Thursday, December 3, 2009

National Foxhound Hall of Fame Cemetery

I'd heard about the "dog cemetery" on the Sabine National Forest in east Texas, so was really curious to see it last week.  It definitely was not what I expected. 

Most markers are simple pillow stones engraved with the name of the dog, his or her regisration number, date whelped and date died, and the owners.  Most also include the dog's home state; one marker even includes a metal photocopy of the dog's registration papers (complete with photo).  Still, most are simple pillow stones.  The marker below is an exception. 

One thing that surprised me was the geographic range of the dogs -- everywhere from Arkansas to Florida.  I knew there were fox hunting enthusiasts in Texas; I didn't realize this particular dog cemetery was a national one.

Another thing that surprised me was the location.  When someone says a cemetery is in a national forest, I immediately picture a site similar to the Clark-Dickey-Smith cemeteries described in a previous post:  a cemetery located basically in the middle of nowhere, tucked away in the woods at the end of a rather rough dirt road, and looking rather neglected and forlorn.  Not this dog cemetery.  It's on the northern end of the Sabine National Forest not far from the town of Shelbyville and is extremely easy to find:  it's at Boles Field, a popular campground.  The cemetery, in fact, sits between a line of camp sites that are set up for RVs (the sites have electrical hookups) and a paved two-lane road.

It is also obviously still an open cemetery -- only half the area enclosed by the posts is occupied; there's plenty of room for future champions to rest beneath the Texas pines. 

Above photo is the back of the tablet marker at the top of this post.  Below is a stock photo lifted from the internet of an American foxhound, just in case someone reads this who has no idea what the breed looks like.  With the exception of the foxhound, photos were all taken November 27, 2009.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Clark-Dickey-Smith cemeteries, Sabine County, Texas

This is an odd site in Sabine County, Texas:  two cemeteries located literally spitting distance from each other.  In urban terms, they're less than half a standard city block apart.  No other traces of a community remain so it's difficult to say how they were located historically, e.g., were they once separated by a road?  As the book-on-a-stick notes, at one time a settlement existed that included several families.  I'm told there was also a cane mill, but no evidence of that settlement other than the cemeteries exists today. 

The Clark-Dickey cemetery is larger and, at a guess, appears to have been used for a longer time.  There are a number of fieldstone markers in addition to the commercial stones.  The cast concrete markers with hand lettering appear to be fairly recent, and may have been added at about the same time the historical marker was planted.

The Clark-Dickey cemetery includes half a dozen or so of the vernacular cast concrete tablet style markers like the one shown below; none were made using lettering kits.

Both cemeteries are surrounded by chain-link fence that's fairly new and in generally good condition, although a tree had fallen recently (within the past year) on the fencing for the Smith cemetery. 

The photo above is from the Smith Cemetery; it's the most noticeable grave there.  No inscription was visible on the tablet. 

The book-on-a-stick erected by the Texas Historical Commission suggests that both cemeteries began as family cemeteries, but notes a connection between the two, making it even odder that they're physically separate.  Local sources suggested that the fencing is wrong, the two cemeteries were connected, and more graves exist than are currently known or marked.  Whether or not that's true would require a thorough archeological survey, including the use of ground penetrating radar, a highly unlikely scenario given that both cemeteries appear to fall within the Sandy Creek riparian zone and are thus unlikely to be impacted by any future logging operations on that portion of the Forest. 

Both cemeteries are located on the Sabine National Forest.