Bluffton Cemetery Association seeks help in preserving past

Mary Duff, buried in Bluffton Cemetery, was born one year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BLUFFTON — While some might only notice the rows of headstones and a few monuments at Bluffton Cemetery, Llano County resident Alfred Hallmark sees much more.

“There’s so much history here,” he said, standing among some of the headstones. “Each one of these people, they had stories to tell. They make up our area’s history.”

Bluffton Cemetery, located on RR 2241 about two miles west of Bluffton and 11 miles east of Llano, is the final resting place for people who took part in history. One of the markers honors Isaac Byler Maxwell, who was born in 1837 and died in 1931. Up until his passing, he was believed to be the oldest living resident of Llano County.

During his life, Maxwell not only witnessed history, he made it.

“He actually founded Bluffton,” Hallmark said. “He named it after his home, I believe, in Arkansas.”

Maxwell moved to the Llano County area in 1854, but his travels weren’t over. He served as a scout for the frontier units during the Civil War. After the war and three terms as justice of the peace, Maxwell headed to Austin as a member of the Legislature.

Mary Duff, buried in Bluffton Cemetery, was born one year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton
Mary Duff, buried in Bluffton Cemetery, was born one year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

“He was the one who convinced the state to use granite from Llano and Burnet counties to build the state Capitol building,” Hallmark said. “They were considering stone from Indiana, but he helped put a stop to that.”

Along with Maxwell, many veterans of historic battles and wars rest in Bluffton Cemetery. Those include Thomas Gooch, who served during the Mexican War; Tom Herridge, who served during World War I; and David Hill, who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto during Texas’ fight for independence.

“There’s so much history packed into this little cemetery. And over there,” Hallmark said, pointing off to one area of the cemetery, “is Mary Duff’s plot. She was actually born one year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.”

Hallmark, who has relatives buried in Bluffton Cemetery, believes preserving and protecting it is important for historical reasons as well as cultural. The cemetery began 149 years ago in the original Bluffton community. But when the Lower Colorado River Authority built Buchanan Dam in the 1930s, the state moved the community and the cemetery to their current locations.[box]IF YOU GO
WHAT: Bluffton Cemetery Association business meeting and “History of the Old Bluffton Cemetery” program
WHEN: 10 a.m. Oct. 5
WHERE: Bluffton Cemetery, located on RR 2241 about two miles west of Bluffton and 11 miles east of Llano
FOR MORE: Go to www.blufftoncemetery.org[/box]

All but one grave was moved from the basin to either the current Bluffton Cemetery or another cemetery. Since then, the Bluffton Cemetery Assocation continues to provide burial plots to people. It’s not a sale with deed but a right to be buried there, Hallmark said. That way, if a person decides not to use the plot, the association will “buy” back the right for the original fee.

“We rely on the burial (right transactions) and donations to maintain the cemetery,” he said.

On Oct. 5, the Bluffton Cemetery Association is holding its annual business meeting at the cemetery at 10 a.m. Association board members hope for a big turnout because the more people who are interested in the cemetery, the better the organization can take care of the facility.

Along with the business meeting, the board will present a program, “History of the Old Bluffton Cemetery.” Hallmark has diligently worked to compile the history of the old and new locations. He’s even working on a book about the cemetery and the community.

Four years ago, he published the book “Old Bluffton Revisited” about the original community.

While it’s required plenty of work and dedication, Hallmark said recording the old and new Bluffton histories is important for past, present and future residents.

“So much history took place here,” he said. “I think we tend to overlook the importance of places like Bluffton and the people who lived here because they may not be well known. But if you just look around here (at the cemetery), you’ll find a lot of people who took part in history. They all have stories to tell.”

Go to www.blufftoncemetery.org for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com