When the Patriarch Abraham stood up before the children of Heth and bought of Ephron the field of Machpela for four hundred shekels of silver “Current money with the merchant,” and had it made over unto him with the cave and all the trees, for a burying place for his dead—and when Sarni and Abraham were buried there, and Isaac and Rebecca, and later Jacob buried Rachel, and commanded that his own body should be taken there from Egypt—and Joseph’s bones were carried all the forty years’ journey in the wilderness and interred in that same family burying ground—they but obeyed a common law of our nature, to make homes for our dead, to have them sure to us and our children, to make and beautify those homes. The __________ savage will mark the spot where his dead are interred with some implement used in life. And it marks the degree of civilized life—the beauty and adornment of the “the city of the dead.” Mount Auburn, Mount Hope, Greenwood, and similar places are as much the measure of refinement of their several cities as are the public and private buildings of those cities. Judged by this measure, our cemetery is not a credit to our people. And in fact it has been named by stranger visitors and felt by the people to be a reproach to us. Never laid into lots, and walks—no place secure to any person or family—no authority to direct where a grave shall be made there is no order about it. And no one is secure of a permanent burying place for his dead. The confusion of our no system was increased by the promiscuous interment of bodies in any grave opening, during the height of the epidemic. The longer this confusion continues, the more difficult will it be to correct. And yet it must be corrected at some time or we must be counted as only a semi-civilized people.
But it will be corrected at some time. We shall have homes for our dead, secured to us by proper title, and which we can beautify in accordance with the ability and the taste of he owners. Now that we have respectable churches and school houses, sufficient and suitable for the wants of the people, is it not time to begin?
A “Citizen” suggests one plan in our paper to-day. It is a feasible plan—perhaps the best plan. The title to the found lies somewhere, and can be secured to and invested in somebody having the power to lay out and sell lots, and to beautify grounds. The funds raised by the sale of the lots and by a small annual tax if need be, upon each lot, will keep in order the grounds, generally, and each grave particularly. So that every owner will know that his dead is cared for whether he is present or is called away. So is it in other places. So it must and will be here.
Care, so far as it is practicable, can be taken to preserve the graves undisturbed, in the laying off the ground, already occupied, it would not be possible nor is it needed to run straight lines in that portion of the cemetery. There is space yet unoccupied, where new lots can be made in form. More ground can be obtained it needed or desirable. And people would rather move their dead, when necessary, than leave them in the present uncertain localities. By all means let a plan be adopted, and a beginning made. And let that plan look to the future wants of the city—its reputation, and the aesthetic tastes of its improved people.
Source: Nueces Valley, April 25, 1874, p. 2, col. 1
Research by: Msgr. Michael A. Howell
Transcription by: Geraldine D. McGloin, Nueces County Historical Commission