Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Old City Cemetery Tour

Lots of skeletons exposed during this Old City Cemetery Tour.  The event began in a museum called "The Old City Cemetery Center"  With an entire center dedicated to a cemetery, it seemed like a guided walk through this one would have some interesting highlights. 

The museum showcases some interesting displays about City founders and famous residents.  It also contains an extensive library of Brownsville history and genealogy reference books.  Brownsville boasts a very diverse ethnic character.  Many Easterners came with General Zachery Taylor, during the US-Mexican war, which ended in 1848.  Along with soldiers, adventurers from foreign lands, Spanish land grant holders, land developers, merchants, and others, who came to make their fortunes, the City's beginnings were enhanced by multiple cultures and languages. 

 The Cemetery Center has a mission to advance opportunities to lean about the history, architecture, and geneology, as well as presere the cemetery as a family friendly park and tourist destination.

 After spending about 30 minutes in the museum, our docent rounded everyone up and headed us across the street to begin the tour.

The unique and varied grave markers are a reflection of the diverse ethnic, cultural, and economic background that reflects the founding population of Brownsville.

 Portions of the cemetery resemble burial plots in New Orleans.  Even though this was higher ground, the Rio Grande River could flood this high, so many vaults were constructed above ground.  In fact, the Popper's field section, which was located on the bank nearest the  river,was under water in the past.

This grave marker actually opens, revealing a stairway down into a family vault.  Gene said he would someday be burried here along with his ancestors.

Gene, our docent, seemed to know the history, and secrets, of most of the inhabitants here.  His entertaining monologue included intrigue, back door deals, family disgrace, and murder.  The picture that emerged was of a free-wheeling fronteer town where most anything might happen, and did.

 These tree-like markers were scattered throughout the cemetery.  We were told that the "Woodmen of the World" was an insurance company that collected payments when you were alive, then paid for your funeral and memorial marker when you passed away  Funeral Insurance


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