Monday, January 13, 2014

A Hero's Grave

Last week I spent some time searching for the grave of Francisco Lemos.
Bill Sloan, an author from Dallas, who is working on a book about Francisco Lemos, Earl Garrett, and Sidney Baker, visited me at the shop and showed me a photograph of the tombstone of Lemos' grave.
Francisco Lemos, for those who do not remember, was a Kerrville boy killed in World War I, as were Sidney Baker and Earl Garrett. The three were honored by the community when three major streets were named after them.
At the time, Earl Garrett Street was the location of the post office, bordered the courthouse, and included Captain Schreiner's home and store. It was a major street. Sidney Baker Street bordered the courthouse, was the road to Fredericksburg, and included the St. Charles Hotel, and the Secor Hospital. It was a major street, too.
Francisco Lemos Street, though farther from downtown, was important, too. At the time when it was named for the fallen soldier, it was the river crossing connecting Thompson Sanatorium to Kerrville, as well as the creek crossing for all traffic headed west to Ingram, Junction and beyond. The bridge connecting Water Street and West Water Street, between Mosty's Garage and Gibson's Discount Center, if it was even built at that time, was relatively new; the bridge on Sidney Baker Street, above Louise Hays Park wasn't constructed until the 1930s. Lemos Street, too, was an important street.
Two things about the photograph surprised me: first, that Lemos was buried here in Kerrville; and second, that the grave marker appeared to be in such bad shape.
I was surprised to learn Francisco Lemos was buried here. I knew Sidney Baker and Earl Garrett were buried in France; I assumed Lemos' body rested there, as well. Of the three, his was only one brought home.
The grave of
Francisco Lemos
I was saddened, though, by the photograph: it showed a very neglected grave, with a tree snaking around the marker. It reminded me of the Dowdy children's graves, past Ingram, when I first saw them, the stones shattered and laying broken on the ground. (Those headstones have since been repaired; the four Dowdy children were murdered while watching their family's flocks, back in 1878.)
On Armistice Day, 1918, the whole community celebrated the end of the "Great War." Shots were fired into the air; the town fire bell was rung so fervently the rope broke. It was a day of great celebration.
Yet the very next day the family of Sidney Baker learned he had died; the following week, the family of Earl Garrett; and a few weeks later, the family of Francisco Lemos learned he, too, had died in the war. The hope those families felt on November 11th, 1918, gave way to grief. And the loss was shared by the whole community.
I searched for the grave in a cemetery we each have passed hundreds (if not thousands) of times: Mountain View Cemetery, on Sidney Baker Street, just downhill (and across Holdsworth Drive) from Tivy Stadium.
That little cemetery has always interested me; it's one of the oldest in our community. I was surprised, as I searched for Lemos' marker, to find tombstones in many languages. English and Spanish, of course, but also at least one marker in German, and one in French.
I stumbled upon the graves of the children of early doctors: an adult son of Dr. and Mrs. Parsons, I assumed, and the only child of Dr. and Mrs. E. E. Palmer. The Parsons family once owned the lot where our print shop now stands; Dr. Palmer's office once stood where our neighbor, Grape Juice, now stands.
Simon Ayala is buried there -- he was a one-legged cowboy who Captain Schreiner trusted with transporting great sums of gold.
Sam Glenn, the tall cowboy and stonemason who I've written about here, is also buried there.
Deborah Bates, a quiet young woman who ran a printing press in my family's shop, also rests in that cemetery.
I found what I think is Francisco Lemos' grave the day I wandered around the Mountain View Cemetery -- but I'll need to research it further. If it turns out to be the one, I hope, with the permission of his descendents, the marker can be restored or replaced with one that befits an American hero.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who finds local history in places where he doesn't expect to find it. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times on January 11, 2014.
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  1. Mountain View Cemetery is indeed in a sad state of disrepair. I know there is a cemetery manager, and a part-time caretaker, but the cemetery is greatly lacking in appearance, and organization. These issues are not the manager's, or care-taker's fault. It's because very little, if any, funds are allocated to the upkeep of this historical cemetery.

    One of the most serious problems with this beautiful, old cemetery is that no map, guide, or index of those buried in the cemetery exists. More recent graves, while being dug, have actually infringed upon at least one of the graves of Kerrville's pioneers who are buried in the cemetery. This comment was made by one of the former cemetery managers (a lady - I don't remember her name).

    I so wish that burial records could be located in the courthouse basement, or wherever archaic town records are maintained, and I wish those records could be published. The cemetery records that are posted on the Kerr County Genealogical Website are a wonderful beginning, but they do not include many people who were buried in the cemetery during the late 1800's, nor do the records tell where those 1800's graves are physically located in the cemetery.

    Once, I had a burial marker placed in the cemetery for two of my ancestors. Because the manager could not tell me the exact location of my ancestor's graves, I had to tell the installers to place the marker approximately where I remembered seeing the old, broken headstone many decades before.

    The people who are buried in Mountain View Cemetery deserve better than this.

    Why have Kerrville's pioneers in Mountain View Cemetery been forgotten?

  2. LEMOS, Francisco, page 313, photograph, 1488072
    Private Company G
    Killed September 16, 1918 at St. Mihiel Sector, 1,500 yards N. E. Louisville Farm.
    Buried in Grave No. 3-B, Map of Chambley 5-6 XXXIII-13. Private Lemos was on scout
    duty with his company when a high explosive shell hit him killing him instantly. He had
    been with the regiment but a short time, this battle being his first engagement. Relative's
    address, Mrs. Matilda Salmis, Kerrville, Texas.

    Military: WWI

    This file was contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives by:
    Cay Merryman
    August 2002

    Copyright. All rights reserved.

    W. E. Robb, 1919 American Lithography and Printing Company, Des Moines,


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