Sunday, June 28, 2020

2018-07-03: The Quest for 10,000 Geocaching Finds: Day 2 and Day 3 Part 1

Welcome back to Day #2 of our Quest for 10,000 Geocaching Finds! Actually in today's blog, I cover Day #2 and the first part of Day #3. Just to recap, I'm off of work this week for the 4th of July holiday. So I set a goal to reach my 10,000th geocache. On day #1 I found 60 caches so that brought me up to 9970, only 30 more to go!

For Day #2, I hit another power run just south of Killeen and picked up another 22 geocaches bringing my total up to 9992 finds. Most were quick park and grabs along the roadside so I don't have any photos to show you. But two caches did get favorite points from me for their creativity. Those were "Jennings Branch" (GC4VHNF) and "Pineworker's Revenge" (GC6PVWG). Only 8 more caches to go!

So that's it for Day #2 and as you can see it would have made for a very short blog post for the day. Therefore, I decided to include the first stop of my Day #3.

I began Day #3 at the Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Texas. From the historical marker: "In 1839, when Austin was being opened as a site favored for the Capital of the Republic of Texas, a regular burial place was established in what is now the southwest part of Oakwood Cemetery. A decedent was buried on this hill at a spot to the right of Oakwood's present main entrance and northwest of the Hebrew ground within the enclosure. It was not until September 1, 1856, however, that the land legally became city property. On that day the Legislature of Texas transferred the burial tract from the public lands to the corporate city of Austin. Across the decades, the name has changed: in 1886 it was the "City Cemetery"; 1903 "Austin City Cemetery"; and in 1912 "Oakwood".

"Here lies the mortal remains of many pioneers and builders of Austin, and their successors. Among the national and state personalities, cabinet members, governors and other high state officials, mayors, business and professional leaders, and solid citizens from all walks of life.

"The two Jewish sections of Oakwood have been given perpetual care by Temple Beth Israel since 1876. The Austin city government accepted responsibility for permanent care of Oakwood Cemetery in 1970."

Below I'm gonna highlight just some of the much rich history to be found in this historic cemetery. There is more to be found here I'm sure. But due to time constraints, I just looked for the historical markers or headstones that caught my eye.

George Washington Glasscock was born in Kentucky in 1810. He served in the Illinois Militia in the Black Hawk War of 1832 as 1st Lieutenant and commander over Abraham Lincoln. Later, he was Lincoln's business partner in flat-boating on the Sangamon River.

In 1834, George came to Texas and settled in Zavala. As events unfolded in 1835, he quickly became involved in the Texas Revolution, fighting along side Jim Bowie and Ben Milam in the siege of Bexar. After independence, George was a surveyor and moved to the Williamson County area in 1846, where he opened the area's first grist mill and donated land for the county seat. He settled in Austin and became a state legislator and a prominent citizen. Georgetown and Glasscock County are named in his honor. This is the headstone of George and his wife Cynthia.

Thomas "Tom" Green was a Civil War Confederate Brigadier General. Prior to the Civil War, he served as an Army officer in the Mexican-American War and as clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas. He entered the Civil War as a Colonel in the brigade of General H. H. Sibley and saw service in New Mexico. In 1863, he was promoted Brigadier General in command of the Texas Confederate forces, participated in Battle of Galveston and at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. At the Battle of Blair's Landing, April 12, 1864, he was killed at short range by the cannon of a Federal gunboat on the Red River. A Texas county was named in his honor.

Georgia native Lewis Miles Hobbs Washington came to Texas about 1835 and joined the Revolutionary forces at San Antonio. A member of Col Fannin's staff, he served with the Georgia Battalion at Refugio and Goliad. He was appointed to an office in Sam Houston's Presidential Administration during the days of the Republic. Washington was killed in Nicaragua while in Central America as a news reporter. His body was not recovered but his wife, Rebecca, is buried here.

A small mausoleum belonging to Matthew Kreisle (1831-1882) and wife Sophie Kreisle (1834-1903).

A native of North Carolina, Abner Hugh Cook came to the newly created capital city of Austin in 1839 with a skill in design and construction that soon earned him the title of master builder. Working as architect, engineer, and contractor, Cook produced some of the finest public buildings and Greek revival homes in Texas, including the governor's mansion and the Neill-Cochran House. A charter member of Austin's First Presbyterian Church, Abner Cook died soon after completing work on the old main building (now razed) on the University of Texas campus.

A native Sweden, Swante Palm was was a leader of early Swedish immigration to Texas. Influenced by his nephew, Swen Magnus, Palm came to Texas in 1844. He settled first in La Grange, where he served as postmaster and worked in Swenson's general store. Both men moved to Austin in 1850 and continued their business relationship. In 1854 Palm married Agnes Christine Alm. Their son, Swante Sture, was born in 1855, but died in infancy.

Politically active, Palm held a number of public offices, including Travis County justice of the peace, alderman, and postmaster. As vice consul to Texas for Sweden and Norway, he was instrumental in bringing thousands of Swedish immigrants to the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church (now Gethsemane Lutheran Church) in Austin. Swedish King Oscar II knighted Palm in 1884 for his service to Sweden and Texas' Swedish immigrants. A devoted book collector, Palm amassed a large library which he donated to The University of Texas in 1899, increasing its holdings by over sixty percent. An Austin school was later named in his honor.

Mississippi native William M. "Buck" Walton attended the University of Virginia and studied law in Carrollton, MS. In 1853, he moved to Austin, where his first law partner was A. J. Hamilton, the later Governor of Texas. In 1862, he enlisted in the Confederate Army, serving in Co. B, 21st Texas Calvary. He was elected Texas Attorney General in 1866. In the practice of law he had few peers in land litigation, and was considered one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Texas. Esteemed for his generosity, Major Walton was a well known public speaker, author and civic leader. He retired in 1907, but remained active until his death at age 83. He is buried here with his wife of 60 years, Lettie Watkins Walton, their four children and other family members.

Born in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama in 1815, Andrew Jackson Hamilton studied law and was admitted to the bar in Talladega in 1841. Moving to Texas in 1846, he began practicing law in LaGrange, Fayette County. He was appointed acting state Attorney General in 1849, and in 1850 was elected to a term in the State House of Representatives. Hamilton was elected to the United States House of Representative as an Independent Democrat in 1858, representing the Western District of Texas. He did not seek re-election in 1860 and later moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.

During the Civil War, he was commissioned a Brigadier General of Volunteers and in 1862 was appointed Military Governor of Texas, with headquarters at federally-occupied New Orleans and Brownsville. In June 1865 Hamilton was appointed by President Andrew Johnson as the 11th Governor of Texas, a provisional post in the early Reconstruction period; he served for 14 months. He was a Texas Supreme Court justice in 1866, a delegate to the Loyalist Convention in Philadelphia in 1866, and an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Texas in 1869. He died of tuberculosis in Austin.

Born Susanna Wilkerson in Tennessee, she was the wife of Captain Almaron Dickinson and was the sole adult Anglo survivor that witnessed the massacre at the Battle of the Alamo. On the morning of March 6, 1836, as the troops of General Antonio López de Santa Anna stormed the mission, Captain Dickinson ran to his wife, reported that all was lost, and expressed hope that she could save herself and their child. Although he died at the Alamo, his wife and child Angelina survived. Following the fall of the Alamo, Susanna was escorted from the Alamo mission, interviewed by Santa Anna himself and sent by him with a message to Sam Houston. She was a strong woman survivor and remained a patriot of Texas, but the memory of those days would haunt her the rest of her life.

One more burial to note that doesn't have a headstone or marker, but did receive a historical marker. Jacob Fontaine was born in Arkansas and came to Austin about 1850 as a slave of Episcopal Minister Edward Fontaine. In 1864, Jacob began preaching separate services for fellow slaves attending the First Baptist Church, then founded the First Baptist Church Colored, about 1867. Jacob also established five other churches in this area and a county association of black baptists. He was politically active; published the "Gold Dollar," an early black newspaper; and urged black voters to support Austin's bid for the University of Texas in 1881. He is buried here in an unmarked grave.

So that is how Day #3 started out and what turns out to be THE DAY of achievement reaching my goal of 10,000 geocaching finds! Come back again for the conclusion and see what incredible Geocaching Adventure I selected for this huge milestone.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

2018-07-02: The Quest For 10,000 Geocaching Finds Day #1

So here we are once again for AwayWeGo's Geocaching Adventures Blog. Thank you for stopping by. I hope you have been enjoying my stories and the history I'm finding through Geocaching.

Some of you have asked me that I have in the title. Yes, I'm actually two years behind in my writing. But trying my best to catch up while working 55-60 hours a week at the same time. I even took 3 months off from caching at the beginning of this year to spend the time writing.

Now returning back to July 2, 2018, the 4th of July falls on a Wednesday and I have the whole week off from work. Unfortunately, my wife still has to work, so it'll be a "stay-cation." What to do, what to do? Hey I'll go Geocaching!

Actually I've been thinking about this for a while now. I've been approaching the big 10,000 geocaching finds milestone. So I have to make it a truly remarkable, fun and memorable geocache. And I think I've found the perfect one. But I have to get there first and that's my goal for this week.

Starting the day off in Killeen, Texas at #9910, I head over to Dunkin' for a caramel iced coffee and a bagel. Then I drive south towards Georgetown. There's several power runs down there where I can get the numbers quickly.

So I get started on the "Hero's of War" series (GC2RBR8) and the "CR-207" series (GC515FD) of geocaches. In the midst of those are some other miscellaneous geocaches that I've found and others I've hidden. The power runs are just roadside caches, so I'll focus the rest of my blog on the stories of the scattered caches.

First up is the Santa Rosa Church Cemetery (GC7T2VK). Also known as the San Jose Cemetery on the Williamson County Historical Society Map. With just over 100 interments, a maintained cemetery still in use today. Although the little gazebo has seen better days. I couldn't find much history other than it's located near the town of Andice which only maintains a population of around 25 or so since the 1970's. There wasn't a geocache here, but I couldn't let that continue. So I hid one myself outside the gazebo.

The next site of interest was the ghost town last known as Gabriel Mills, Texas. From the historical marker: "Samuel Mather settled here in 1849, building a gristmill on the North San Gabriel in 1852. John G. Stewart opened a store near the mill. A small log cabin was in use by 1854 for church, school and lodge meetings. A post office was established in 1858, Mather being postmaster. W. L. Brizendine owned the mill by 1865, adding a cotton gin. Known as Mather’s Mill, Brizendine Mill, or Gabriel Mills, the village thrived until Austin & Northwestern Railroad bypassed it (1881); then a decline began. The post office closed in 1905, and by the 1920's the town itself had disappeared."

About all that remain are a collection of cemeteries and a few old houses. The first cemetery I came to was also another Geocache find (GC1260A). Jonathan Bittick was born in North Carolina September 11, 1796, and his wife Jinsy (Butler) Bittick, born in Georgia on June 8, 1805. He moved their family from Antoine Township (Clark), AR to Teneha District, Coahuila and Texas in 1830 along with Jinsy's parents, George and Elizabeth Butler, and her sister and brother-in-law William and Polly Ashabranner.

In October 1835 he received a grant on the east bank of Teneha Bayou one half mile below Bittick and Alford mill. Another grant was in Shelby County on Ayish Bayou. Jonathan was a miller and fanner who owned land in several Texas counties. In 1853, the Bittick's moved here to the frontier in Williamson County. Jonathan died in Gabriel Mills September 22, 1869 and Jinsy died there February 6, 1872 and are buried here in the family cemetery.

Around the corner just a mile away is a collection of three smaller cemeteries all connected together, the Mather Family Cemetery, the Brizendine Cemetery, and the Mt Horeb Cemetery (GC7T37F, GC7T380). There wasn't a geocache here so I hid two here myself. Rather than go into the long detailed history of the families that first settled this area, I ask that you click on the GC# link to the cache page. There I've posted that history if you're interested.

Most of the cemeteries were well kept as you can see in the photo above. But there were parts of it that was a little overgrown with some weeds. And there were a few worn and weathered flags from a previous holiday that were laying in the grass. I picked those up to be properly disposed of.

The next few photos are some of the remaining buildings left in the area. The first looked to be still maintained, but the rest... well you can see.

Some of the locals checking me out while I was taking pics.

Next up down the road is at the Connell Cemetery (GC2H9Q6). Alabama native Sampson Connell Jr (b. 1822) came to Texas with his family in 1834. Sampson along side his father, Sampson Connell, Sr. and his brother David Cook Connell supposedly delivered the last load of supplies to the Alamo before it was attacked by the Mexican Army. Later the three fought side by side in the "Battle of San Jacinto". Following Texas winning its' independence from Mexico, Sampson Connell, Jr. received a land grant in Williamson County from the Texas Republic for his efforts and patriotism. On his headstone is the bronze plaque for "Citizen of the Republic of Texas, 1836-1846." There are 20 burials here beginning with Sampson Connell Jr in 1873, to the last burial in 1939.

The geocache container was rather interesting for a cemetery. It appears as though one of the bodies didn't have all the pieces parts buried with it!

The next geocache of interest is at the William-Buck Cemetery (GC3A1YR). From the historical marker: "Legend surrounds the first years of this burial ground. Local oral history relates that among the earliest graves are those of a slave called Willie Osborne and an unknown Indian. Members of the Stephens family, ambushed by Indians in 1854, are said to have been buried here in their wagon. The oldest marked grave is that of infant Polly Williams, interred in 1854, on land owned by W. W. Williams. A cemetery association was organized in the 1960's. Many honored veterans of Confederate and U.S. Armed Forces are interred here. Fifteen graves were moved from the Bullion Cemetery in the 1970's when Lake Georgetown was formed. There are over 250 burials here."

My last stop was at the Perry Cemetery. I didn't find the cache (GC2H9QW), but I did find a story. James Wesley and his brother John Montgomery Perry both were members of the Scout Co. D. 12th Division Texas Calvary during the Civil War. They first served in Texas, then they were sent to Arkansas where they took part in battles of Searcy's Lane, Cotton Plant, and Langee River. They then went to to Louisiana, where they fought in battles of Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, and Yellow Bayou. It was at Yellow Bayou that James was wounded in the right knee on May 16, 1863. He was in the hospital for some time, and then sent home on furlough. After his leg healed, he rejoined his unit, but was in no more battles. At the close of the war, the company disbanded at Falls County, TX.

That's enough for the day. Between the cemeteries and the power run, I've found 60 geocaches for today. But at 3 PM on a Texas July day it's pretty hot!

Now I'm at 9970 finds. Only 30 more to go! Do I make it tomorrow? Come back again and you'll see...

Friday, June 19, 2020

2018-06-17: Finding and Hiding Geocaches in West Texas Cemeteries

In this addition of my AwayWeGo's Geocaching Adventures blog, once again I'm on my regular Sunday drive from Killeen in Central Texas to Fort Stockton in West Texas.

For my new readers who may not know, I live in Killeen but work in West Texas. So at the end of my work week, either on a Friday or Saturday night, I'm driving home 360 miles eastbound to see my wife. Then on Sunday's I have to drive the 360 miles back. So it's the Sunday's when I do my geocaching and exploring to break up the long drive.

And between the daily commute to work and going home on the weekends, my new GeoJeep is racking up 1200 miles a week!

So let's get caching...

About an hour into driving, I arrived at Buchanan Lake and Dam along Hwy 29 in Llano County. There I found the first geocache and historical marker. C.S.A Salt Works (GC15HQA) was located between Tow Valley and Old Bluffton, 15 miles N.E. and since 1937 under Lake Buchanan. During the Civil War they made salt for the table, curing meat and hides, and feeding cavalry horses.

I wish I was here back in 2007-2009 when there was a drought taking place. Buchanan Lake was down 50% and the ghost town of Old Bluffton, which normally sets at the bottom of the lake, was now exposed. I found a great story at the Texas Observer website if you want to look into that.

On the way to the Llano Cemetery, I stopped at a roadside picnic area for a quick park and grab geocache (GC1Y0AK).

Arriving at the Llano Cemetery, there are actually three geocaches here for me to find (GC6H514, GC7AG8C, GC4R6A4). Area residents founded the city of Llano as the county seat for the newly formed Llano County in 1856. By August 1862, with the interment of one-year-old Tina Miller, this site served as a burial ground. Seventeen year old Emily Young Wright was interred here a few weeks later. Their two gravestones are the earliest marked burials.

One of the geocaches highlights South Carolina native Dillard Cooper. He came to Texas in January 1836 with Captain John Shackelford's Red Rovers, landing at Copano Bay and joining Col. James Fannin's command. Following the Texians' defeat at the battle of Coleto Creek on March 20, the wounded Cooper was among many soldiers taken prisoner at Goliad. One week later, Mexican troops shot and killed more than 300 prisoners; Cooper was among a handful who escaped. He and companions spent two weeks traveling at night through enemy lines and abandoned settlements to reach Texian forces at the Brazos River. Cooper lived in Hays and Colorado counties before moving to farm with his stepson in Llano and San Saba counties in 1878. Dillard Cooper died in 1896.

Another monument that caught my eye was this one for Elmer Lee Crockett. Born in 1896, many years after the Alamo, but died in 1919 at age 22 in France. Hmm... there was a war going on over there. After a little research, I found out that Crockett left Llano to enter the service in September 1917. He arrived in France in February 1918 and was a part of the machine detachment of the air service division. Even though the Armistice was signed in November 1918, Crockett remained in France for active duty. However in January of 1919, Elmer Lee Crockett died from acute appendicitis. It wasn't until August 1921 before his body finally returned to Llano where it was laid here in his hometown.

Continuing westbound on Hwy 29, when I arrived in Grit, Texas, I took a short detour south on US-377 down to the Cavness Cemetery (GC7RCBR). Located in the Streeter Community, around 1855 Irish settlers, including William S. "Uncle Billy" Gamel and the Caveness brothers, began moving to the area. Shortly thereafter, Germans also began to settle in the community. While there are many unknown and undated markers here, two of the oldest are both from 1880. Four year old Steaven Cavness and 86 year old Elias Hiram Hays. I can only assume that one of the Cavness brothers mentioned above was a Robert "Bob" Cavness (1822 - 1902), who is buried here along with his wife Mary (1822 - 1892). There wasn't a geocache here, so I hid one myself.

Sometimes while driving along the backroads of America, you see areas that you just have to pull over and take a photo and that's what I did here while on my way to the next cemetery.

Just north of Streeter was the Coffee Cemetery. As the community of Streeter was growing, Tom Brite opened a store, and Charles Brite once operated a gin and flour mill. A well kept cemetery going back to the 1870's and still being used today. Another cemetery which didn't have a geocache, so I hid one there also (GC7RD83). Near the cache you'll find the headstones of Charles Brite (d.1926) and Tom Brite (d.1927) which are mentioned above. You'll have to find the headstone of W. A. Brite who I can only presume to be their father who died in 1891.

Continuing through very rural dirt backroads, working my way back up to Hwy 29 and arriving at Jacoby Cemetery (GC7RDA1) to hide another geocache. A small family cemetery dating back to 1915 for the not named infant Son of Max and May Jacoby. Still maintained and used, currently only about 30 interments here from the families of Eckert, Hahn, Jacoby, Kuhlman, and a Rolston. While I placed the cache over by the corner post, be sure to pay a visit to Sgt Melvin C Eckert born September 26, 1921 and was killed in action during WWII on June 25, 1943. Here in the Jacoby Cemetery is a memorial headstone with his family. His body is interned at the Ardennes American Military Cemetery Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, B-4121 Belgium.

Then I encountered another one of those "just gotta pull over and take a photo" spots.

Next stop was a quick roadside geocache at a historical marker (GC5ADDH). The Pegleg Crossing on the San Saba River, at the mouth of MacDougal Creek twelve miles east of Menard in Menard Count. For years a favored Indian campground, it entered written history, 1732, as site of Spanish-Apache battle. It was used almost continuously by the Spaniards from the time of the establishment of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission in 1757 until the end of the colonial period. In 1849 William Henry Chase Whiting surveyed the ford as a part of a migration road to California. It served the army as a crossing, linking Fort McKavett with San Antonio both before and after the Civil War.

From 1867 until 1888 the San Antonio-San Diego (Southern) Stage Line used the military road; the stage line had a relay station, called Pegleg Station, constructed on a hill overlooking the ford. The Western Trail likewise used the ford for cattle drives from south central Texas to northern ranges and railheads. When State Highway 29 from Mason to Menard was built, Pegleg Crossing was abandoned. Probably named by landowner Wilhelm Harlen for one-legged land commissioner T.W. Ward. Gained notoriety for many hold-ups that occurred at "Robbers' Roost" (1 mile west).

Just two more geocaches before getting back to Fort Stockton. A quick roadside park and grab (GC43AHP) and another historical marker (GC3TXRG). The marker is for the Giddings' Pecos Station.

In the mid-19th century, stagecoach lines were a primary means of moving people, mail and supplies through the region. The U.S. government contracted with Henry Skillman for the San Antonio-El Paso Stage line in 1851. In this area, the route ran along the historic Chihuahua Trail, also know as the Lower Road, which was designed to carry U.S. mail. The service soon added passenger and freight delivery. Skillman and William “Bigfoot” Wallace were two of the better known drivers.

In 1854, George H. Giddings took over the San Antonio to El Paso line and created a series of stage stations in the area. In 1858, he established one near the “S” crossing of the Pecos River. It had two structures built of adobe, limestone and wood. Teamsters used the larger building as a kitchen and dining room and the smaller structure as sleeping quarters. An adobe or high pole corral with a wide gate stood behind the buildings, housing dozens of horses and mules. Water came from a nearby hand-dug well, formerly an existing spring.

In early 1862, a driver of the stage to Fort Lancaster reported Indians had destroyed Pecos Station, and the site was abandoned. Lt. Col. Thomas B. Hunt led a detachment past the ruins in 1869, giving the position as the west bank of the Pecos, 2.5 miles from Camp Melbourne. The exact location of the remote post, however, remained in doubt over the years until archaeological investigations in the early 21st century. Stone foundations and cultural artifacts from the 1850's, along with evidence of earlier Native American occupation, helped identify this isolated scene of frontier life.

That's it for another Sunday drive. There's a lot of history and interesting stories along the backroads of this great country. You just gotta be willing to look for it. And thanks to geocaching it's a little easier to find!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

2018-06-10: Geocaching Through History From Central to West Texas

Welcome back to another of my 360+ mile Sunday drives from Killeen in Central Texas to Fort Stockton in West Texas. Along this weekly drive, I explore the backroads and small towns, cemeteries and ghost towns, and anything of interest along the way. Most of the places I discover are thanks to the game of Geocaching. We got a long way to go, so let's get started.

Now most of the time during this drive, I start finding geocaches early along a route. Then I get side tracked, start heading to this cache and that cache, and next thing I know it's the middle of the afternoon and I still have 300 miles to drive. Today I was determined to make it past Llano before making my first stop. And that I did.

To encourage settlement of the new frontier in the 1830's and 40's, the Republic of Texas granted large portions of land to prospective impresarios. Among the more notable was the one issued to Francis Fisher, Buchard Miller, and Joseph Baker. Comprising some three million acres of land between the Llano and Colorado Rivers, it became known as the Fisher and Miller Colony.

Going westbound on Highway 29, I turned south towards Castell. In 1847 on Fisher-Miller land grants, 3 settlements were begun by German emigration company under commissioner general John O. Meusebach. There was Bettina, the first communal settlement in Texas. It was abandoned in less than a year when supplies ran out. Leiningen three miles to the east, but non-existent today. Castell was the first and only permanent Llano County settlement. It was led by Count Emil von Kriewitz. The towns namesake was Count Carl Frederick Castell-Castell, business manager of the Adelsverein.

The German Lutherans in this area were served by circuit-riding lay minister Dietrich Rode as early as 1870. A congregation was organized in 1893 on the north side of the Llano River in the Leiningen settlement about three miles east. A second church, known as Leiningen Two or Zion, was built on the south side of the river in 1907. The two congregations merged as St Johannes Evangelische Gemeinde in 1926, and a new sanctuary was built. Worship services were conducted in German until the 1950's, and the name was changed to St. Johns Lutheran Church.

Next to the church is the Cemetery and geocache (GC1NVGG). The congregation of St John Lutheren Church had been meeting in its new sanctuary for some four years when the death of one of its members, Anna Charlotte Lillie (Kowierschke) Bauer (1905-1930), led to the purchase of this half acre for use as the church cemetery. Her in-laws J. W. Bauer (1874-1932) and Bertha (Flint) Bauer (1872-1956) are buried nearby in the same plot. The older grave of Christian Schneider (1838-1920) was moved here from an endangered location near the Llano River.

There was a second geocache in town closer to the river, but I didn't find it (GC1NVGB).

Arriving in the town of Mason, Texas, there were two geocaches there that I still hadn't looked for yet. The first was at a historical marker entering the town (GC6E7PP). Created January 22, 1858 and organized August 2, 1858, Mason County was named for its most important settlement, Fort Mason. Garrisoned intermittently from July 6, 1851, to March 23, 1869, Fort Mason was named for Lt. G.T. Mason of the United States 2nd Dragoons, killed in Mexican War action on April 25, 1846 near Brownsville. Fort Mason was one of a chain of posts situated a day's horseback ride apart, from Red River to the Rio Grande, for protecting frontier from Apaches, Comanches, and other Indians.

Exiting the west end of town I stopped for another historical marker and another geocache (GC6E82Z). A native of Kentucky, Thomas S. Milligan (1810-1860) moved to this area in 1855 and operated a change station for the stage line. He was also a rancher and supplied beef to the soldiers at Fort Mason. Shortly after Mason County was organized in 1858 he became the first elected sheriff. Two years later he was killed by hostile indians near his home 1.6 miles NW. His grandson Allen Thomas Murray (1880-1929) became county sheriff in 1924 and like his grandfather, also died in the line of fire. He was killed by a bootlegger in 1929.

When arriving in the ghost town of Grit, Texas, I turned south onto US-377 to head down towards Junction and I-10. I then made a quick roadside geocache stop (GC3PV6R).

A couple of more miles down the road and I arrived at the Long Mountain Cemetery and two more geocaches (GC6EVX0, GC3PV5Q). Long Mountain probably gets its name from a nearby summit, also called Long Mountain. The area, which had been settled for some time by scattered ranchers, began to develop into a community in 1915. There are 240 burials here dating back to a Samuel Silas Jackson in January 1867. The second photo below is that of Dan (d.1900) and Sarah (d.1928) Martin's headstone which has their portraits on it. I'm sure it was placed by a more recent family member.

The next few miles provided just some ordinary roadside geocaches for some quick stops (GC3PV4T, GC58AJJ, and a DNF at GCKNF4). There was another roadside cache that had some history in the location, but nothing left there to see. The ghost town of Erna (GC1JR4C) is said to have been settled shortly after the Civil War, in part by German immigrants. J. N. Andrews operated the only store in the community in 1890. A post office was established there in 1915 with Amos Brewer as postmaster. The office was discontinued in 1919, and mail for the community was sent to Streeter in Mason County. Only a few scattered houses marked Erna on county highway maps in the 1940's. From the mid-1940's through the mid-1960's the population was reported at fifty. By the 1980's only the place name appeared on county maps.

An old farmhouse along one of the rural dirt roads.
The next geocache and ghost town down the road at the Saline and Little Saline Cemetery (GC1M4JK). A few settlers arrived in the area in the 1860's, but the threat of Indian raids kept many people away until the 1870's or 1880's. Shortly after 1900 the Saline school had eighty-four students and two teachers. The school and a church marked the community on county highway maps in the late 1930's. The school closed in 1947, and students were sent to the London school in Kimble County.

The family of Henry Parks settled here in the early 1860's, having found abundant grazing for their cattle. A band of Comanche Indians descended upon the pioneer family. Henry and Nancy Parks and their young grandson, Billy, were slain, their home burned and the cattle driven away. The Parks family were laid to rest where they had been slain. The three bodies, all in one grave, became the first burial in Little Saline cemetery.

The photo below is on the headstone of Marvin Harrison Hight who died December 1917 at age 22. I couldn't find any specific information on him, but I suspect he may have died in battle during World War I.

Continuing south on to my next cache (GC11951), I arrived in London. No not in England, but in Texas. London, aka London Town materialized sometime in the late 1870's or early 1880's when former Union Army officer Len L. Lewis moved into the area to trade horses. Lewis married locally and with holdings of a half-section of land, he planned the future town. Ed, Tom, and Robert Stevenson opened a store there in 1881 and the town was platted to include a square and forty town lots. A post office opened in the Stevenson store in 1892 under the name London and it was used to denote the town as well. London is famous locally for its dance hall located on the main street. The London Cemetery (GC6EG0K) has just over 400 burials dating back to 1908.

Jumping on to I-10 westbound, I continue on down to Copperas Cemetery (GC1M4H9). A deed for this cemetery was executed by D.P. Cowsert to E.S. Alley, County Judge, on May 30, 1890, donating one acre of land out of E.S. Haines Survey #55. First grave was that of William A. Cowsert on February 1, 1888. Residents of the Copperas community tend to cemetery. David Cowsert, who died during World War I, was returned home and buried here in the land of his ancestors. At least eight Civil War veterans , including Colonel John Griffith, were interred in the Copperas Cemetery. Veterans from other wars are among the dead in this beautiful little cemetery in the Copperas and Bois d" Arc valleys. An official historical law officers's marker denotes the burial spot of Ranger Captain Gully Cowsert.

Next door to the cemetery is what remains of the Copperas Methodist Church (GC1M4HA). Organized in 1881 by circuit rider, Andrew Jackson Potter, who helped firmly establish the Methodist church in West Texas. Before construction of church on this site in 1917, services were held in schoolhouse or under brush arbor 3/4 mi. SW on west bank, Copperas Creek. Building site was donated by J. A. Cowsert. Lumber was hauled here by wagon from Menard. Labor was donated by members and other local residents.

Five miles further down I-10 westbound is Roosevelt, Texas. Exiting off the Interstate, I first arrive at a historical marker and my next geocache (GC1M4GR). "From nearby Fort Terrett, this road in 1852 led south to Fort Clark and north to Fort McKavett. Selected mainly because it had water available, it served as the route for freight and mail in 1868, when the forts were reactivated. Over this route went troops, supplies, immigrants and pioneers. It was noted also for the passage of forays of Col. Ranald MacKenzie against hostile Indians to the northwest. After the forts were abandoned in 1883, ranchers drove cattle to market over parts of the road.

Near the historical marker was this old church. It was the Roosevelt Presbyterian Church. A plaque on the wall says the church was organized in 1933 and the building erected in 1947. The building looked to be in decent shape although the sign out by the road was pretty faded. With a population of about 150, I imagine it is still in use today.

Roosevelt, Texas was established with a post office in 1898 and was named by its founder, W. B. Wagoner, for Theodore Roosevelt, who reportedly visited the area with the First United States Volunteer Cavalry (the Rough Riders). It served as a shipping point for feed and supplies for local sheep and goat ranchers. The Patterson and Riek Ranch, established in 1897, imported Angora goats from South Africa in 1925.

In the 1920's the community hosted polo matches, as local ranchers bred polo ponies for national markets as well as horses for the United States Cavalry. Hill Country tourism also added to the local economy in that decade with the establishment of several businesses, including the Luthringer Hotel.

The population of Roosevelt, estimated at twenty-five in 1925, averaged 100 from 1941 through the middle 1980's. In 1990 it was ninety-eight. The population dropped to fourteen in 2000.

The old general store (GC1M4GB) in Roosevelt known as Simon Bros Mercantile opened in the early 1900's and is still in operation. The Back Door Cafe is located behind the store and contains a beautiful mahogany bar that languished for many years in a local barn. The remains of the school and the memorial church are located east of town.The post office is located inside the store and is one of the two smallest still operating in Texas (the other is at Telegraph).

Well it has been a busy day with 18 geocaches and a lot to see. From Roosevelt I still had 180 miles to go and was planning to drive all the way through to Fort Stockton. But after about an hour, I-10 was getting pretty boring! About halfway I was approaching a rest area. I opened up the app and saw that there was a cache there (GC2K4XW). Well that's a no-brainer. I quickly pull in, stretch my legs and grab a cache.

Now on to Fort Stockton to relax for the night and get rested for work tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by. If you've enjoyed my stories, please send me a note in the comments, or through Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

2018-06-09: Geocaching in Central Texas Through History, Cemeteries, an Elephant and Fairies!

Welcome to another edition of our AwayWeGo's Geocaching Adventures Blog. While I'm still way behind in my writing, I am hopeful that one day I'll catch up. I even stopped finding new caches for a few months at the beginning of this year in an effort to catch up. But none the less, much of what I tell you about is still there for you to see today if you like. So let's get started and see what we found on this day back in June 9, 2018.

Having worked only 5 days this week instead of the usual 6 days, I took the opportunity to go out on a Geocaching Adventure with my wife today. We decided to take a drive up to Hico, Texas to get some chocolates. It's a few hours away, but the chocolate is worth it! Along the way we'll be grabbing some caches and sightseeing on this roadtrip.

Our first geocache is called "Iron Elephant" (GC5XFB3). The cache was placed along the roadside where this rather large sculpture of an elephant happens to be sitting. It was hard to get a decent photo from the phone with it sitting so far off the roadway. As I was pulling away and passing by the Rockin-R Ranch gate, I saw another large statue of a giraffe. Again, sorry for the poor photo quality. But if you happen to be driving up SR-36 near Whiteway, TX, keep your eyes open for some large wildlife!

Just up the road in Whiteway is the Evergreen Cemetery (GC171KZ). Whiteway (formerly Whitesboro), in southeast Hamilton County, was established to serve the needs of motorists between Jonesboro and Hamilton. The settlement had a school, a church, a cemetery, and scattered farm units in 1936. At one time its population was fourteen; in 1966 four inhabitants were reported. Whiteway was named for Steve White, a local resident, whose sons established and operated the filling station, garage, body shop, and grocery. Whiteway appeared on local maps during the late 1980's, but no population figures were available. By 2000 the population was listed as ten. There was a John Stephen White (1880-1964) buried in the cemetery, but I'm not sure if he was the one the town was named after.

On the way to our next cache, I saw this old covered wagon sitting on the property corner of this ranch entrance. I just had to pull over and take a photo. You never know what you may find driving the rural backroads of this country.

Our next geocache was at the Rock House Church and Cemetery (GC10924).There's not much left to the actual church structure. I forgot to even get a photo. The cemetery is in dire need of some TLC. Mostly overgrown with weeds and shrubs. Some of the headstones have been broken.

Trying to research, I can't find any history on this church or the cemetery. The only thing that I can find is that there are 115 burials here dating back to 1870. Other than that... if you know of any information I'd be happy to hear from you.

Not too far away was our next cache at Bulman Cemetery (GC1CW5R). Established in 1884 because of the death of Emily Bulman, the wife of the Rev Henry Jefferson Bulman who was one of the early settlers in the area. There are just over 140 burials in this cemetery. One of the interesting displays by a headstone is this red boot in a basket.

Continuing northbound, we came upon this small town called Fairy, Texas. There wasn't a geocache in this town so it didn't come up on my radar. But I did take a quick stop for a few photos.

Fairy was first known as Martin's Gap for James Martin, an early settler who took an oxcart through the mountain gap, which wasn't an easy thing to do back in the day. When the post office was established in 1884, the town was named for Fairy Fort, the daughter of Confederate Army Captain Battle Fort. At a mere 2' 7" and about 28 lbs, Fairy Fort was one of the smallest Texans on record. She was married and divorced twice and had only one child, by her first husband, who died at birth in 1893. She died on October 22, 1938 at age 73 and is buried in the Fairy Cemetery.

Photo credit:

The town of Fairy had a cotton gin from 1900 to about 1936 and schools, churches, and businesses serving the greater ranching and farming community. In 1947 Fairy had a post office, three churches, three businesses, and 150 people. The post office closed in 1957, and the Fairy school district was consolidated with the Hamilton schools in 1967. In 1980, 1990, and 2000 the population was thirty-one. Pictured below is one of the remaining churches and a tree carving in town.

Maybe next time through they'll have a geocache to find or I'll hide one myself.

We finally arrived in Hico, Texas and our chocolate destination! Wiseman House Chocolates is a must stop when visiting Hico. This is our third time here and the chocolates are some of the best we've ever had.

Next a quick stop by the Hico Cemetery for our next geocache (GC6YNN7). There's just over 4000 interments dating back to 1862.

Then off to the Carlton Cemetery (GCT77Q). On July 9, 1867, a farmer J. E. Pinkerton traveling to Carlton on horseback, became bogged down in a muddy swamp while crossing Tywhappatee Creek. While struggling to free his horse he was attacked and killed by a band of renegade Comanche Indians. This occurred the same day that renegade Comanche Indians attacked the country school house seven miles northeast of Hamilton. Two children were taken captive and their teacher Ann Whitney lost her life protecting her students. It is unknown which attack happened first. Pinkerton was the first burial  in what became Carlton Cemetery.

And finally our last geocache for the day was at the Toliver Cemetery (GC14DV8). Burial place of pioneer settlers, including James H. Neel, one of first seven men to bring families here in 1852. His home was a quarter mile to the east of cemetery. He was also postmaster of Resley's Creek Village 1858 to 1866.

That's it for today. Don't forget to follow along with us on Facebook to get the latest updates and occasional pictures not found in our blog posts. See you next time.