Jim Reeves and Cheyenneby
a one-time reporter, I covered the funerals of numerous East Texans, but the one
I remember the most was that of Jim Reeves, the iconic country singer who grew
up at Galloway in Panola County. |
Reeves and his pianist, Dean Manuel,
died in 1964 when his private plane crashed near Nashville, Tennessee.
body was brought back to Panola County and buried in a two-acre memorial plot
at Liberty Hill near Carthage.
On the day of his funeral, the Shreveport highway was jammed with cars and people
had to park miles away and walk the distance to attend the funeral.
Reeves’ statue stands beside U.S. Highway 79 near Carthage.|
courtesy Bob Bowman
son of Tom and Mary (Adams) Reeves, Jim was born James Travis Reeves in 1923.
He attended the University of Texas and played for the school’s baseball team.
He later pitched for Marshall and
Henderson in the East Texas
League, but a leg injury ended his athletic career. |
In the 1940s, he became
a disc jockey for KGRI at Henderson
and began singing locally under the name Sonny Day.
soon built a music reputation in Texas and Louisiana,
but had no real commercial success until 1952 when he signed a contract with Abbott
Records. His second Abbott record, “Mexican Joe,” brought him a national following
and led to a job as an announcer for KWKH ib Shreveport and appearances on the
famous Louisiana Hayride. |
A second successful recording, “Bimbo,” led
to appearances on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and in 1955 he began recording
for RCA Victor, producing such hits as “He’ll Have to Go” and ”Four Walls.”
|Before his death,
Reeves made three European tours and two trips to South Africa, where he starred
in a film, “Kimberly Jim,” which was released the year following his untimely
His recording of “Distant Drums,” a song written by fellow Texan
Cindy Walker, was released posthumously and in 1966 it was at the top of the U.S.
and British charts. He became the first American to have a song named “Song of
the Year” in the United Kingdom.
his burial, a life-sized statue of Reeves was placed in the middle of his gravesite
beside U.S. Highway 79. |
But people seldom realize there is a second grave
His beloved dog, Cheyenne, was also buried there when he, too,
Bowman's East Texas
May 24, 2009 Column
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 40
books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com.)