Diggin’ In The Graveyard

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And how did you spend your Friday?  Well, we spent ours digging in the graveyard.


Caledonia Cemetery is located in the southeastern corner of Rusk County, Texas where FM 1971 crosses Highway 84 in the community of Caledonia.  About 18 miles west of Tenaha on HWY 84.  Nine miles east of Mount Enterprise, seven miles west of Timpson and 19 miles southwest of Carthage.

The cemetery is adjacent to the Caledonia Methodist Church.



I’m not sure when the cemetery opened.  I’m guessing it was around the same time that the church opened (1860′s) .  The earliest marker I found was Green B. Hamilton 3/13/1828 to 2/11/1863.  You can check gravesites at http://www.cemeteries-of-tx.com/Etx/Panola/cemetery/caledoniA-F.htm.

On the second hot Sunday in June, the Caledonia Picnic is held.  Our family has been attending that picnic as long as I can remember.  Even as a child, I can remember being dressed in Sunday best and going to the picnic at the church.  My, it was so hot and so many people and all those old people just wanted to hug you.  All I wanted to do is run around and play.  NOW, I’m one of those old people.  We still all gather at the church and it is still hot.  Not so many people come now but it is great to know that some still love the tradition.  I guess we still come to the picnic to keep our grandparents and our parents memory alive.  I don’t think my son has been since he was a little boy so I don’t see him keeping this tradition – but one never knows and he still surprises me.

The church is still in use today for special events.  It is maintained by donations only.  It is a wonderful old church and it deserves to live for many more generations.  Donations can be made to Caledonia Cemetery Association Trust, PO Box 535, Garrison, TX 75946.

Next to the Caledonia Methodist Church is the Caledonia Cemetery where a lot of our relatives reside.   Most current would be my grandparents, my parents, and my cousin’s young son.  It is a beautiful old cemetery – not huge and not overcrowded.  It sits on a hill with lovely old trees.  The cemetery is maintained through the same donations as the church.  The plots are not for sale.  You go out to the cemetery and “mark” your plots and hope that they stay marked.  I believe it was after Brad died that we realized that life truly is precious and that we never know when our last day could be.  We were no longer “10 foot tall and bullet proof”.  We marked our plots then.  First, we used some bricks and some hardy planks.  We couldn’t keep our names on the bricks or the planks.  The markers and paint kept coming off.  Afraid that someone might “jump our claims”, we decided to purchase monument markers from the tombstone makers.

unplanted stone

Cousins Randy and Maggie had secured plots next to their son Brad so they had ordered some markers too.  They were in from Oklahoma this past week and were headed home so we meet up with them in Cushing to pick up the markers at Clyde Partin Monuments .   Clyde Partin did a wonderful job on the markers and loaded them up for us.  We then drove over to the Caledonia Cemetery to, you guessed it – Dig around in the cemetery.

tony digging at the graveyard

Now, I’ve read many books and stories about cemeteries; I’ve written stories about cemeteries; I’ve gone on Historical Cemetery Tours:  I’ve spent hours alone in old cemeteries; I’ve viewed cemeteries by flashlight – I’ve even been to the Plymouth cemetery in the middle of the night BUT I’ve never been diggin’ in the cemetery.

We picked up 18 heavy granite markers and we had to get them all in the ground.  We got to the cemetery at about 10 that morning.  Luckily there had been lots of rain so the ground was soft.  It can be like concrete up there when there has been a dry spell.  We got there before the lawn crew had come for the day so the grass was a little weedy but we had the cemetery all to ourselves.  First step was to get them unloaded.  We brought our own wheelbarrow – a bucket and a dolly.  Don “trucked” the markers out to our spots.

unloading the truck

Next, we “threw” the markers out and about.

the release 1

I call this picture – “The Wind Up”

in flight 1

And this one “The Pitch”.  You do see it – Don’t you?

Now that the markers are all out (and about) we need to get them placed so that we can actually get one and a half plot per marker – Yes, we are greedy land hogs but we want to make sure that there’s a spot for everyone that wants one.

Tony and Don survey the situation but I had to step in and make the management decisions for them.

the dig begins

After I get them placed where I think they need to go, Tony starts the digging process.

starting the dig

Poor Randy is over on his side, looking a little lost on how to get started.

randy lost

After Tony cuts the holes, Don finishes up the procedure by cleaning the rest of the dirt out, placing the stone, and then refilling the hole around the marker.

finishing out first hole

first block sunk

Work continued and our project was completed much faster than we thought.

tony digs them

don plants them

The markers look great.

marker in ground

We took all the grass tops from the holes we dug and put them on mom and daddy’s graves.  Seems to be quite a bit of iron-ore on mom’s side and the grass just won’t grow.

planting grass

It was a fun quick trip.  We ate lunch in Garrison at Rusty Rooster Diner where we visited with Ol’ Rusty Jones who of course, knew our folks.


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