A pet project among most old time Corpus Christians and many descendants of the old-timers, is the care and maintenance of Old Bayview Cemetery on West Broadway. Some may now try to call it Cemetery Beautiful, the Lookout understands, but it was Old Bayview too long for present generations to know it by any other name. It is located off West Broadway, a short distance from the Southern Pacific passenger depot, but it is so concealed, so much higher than the street, anyone unfamiliar with its location must look to find it.
Old Bayview was established 96 years ago and is the oldest military cemetery in all Texas, a designation that dates back to the time when the first victims in the Mexican War, killed or drowned when a ship boiler exploded, were buried there. After the war the plot became the community burial ground for Corpus Christi. Its tombstones and grave markers read like a roster of first family Corpus Christians and many are the famous names thus recorded there.
The cemetery has long since been closed to new graves, except those to be added to family plots already there.
Sentimentally, the Lookout in his present frame of mind is allergic to graveyards, understanding though he is of the warm affection many hold for the ground where their own are buried and where they themselves probably will be.
But the Lookout, too, has a certain affection for the things that are old, and the memories they arouse, for the historical the Old Bayview is not just a cemetery. Rightfully, as cemeteries that have known the small town usually are, it is a quiet park, an historical place, a handy and often needed reminder that there was a Corpus Christi here a long, long time ago, before any of us had anything to do with it, and that there will be a Corpus Christi a long, long time after we are gone.
Pestilence, plague, disaster and war helped fill the old burial ground, but Corpus Christi lived on. In that knowledge is a certain reassurance, also peace and quiet and humility and hope.
For all its place, its age and significance, Old Bayview hardly gets the attention it deserves. What the association that care for it lacks in numbers it makes up in interest, but this place where history lives generally goes ignored.
And it’s a shame that it does. It is a shame that it is not better and more widely known for what it is. Every old city, such as Corpus Christi is, needs a few ancient reminders to keep it in touch with the past, and this is especially true of an old city that is such a new city, too, as Corpus Christi is. So many of the historic spots and buildings where the old tie was knotted have been covered up with progress, or have been torn down to make way for progress. Old Bayview stands practically alone.
Those who are friends of Old Bayview know what they are up against, know what should be done. They get a little help here and there, but not enough, and they can’t do it alone. Among other factors to be considered, their numbers are thinning. At present they are seeking finances to build a permanent fence around the old burial plot, and anyone who may be interested can obtain more detailed information by contacting Mrs. Lillie Rankin.
This column is written for the Caller by Bob McCracken.
Source: Corpus Christi Caller
Transcription: Rosa G. Gonzales