History of Crosby County CemeteriesCrosby County has eight known cemeteries within its boundaries, and several private burial sites but only the soil holds the secret to the number of graves belonging to previous civilizations.
Early Day Burials
- Crosbyton Cemetery
- Crosbyton Mt. Zion
- Lorenzo Cemetery
- West Side Cemetery, Lorenzo (formerly Mt. Pleasant)
- Ralls Cemetery also on Find A Grave
Lost and Lonely
John T. Emerson
In the Southwestern part of Crosby County, down in the Yellowhouse Canyon, is a lonely grave of a cowboy, John T. Emerson. Emerson went to work on a ranch in Crosby County at a very young age. He was killed one day when his horse fell and crushed him.
In the 1880's the Kentucky Land and Cattle Company came, to what is now known as Crosby County, and started a ranch. In 1884 when the ranch house was being built with rock from Silver Falls, a man named Bond was killed while they were blasting the rocks. He is buried a half-mile west of the rock house. His grave is currently marked with a cement curb.
While the Tom Ballowes were managing the SR Ranch in 1908, their son Calvin, age 5, died after accidentally taking strychnine. He was buried near the dugout where the family was living.
Girl Scount Camp
On a hill east of the lodge at Camp Rio Blanco there is an unmarked grave enclosed with bois d'arc post and twisted ribbon wire fence. In the late 1950s Judge W.P.Walker did some research on this grave. The Buck Allen family, early Crosby County Pioneers, are believed to have buried one of their children there, who died when the family first settled in the country.
Another story was told by W.L.(Bill) Brown who said he and another man were returning from a trip to the plains when they met emigrants in covered wagons. One family had become ill with either smallpox or typhoid. Two of the adults had died and the group had dug one grave and buried both bodies.
The final story, on the gruesome side but corresponds with Mr Brown's: A debating society dug into the grave and after unearthing two skeletons, took the shin bone of one to use as a gavel.
To date the question of who is buried there remains unanswered.
Believed to be the unhappy soul of a negro camp cook. The cook was killed when he was kicked in the head by a mule. The grave is marked by a large rock.
Wil S Ranch
About twelve miles south of Crosbyton stood an old log house, once headquarters of the Wil S Ranch, located by Will Slaughter in the late seventies. Legend relates that once, while the owners were freighting supplies from Fort Worth, Indians attacked the place and killed some women and children. Ghost stories have been told and to substantiate this statement, the story teller pointed to four graves in the front yard. The old house was abandoned after the country was settled and stood for years as a landmark of a past frontier.
Chas. Miller, 18??-1878
In 1963, a monument of sandstone about 12 inches in diameter was found about 4 miles north of White River Dam by M/M Olin Caskey, David and Heber. The first date is dim and may be 1878, indicating the death of a child. The ruins of a rock house could be seen about 300 years away, and a pile of rocks 50-100 yards from the spot where the stone was found might indicate a gravesite.
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The Indian burials took place as soon after death as possible. The corpse was bathed, the face painted red, and the eyes sealed shut with clay. It was dressed in fine clothing, some of it donated by friends and relatives. The knees of the body were drawn up to the chest, the head was bent forward on it, and the flexed body was tied in this position. A blanket was wrapped and tied around the body which was then placed on a horse. Women, riding on either side or behind the corpse, took it to the burial. Inaccessable crevices, washes, rockshelters in the caprock rim or similar spots were preferred for graves. The flexed and bound corpse was placed in the sitting position or on its side in the crevis, facing the rising sun.
By 1980 Crosby County had recorded fifty Indian burial sites.
(Information from The Indians of Texas by W. W. Newcomb, Jr.)
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Col. R.S. Mackenzie was ordered to construct a map on the Freshwater Fork of the Brazos River, known as White River today, to control and punish the Indians for stealing cattle and killing pioneers on the Texas frontier. During this military campaign (1871-1874) two of Mackenzies men were buried in Crosby County.
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Rock House CemeteryA Texas Historic Cemetery
About a mile north of the Rock House is a small cemetery with eight marked graves. The following stories have been told:
It is a known fact that the infant daughter (Frances Smith died at birth) of Bob and Barbara Smith was buried there. George and Sallie Smith also buried a daughter, Vera, there. These are the only Smiths buried at the Rock House cemetery.
"The first person to be buried there was a man by the name of Foster. He had the measles, drank a cup of coal oil (kerosene) and died the next day. Two of Tasker's men were next. They were killed when the 'canon' was blown to pieces July 4, 1877.' (it was discovered later that Tasker had a small cannon at the Rock House and the men, filled with Independence Day spirits, loaded the cannon and it blew up.)
"Uncle Hank giveth the best account of two other burials in the little cemetery. A man, his wife and a child were coming from the direction of Petersburg down into the canyon. The man had been warned to chain the wheels of the wagon to go down into the canyon, but he only used rope. The wagon lunged forward hitting the horse and causing the wagon to turn over. The family had a bachelor stove in the wagon, the stove caught the wagon on fire and the mother and child were burned beyond recognition. The mother and child were buried in the Rock House cemetery."
"An unverified story is told by members of the family. A man showed up at the Rock House late one day mounted on a beautiful horse. Even more beautiful were the elaborate saddle and bridle, with embossed leather and silver trim. He took advantage of the invitation to spend the night, enjoyed supper and breakfast cooked by Aunt Hank, then headed west. A few days later his body was found out on the Plains, shot through the chest, but the horse and beautiful trappings were never seen again. Rather than bury the man on the Plains he was brought back to the Rock House and buried in the little cemetery."
Mrs. Viola Brown, granddaughter of Hank Smith, tells that a negro man who worked for Uncle Hank was also buried in the Rock House cemetery.
The identity of these people will probably never be known, but these are the accounts given by the Smith family.(Information taken from Gone but not forgotten with footnotes shown from "Sun Rising on the West" by Walter Hubert Curry.) Gerald Collier.
Oil field workers were on the ranch and one of the workers took a shotgun and killed the Billy Goat grazing there, cut his head off as a trophy because of the horns and left the body. Gerald Collier called the oil company and told them he wanted the goathead back, the gun back and the man back out on the ranch for a proper burial of the goat. Mr. Collier had the oil field worker who shot the goat to dig the grave while he told him how important a billy goat was to a herd, that he was their protector. When Mr. Collier passed away he was laid to rest at the burial grounds with the goat.Story related by Allan Adams as told to him by the family.
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