New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Solving a history mystery with lots of help

Bachelor Mountain, between Lane Valley and Elm Pass Roads, 1896 ft in height

Before the world was turned upside down by a pandemic, a kind man showed my son and me a historic site on private property near Lane Valley Road, between Center Point and Comfort. In those days one did things like that – hopped in the truck, met by a ranch gate, shook hands, and investigated a history mystery. It was so long ago: March 12, 2020. Seven weeks.
The man’s name is Tom. He and his brother own land on Cherry Creek, land their parents purchased years ago. I’d never met him, but was introduced to him by a customer at the print shop, who lived near Tom. That customer, Chad, read my column about the graves of Jack Hardee and two others which can be seen from Lane Valley Road.
Jack Hardee was captured by Comanche raiders as a young man, walking home from the mill in Center Point, and only survived because of his brave responses to their taunts. He was a former slave, previously owned by James Crispin Nowlin, the first physician in Kerr County. I was particularly interested in Jack Hardee’s story because I graduated from Tivy High School with one of his descendants, Todd Hardee.
When I learned Jack Hardee was buried near Lane Valley Road, I drove out there to find the grave. It’s on private property, but visible at a distance from the road. Not wanting to trespass, I took photographs of the tombstones from the road.
Sylvester Edmonds
received a patent on
160 acres in 1874,
Lane Valley Road starts at Highway 27 and heads roughly south, after first crossing a shallow stretch of the Guadalupe River, then disappearing into a line of hills in the distance. It’s about as beautiful a stretch of land as you can find in Kerr County, and for generations it has attracted farmers and ranchmen. Cherry Creek runs near the road, meandering this way and that, finally forking into two smaller branches.
Researching the gravesite of Jack Hardee, I learned he was buried at what is called Lane Valley Cemetery No. 1. There is also a Lane Valley Cemetery No. 2 listed in several places, but it is not shown on any map. Lane Valley Cemetery No. 2 was a mystery.
I knew it was the resting place of Jack Hardee’s in-laws, Sylvester and Martha Edmonds, the parents of Jack’s wife, Hannah Edmonds Hardee.
In my story about Jack Hardee’s grave, I mentioned that I could not find Lane Valley Cemetery No. 2. That’s when things got interesting.
The grave of
Sylvester Edmonds
A kind reader named Aurora sent me photographs of a tombstone near Lane Valley Road she and her husband had restored and cleaned up – the marker for a toddler named Uzilla Johns who died in May, 1880. It was a homemade grave marker, a slab of limestone shaped and smoothed, with little Uzilla’s details scratched into the stone. As far as anyone could tell there were no other graves nearby. This looked like a gravesite other than Lane Valley Cemetery No. 2.
Soon after, Chad, who I knew from the print shop, said he’d ask around the neighbors out there to see if anyone knew of a cemetery on their land.
That’s when Tom called and invited me to come see the graves on his family’s land. It was Lane Valley Cemetery No. 2.
The grave of
Martha Edmonds
While there is evidence of other graves at the site, from indentions in the earth and a solitary wooden plank in the earth, worn away by time and weather until whatever writing it once held are no longer visible, there are three stone markers there: one each for Sylvester Edmonds and Martha Edmonds, and the third, for Agnes Blanks.
We met Tom at his gate, and followed in our truck across the pastures. Horses met us at the first gate and ran beside our truck to the second gate. Joe 3 and I were delighted to see them frolic beside us in the bright sunshine. (We’re townies, after all.) Tom led the way to a small rise in the center of the property where an ancient live oak stood guard. The graves were in the shade of the oak tree, surrounded by fencing to keep the livestock out.
The grave of Agnes Blanks
I busily took photographs of the headstones and other features of the site, while Joe 3 and I visited with Tom. After finishing with the photographs, we three stood quiet for a moment in the shade of the old tree, enjoying the view of the farm below us. A welcome breeze comforted us.
I’ve been to cemeteries all over the world, from fancy national cemeteries to humble graveyards beside centuries-old churches. I’ve read the names on tombs in cathedrals and marveled at the statues and carvings honoring the dead.
I’ll tell you this, though: I have never visited a more peaceful resting place than that of Sylvester and Martha Edmonds, and young Agnes Blanks, the three of them buried on a little knoll overlooking the 160 acres of land the Edmonds owned and farmed themselves. You can see their fields, the fork of Cherry Creek which ran through the property, and the green-blue hills which surround and protect the property.
I’m thankful to all of those who helped solve the mystery: Aurora, Chad, and especially Tom, who was our kind guide that day. The site is on private property. Please do not visit it without permission.
Until next week, all the best.

Click here for more info.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerr County native who hopes to be able to hop in his truck again soon, meet new folks, shake their hands, and go exploring. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 2, 2020.

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


  1. Love your stories Joe. My mother schooled with a Nowlin in Kerrville c. 1950's so now wonder if the same family. A few years ago I found self in a cemetery with a stream flowing by, the one harboring the several children killed by 'natives' soon after their family resettled near Kerrville from the SE. I found self wishing to be interred there, after visiting cemeteries the world and nation over.

  2. Wonderful read. You've got a phenomenal talent and happy you are sharing it.


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