Pioneers Lost and Found: The Boggess Cemetery

Boggess Cemetery located north of Saint Jo, Texas. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

If you have ever spent any time in Saint Jo, Texas and wondered why the streets were named  Meigs, Boggess, Crump, Howell or Williams, a leisurely stroll through the Boggess Cemetery will ease your curiosity.  Many of the major movers and shakers of early day Saint Jo are laid to rest in this cemetery.  Including the town founders, Irby Holt Boggess and Joseph Anderson Howell.

Back row: Dr John G Crump, Capt Blevins, Sam Rowe, Professor Hughes. Front Row: W M Ross, Henry Ira Chancey, Frank Warren Sr, Irby Holt Boggess. Photo courtesy of Eddie Yetter

Both Boggess and Howell served with the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  Moving to Montague County around 1869, they formed a business partnership and plotted out the town of Saint Jo around 1872.  Boggess was originally from Meigs County, Tennessee.

Boggess, his wife and several other family members are buried in the Boggess family plot.  This plot is located just beyond where the original entrance gate was located.  It is rumored that after moving to Montague County, Boggess survived an Indian attack by taking refuge behind a cabin door made of Bois d’Arc wood.  This strong and dense wood stopped the bullets, saving his life.  As the story goes, he kept the door  as a memento and it was used as the lid to his casket.

Irby Holt Boggess tombstone seen through the footstones of the original gate

Not too far from the Boggess plot is the double tombstone of Joseph Anderson Howell.  He is buried next to his infant son. 

Joseph Anderson Howell's gravestone. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

Tombstones throughout the cemetery represent several well know families of the area.  Carrie L Crump, young wife of Dr John G Crump.  Dr Crump, remarried after his wife’s death and is buried in the Mountain Park Cemetery.

Grave of Carrie L Crump, wife of Dr John G Crump. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

There are a few fenced plots in the cemetery.  Two of which belong to the Hale and Fulton families.       These ornate fences have,    for the most part, withstood the test of time and the elements.    One of which is large enough to hold six to eight gravesites, but only two markers are present.  It is believed that the other graves were never marked or the stones have been lost or damaged over time.

The cemetery contains old graceful tombstones that are inscribed with a wealth of information.  Some relay only the names of the souls they protect, others give clues into the family history. 

One of the fenced plots at Boggess Cemetery. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

Others still, give hints to how harsh live could be, such as the double marker for the infant twins, Effie and Everett Hurd.  The earliest marked graves that can be found in the cemetery are that of Florence M Gann, a baby  girl not even three months of age.  A transcription of those buried in the Boggess Cemetery can be found here.  This list was compiled in 2004.  There have been a few graves that have been added in the last few years, since the list was put together.

Grave of infant Hurd twins. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

Along with the traditional tombstones, there are several markers made of sandstone.  If they were ever engraved with the name of the interred, the message has long been erased by decades of sweltering Texas heat, torrential spring storms, and freezing snow and ice as the seasons relentlessly changed over the years.  Other markers have  succumbed to vandalism or old age.

Example of broken headstones. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

The Boggess Cemetery is located about a mile north of Saint Jo on FM 677.  It is easy to spot on the right hand side of the road, but this has not always been the case.  As the families of the pioneers of Saint Jo died off, the cemetery was not in high demand.  The Mountain Park cemetery located within the city limits of Saint Jo, became the central cemetery. 

Jorden Crump Boggess, son of Irby Holt Boggess died in Oklahoma 1949 and his body was brought home for burial.  It was a cold, bitter December afternoon when the family laid him to rest.    The seasons came and went, native grasses crept in and over the worn tombstones until this historic resting  place was all but lost.  In 1963, a brave grave-digger took his chances among the briars, weeds and snakes in order to bury Jorden’s brother, A A Boggess.  Again, mother nature took its course, trying to recover this sacred patch of earth. 

Broken tombstone at Boggess Cemetery. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

Most people who passed the cemetery on daily basis traveling on FM 677, did not know the cemetery existed, those who did hardly took notice.   Everyone that is except an eighty year young spitfire named Kate Harris.  She along with the help of her niece, Janis Sneed, cleaned up the cemetery and continued to maintain it until her health would not allow it.  It was not an unusal sight to drive by the cemetery on a hot summer day and see Aunt Kate out on her riding mower tending the resting place of the town’s fallen pioneers.  Kate’s younger sister, Clara Bell Trice joined the effort when her sister could no longer hold up to the physical task of being the care taker.  Today, Aunt Kate’s niece, Clara Bell’s daughter, Janis Sneed still stands guard over the small patch of ground that was the final Earthly resting place of some of Saint Jo’s pioneer families.

Old gated plot at the Boggess Cemetery. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

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3 responses to “Pioneers Lost and Found: The Boggess Cemetery

  1. I like this one very much and the pictures were great

  2. Shannon, My wife is a distant cousin of the Hurd twins, and we have been searching the origins of their grandpa, SB Hurd, for a long time. Samuel B is also buried in Pioneer cemetery. He came to St Jo from Missouri in about 1872, and died in 1877. He hails from Ohio (according to the census), but I have not been able to trace him there. Do you know if their might be any records from that period in a local library? Thanks for the stories- they help me imagine how life must have been for Samuel and his wife Mary!

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