SHELLY’S SASSY ESSAYS

This gal cain’t keep her mouth shut!

Pilgrimage To Clark Cemetery

It was a pilgrimage of sorts. There was a grave that I needed to see again, and it had been on my mind for awhile.

I drove slowly along the country back roads in Cooke County, breathing clouds of white caliche dust through the open window, as I searched for road markers. The GPS on my smart phone had gone stupid on me when I plugged in the name of a century-old cemetery, so I had to go “old school” and use a paper map. Oh, who am I kidding? I have no navigational skills, so I stopped and asked a farmer for directions. After a few more twists and turns, I found myself at the gates of Clark Cemetery only to find the dadgum gate locked with this sign on it:

Clark Cemetery sign

Do whut? They wanted me to call somebody so that I could enter the cemetery? I try to play by the rules, so I called the numbers — only to be sent to voicemail with both of them. “Well,” I said to myself, “the sign just says ‘for access call,’ It didn’t say I had to actually talk to anybody.” This old gal didn’t drive forty-five minutes in the Texas heat to be turned away at the gate. Besides, it isn’t lawful in Texas to deny access to a cemetery!

Section 711.041 of the Health and Safety Code states that any person who wishes to visit a cemetery that has no public ingress or egress shall have the rights for visitation during reasonable hours and for purposes associated with cemetery visits. The owner of the lands surrounding the cemetery may designate the routes for reasonable access. Section 711.0521 further states that interference with ingress and egress is a Class C misdemeanor. – Info from Texas Historical Commission http://www.thc.state.tx.us/preserve/projects-and-programs/cemetery-preservation/cemetery-laws

lane to cemetery


So, I shimmied through fences and began the climb up the lane to Clark Cemetery. As I plodded along the sandy, rutted road cicadas whirred in the trees and songbirds serenaded me. I lost myself in reverie, thinking about the life and death of the man whose grave I was seeking. It was easy to imagine myself walking this lane behind a coffin in 1862 to bury a man in the meadow at the top of the hill.

I had been to this grave back in 1979 with the Cross Timbers Genealogical Society to record the information on the tombstones. His epitaph sent a chill up my spine. Back then I didn’t have a digital camera. I have been thinking about this place for months and was anxious to see it again.



I had to go though yet another locked gate (these people really want a Class C misdemeanor!). At last I stood before the grave of Nathaniel Miles Clark.
Nathaniel Miles Clark tombstone

Dadgum! I should have taken a picture thirty-six years ago! The tombstone didn’t have as much lichen or as many stains back then! Let me try a closeup, and I’ll transcribe it for you.

Nathaniel Clark epitaph

Was murdered by a Mob. October 13, 1862. His last words to his companion.” Prepare yourself to live and to die. I hope to meet you all in a future world. God bless you all!”

The entire tombstone reads:

Nathaniel M. Clark
Born
June 26, 1816
Was Murdered
by a Mob
October 13, 1862
His last words to
his companion
“Prepare yourself to
live and to die. I hope to
meet you all in a future
world. God bless you all”

So, I found the gravesite of Nathaniel Miles Clark, but I wasn’t satisfied. My pilgrimage wasn’t over. I trudged back down the hill, taking only photographs and leaving only footprints, to journey to my next destination: the site where he died! I’ll tell you about that adventure next time! I’m still digesting some of the information.

WELCOME

I’m so glad you found me on the Interweb!
I've got my eye on you.
Do you remember lazy days sitting on the front porch, spinning yarns with friends, and talking about everything under the sun? Then, kick off your shoes, grab a glass of sweet tea, and sit a spell with me. What are you going to find?

Everything under the sun, and it’s always a surprise for both you and for me.

This place is full of homespun philosophy with a Texas twang. If you like a good tale, well told, This Eclectic Life is the place to find it (at least it had better be, because in the “real world” I’m a professional storyteller).

I dish it up with humor, if I can. Favorites? I can tell you a few of my favorite attempts at being funny. You can read ’em if you would like. :

  1. Sisterhood of The Grappling Pants
  2. Ask A Silly Question, Get A Silly Answer
  3. Wear Clean Underwear
  4. We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Waterboards
  5. A Ditty For Idiot Drivers
  6. The Teenage “Brain”

Thanks for dropping by my “house.” You are welcome to visit any time!

Lady Bird’s Ghost Tale

I foresee a visit to Karnack, Texas in the near future. You’ve never heard of it? It’s a tiny town in east Texas near Uncertain. Not sure that rings a bell? It’s near Caddo Lake, which was the only natural lake in Texas … at least it was natural until it was artificially dammed during the oil boom in the early 1900s. Karnack is also less than twenty miles from Jefferson, Texas, which claims to be the most haunted town in Texas. I’m determined to get the opportunity to take the Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk. But, first I have to go to Karnack.

I have to see this house:

Lady Bird's childhood home --Linda Petty

It is locally called “The Brick House,” and was built before the Civil War. The house was the childhood home of Claudia Alta Taylor, better known as Lady Bird Johnson. I know that I won’t get to see the interior, because they do not give tours of it, as far as I can tell. Still, I want to view it up close. My desire doesn’t just stem from an admiration for Lady Bird. The house, according to one of Lady Bird’s biographies, is haunted. Mrs. Johnson told the story herself. It is a story that seems wonderfully Gothic.

Supposedly the house was built by Confederate Colonel Milt Andrews. He had a lovely daughter named Eunice, who was often called “Miss Oonie.” Sometime after 1861, the nineteen-year-old Miss Oonie was sitting in a rocking chair in her upstairs bedroom when a storm rolled in to the Piney Woods. A bolt of lightning struck the chimney and traveled down the bricks. It zipped into her bedroom, struck the rocking chair, and zapped Miss Oonie, who died a fiery death.

By the early 1900s, Thomas Jefferson Taylor owned The Brick House, which he bought to please his wife Minnie Lee (née Patillo). It was there that Claudia Alta Taylor was born on December 22, 1912. As Claudia grew into a toddler, her nurse decided that the child was as pretty as a lady bird, thus her nickname.

When Lady Bird was young, the servants often told of seeing the ghost of Miss Oonie. They claimed that she looked ethereal and light-filled. Her specter was said to be slightly built and wearing a long white dress. Her “freakish” blond hair stood up on her head. It glinted as if charged by lightning.

You’ll forgive me if I conjure images in my head of The Bride of Frankenstein.

Although Lady Bird never saw the ghost herself, she claimed that she felt uncomfortable in Miss Oonie’s former bedroom. However, Miss Oonie might not have been the only ghost at The Brick House when Lady Bird was growing up.

When little Claudia was only four years old, her mother tripped over the family’s collie dog while she was descending a circular staircase. She was pregnant at the time, and the fall caused a miscarriage. A few days later, Minnie Lee Patillo Taylor died of septicemia.

Several years later Effie Patillo, Minnie Lee’s sister, came to live at The Brick House to care for her young niece. According to the stories, it seems as if Effie was about a half-bubble off plumb. However, Aunt Effie assured the young Lady Bird that the house was haunted by the ghost of her own mother. Effie believed that Minnie Lee came to her in dreams and told her that she should clean grime off the windows, do certain things to help Claudia, and finish other chores. What do you think? Was it the ramblings of a crazy lady … or was there really another ghost?

I’m having difficulty finding more information on either of these ghosts. Ancestry.com is not giving me much information about the original owners, either. I’d love to know more of the story of Miss Oonie. However, I really want to see The Brick House in Karnack. It’s on my “to-do list.”