:Ownby, Holcomb, Webb, Martin, Godwin,
Williams, Savage, Moore .
the summer of 2000, during a heat wave of 110+ and one of the worst draughts
in Texas history, (and for you non Texans, THAT'S BAD).
I decided to find my great-great-grandfather's grave.
Eli Craig Ownby was buried in
1892 at Pilot Grove Cemetery, which is only about 15 miles from my home.
My husband, Darrell, grew up even closer to the cemetery and "knew" all
about it. One hot August afternoon we took a ride over there
and started walking the stones. We found Eli's daughter Elizabeth
Nancy Taylor's, grave but couldn't find his. I had a picture
of the grave stone which was about 5 foot tall taken around 1980 when another
researcher was visiting from Tennessee We walked the cemetery
twice and couldn't find it. Finally Darrell said, "Maybe it's
really at Cannon" (about 3 miles down the road). So we drove
to Cannon Cemetery. Walked it twice and couldn't find it.
I was determined.......I knew it existed, just where. We went
back to Pilot Grove, Darrell laughed and pointed to a little used side
road (one he had used for "Parking" back in the olden days) and said "Maybe
he's buried in the Black Cemetery". I said "no, he's buried
here".....sooooooooooo....we walked that sucker again. By now
we were both sun burned and almost dehydrated and very smelly.
Finally on the verge of tears with frustration, I told him "Let's try the
Black section". (Remember....this is 1892 Reconstruction Texas
timing we are referring to). We went down the hill and there
is this beautiful cemetery with tall massive headstones. We
start walking the rows and I found 3 Ownby's immediately but no Eli.
I even found (lying on the ground) Eli's wife Nancy Carol Winstead Ownby.
I kept saying over and over "he's got to be here". Remember
it is 110 in the shade but I'm determined. I was saddened by
the fact that Nancy Carol was lying in the dirt and also confused, because
she had died in 1861 during the Civil War in TN. The family
moved to TX in 1881. Why was she buried in TX.
Did they dig her up and move her bones or something? We kept
walking and looking and finally, out of desperation, (because he was hot
and tired and thirsty) Darrell reached down and flipped (that's an understatement)
Nancy's stone over and guess what? There was Eli Craig lying
face down in the dirt. It bothered me for nearly a year and
Darrell and our son, Stuart, planned to go over there and fix the stone
but weather wouldn't cooperate, so, in May of 2001, we went and dug a hole
and poured concrete for a pad. We let the concrete set up and went
back 3 days later and set the stone upright and glued the pieces with epoxy
so that finally Eli and Nancy can get up out of the dirt and stand proudly
as they deserve to. I later found out that when Nancy died
during the war (another story another time) she was buried in an unmarked
grave on the family farm so, when Eli died here in Texas, his children
had a stone erected with her memorial written on the opposing face of her
husband, who never remarried. We never solved the mystery of
why Darrell had been told that this was the "Black Cemetery", when actually
it was just the "Old Pilot Grove Cemetery". Now that we have the
stone erect again you can read the inscriptions.
Nancy's inscription reads, "Dearest
loved one we have laid thee in the peaceful graves embrace,
But thy memory will be cherished til we see thy Heavenly face".
Eli's inscription reads, "Tis hard
to break the tender cord when Love has bound the heart, Tis hard, so hard,
to speak the words, Must we forever part".
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