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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

DAR's Collingsworth history
good as it gets

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Recently, while visiting cousins in Fort Worth who were raised in Collingsworth County, I was shown a publication by the Daughters Of The American Revolution Chapter of Wellington about the many cemeteries and known burial sites within the county.

The book title is Collingsworth County Cemeteries, 1876-1996 with sections telling of eleven rural cemeteries plus another section dedicated to graves located outside the regular graveyards. The dedication is to Ineva (Corky) Cudd Bowen who spearheaded the research and publication.

The foreword states; "We pause in humility to honor all our forebears who have labored to make this country great. Let us revere the memory of those who trod the paths of history before us that we may be worthy as we reap the fruits of their sacrifices." I consider this a profound statement as it gives the reason why most of us enjoy our history.

Noteworthy is the fact that the U.S. Census of 1880 shows only six persons, mostly cowboys living in the area leaving no doubt the burials list starts at the beginning of settlement. Most of the early-day cemeteries began when a land owner buried one of his own nearby on the homestead. When other burials followed the land was set aside as a free public burial site. At some time later, others erected a fence to keep out livestock.

One such plot, established in 1892, was fenced and touted as, "never seen plow or cow." Many early cemetery records were destroyed in the Childress County Courthouse fire so a few records may be lost forever.

A typical cemetery study shows some visible sites with natural stones in evidence but no names. In one early cemetery 68 graves are identified with 24 other grave occupants unknown. A book column included beside each name also describes any visible signs of the grave to aid in research.

Of interest, the original Wellington cemetery, lying within city limits was at one time accused of polluting the local water wells during a typhoid epidemic. No one could be sure but another cemetery was started outside city limits just to be assured.

An early county church yard became a cemetery when a baby was interred there. Later the church was moved to another location and the church yard made into a cemetery. Most interesting, is approximately 20 graves are known to exist outside the regular cemeteries. Some sites are visible today but the actual sites of others are lost to the whims of nature.

One grave contains "Poke" Jefferies, a horse wrangler, who was found hanging from a tree with no indications of why and who did the deed. Two cowboys working for the famous Diamond Tail Ranch were killed over "barbed wire fence troubles."

Another story tells of a lady who purchased lumber to build a coop for her laying hens only to be forced to use the materials for casket for a baby dying during birth. Another entire family buried outside a graveyard died of smallpox. Yet another family of six died from eating a poisonous weed resembling poke salad, a common early spring delicacy growing along the creek banks.

The town of Dozier was named for a cowboy evidently murdered for his boots and spurs as his body still had money and those items were all that were missing. Folks, this is as good as history gets and our hats are off to the ladies responsible.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" April 12, 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.
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