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John Sibilsky

December 10th, 2014
Archaeology of Death
Estacado Cemetery
Nestled amongst the cotton fields at the end of that dirt road where you’ll find the
remnants of a dream, and a white gate proudly parading the name of a town that no
longer exists. The Estacado Cemetery is located 25 miles north east of Lubbock, and
while technically in the town of Lorenzo, Texas, it is the final resting place to some 149
people; most of whom lived and died in the city of Estacado. The cemetery is surrounded
by barbed wire fencing on three sides, and the west facing entrance bears a white fence
and gate with a historical marker located off to the right. Upon entering the cemetery it
has little landscaping or infrastructure with the predominant feature being the two parallel
sets of trees running west to east directly though the center of the cemetery, and while it
was not completely forsaken; the grass was cut and there were signs of headstone repair,
there was not any apparent forethought into the locations of any of the other trees or

and graves ranging . There was no apparent organization to where families were placed and in some cases the older graves of members of these families would be separated from the area in which the rest family is located. so one could conclude that there was no original plan for the cemetery layout but with time the cemetery became more organized and most of the graves were then located amongst their families in specific rows. the Son of Gideon and Aseneth B. Mattie G.1886. Cox – 1888. as the grave of Alphus Dyer was located towards the very east end of the cemetery. whose grave is located at the very front of the Cemetery. Ellis .1886. as can be seen in the overhead view of the cemetery with the names of each family indicating their specific area within in the cemetery as provided below. and the founder of Estacado. The cemetery did not exhibit in sort of organization in regards to the age of the graves. and Paris Cox’s was located at the very west end. Paris Cox – 1888. Alphus Dyer . The oldest graves in the cemetery belonged to that of Dr.The organization of Estacado Cemetery shares similar qualities to that of the infrastructure and landscaping. There were obvious attempts at some organization within the cemetery as there was a general layout of rows laid out from north to south generally containing one or two families per each row and the trees running along the center dividing the rows with no correlation with style of grave.

from the late 20th century to 2014 were sporadically located through out with no obvious chronological organization. which can also be seen in another overhead view of the cemetery with the location of the 4 oldest graves being labeled and the newest grave being indicated by the single red point. .

While this cemetery did contain all traditional types of headstones. and while it was popular amongst both genders and all of the various families within the cemetery the popularity drastically decreased around 1910. McCoy .J. one of the latest examples belonging to A. there were some obvious trends that were quite evident after examining every headstone within the cemetery. One of the more obvious trends was pertaining to the use of the obelisk headstone due to the frequent use during the late 19th century and early 20th century. a man with seemingly no correlation with anyone else in the cemetery and the latest use of an obelisk by 23 years. .1943.

.Another common characteristic amongst some of the earlier headstones was the adornment of either a statue or etching of a lamb atop the grave. specifically those belonging to infants and young children. Though it was relatively popular symbol in the late 19th and early 20th century the use of symbol decreased drastically with the latest example I could find belonging to Calvin Cadwell – 1915. Infant mortality was very common in this cemetery especially with certain families and there were multiple examples of the use of the lamb and each was used for a child or infant.

whether it is an obelisk.Other than the use of the lamb. The hands would either be displayed as if they were clasped in prayer. or two hands shaking. another reoccurring adornment to the headstones during the late 19th century was the use of hands atop the headstone. or block style. tablet. pointing upwards towards the sky. all an evident reference towards their faith and their views of the after life. . The use of hands was a common occurrence in the 1880-90’s but there was only one example of this style in the cemetery later than 1900.

Another interesting stylistic aspect of these graves with the frequent use of the block headstones for those who had served. generally listing the war that they had served in and their rank. There was no correlation between the time of their death and their military service upon them choosing to recognize it on their headstone considering the wars that were represented in the cemetery were from World War I to the Korean War. There were around 10 graves in the cemetery that incorporated their military service onto the headstone.L. especially considering that later in the 20th century the popularity of these block style headstones seemed to be losing popularity amongst the rest of population of the Estacado Cemetery excluding those with military service. The use of nicknames on the headstones was something rather interesting due to the fact that the earliest example of this was that of W.The frequency of military related headstones in this cemetery was rather surprising considering the size of the cemetery. (Guad) Bryant – 1959. Now .

after 1959 the frequency of nicknames upon the headstones increases and you see them ranging from nicknames pertaining to their occupation. Although the earliest example of a nickname found in this cemetery was in 1959. and those also within their family unit. there were continually examples of this upon headstones into the 21st century. .

With the obvious Christian diction and symbols. such as the lamb and hands.The conclusion that one can infer in regards to the over all evolution of the headstones found in the Estacado Cemetery was that over the span of 128 years is that there is a slight secularization of the burial cultural. and the development of more emphasis on the personal aspects of the lives of those who are buried. you see it reducing in popularity very rapidly. examples being military references and nicknames. adorning the headstones occurring rather frequently in the later 19th and early 20th centuries. So in turn. one .

based on the fact the land cheap. I would on conclude that the people who originally came to Estacado were well off considering the size of the headstones and the masonic symbolism. Estacado was founded in 1878 by Paris Cox. especially considering the history of the town itself. The cultural identity of those buried in the cemetery can easily be inferred. a 14-year-old boy named Francis Gutirrez who died in October 1929. vast.can conclude that while there is still an obvious religious aspect in the culture of the people of Estacado there is also a shift in the emphasis from dying seen as more of merciful act with God and Christianity to more of a celebration of the life. there is only one grave belonging to anyone with a non-typical white Anglo-Saxon name. The cemetery is full of religious symbolism of which I’ve already discussed. and relatively well off. and is littered with Free Mason symbolism. an Indiana Quaker. Although. Christian. I would argue that now the population is much poorer and or the wealth is not a well distributed as it was when the land was originally settled amongst the families buried within the cemetery due to the fact that certain families maintain the quality of headstones would expect especially when examining the headstones of their past family members but other families the quality of the headstones decreases and one could infer that they do not have the affluence that they once had. . and secluded. including the oldest headstone found. the population that continued to flow into Estacado was white. Even though the colony failed after just one winter. who bought the land with the intentions of establishing a Quaker Colony and decided to do it West Texas.


” and in the epitaph of Miss Valley Sue Wilmeth (2008) it reads. As time goes on especially post World War II.Although I discussed the interpretation of death earlier in my paper. . For example. on the grave Ida Parish(1918). you can recognize the shift in the fact that people were not merely recognizing the religious aspects of their death and afterlife but they begin reflecting upon the lives they had lived or in Traci’s case just begun to live. the changing of epitaphs is also a good example of the secularization of the burial practice or at least shows a more stressed emphasis on the life of the person instead of the stressed emphasis on the fact that your praying that your soul is in the hands of a merciful god.” and in another example of the stressed religion in death is the grave of C.” These epitaphs are examples of the importance of religion in the burial practices of those in Estacado in the early 20th century and how to them death was viewed as a celebration or with stressed emphasis on them returning to Christ and them taking comfort and understanding in the fact that they are in Heaven and do not infer anything about their lives other than their faith.” and while albeit neither are the most positive reflections on somebody’s life. her epitaph reads. “We trust our loss shall be her gain and with Christ she has gone to reign. and even though I cannot conclude on a specific reason for this shift I can recognize the shift happening. “Another Gem in the Savior’s Crown Another Soul in Heaven. Kelsey(1915). we begin to see the shift in emphasis in regards to the lives that these people have lived. “She done the best she could.K. Later in the 20th century. “She’d only just begun to live. and for example the epitaph of Traci Elaine Young (1963) it reads. you begin to see the shift from strictly religious based epitaphs to epitaphs pertaining to the person’s life.


and the Wilmeth family continue to have burials in the cemetery as recently as the 21st century. The family members were located next to each other and it was typical for married couples to share a headstone. . Most of the families have representation in the cemetery from the late 19th or early 20th Century. and while one family did have a raised cement slab. There are about 10 major families represented in the cemetery but there is also many other families were there was only 3 or 4 members represented but it was more common to have 5 or 6 representatives for a family. the Fox Family. other than that the families sort of blend together and there is not any sort of infrastructural segregation between families. and some of them like the Bryant Family.One of the most interesting characteristics of this cemetery was that it felt as if you were walking about personal family cemeteries and you could see the generations of each family as the evolved over 120 years for the Estacado Cemetery has an abundance of family plots to which I alluded to earlier in the paper. In this cemetery it was actually uncommon for there to be only one person with that last name represented in the cemetery. and the while all in their headstones for each family have their own individual row or area.