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,
Most 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
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.
Many 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.
Numerous 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 from Belmont,
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 to consider.
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 a
It's 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.
Montgomery October, 2000 Column
More Lone Star Diary
Mass Grave at Gonzales 3-3-18