Although in official records it is known as 'La Parra Ranch Cemetery,' this site, located some three-quarters of a mile southeast of the Big House, is popularly referred to as the 'Cowboy Cemetery'. In the heyday of Kenedy Ranch operations, this field was the final resting place of most of the vaqueros and their families who lived and worked at La Parra. The Spanish-speaking cowboys themselves, however, had other ways of designating this fenced-in area:
Campo Santo ('holy field' or 'holy ground'),
Ordinarily, the funerals for the cowboys and the members of their families were held in the Kenedy family chapel. The coffins were then transported to this cemetery by horse-and-buggy, or in the post World War 11 era hearses were sometimes used. The Kenedys would give all the cowboys on the ranch the day off so that everyone could participate in the funeral and burial service. The Kenedy family would also attend. The economic structure at the time was such that the Kenedys directly looked after all the medical expenses of their employees from the cradle to the grave.
Many, if not most, of the graves are unmarked, especially those of infants. When they were fresh, the graves had simple wooden crosses with the names and dates of the deceased sketched on them. Those wooden crosses have long since disappeared. Homemade concrete headstones were also used. Many of these concrete markers have endured, but the painted names and dates on them are no longer visible. In more recent times, however, rock or granite headstones have become popular. Most of these were furnished by the families of the deceased.
The first graves were probably dug in the 1880's. Among the oldest headstones that are legible is that of Fabia Reojas (1810-1895). One of the most recent headstones of a person connected with the Kenedys is that of Delfina Ruano (1901-1982). Among the dozens of others, one reads family names like Cano, Castillo, De La Rosa, De Leal, Estrada, Garcia, Garza, Maldonado, Rodriguez, Salazar, Salinas, Vela. Most of the remembrances on the headstones are very simple and in Spanish. An exception is that of Isaac Hodges which reads "Born in Macon, GA. Died May 18, 1910 at La Parra Ranch." Perhaps he was just passing through, as indeed each of us is.
used with permission of the Lebh Shomea House of Prayer
©2004 - Present