Marble Falls, Burnet, Kingsland, Llano, Spicewood, Horseshoe Bay, and ALL of the Highland Lakes
ANNOUNCEMENT: Starting on December 1st, the DailyTrib.com subscription rates will change. The new renewal rate will be $20 for the yearly membership and $4 for the monthly membership. If you currently have a membership, you will be charged the new rate upon renewal.
This photo of Stringtown Cemetery on County Road 326A in northeast Burnet County near Bertram was taken Oct. 1 by Nichole Ritchie. She and her husband, Michael, accompanied landowner Al Downing to assess what it would take to restore the historic graveyard, the only all-Black cemetery in the county. Photo by Nichole Ritchie
The Burnet County Historical Commission has about a month to pull together the information needed to apply for a grant to restore Stringtown Cemetery, the only all-Black cemetery in the county. The project will be a top priority for the commission, members decided at their regular meeting on Oct. 3.
Located on County Road 326A, the historic cemetery has long been in disarray with broken headstones and overgrown gravesites. The fence that surrounds the 90-foot-by-120-foot plot of land on private property south of Bertram has all but collapsed. The gate can’t be opened because of vines and brush growing in and around it.
The oldest grave in the cemetery is dated 1870 and belongs to Edward Houston, the 7-year-old son of Rev. Samuel Houston, who was most likely born a slave. The reverend died on May 8, 1898, according to his headstone, which does not include a birthdate. He was believed to be 70 years old.
The amount of the 50/50 matching grant from the Texas Historical Commission will depend on a cost estimate required in the application process. The local commission must obtain bids for clearing brush, hiring a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) expert to locate all of the bodies, and putting in a new fence.
Al Downing owns the land on which the cemetery is located and is also on the Burnet County Historical Commission. He recently accompanied Nichole and Michael Ritchie of Cottonwood Shores to the graveyard to take photos and assess restoration needs.
According to the Texas Historical Commission Atlas, Stringtown Cemetery has about 75 graves. An article in the March 1, 2009, River Cities Tribune (now DailyTrib.com) written by BCHC Chair Rachel Bryson, has a different number. After investigating the cemetery herself, Bryson found 37 marked graves and 20 unmarked. A GPR survey might reconcile those numbers.
“This is not going to get fixed overnight,” Bryson said at the commission’s regular meeting on Oct. 3. “This project has been started several times and gotten stopped. If we get this grant, the money will come in 2024 and we will have until 2026 to finish the work.”
Downing expressed hope that something will finally happen.
“This is probably the fourth time someone has told me they were going to get this done,” he said. “Y’all sound so professional about it, I think it might finally get done after all.”
“I’m going to say it in public,” Bryson replied. “We are going to do something.”
Deadline for the grant application is 5 p.m. Nov. 6. Certified Local Government Chair Lela Goar was put in charge of obtaining bids and completing the application.