Saturday, July 31, 2021

2019-07-28: Geocaching Through Ghost Towns, Cemeteries, History, and Finding an Old Corvette

Welcome back fellow geocachers, travelers, explorers, and Jeepers. Today is cemetery day it seems. On this 300+ mile backroads roadtrip from Central to North Central Texas, I visited several cemeteries searching for history and a ghost story to tell. As usual the passenger seat in the GeoJeep is open, so climb in and let's take a drive through the spooky alley of trees down the middle of the cemetery.

Leaving Killeen, Texas, my first stop as usual is the Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee and a bagel. Then US-190 west to US-183 north in Lampasas. I make a quick stop for a geocache (GC435CN) at the radio station in Lampasas which for some reason I always skipped before. But today it seemed to be calling for me to stop.

I exit off US-183 near Bozar onto FM1029 going off some very rural backroads driving heading north to my next geocache (GC370W1). Upon arriving at the Trigger Mountain Cemetery I stopped for a photo by the sign and felt that I just had to wear the hat also with a name like Trigger Mountain!

The Trigger Mountain Cemetery is a rather large cemetery for just 13 interments here. But it is also well maintained by the very small community. The first listed burial here is that of 5-year old Riley Burgess Hays in 1904. His father, the Rev L. L. Hays is also buried here and lived to be 99 years old passing away in 1961. The cemetery is still in use today with the most recent burial in 2018.

Down another dirt side road about a half mile was Trigger Mountain Hunting. The small geocache (GC3CEEF) had a difficulty rating of 3.0 and a terrain rating of 3.5. Tucked away in the trees, brush, and weeds, it was not an easy task on this hot July afternoon! But success was had and I was able to sign the log.

Continuing down the very rural dirt backroads, I came to the next geocache at Brown's Creek (GC3BYJ4). Down a steep embankment to the creek, this small cache a D4/T4 rating. But with the water currently shallow, I was able to keep dry and stick to the taller rocks to make my way across.

After leaving the creek and just down a little further I came across a cemetery with a historical marker. I check my phone again but I'm not showing any geocache listed here. So I check out the cemetery and read the historical marker: "North Brown Cemetery was named for creek followed by homeseekers. This burial ground originated about 1857 when death struck at a nearby campsite. In the 1870's, North Brown farming community surrounded this site. It had a school and held church services in the schoolhouse. In 1895 local leaders A. A. Boulter, G. M. O'Quin, and J.S. Weatherby secured a deed to the acreage in which graves had so long existed, and North Brown Cemetery Association was formed. After school had closed, proceeds from sale of its site were pledged in 1967 for cemetery care. Pioneer families continue burials here."

Well I just couldn't let this historical cemetery and these pioneers go unnoticed. So I found two headstones of original pioneers and hid my own geocache in a nearby tree (GC8BNKX).

Working my way through the backroads to the small town of Priddy, I had two cemeteries and two geocaches to find. The first was at the St. John's Cemetery (GC22Z1J) with just over 600 interments dating back to 1902. The other was the Zion Lutheran Cemetery (GC19E1A) with over 200 interments dating back to 1889. This older cemetery contains most of the early German settlers to the town of Priddy and has this kinda spooky entrance with the rows of trees. I couldn't decide which I liked better this color photo or the black/white which I opened with at the top of the page.

Trying to make up some time now, I make my way back over to US-183 where I can move a little fast and put some miles behind me. One quick roadside geocache (GC5MVPM) and continue on my way.

But as usual I soon find myself off on the backroad headed towards another cemetery geocache. This one was for the Routh Cemetery (GC1NTWE) in a little community called Blanket. Supposedly named by a couple of surveyors who happened upon some Indians taking shelter under blankets placed over some bushes to give them some protection from a rain storm. As for the cemetery, the oldest marked grave is for that of 19-year-old Elizabeth Routh who died in 1876. She was the daughter of Simeon Levin Routh who is believed to have brought his family out here from Tennessee as part of the Peter's Colony Group to help settle Texas in the 1840's & 50's. Simeon was laid to rest here in 1890 along with his wife and many of their children. There are 58 interments here in total with the most recent in 2005.

Still on the rural backroads, I don't know if you could call this next one a ghost town when at it's peak it only had 100 residents. Owens, Texas, also known as Clio (GC2QM9D), is located eight miles north of Brownwood on U.S. Highway 183 in central Brown County. The town was settled in the early 1870's. The post office, granted in 1878 as Clio, was renamed for E. Owens, who donated the townsite in 1910. It closed sometime after 1930. John W. Yantis promoted sawmills in the area. In the 1930's the town had a school, a church, two businesses, and a number of scattered homes. In 1949 Owens had one business and a population of 100. In 1953 it had a population of forty and no businesses; and in 1965 the population was sixty. No census data was reported for Owens after 1965. In 1983 the community had two churches and a single business. It was still shown on county highway maps in 2000.

Making my way back to US-183, I'm still on the rural dirt and gravel backroads when I pass by this one house with an old 1969 Corvette just sitting there with no tops covered in dirt and dust open to the rain and weather. Made me sad to see that beautiful car being neglected. 

So now I start driving north on US-183 again and after a little bit I see a sign for a cemetery. I look at my phone but don't see a geocache in the area. Well I just have to investigate that further. It is sad finding cemeteries in such neglected care. The rusty sign above the gate just has the name Reagan on it. I can't find much information about this cemetery other than those who are buried here. The Find-A-Grave website shows there to be 14 burials, 12 of those between 1879-1955 and the other two in the 1990's. Though the odd thing is that I can't figure out why it is called the Reagan Cemetery. There are no Reagan's interred here and I can't find a ghost town or community called Reagan. Another website states that it also goes by the name of Latham of which there are two here by that name from the 1880's. Oh well, I find a spot and hide a cache here myself (GC8BNM4). Maybe somebody else will come along and shed some light on this place. Maybe bring some lawn equipment as well!

My last stop was for another geocache (GC22W7R) nearby in the ghost town of the Yellow Mound Community. I couldn't find much in the way of history and settlement. It had never really developed into an incorporated town. Just some local ranchers and farmers. Looking through newspapers for references of Yellow Mound, they started appearing in 1890 and slowed except for obituaries in the 1960's & 70's. Stories of oil discoveries and drilling in 1919-1930, then those stopped. Probably had a surge of workers during that time, but they too moved on. The most interesting newspaper story I found was on July 7, 1964: "Skeleton Discovered in Pasture" read the headline.

"A skeleton thought to be that of a man was found Monday under some undergrowth on a farm near the Yellow Mound Community, seven miles NW of Eastland. Sheriff Lee Horn, one of the officers who went to the scene, estimated the skeleton might have been there as long as 10 years. He based his opinion on the condition of the bones and a weathered shoe along side the skeleton. The find was made by a farm worker rounding up some calves. The sheriff said he would ask a dentist to check gold dental work in the hopes of establishing identity. About five years ago, a skeleton was found near Cisco, 10 miles west of Eastland."

I never did find a follow-up story to this one.

Getting close to work home in Munday, Texas, I was passing by the Brushy Cemetery. I stopped, but by this point it was 6:30 PM and I had already turned a 4 1/2 hour drive into almost 9 hours. Plus it was hot and I was ready to relax, eat, and settle in for the day. With the wind turbines as I backdrop, I thought it was a decent photo. Grabbed my phone, snapped a pic, and continued on.

That's it for today. I hope you enjoyed the ride and my stories. I hope to see you back again soon for another of my geocaching adventures through history.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

2019-07-21: Geocaching the Rural Backroads to a Historic Church, an Abandoned Cemetery, and the First Hilton Hotel

Hello friends, geocachers, travelers, and those who may have found me by accident. On this day it's another of my long 300+ mile Sunday drives from home base in Central to work base in North Central Texas. Not a whole of to see today, but what I did see was historic as well as a sad forgotten cemetery. And you probably at one time or another stayed a night in this mans hotel. This particular building was his very first hotel. As always, the GeoJeep Travel Bug passenger seat is open. So hop on in and let's go for a drive.

Well the first group of geocaches weren't anything really interesting or or brought me to any historical place. They were just some roadside very rural backroads caches. So I thought I'd take a drive through the countryside to see if I could find them. The first one hadn't been found since February of 2016. I couldn't find it and it still hasn't been found (GC1J29N). Probably long gone and should be archived.

The next one hadn't been found in two years (GC25RMW). It was a regular sized cache and also obviously missing. I had a replacement in the GeoJeep, so loaded with some swag for kids and a logsheet and placed it there. Three more quick backroads caches and then get back to civilization (GC1G34Y, GC21XWY, GC3GVFW).

Making it to Lampasas, I've been wanting to get this next geocache for a while but there has always been muggle members in attendance. Today I got lucky having spending some time on the rural backroads. The services are over and nobody is around. St. Mary's Episcopal Church (GC500RZ) was built in 1884 of native limestone. It is the oldest church in the area still in use. Modeled after a gothic church in Rugby, England and birthplace of W.T. Campbell, pioneer communicant. The interior decor, including the oak alter and pews, are original.

Continuing up the road to the town of Early, Texas, I just had to take a photo by the town sign. I suppose this is one place that you don't ever want to be late to! Before leaving town, I make a stop at the picnic area up the road for another geocache (GC7ZWE2).

Arriving in the town of Cisco, Texas, I first head towards the "Hidden Cemetery" on the eastside outskirts of town (GC3J2RT). The cemetery is commonly referred to the Central Methodist Cemetery, although there is no sign indicating that and the cemetery is no longer maintained. The FindAGrave website shows there to be 19 buried here dating back to 1903 with two unknown dates. It is sad to see the neglected condition of these forgotten resting places just off the roadway. Many people pass by every day and not even realized they're there. Maybe one day some local historians or Boy Scout group could clean this cemetery up and erect a sign.

Back in Cisco, I find my next geocache at a Union Pacific caboose (GC7D6EM). A look inside one of these old train cars gives one a glimpse into the life of a railroad workers life away from home. It's gotta be a rough life working and living on the rails.

An unexpected surprise and one of those reasons I like geocaching are the other locations and bits of history nearby that they also bring you to. Most everyone is familiar with the name Hilton Hotels. Next to where the caboose was is the Old Mobley Hotel built in 1916 by H.L. Mobley. During Cisco's oil boom in 1919, Mobley sold his hotel to a 32-year-old ex-legislator and banker from New Mexico by the name of Conrad Hilton. On the night of the purchase, Conrad Hilton "dreamed of Texas wearing a chain of Hilton Hotels." While Hilton did sell this hotel in 1925, he continued on to becoming the "World's Foremost Innkeeper."

This building continued to be used as a hotel for many years later. It was made a Texas Historical landmark in 1970. Conrad Hilton passed away in 1979. The people of Cisco, along with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, restored and redeveloped this area as the Conrad N. Hilton Memorial Park and Community Center. It was dedicated on October 13, 1984.

Also located within the ground of the park, is this old clock from the former First National Bank of Cisco. It was presented to the Conrad Hilton Center on its 20th Anniversary on 2006.

So that was it for today. By this time it was 5:30 PM and I still had almost 2 hours of driving to get to work base in Munday, Texas. Plus grab a bite to eat and stop by the grocery store and get food for the week! Thanks for riding along with me. I hope you enjoyed the step back into time. Until next week, happy travels!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

2019-07-20: My Roadtrip Finding Giant Spiders, Memorials, Cemeteries, and Sculptures in North Central Texas

Hello travelers, geocachers, and explorers. For today's edition of AwayWeGo's Geocaching Adventures, I got out of work early on this Saturday. That gave me some extra time to stop for a few geocaches on the way back to Killeen. Today we'll visit a couple of memorials, cemeteries, and some interesting sculptures. We have over 300 miles of driving and an open seat in the GeoJeep, so hop on in and let's go for a ride.

My first stop was a short drive down the road to the Knox County Veterans Memorial located in the town of Benjamin (GC19EFG). This impressive memorial is dedicated to all the citizens from Knox County who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country throughout the various wars.

After the memorial, I drove over to the Benjamin Cemetery for another geocache (GC5N4H7). There are around 800 burials dating back to 1886. Benjamin is the county seat and first town organized in Knox County. Hilory H. Bedford, president and controlling stockholder in the Wichita and Brazos Stock Company, founded the town in 1885 and named it for his son Benjamin, who had been killed by lightning. The town received its first mail service in 1884; Bedford was postmaster. In 1886 the Benjamin school was organized with R. P. Dimmitt, Mrs. Oliver, and Mrs. M. S. Berry as first teachers. Other early residents included W. P. Lane, who opened a saddle shop in 1885, Tom Isbell, the first sheriff of Knox County, and Dr. G. H. Beavers.

Driving south on Highway 6, passing through the town of Rule, Texas, I then stopped for two quick roadside geocaches (GC49G9G, GC4ZWD8).

Next up was the Capron Cemetery (GC5N3CT). It is a small rural backroads cemetery between Sagerton and Stamford in Haskell County. There are less than 100 interments here dating back to 1908. After a couple hours of research, I couldn't find much in the way of history for a town or community of Capron. Just a few obituaries for this cemetery. However...

...there was one story I found repeated in multiple newspapers across the country in February 1934, that mentioned the town.
           HEADLINE: Stunt Flyer Killed When Plane Crashes
        "Clarence 'Tailspin' Steffins, 28, Capron, Texas aviator, was killed here late today when the monoplane he was flying in an air circus fell in a spin. The crash was witnessed by his wife and a large crowd of spectators. A wing of the plane fell upon a motor car parked near the flying field, but occupants of the machine were not injured."

Continuing south, I arrive in the town of Stamford, Texas. Established by the railroad in the 1890's, Stamford was named by a railroad executive after his hometown in Connecticut. There was much history to see here, but I only stopped at one small corner to find a geocache (GC4ZWAZ) and see some interesting sculpture.

This first photo is often referred to "Bed Henge." Encircled like Stone Henge, the use of truck beds being inspired by the Cadillac Ranch around a cross made of wheels created by artist and Mayor Johnny Anders.

Mayor Anders also constructed his variation of the VW Bug / Spider sculpture. In this one though he used the Italian made Isetta microcar.

And finally, the Centennial Monument was dedicated June 30, 2000 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Stamford. A tribute to the area's railroad and ranching history.

Moving along southbound, there were several quick roadside geocache stops before reaching my last geocache of the day at Burnt Branch Cemetery (GC1DY6N). Located several miles northwest of Cross Plains, it's another small rural backroads cemetery with less than 100 interments which dates back to 1893. I also couldn't find much history about the cemetery or the area. There was one headstone that caught my attention. Private Benjiman Clarence Barclay was just 22 years old when he died on November 1st, 1918, just 10 days before the end of World War I. Searching old newspapers though, I couldn't find any stories on Private Barclay. But I can only assume he died while in service.

That's it for today. Come back again tomorrow for the return drive and see what else we can find...