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Sunday, March 1, 2020

A lonely Kerr County cemetery in the middle of a plowed field. Who's buried there?

A lonely cemetery in the middle of a plowed field.
Click on any image below to enlarge.
It took me two trips to find the grave of Jack Hardy, and when I finally saw the pair of headstones in the middle of a plowed field, I wondered how I'd ever determine who was buried there. The headstones were visible from the road, but were too far away to read. I don't cross fences and trespass, even if I want to solve a mystery. 
The grave markers
ack Hardy is the African-American man who was captured by a Comanche raiding party in the early 1870s, when he was just a teenager, and lived to tell about it.
Jack Hardy’s story can be found in Andrew Jackson Sowell’s book “Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas,” which was published in 1900.
“After the Civil War, when all the slaves were freed, Jack lived near Comfort, below Center Point. On one occasion, when he was about 12 or 13 years of age, he was sent to the mill with a turn of corn, and it was then the Indians got him.”
The grave of Jack Hardy
Because some of the Indian riders wore hats, Hardy thought they were settlers, and he continued on his way home from the mill unconcerned. “Up to this time he had never seen Indians,” Sowell reports. There were around 15 riders, with long hair, shields, bows and arrows. They captured Hardy, and initiated him to captivity among the Comanche “with a severe whipping with a live oak stick, the scars of which are still to be seen on Jack’s head.”
At night they'd stake young Hardy to the ground, and during one cold night it began to sleet. Hardy nudged his hat to cover his face, the only protection he had from the weather.
During his time with the Indians, Hardy saw many violent scenes. The raiding party seemed to be unconcerned with they'd be captured or even pursued. 
Hardy eventually escaped through a brave act of deception while most of the raiders were involved in stealing a herd of cattle; he was saved by a kind rancher, John Dickson, who took the young man to his house, gave him warm clothes and plenty to eat, and saw to it he returned home safely.
The grave of  Mary Jane Moore
Jack Hardy survived because he kept calm and avoided the ire of the warriors, and was exceptionally brave each time the Indians threatened to kill him.
I wanted to know more about Jack Hardy, especially what happened to him after his return home.
Jack Hardy married Hannah Edmonds in 1878, just a few years after his return. The 1900 Federal Census says they had 4 children together, though two had already died by the time of that census.
In 1900, Jack and Hannah Hardy owned their own place, free and clear, where they farmed, along with their eighteen-year-old son. They had an aunt who lived with them, Mary J. Moore, a woman who was 66 years old in 1900, much older than Jack or his wife Hannah. Mary Moore was born in 1833 in Kentucky; on the 1900 census she is listed as a widow. The Hardy's place was in Justice's Precinct 8 of Kerr County, and their immediate neighbors were all German immigrants. There were other black families nearby: the Edmunds, Hamiltons, and the Stokes families, who, like the Hardys, owned their own farms, free and clear.
The grave of James Wesley
According to the 1880 agricultural schedule, which was part of the census, Jack and Hannah farmed 160 acres, with 40 being tilled and 120 being unimproved woodland. They ran livestock, and did most of the work on the farm themselves as a family.
Their son, also named Jack, was born at 'Cherry Creek, Kerr County, Texas,' in 1882, according to an official document. Cherry Creek runs roughly parallel to Lane Valley Road at the spot where I spotted the grave markers, and borders the field where the grave markers stand.
I know there are two cemeteries on Lane Valley Road, which is in between Center Point and Comfort, off of Highway 27. I never did find the second cemetery, which is supposed to be about 3 miles farther down Lane Valley Road than the first. 
According to several sources these two cemeteries are the resting place of several pioneer African-American families in Kerr County, including Jack Hardy (later spelled Hardee), Martha and Sylvestor Edmonds, who were Jack Hardy's in-laws, a member of the Blanks family, a woman named Mary Jane Moore, and a man named James Wesley. 
The mystery of the lonely tombstones might never have been solved had it not been for Raymond Hardee, a descendent of Jack Hardy, and a long-time friend. He came by the print shop with some photographs he'd taken of the grave markers in that field.
Buried there in that plowed field are Jack Hardy, Mary Jane Moore, and James Wesley. I can find no information on Wesley, but Hardy and Aunt Mary both died in 1907, several months apart.
Jack's wife Hannah died much later, in 1945. Some sources say she is buried beside her parents in the second cemetery on Lane Valley Road, the cemetery I could not find.
I think Jack Hardy is buried on land he once owned and worked as a farmer. It's a beautiful spot, with rich soil and with lots of frontage on the Guadalupe River. All he built -- his house, his livestock pens, the fields he cared for -- is probably gone. What remains, though, is much more significant: his family continues to be an important part of our community.
Until next week, all the best.

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Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wanders around trying to find things that others have forgotten. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times February 29, 2020.

I have two books available, both filled with historic photographs of Kerr County.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's BooksHerring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.





2 comments:

  1. I live in Center Point, traveled this road so many times AND LOVE THIS STORY! THANKYOU for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can someone please attach Mary Jane Moore's grave stone photo to her Find A Grave memorial? Her memorial #107446171

    ReplyDelete

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