was two years ago, when I started my search to solve the mystery - a search for
the truth about a mass grave located in Gonzales,
folks are probably getting tired of hearing me talk about it; you might say that
I am obsessed with the old burial site. But I'll not quit until I know who is
in that shallow grave, situated within two blocks of downtown Gonzales.
I've been in
contact with some individuals from the Texas Historical Commission over the past
two years and they have promised me that they will investigate the site. But again
I ask, "When?" They tell me that as soon as the excavation is finished on La
Salle's old fort, then, they will come to Gonzales.
those who may not remember, I came across an article, in a 1905 edition of The
Gonzales Inquirer that contained information about a mass grave. It seems
that human bones were discovered about three feet under ground by men who were
doing some excavation work. The workers were digging a trench for the foundation
of a new brick warehouse.
The trench was 30 feet long and 2 feet deep.
It ran in a north to south direction. The men found pieces of ribs, skulls, and
thighbones. The Inquirer reporter at the scene estimated the count at 19 skeletons.
Only one skull was found to be totally intact and it was placed on display at
the newspaper office for a time.
of the folks who observed the site agreed that the grave must have been hastily
dug and the bodies were simply thrown into the hole. They were not situated in
any kind of order. Seems the gravediggers (murderers?) were in a big hurry.
The Inquirer described it this way: "In one place were noticed two skulls lying
close together, the remains extending in opposite directions, while above both
were seen the remains of others."
folks around town speculated that the people in the grave were slaves; others
said they might have been French or Mexican soldiers - some people believed the
poor souls to be Indians. But no one dared to mention the possibility that the
skeletons could have been the remains of Yankee soldiers.
Now before you say I'm crazy, think about this for a moment. The local folks estimated
that the remains were about 40 years old. That would date the old grave to around
1865. It is very interesting to note that in 1868, Union troops were occupying
Gonzales - they were camped
on Heroes Square, two blocks from the site of the mass grave.
complaints had been made by the local citizenry about the bullying and destructive
traits of the boys in blue. In February of 1868, two armed Yankee soldiers went
so far as to commit murder. They were having some sort of quarrel with a doctor
who was staying at the Keyser House hotel. They shot the doctor in broad daylight,
in front of several witnesses. The soldiers were eventually arrested, but they
were tried and released by the Army. I guess in those days, it wasn't considered
a crime to murder Southerners.
I keep asking myself one question; considering the toughness, pride, and legacy
of the citizens of Gonzales,
Texas; would they have let the soldiers get away with murder? It's something
One thing is certain; we will never know who is buried in the shallow grave until
folks who are trained to do those things investigate it. And as for my speculation
on the Yankee soldiers, I'll just say that if I ever find out that some of those
troops stationed here in 1868 mysteriously disappeared… well, I just might grab
time for the mystery surrounding this old gravesite to be solved. The remains
will continue to deteriorate until they completely disappear. And I think we owe
it to those buried in that place to find out the truth of their demise.
October, 2000 Column
Cemeteries | Haunted Texas