Visiting the Historic Masonic Cemetery in Chappell Hill, Texas
History of Chappell Hill
One can learn so much about an area by visiting cemeteries, and the historic Masonic Cemetery in Chappell Hill is no exception. The pictures included in this article will give you some idea of what you would be able to see were you to visit Chappell Hill and roam the grounds of the Masonic Cemetery in person.
If visiting Texas sites is on your list of things to do, Chappell Hill is one of the oldest settled areas in the State. It is a part of Stephen F. Austin's original colony of settlers. The rolling hills with the Brazos River furnishing the watershed drew early settlers who grew cotton as the main agricultural business.
Established in the year 1847 by a Mary Hargrove Haller, she named the town after her grandfather whose name was Robert Wooding Chappell. Thus the name Chappell Hill came into existence.
My husband, mother and I made the discovery of this Masonic Cemetery in the charming town of Chappell Hill several years ago while we were out in the countryside looking at the bluebonnets and other spring blooming wildflowers.
When driving through the town of Chappell Hill we became mesmerized with the age of the buildings and unique flavor of it's atmosphere. Main Street in Chappell Hill is named as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
Wandering through a gift shop we spoke with the very friendly proprietor who directed us in locating the Masonic Cemetery. My mother and I have always enjoyed visiting cemeteries on our travels and my husband was nice enough to accommodate our wishes.
This year while enjoying ourselves on the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail we were nearby and my hubby and I revisited the Masonic Cemetery and I took some additional pictures.
In no particular order I'll start showing some of the monuments or grave markers which can be viewed in the Chappell Hill Masonic Cemetery. Some of them are impressive and tall such as the one shown above. The detailing at the top of the monument is beautiful.
As one drives in to the cemetery the older and more historic markers are found on one's left hand side with newer markers a little higher up the slight rise in height to the right. This is still an active cemetery with new bodies still being interred in this scenic area of Chappell Hill.
The grounds of the cemetery have mature trees which one would expect to find since many of these old grave markers are well in excess of one hundred years old. In the newer section at the far end one looks down upon a pond of water and one can gaze for a bit into the distance of this rolling countryside.
Some of the rusted metal fencing around the older grave markers no longer stands upright. One also finds evidence of broken headstones and others that have been propped up. Time has taken its toll on being able to clearly read the inscriptions on some of the old headstones.
There is still much of interest to be found there however as you will soon be able to see. Wear good walking shoes and watch out for ant hills which seem to flourish in this environment especially in the older section.
This will merely be a nodding introduction to Freemasonry. Obviously there is much more that can be learned about what it means to be a Mason.
It is an association of like minded people worldwide who basically believe in a Supreme Being first and foremost. Being of sound mind and body and living a life of moral uprightness and supporting friendships between their fellow brethren, Masons also believe in doing charity work as an integral part of their belief systems and accomplish much good in the world.
The square and compass found on many of their grave markers represent living within the parameters of these upstanding beliefs. George Washington and Andrew Jackson are examples of some famous American Presidents who were Masons.
Freemasonry goes back centuries and there are Lodges in most countries of the world. It is an organization that limits membership to men only. There is also controversy as some people believe it is a secret organization. Some religions do not approve of their people belonging to their particular religion and the Masons at the same time feeling some disconnect between the belief systems.
While these are broad generalizations one can learn much more by reading about them. Perhaps you even have some Masons who are family members or friends?
The detailing on some of these old grave markers is beautiful. Shown below is a sampling of what you can see if you go visit the Masonic Cemetery in Chappell Hill, Texas.
Some of the more interesting gravestones that can be found in the Masonic Cemetery are those that look like tree stumps or stacked logs.
Joseph Cullen Root founded the Woodmen Society which provided life insurance to its members more than one hundred years ago. One of the benefits that Mr. Root desired and accomplished was that all members would be provided a respectful burial and in addition be provided a special monument to stand atop their graves.
Originally the monuments were to be standardized but local stone carvers soon started putting their own interpretations onto these gravestones so the designs vary widely but are still easily identifiable as being "Woodmen" markers.
In the 1920s this benefit had to be discontinued due to the high cost of providing these stone markers. $100 was added to the life insurance policy instead.
Most of the tree stump markers that can be found in cemeteries stand about four to five feet tall and some have carved vines and other embellishments at their base. All are interesting to view.
Today the Woodmen still exist offering insurance of all types as well as other financial and investment opportunities.
Just look at the dates on this old headstone pictured below in the Masonic Cemetery. I wonder if in another hundred years this grave marker will still be standing? Plant life called lichens have seemingly taken root and are now living on this man's monument.
Colonel William Barret Travis
Colonel William Barret Travis made a special request regarding his son Charles who was seven years old at the time.
For those who might not remember the history, Colonel Travis died at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. A substantial monument to Colonel Travis pictured below tells the story.
Additional pictures of some of the grave markers in the Chappell Hill Masonic Cemetery are shown below.
Suffice to say that if you like visiting cemeteries and you also enjoy history you will love visiting the historic cemetery in Chappell Hill, Texas. Bring your camera! You will walk away with some great pictures to accompany your memories.
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© 2010 Peggy Woods