Friday, November 26, 2010

Mager Cemetery

"The Mager grade school once stood adjacent to this cemetery. The water supply was furnished by the well which still stands south of the cemetery. The school house had also served for a [??? as a place?]"

Matt & I like cemeteries. We're not big-time hobbyists taking rubbings or doing systematic regional surveys--not that there's anything wrong with that--but we just have a casual but long-term affection for old cemeteries. New ones you can keep, with their sharp-edged headstones tidily flush with the ground so that the dead in no way impede the lawnmowers of the maintenance crews. But old ones, with their curiously mawkish or curiously morbid inscriptions, their often puzzling imagery, their fascinating old names, and their decades-old plantings thriving on human fertilizer--old cemeteries we quite like.

We were in a roving sort of mood today, so we decided to motor off into the countryside and see what we could find. We were going to start in Coupland just because it's close, but their cemetery is treeless, which Matt disapproves of, so instead we turned east of toward Beyersville.

(Yeah, you know, "Beyersville." No? Actually, we've been here 3 years, and this is the first time we've heard about it either. Nor its sister metropolis, Structure. I doubt if together they have a population of 50 people. We never found Structure (or else we drove through it without realizing?) but Beyersville appears to be a tiny knot of ancient clapboard houses on a hill and--inexplicably--a mini-storage business. That's it.)

Anyway, long story short, we stumbled upon this neat little German cemetery just outside of Beyersville. In its suburbs, as it were. It's called Mager Cemetery, and it has a nice grove of nearly leafless trees, a pretty view of an unassuming little swale and some rolling pasture, and a bunch of naturalized old bulbs.

The light was so intense that photographing was rather difficult, but everything was brown or leafless or spare, which made the whole thing interestingly desolate and lonely.

It's all empty farmland out there for miles and miles--very few trees, very thinly settled.

Sam Wernli[?], 1859 - 1916

The area was settled by Germans (Mager was a German family that founded the cemetery), and some of the tombstones are actually in German, like that of little Reuben Wm. Mager, who died in 1926, just a few months old. It says (I think):

Shlaf wohl von deinen / Lieben fern, bis wir uns/wiedersehn, beim Herrn

Little Reuben William Mager, 1925 - 1926

Babelfish, ever helpful, translates this as:

Sleep probably of yours/love far, until we/again-long yourself, with the gentleman

Very touching sentiment.

A few of the tombstones have attracted lichen, though the organisms evidently draw a heavy distinction between the rough decorative finish in the center of this stone and the smooth finish in the margins. Headstone designers, take note: rough stone around the edges, smooth stone where the writing is would be a better arrangement.

Sophie Harms, Mother. 1886 - 1906.

One of the many things I like about old cemeteries is how people were able to mark graves with a living tree or shrub, instead of one of those awful sterile little metal vases sticking up out of the ground holding plastic flowers. And since the people were buried in things that were capable of decay, and they were, themselves, allowed to decay instead of being pumped full of nasty chemicals, fifty or a hundred years later, their plants still flourish. Though the people are gone, their substance has been reabsorbed into the living, breathing world around them. Much better than being mummified in a horrible cement bunker, though I suppose Nefertiti and Hatsepshut and Akhenaten and all the rest would disagree with me about that.

In this cemetery, a century after her premature death, little 4-year-old Clara Walther has transubstantiated into a glossy-limbed crape myrtle.

Clara Walther, 1906 - 1910

And a couple of folks have sprouted venerable old rose bushes, including one that I suspect is a swamp rose (Rosa palustris).

Long-lived Barbara Thonig, 1832 - 1922

I don't know what kind of rose this is, nor whom it marks--I'd like to take cuttings of both, though, and return in the spring to see them in bloom.

Karl Shlenfeldt, 1879 - 1908

Mager was our big find for the day--Coupland, Butler, and Structure (if we ever passed it) didn't turn up anything good, at least not from FM 1468, 419, or 696.

However, when I looked up Beyersville back at the house, I found a list of nearby communities:
  • Beaukiss, TX (6.8 miles SE)
  • Carlson, TX (9.3 miles SW)
  • Conoley, TX (10.1 miles ENE)
  • Frame Switch, TX (8.5 miles WNW)
  • Lund, TX (8.2 miles SSW)
  • Noack, TX (3.6 miles NNE)
  • Norman, TX (9.9 miles W)
  • Normans Crossing, TX (9.7 miles W)
  • Rices Crossing, TX (8 miles WSW)
  • Sandoval, TX (9.3 miles NNE)
  • Shiloh, TX (7.6 miles E)
  • Siloam, TX (6.4 miles SSE)
  • Thrall, TX (6 miles NNE)
  • Type, TX (4.7 miles SSW)
  • Waterloo, TX (9.6 miles NNW)
  • Wuthrich Hill, TX (8.2 miles NNW)
Surely, there are bound to be a few more good cemeteries in Type, Frame Switch, or Noack, right?

1 comment:

Katie said...

I love cemeteries, too. Whenever my Dad and I get together, we try to go cemetery hoping. I like the photos!

Related Posts with Thumbnails