Hispanic Cemeteries in Atascosa County | Pleasanton Express

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A ceremony in May marked the unveiling of a Texas Ranger cross commemorating Luis Castañon. Cheryl Briseño Garcia and William Gonzales, descendants of Luis Castañon, unveiled the cross. LISA LUNA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Hispanic Heritage Month continues through October 15th and we would like to highlight some of the culturally rich cemeteries that currently reside in our county. Cemeteries are generally an ethnic mix that produces some of the greatest memories and tales that mimic the great Texas tradition. However, some cemeteries are separated by race, ethnicity or religious affiliation for various reasons. Today, I will highlight cemeteries with Hispanic roots and origins. Some of these were submitted by the family after we created a request on social media. The response was not great, but we received some great information from those who responded. If I forgot a cemetery, I apologize; it is not intentional.

Are there any lost cemeteries in Atascosa County that we have forgotten and that the ground has swallowed up untold history? I will confidently say “Yes” because in the last two years that I have been in this position we have discovered cemeteries that until recently weren’t registered. For now, we will recognize Hispanic cemeteries by family, if possible, and by community with special mention of Texas and local heroes.

Rossville Cemetery – Located west of FM 476 on Jenschke Lane on private property. The descendants of the Navarro family of Jose Antonio Navarro, signatory of the Texas Declaration of Independence are buried here. Texas revolutionary hero Luis Castañon and Confederate veteran Clemente Galindo, who also spent time with local Native Americans when he was kidnapped as a child, are also buried. This cemetery is very well maintained for its age and the families of the deceased are very proud of their heritage and it shows.

Brown Cemetery- Located not far from Rossville Cemetery on Olivares Lane, this cemetery appears to be an extension of Rossville Cemetery. Here you will find the same names such as Briseño, Castañon and Olivares. You will also find many descendants and the family of the oldest tomb owner, Edward Brown (1808-1886), a revolutionary veteran of Texas. This cemetery has been on our list to designate as historic, and after further examination we will return to it as soon as possible.

Willborn Cemetery – Descendants of Richard Brown Willborn have used this cemetery for generations. It is the newest historically designated cemetery in Atascosa County. It has been in use since 1897 and continues to be used to this day. What was once part of the Jose Antonio Navarro land grant was purchased by Richard Willborn and his wife from Sixto Navarro (son of Jose Antonio) to use as Willborn Ranch. Eventually, two acres were cut from the property for use as a graveyard by the Willborn family. The Willborn Ranch was used to export and raise cattle from the area. Richard Willborn was an Indian fighter, Civil War captain and talented fiddler during his lifetime. The story of Willborn Cemetery tells a great story about today’s Atascosa County. Willborn Cemetery is located on private property off Amphion Road.

Zavala Cemetery – Not much is known about this cemetery located off County Road 305 about 1 mile from Highway 16. Some of the gravestones were buried in the sand by the weather and weather conditions . There are burials of the Zavala, Garcia, Arnett, Sanchez, Lopez and Medrano families. There is a visible perimeter and the necessary procedures have been put in place to ensure that this cemetery does not become a lost cemetery.

Madre Dolorosa Cemetery This one, I know it very well. In this one my immediate family rests and I have a lot to say about it. This is called the “Mexican cemetery”. Most of the Hispanic immigrant families who arrived in Poteet in the early 1900s were Catholic. This cemetery contains the first Hispanic Catholic families from Poteet. You walk in and start to read the names and you will hear the names of the first Hispanic families in Poteet. Names like Ybarra, Orta, Gomez, Alcorta, Garcia, Zamora, Contreras, Hernandez, Sandoval, Ramos, Perez, and the list goes on. These are the people who helped make this small town grow. If you ever want to learn more about the Hispanic heritage in Poteet, research this cemetery and look up some of the names on any genealogy search engine and you will be educated quickly.

San Pedro Cemetery – This cemetery on Rutledge Road, also known as El Cementerio San Pedro, is a Catholic cemetery, as the name suggests. However, it is not run by the church like Madre Dolorosa. In this cemetery you will also find some of the old original families of Poteet. In the 1930s and 1940s, it served as a cemetery for the poor for Hispanic Catholic families in and around Poteet. Today it serves as a cemetery for the descendants of the original San Pedro burials.

Charlotte Community Cemetery – This cemetery was also known for years as the Charlotte Mexican Cemetery. This is another example of the segregated era of a small town in South Texas. Separated by ethnicity and religion, as the majority of this cemetery is of the Catholic faith. This cemetery is a mirror image of Madre Dolorosa in Poteet. Here lie the pioneers and first Hispanic families of Charlotte. Some of these families are extensions of the Poteet families, like Ybarra and Hernandez, to use an example. This cemetery is still in use and is well maintained.

Chilipitin Cemetery – Located on CR 315, east of FM 140 west of Charlotte. This cemetery has an official Texas historical marker. This cemetery takes its name from the proximity of the Chilipitin stream. The area’s first settlers, Dario and Manuelita Douglas Tober, acquired land here in 1877 and then set aside this site for a family cemetery. Dario Tober was a Confederate Civil War veteran. The oldest marked grave, that of the teenager Nieves Douglas Tober, dates from 1903. This cemetery is maintained by the descendants of Dario and Manuelita Tober.

San Jose Cemetery – Also known as Cementerio Catolico San Jose, here rest the Hispanic parishioners of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith in Jourdanton (FM 1332 West). It’s one of those cemeteries where Jourdanton’s first Hispanic settlers are buried – where you want to go read the tombstones to get a history lesson from current families and their ancestors. Among those buried are Cordova, Gustamante, Guzman, Olivarri, Romero, Treviño, Segura, Serrata and the list goes on. The Cruz family seems to have the oldest burial in 1927. Mauricia Cruz was born in 1840 and died in 1929. There are conflicting dates for her birth and death, but the dates I have published are the most precise. This woman is said to have arrived in Atascosa County around the turn of the century. Imagine the progress she has witnessed in Jourdanton!

San Ysidro – One of Pleasanton’s earliest cemeteries (some would say it was the first), San Ysidro exhibits ancient entrances and native sandstone structures seen throughout the cemetery. This cemetery is unique in that it encompasses another cemetery within it. Bonita Creek Cemetery is located in San Ysidro. You will see the Bonita Creek Arch as you continue deep into the San Ysidro Cemetery. With the name, it is easy to decipher that it is also a Catholic cemetery of the first settlers.

Leal Cemetery – Located on Leal Road in the southeast corner of Atascosa County, El Cementerio Leal is used as the final resting place for the descendants of the Leal family. The Leal community was approximately 3 miles from the cemetery site. The community and the cemetery were founded by Manuel Leal, a descendant of the Canaries and one of the first families of San Antonio.

Esparza-Rodriguez Cemetery – This cemetery is one of the most historic in our department. Buried in this cemetery is Manuel Esparza, a child survivor and witness to the battle of Alamo. Esparza’s father, Gregorio, was killed in this battle and is the only Tejano fighter to be allowed a Christian burial. The descendants of the Esparza / Rodriguez families are buried in this cemetery. Much has been done about the name (s) of this cemetery as it has been known by many names: Martinez, Rodriguez, Esparza and San Augustine. Old deeds show him as Martinez, survey records show him as Rodriguez, family records call him Esparza, and the last private owner of the land called him San Augustine. Whatever its name, the history of this cemetery cannot be denied by anyone and the proud descendants of this family continue to thrive in Atascosa County.


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