Broken 1884 Stone Found Far From Gravesite
Sunday, July 7, 2013
B. Francis died in 1884 in Grayson County, but it took almost a whole
community to find his broken grave marker that had disappeared unoticed
from Holloway Cemetery near Luella.
story begins in the area where a massive pipeline is being built from
Lake Texoma near White Mound out of Luella off Red Road. A workman on
the pipeline, Jerry Parrish, who was working for Garney Construction
out of Kansas City, found a broken tombstone on private property near
the pipeline about a foot from the right of way.
A roadway was
to be built there and fill dirt was going to be hauled in that would
have buried the stone forever. So Parrish put stakes and pink
danger tape around it so no one would mess with the find.
early May the land owner's granddaughter and one of her friends, Amanda
Mayhue, both friends of Lea Head who lives between Tom Bean and
Whitewright, saw the marked spot and called Lea because they knew of
her interest in genealogy. After meeting them that very afternoon
and seeing the marker, Lea got on the computer and and began digging
around to find what she could about John B. Francis.
David Franklin, who is from the family that has been in the area for a
long time, so she contacted him to see if he was familiar with the
Francis family. He wasn't, so Lea got in contact with Bevery
Martin, regent of the Martha Jefferson Randolph Daughters of the
American Revolution (DAR) Chapter in Sherman, who also is interested in
genealogy. Beverly and David's wife, Barbara, went out for a
look, and Beverly took the tombstone home for safe keeping after Amanda
Lea's search on the internet didn't show any
Francis descendants. Ancestry.com did, however, show a John B.
Francis. But it was the Master Index on the Grayson County Genweb
where Lea found that Francis, his wife, son and daughter were buried in
Holloway Cemetery on Leulla Road between Luella and Highway 902.
Holloway, President of the Holloway Cemetery Association, told Lea that
Judy Low was named historian of the cemetery last year. Judy was
familiar with the Francis name but didn't know any stones were missing.
At last the grave sites were located. A piece of the
limestone marker was still in the ground that matched the epitaph on
Francis' stone. The daughter's stone was also was broken, but was
still on the site.
Once Lea and the others had a chance to view
the stone close up, they found that the engraver had put his signature
at the bottom. John Hackett Hilger was the stonemason who
prepared the tombstones back in the mid 1850s when the family died.
This knowledge sent Lea on another search that told her that
Hilger, who was born in 1849, had seven daughters and one son and came
to Sherman in 1876-77 as a marble cutter. He was the son of
German immigrants and is buried in West Hill Cemetery.
gave Lea the name of Jim Vandagriff, who owns Vandagriff Monument
Company southwest of Sherman. After a phone call from Lea, Jim
met her at the cemetery to see what needed to be done and to give her
an estimate for repairing and replacing the tombstones as well as
straightening the son's stone that was leaning.
Lea said she had
already received one contribution to help pay for the repairs and the
family's stones all to be straightened and repaired. Several more
have been promised, and any others' contributions will be welcome.
She said since Vandagriff volunteered his labor on the repairs,
any amount received over his estimate of materials costs, will go to
him and his helper, Guillermo (William in English) Navarro Campos,
better known as "Memo" (Bill in English) or "Mo", who has been with
Vadagriff for eight years.
I'm sure there will be any
number of people who are happy with Lea's persistance in in restoring
this Francis grave site. Among these are Charley and Nona Francis
of Shamrock, Texas, and Joe and Joyce Francis of Mineola, who were
contacted by Lea.
Joe told her in an email that John was a
descendant of Captain Henry and Leah Francis of what is now Cripple
Creek, Va. Their sons, John and his brother Henry, Jr., left
Virginia after serving in the Revolutionary War. Their dad was
killed in a battle in North Carolina in which all three were involved.
John and Henry settled in Kentucky and both were prominent in the
development of Wayne and Pulaski counties.
descendants of John and Henry, including John B., settled in Texas, and
there are supposed to be some descendants in Bells and possibly
elsewhere in Grayson County.
Lea is associated with the Lucile
Teague Library in Tom Bean as a volunteer on Tuesday as acting
librarian. It is here that she assists anyone with family
research and building/maintaing the genealogy collection there.
She is Vice-President of the Tom Bean Friends of the Library and
four years ago organized and became the mentor for the First Saturday
Genealogy Group that is open to the public and meets from 2 until 4
p.m. on the first Saturday of the month.
Two things that haven't been learned are how the stone got broken and how it ended up so far from the cemetery.
lucky, however, that Lea got put on the trail of the Francis stone.
The search for an answer was right up her alley and fortunately
she was able to find the solution. Once the repair on the stone
is completed, it will be researted in the Holloway Cemetery.