The story of the lost Gregg Family of Eastland County will have to come later. Unlike most historical stories that I write, there has been little time for research so far. The story's gravity makes its speed outweigh its incompleteness.
Last Friday, I was traveling the backroads of what used to be Cheaney with Ray Blackwell. Blackwell grew up in Cheaney in the 1920s and 1930s. We are building a map of the Cheaney community as it then existed. Boasting two stores, two churches, a blacksmith shop and a school, there is nothing but a misspelled state highway sign to mark its location now.
Stopping near the old Joe Blackwell homeplace off of FM 570, we climbed over a fence and walked out into a pasture. According to a map, there was a cemetery out here somewhere. The mystery is that I have interviewed several people that grew up in and around Cheaney. This cemetery, located less than half a mile from "downtown", had never come up. Most Cheaney people are buried in Alameda or Cook Cemeteries.
After searching a bit, we finally found the old cemetery. It is covered in weeds, trees, bushes and is in danger of fulfilling the poignant phrase "dust to dust". Beautiful in a haunting, tragic way, this cemetery is the final resting place of the Gregg Family. They must have lived here in the late 1800s, making them one of Cheaney's founding families. The first marked grave was that of J. J. Gregg, passing away in 1883. The man that I take to be the family patriarch, Silas Gregg, Sr. was born in 1826. Their graves sit under the overgrown brush, quietly forgotten.
I made a quick search of the deed records for this land, going back to 1861 and did not find the Gregg name. They, like some of my ancestors, could have rented for a time. The dates of deaths recorded on the stones span 27 years though. Maybe they lived somewhere else nearby. The land was known for years as the Joe Blackwell place, with the Blackwells' homeplace being just down the fence line.
I suspect that the Greggs' history will become evident as research progresses. My concern, and the purpose of this short article, is their posterity. This little cemetery is in danger of disappearing. They may be famous people that helped do amazing things to start the county or they may have been simple farm people struggling to get by. We don't know yet. We do know that they were a family that lived in Eastland County for at least 27 years, near the time of its beginning, and their cemetery is in danger of being lost. Famous or not, this is not a fitting legacy.
It would be easy to restore the small cemetery to its former beauty - probably an afternoon for a few people with a chain saw and weedeaters. It could be visited a couple of times a year and at some point, there might even be relatives located. The headstones are mostly in good shape, a blessing given the cemetery's overall neglect.
A reading of this cemetery was performed in 1972 by Shirley Brittain Cawyer in Volume I of the Eastland County Cemetery Book. She notes that Silas Gregg, then being 23 years old, was recorded in the 1850 census of Houston County as being from Illinois.
There are seven marked graves inside an old chain-link fence, with evidence of one more also inside the fence. There are indications of at least six other graves just outside the fence. Mr. Blackwell remembers walking past the cemetery as a boy and it being surrounded by an ornate wrought-iron fence. That fence is gone. There are large timber corner posts near the present fence that could have marked original corners. Both Blackwell and Cawyer's book remember the field surrounding the cemetery to be clear of trees and in cultivation, with the cemetery being visible from the road. The day I visited it was obscured by large mesquite trees and cactus a mere hundred feet away.
I have written of another group, the Parker County Abandoned Cemetery Association, which has restored and maintained 53 lost cemeteries two counties to the east. In my travels around Eastland County, however, I've never seen the need for such an organization here, as the cemeteries are so lovingly taken care of. The Gregg Family Cemetery needs to be adopted and restored. It is the right thing to do. It could be a project for a Sunday School class, a Boy Scout troop or any number of other civic-minded groups. We all would like to think, one hundred years after our deaths, that our graves and our history would be better remembered and respected.
Jeff Clark - Jdclark3312@aol.com
Son of S.S. Gregg
Born Oct. 22, 1862
Died Feb. 1896
Born May 1850
Sam Houston Gregg
Silas Gregg Sr.
Daughter of W.M. & S.O. Gregg
Born Oct. 7, 1876
Died Sept. 5, 1886
Notes from Tami Ramsey: After extensive research I have
found the following information on the family of Silas Gregg and
Sarah Conner (one source, a death certificate of one of her children,
has the last name as Comer);
Silas Gregg was born 1826 in Crawford County, Illinois and married Sarah Connor in Texas in 1849. In 1850 and in 1870 they were living in Harris County, Texas. The 1880 census finds them in Stephens County, Texas, which is right next door to Eastland County to the North. In the 1900 Eastland County census Silas's widow, Sarah, is living with her son Edward. It is interesting to note that Silas's tombstone says that he died in 1901 and Sarah is listed as a widow in 1900. Texas Confederate pension applications show that Silas Gregg applied for a pension and was rejected but later files show that his widow Sarah was awarded a pension.
They had twelve children;
William M. Gregg. He was born on May 15, 1850. He married
Sarah Overton Oliver 11-10-1869. He died on Mar 22,
1884 in Eastland County, Texas.
Mary Ann Gregg. She was born on Feb 21, 1852.
Harmon Gregg. He was born on Jan 13, 1855. He died on Jun 07, 1877.
Sarah Francis Gregg. She was born on Mar 27, 1857. She died
on Aug 05,
Rhoda Jane Gregg. She was born on Nov 09, 1858. She died on Jun 22, 1860.
Samuel Houston Gregg. He was born on Dec 18, 1860. He died
on Sep 08,
1901 in Eastland County, Texas.
Silas Gregg. He was born on Oct 22, 1862. He died Feb 1896
John J. Gregg. He was born on Jun 07, 1865. He died on Jul
14, 1883 in
Eastland County, Texas.
Eliza Susan Gregg. She was born on Feb 01, 1868 in Crockett,
She died on Dec 26, 1936 in Winkler, Texas.
Edward Lane Gregg. He was born on Jul 05, 1870. He married
were married 1898. He died on Jan 27, 1939 in Dublin, Erath County, Texas.
Elizabeth Gregg. She was born on Jul 21, 1872.
Ellen Gregg. She was born on Jul 07, 1876. She died on Nov 26, 1953.
I do have more research on the extended family members and if anyone is interested they can contact me, Tami Ramsey