We’ve long heard jokes about cemetery gates and whether they are intended to keep the living out or the departed in.
I recently visited Rogers Cemetery, a rural cemetery in Rogers, Texas (Bell County) to see the graves of Grammy’s great grandfather (John W Prince) and great grandmother (Mary Childers). The photos were available on Find A Grave, but I wanted to see them myself.
When I arrived, the caretaker was mowing and had the small drive blocked. I parked on the side of the road, and ventured in. I carefully crossed the entrance in my shorts and flip-flops and spoke with the caretaker. Unfortunately, he didn’t recognize the names or gravestones that I was looking for. Unfortunate, since there are over a thousand graves in this cemetery. The most he could do was point me in the direction of where he knew at least one Civil War soldier was buried. That was helpful, since John W Prince was a Civil War veteran.
I headed in that direction, but was bothered by the rough, dry grass on my nearly-bare feet. No rain and 100+ temperatures for over a month makes for a parched cemetery. I decided to return to the car and switch to sneakers. That’s when it dawned on me that the entrance was a cattle guard!
I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me. In rural areas of Texas, cattle guards are common. I have usually seen them at the gates of ranches with the intent of keeping the ranch’s cattle from straying outside of the gate. Why not for a cemetery? Except here, the intent was to keep stray cattle out instead of in.
For the record, I was successful in finding the graves: John W Prince, wife Mary Childers Prince, daughter Helen Prince Treadwell, and son-in-law Anderson Barclay.