Finding Eli's Grave

In the summer of 2000, during a heat wave of 110+ and one of the worst draughts in Texas history, (and for you non Texans,   THAT'S BAD).   I decided to find my great-great-grandfather's grave.  
Eli Craig Ownby was buried in 1892 at Pilot Grove Cemetery, which is only about 15 miles from my home.   My husband, Darrell, grew up even closer to the cemetery and "knew" all about it.   One hot August afternoon we took a ride over there and started walking the stones.   We found Eli's daughter Elizabeth Nancy Taylor's, grave but couldn't find his.   I had a picture of the grave stone which was about 5 foot tall taken around 1980 when another researcher was visiting from Tennessee   We walked the cemetery twice and couldn't find it.   Finally Darrell said, "Maybe it's really at Cannon" (about 3 miles down the road).   So we drove to Cannon Cemetery.   Walked it twice and couldn't find it.   I was determined.......I knew it existed, just where.   

We went back to Pilot Grove, Darrell laughed and pointed to a little used side road (one he had used for "Parking" back in the olden days) and said "Maybe he's buried in the Black Cemetery".   I said "no, he's buried here".....sooooooooooo....we walked that sucker again.   By now we were both sun burned and almost dehydrated and very smelly.   Finally on the verge of tears with frustration, I told him "Let's try the Black section".   (Remember....this is 1892 Reconstruction Texas timing we are referring to).   
We went down the hill and there is this beautiful cemetery with tall massive headstones.   We start walking the rows and I found 3 Ownby's immediately but no Eli.   I even found (lying on the ground) Eli's wife Nancy Carol Winstead Ownby.   I kept saying over and over "he's got to be here".   Remember it is 110 in the shade but I'm determined.   I was saddened by the fact that Nancy Carol was lying in the dirt and also confused, because she had died in 1861 during the Civil War in TN.   The family moved to TX in 1881.   Why was she buried in TX.   Did they dig her up and move her bones or something?   

We kept walking and looking and finally, out of desperation, (because he was hot and tired and thirsty) Darrell reached down and flipped (that's an understatement) Nancy's stone over and guess what?   There was Eli Craig lying face down in the dirt.   It bothered me for nearly a year and Darrell and our son, Stuart, planned to go over there and fix the stone but weather wouldn't cooperate, so, in May of 2001, we went and dug a hole and poured concrete for a pad.  

We let the concrete set up and went back 3 days later and set the stone upright and glued the pieces with epoxy so that finally Eli and Nancy can get up out of the dirt and stand proudly as they deserve to.   I later found out that when Nancy died during the war (another story another time) she was buried in an unmarked grave on the family farm so, when Eli died here in Texas, his children had a stone erected with her memorial written on the opposing face of her husband, who never remarried.   We never solved the mystery of why Darrell had been told that this was the "Black Cemetery", when actually it was just the "Old Pilot Grove Cemetery".  Now that we have the stone erect again you can read the inscriptions.    

Nancy's inscription reads, "Dearest loved one we have laid thee in the peaceful graves embrace,   But thy memory will be cherished til we see thy Heavenly face". 

Eli's inscription reads, "Tis hard to break the tender cord when Love has bound the heart, Tis hard, so hard, to speak the words, Must we forever part".


Popular posts from this blog

Phillip Penn Revolutionary War Patriot

Will of James Taylor of Patrick County, Virginia 1732-1805