmann began ranching and acquired another 640-acre tract of land.

Located on their former homestead, the Kothmann Cemetery is all that remains of the original ranch site. Containing only five graves, all of Kothmann family members, the graveyard began with the burial of Heinrich Conrad Kothmann in 1881. His wife Ilse is buried beside him. Their son Karl, the first of their family born in Texas, is buried here along with his wife Katherine (Hoerster) Kothmann. A fifth unmarked grave is thought to be that of a grandchild.

Though most of the land was sold after Ilse's death in 1905, the family retained one acre including the cemetery property. The concrete wall and slab were constructed after 1937 to provide protection and ease in maintenance for the five graves. The family mainta
ins the cemetery.

Originally, Art’s name was Plehweville, after Otto Plehwe. In 1886, he had purchased from J.A. Hoerster a one-year-old general store near the hill top Methodist Church. Plehwe thought the area needed a post office as well as a store and the government agreed. Postal officials even went with Plehwe’s suggested name, one the new post master thought had a nice ring to it: Plehweville. Unfortunately, letters to Plehweville, not an easy name to pronounce, spell or remember, often got lost. Many residents were not content with the name and neither was the government.

By 1920, Eli Dechart had taken over as store owner and post master of Plehweville. Like Plehwe, he envisioned a community named in his honor. But unlike Plehwe, Dechart had a more practical idea. He recommended the new name for the post office of Plehweville, Texas be Art, Texas – Art being the last three letters of Dechart. And so by government fiat, Plehweville was transformed into Art.

After passing through Mason continuing westbound, I arrived in Grit, Texas for my last geocache of the day. Settled by cotton farmers around 1889. When the time came to open a post office the town wanted to be named after General Frederick Funston, a Spanish American War Hero. Saddened to discover that Funston had already been so honored in Texas, the town settled on the more earthy name of Grit - said to be the texture of the local soil.

The post office opened in 1901, the first store opened around 1903, and the town had its first school building in 1908. The Baptist church met in the Grit school until it built its own building in 1924. Telephone service began around 1914 when the town had 30 people. It remained at 30 until the 1960's when 63 people lived in Grit. This number held into the mid 80's, but it has since declined back to the 1914 level of 30 citizens. The post office has since been discontinued, but Grit remains on state maps.

All that remains is the school building which the town uses for meetings and the Grit Cemetery (GC1JH0Q). One resident to note was that of John B. Berry. Forefathers resisting America's foes on many frontiers inspired John Bate Berry, who came to Texas from Kentucky in 1826. He fought (1835-36) in the Texas War for Independence and in the 1842 Mier Expedition to stop Mexican raids on the Republic of Texas. Captured, imprisoned, then freed in 1844, he scouted for the American army in 1846, during the Mexican War. Later he married, lived in this locality, and fought to make frontiers safe for settlement.

So after stopping at eight cemeteries today, I decided to continue straight on towards Fort Stockton. I still had to go grocery shopping and prepare for the coming work week. From Highway 29, I turned onto US-190 westbound in Menard. From there all the way to I-10 into Fort Stockton.

Just as I let off the accelerator preparing to exit the interstate, KABOOM!! The gas engine in the GeoPrius starts knocking, rattling and loses power. It's still running but I can only go about 10-15 MPH, and that's mostly because of the electric motors. Fortunately the place I'm staying is barely more than a mile from the exit. From the sounds of the engine, I'd say that it spun a rod bearing.

While not happy to have blown up the Prius, I am REALLY THANKFUL that it happened in Fort Stockton and NOT out in the middle of nowhere. Those long stretches of rural highways when I'm 30 miles to the nearest anything and no cell phone service!

Back here, well I make a couple of phone calls and arrange a ride to work in the morning. Overall I had a great weekend between yesterday and today. And finished it off with a BANG!