Movement Started to Make This a National Shrine

Burial Ground May Be Made Into Shrine


Old Bay View Cemetery Association Here is Reorganized

With reorganization here Friday of the old Bay View Cemetery Association, a movement is expected to be started to make the cemetery a national shrine.


Immediate purpose of the reorganization is to “further preserve and beautify this burial ground, and to arouse wide-spread interest in this hallowed place where lie buried so many of those who laid the foundation for the city in which we live today, as well as the military heroes of three wars,” officers of the association announced.

Mrs. Sam Rankin was elected president.  Other officers are Eli T. Merriman, vice-president; Marie V. Blucher, recording secretary; Mary Sutherland, corresponding secretary, and Mrs. William Biggio, treasurer.

Started in 1944

In this old cemetery , which an early day record describes as being located “on a hill overlooking two bays,” are buried, in addition to the pioneers of the section, federal soldier of the Mexican and Civil wars, Confederate soldiers, persons of all religions, creeds and colors. 

It had its start in 1845.  At that time Zachary Taylor was stationed here with 5,000 men, en route to Mexico.  Seven soldiers were killed one day in a boat explosion.  They were buried there.  A few other deaths occurred among the soldiers between (that) time and the following year when Taylor marched south to victory.  They also were buried here and as time went on the place became the common burying ground.

Location of many of many of the early day graves has been lost and in later years many of the bodies were exhumed and moved to the new (the new) Bay View Cemetery.  But today hundreds of graves remain.

Now Under City Supervision

Some 40 years ago the Bay View Cemetery Association was formed and for years looked after the burial ground.  As the original members died the association became inactive and the cemetery located between West Broadway, Ramirez, Tope and San Pedro streets, is now under city supervision.

Eli T. Merriman, one of the few remaining members has served as overseer, without pay, for years.  He turn the $25 monthly check allowed him over to the caretaker.   Hinio Clark has been the caretaker for the last six years.  He lives in a small house in one corner of the cemetery. 

Above the entrance at Ramirez and Topo streets is a “Cemetery Beautiful” sign but Mr. Merriman says this was the idea of a former caretaker and the name was never officially changed from Bay View Cemetery.

Seven Former Mayors

Among those buried in the old cemetery are seven former mayors:  B. F Neal, first mayor in 1852; Dr. George Robertson, Weymon Staples, Col. John M. Mayor,  J. B. Mitchell, Ruben Holbein and H. W. Berry was _____ 1835; George W. Swank, killed in Mexican raid in 1875, in pursuit of bandits; James E. Weymouth, well known druggist of Corpus Christi, born in 1842.  George W. Pettigrew, leading citizen; Capt. John Fitch, for years a commissioner of Nueces County, born in 1832; John W. Fogg, well known citizen here for years, born in 1825; William DeRyee, leading druggist in Corpus Christi, born May 15, 1825; Dr. Lawrence, well known physician;  Frank W. Shaeffer, well known sheep raiser of this section, born 1825; Feliz A. von Blucher, well known surveyor in the early days, born 1819; Dr. Eli T. Merriman, native of Connecticut, 1815, died  of yellow fever in 1867; Major James Downing, officer in United States Army; George Noessel, pioneer merchant on Chaparral Street. Born in 1813; Felix Noessel, popular merchant and first chief of Pioneer Fire Co.; John Woessner, leading merchant, also banker on Chaparral Street, born 1834; Col. Thomas Parker, long time resident and officer; Mat and Tom Nolan, the latter sheriff of Nueces County; Horace Taylor, prominent Republican and postmaster; Louis DePlanque, said to have been one of the best photographers in Texas; Capt. John Dix, well known officer in the United States Army; William Britton, Corpus Christi’s first telegraph operator; Charles Weidenmueller, well known and highly respected, born in 1820; Samuel McComb, carpenter and builder of the early days; Judge H. A. Gilpin, who came here in 1839, before any houses were built; John Wade and John Almond, who came to Corpus Christi in Kinney’s time;  George Washington Hockley, monument erected by the State of Texas; William H. Maltby, native of Ohio, publisher of Corpus Christi Advertiser; William Mann, a native of Virginia, street in Corpus Christi named for him; Capt. John S. Greer, popular citizen of Nueces County, had beautiful home here; Capt. William S. Halsey, citizen and ranchman, monument erected to his memory;  Dr. Alexander Hamilton, of the firm of Spohn, Burk and Hamilton; Michle Van Buren, killed in battle with Indians on the Oso, Nueces County; T. P. Rivera; Capt. Thomas Beynon; W. B. Wrather; A. Baldeschwiller; Peyton Smythe; H. R. Sutherland, John Whlinger McGregor; and hundreds of other citizens and soldiers.


Committee Named

The reorganized cemetery association has named a committee to confer with city officials regarding the construction of a new fence for the cemetery.  Mayor A. C. McCaughan said last week a plan had been made to have the fence constructed as a National Youth Administration project.

The members of the committee include Mrs. Rankin, Mrs. Buck, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Riggs, Miss Blucher and Mr. Merriman.

“An invitation is extended to all interested to send their names to any of the association officers,” said Miss Blucher.  “This is especially called to the attention of those families whose loved ones rest in Old Bayview Cemetery and to those persons whose interest may come form a patriotic nature,” she added.

A second meeting of the association will be held at 5 o’clock Friday afternoon at the Nueces Hotel.

Source:  Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Sunday, May 3, 1940.

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