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Round Rock Cemetery

Cemetery (3.00)1
1851-
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Sam Bass Road
Round Rock Williamson
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Round Rock Cemetery is one of the more interesting cemeteries in the area for the wide variety of stories that it can tell - Outlaws and lawmen, pioneers, slavery, segregation, neglect, hardship.

When the cemetery was first opened slavery continued to exist as an institution in the South. Society's code at the time objected to the idea of intermingling the graves of whites and blacks, so a separate section of the cemetery was set aside for the slaves of the day. The northwest corner of the cemetery was set aside for slaves, who were often buried with little or no markers to identify their resting places. Originally, this section of the cemetery was surrounded by a barbed wire fence, as if to further illustrate the gulf between those who lay to rest here and those who lay to rest just a few yards away.

Few standing or legible headstones are present in the slave portion of the cemtery.
The odd thing about the slave section is that it now stands as one of the more peaceful and pleasant areas of the cemetery. The corner is completely covered by the heavy foliage of the trees here. No other part of the park is as shady. A few piles of rock scattered about and an occassional headstone are the only clues that remain to indicate that people lay at rest here.

The hispanic section of the cemtery includes many stones in Spanish. Several of the stones, such as this intricately carved cross, are particularly interesting.
The ending of slavery did not end the practice of racial segregation, which exists today to an extent. Illustrating this point is the hispanic section of the cemetery that runs along the cemetery's southern boundary from its entrance to its western edge. One can sense the difference between this section and others before observing the family names on the markers. Though not necessarily larger, the graves are sometimes more elaborate and adorned with more flowers and momentos. The hispanic section features several markers that were carved into large, intricate, standing crosses.

Many people decry a modern society that elevates the infamous to celebrity status, as though there was no distinction between famous and infamous. The fact of the matter is that this phenomena is not a recent development. The most famous person associated with Round Rock, a person for whom streets have been named and festivals held, was an outlaw. His name was Sam Bass.

The new Sam Bass marker sits directly in front of the original, chipped tombstone.
Sam Bass staged most of his robberies of stage coaches and trains in Nebraska and north Texas. In 1878, with the Texas Rangers on his trail, Bass and a group of followers decided to head south to avoid capture. The decided on the town of Round Rock where they planned to rob a local bank. With the help of a gang member informant Texas Rangers and area sheriffs were tipped to his plans and gathered to capture the group. Confronted at Kopperal's Store in Round Rock Bass and two accomplices shot it out with lawmen and local citizens. One gang member was killed and Sam Bass was mortally wounded. He was later captured and passed away a couple of days later from his wounds.

Bass was buried in Round Rock Cemetery with little fanfare. It was not until a few years later that his sister erected a small tombstone at his grave. This marker has been chipped away by souvenir hunters over the years. A modern marker was placed at his grave immediately in front of the old marker, which can still be seen.

The final resting place of Deputy Sheriff A.W. Grimes, killed by the Bass gang in 1878.
One of the interesting things about the Round Rock Cemetery is that it provides the other side of the story. While Sam Bass and his gang were immortalized in song and memorials, little is remembered about one of the other people killed in the shootout at Kopperal's Store, the lawman A.W. Grimes. Grimes was a former Texas Ranger who was serving as Deputy Williamson County Sheriff when the Bass gang came to town. Grimes noted that a member of the Bass gang was illegally brandishing a hand gun within city limits. At the time Grimes had no idea that the men he confronted were Bass and his gang. He asked whether they were carrying hand guns and they replied in the affirmative and opened fire on him, hitting him six times.

Grimes left behind a wife and three children. In order to assist in their needs following his death they received $200 and one of the Bass gang's horses as indemnity. Grimes' headstone lies almost on the opposite side of the cemetery from Sam Bass, about as far apart as could be accomplished, which seems fitting. Grimes' headstone is the original. Recently an additional stone was placed with the story of Grimes' death. A small metal cross sits next to his grave with the insignia indicating his former involvement with the Texas Rangers.

The common "tree stump" Woodmen tombstone. The cemtery includes a wide variety of Woodmen Memorial designs.
Round Rock Cemetery has a large number of Woodmen of the World tombstones. This fraternal benefit order was organized in Nebraska in 1890 for the purpose of providing life insurance death benefits to its members. An optional rider to policies provided for a Woodmen tombstone. There is a wide variety of Woodmen marker types on display here and it appears obvious that the organization had a strong following in the area in the early 20th century.

A marker for multiple children who died young.
Frontier life was tough. The mortality rate for children was very high and it's not uncommon to find family plots where a couple were buried next to several of their children who died before reaching adulthood. One of the more interesting stones we saw that fit this category was a marker that simply read "Our Babies". No names or dates are present. One is struck by the thought that the parents who erected the marker had lost, or expected to lose multiple children at an early age. This marker would serve its purpose no matter how much suffering they and their children would endure.

With so much history and so many stories that abound within its boundaries the Round Rock Cemetery is a must-stop spot for realizing a greater appreciation for the history of the Central Texas area. The history of 150 years ago can not be told by any remaining living individuals and sometimes the history books approach subjects from a stale, sterile angle. This cemetery, like many others, provide tangible stories to indicate the way things were. Not stories told by the living, but rather stories told by those who once lived.

A Texas Historical Marker at this location reads:

Established in the early 1850s in what is now known as Old Round Rock, this cemetery is the burial ground of many area pioneers and outstanding Round Rock citizens. The oldest legible tombstone, which marks the burial site of 11-year-old Angeline Scott, bears the year 1851, although there are many unmarked graves that could date from before that time. One-half acre in the northwest part of the 4.5-acre cemetery was used as a burial ground for slaves and freedmen during the nineteenth century. Numerous war veterans are buried here, as is bank robber and outlaw Sam Bass, who died July 21, 1878, two days after being shot by Texas Rangers in Round Rock. Other buried in the cemetery include G. T. Cole, one of the few area eye doctors; Round Rock broom factory owner Sam Landrum; stonemason John H. Gray; Round Rock Presbyterian Church minister John Hudson; and Methodist circuit rider J. W. Ledbetter. One unusual tombstone, which marks the gravesite of Mary Ann Lavender, bears the date February 30, 1870. The Round Rock Cemetery, which contains more than 2,000 graves, is a visible reminder of the early history of this part of Williamson County. The burial ground is cared for by the Round Rock Cemetery Association. (1983)

Photos

Woodmen marker The common "tree stump" Woodmen tombstone. The cemtery includes a wide variety of Woodmen Memorial designs. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Pile Though not that many headstones have been knocked over, it appears that many of those that have were piled up next to trees, like these. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Big pile Strangely, the largest pile of old headstones resides behind Helario Garcia's grave. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Reused Note that this headstone uses another headstone as its base. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Pieces This is one of the few broken headstones that have remained where they belong. Over the years it appears that fallen or damaged headstones may have been piled up elsewhere. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Where A finger pointed skyward, symbolizing ascent to heaven, is a common headstone theme. This is the only marker we have ever seen with the finger pointed downward, though we feel certain it's not attempting to indicate the damnation of the deceased. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Consort Old markers that identify consorts are always intriguing. One gets the feeling that an interesting story lies beneath. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Crypt There are several crypts in the cemetery, all of them in various states of collapse such as these. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Flowing Text The fluid, curving lines of this marker are distinctive. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Art Deco This interesting headstone reminded us of art deco design. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Woodmen II Another Woodmen of the World marker. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Woodmen III And another. This marker is one of the latest Woodmen markers we've seen (1952). (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Woodmen IV And another. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Woodmen V And another. The Woodmen symbol here resides on the "gable" top of the stone. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Woodmen VI And another. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Woodmen? And another? Well no. This headstone bears the emblem of the Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle, the former ladies auxiliary of the Woodmen of the World. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Odd Fellow The letters FLT in three chain links indicates a member of the Oddfellows fraternal organization. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Confederate soldier Round Rock Cemetery contains a few veterans of wars, some of them old, such as Confederate veteran Moses Arledge. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Spanish-American War soldier Samuel Loving was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Have you ever seen many Spanish-American War veteran headstones? (Photo by Austin Explorer) Naval aviator? Walter Robey served in the Naval Aviation Department when flying was still a novel and new concept. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Drapped Like an enveloping grief, this monument is draped by a cloth of stone. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Oatts Family The singular Oatts family headstone memorializes 5 individuals, the names of each carved on all four sides. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Iron Cross Victor Rincon's grave includes a heavy-duty metal cross in addition to a headstone. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Sam Bass The final resting place of the robber Sam Bass. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Sea Shells We're uncertain about the significance of the cemeted sea shells on this grave. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Homemade The hispanic section of the cemetery includes many headstones with Spanish inscriptions, including this homemade stone. (Photo by Austin Explorer) "Noth" Carolina Southern drawl sometimes manifests itself in cemeteries. Mary Miller's table-top marker indicates that she was from "Noth" Carolina. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Round Rock Cemetery A wider view of the cemetery. The slave section is in the far cornerin the trees. (Photo by Austin Explorer)

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