LOCATION: Garretts Bluff Cemetery is located in the northwest quadrant of the county in the community that bears the same name, near the Red River, on Farm Market Road 1499. It is in Block 6 of the Lamar County Road Map produced by American Drafting and Services revised December 1993. DIRECTIONS: There are several ways to reach the cemetery. From the intersection of Loop 286 and Hwy 271 North, drive 3.5 miles to FM 1499 and turn west. Continue on FM 1499 for 16.5 miles. Cemetery is on the left at the intersection of FM 1499 and FM 36600. OR you may follow 271 North about 11 miles to the Pat Mayse Lake cutoff (FM 906) and turn west. Follow FM 906 about 4.5 miles and turn west on FM 197. Follow FM 197 about 8 miles and turn north on FM 1499. Go about 2 miles and cemetery is on the left at the intersection of FM 1499 and FM 36600. OR proceed west on Loop 286 for about .5 miles and take the exit for FM 79. Turn west on FM 79 and go about 17 miles to FM 1499. Turn north on FM 1499 and go about 2 miles and cemetery is on the left at the intersection of FM 1499 and FM 36600. GPS COORDINATES: 33° 52' 04.23 N, 95° 43' 12.64 W.
(33.867046 Latitude and -95.7196878 Longitude)
OLDEST KNOWN BURIAL: The oldest inscribed grave is that of George T. Holmes on 16 Nov 1875. NUMBER OF GRAVES: There are 404 known graves in the cemetery. (July 2017) SIGNS/MARKERS: There is a state highway marker for the cemetery. LAST ENUMERATION: The cemetery was recorded by Debbie Anderson, Ron Brothers, Patricia Ferguson, Ruth Renfro, and Roberta Woods in October 1991. ADD'L INFORMATION: The cemetery has several mounds where each mound is called by a different family name. Some say there may have been Indians buried there. There are graves and markers located out of sight in the woods next to and northeast of the cemetery. The Dennis family lies behind an old community center across from the cemetery. Also, in the woods near the asphalt road leading into the community, there are overturned markers, which it was reported that the county road crew pushed into the woods when the road was being paved. In other words, the road runs above many graves. The cemetery was recorded by Debbie Anderson, Ron Brothers, Patricia Ferguson, Ruth Renfro, and Roberta Woods in October 1991. There are 334 identified graves including the unknowns.
THE PARIS NEWS, August, 1997: 'Bob Merriman, Staff Writer- Visiting a cemetery is like taking a stroll back in time-
Cemeteries are interesting places to visit. You might think there is some kind of morbid curiosity in walking through a place where people are buried, but cemetery tours are of historical interest.
Besides, most cemeteries are more well-kept than are yards, and in this part of Texas, tall oak trees tower over the cemeteries, in the summer shading those who walk along paths while reading the markers.
There are rules to follow in cemeteries. My mother always cautioned my brother and sisters and me when we were kids and looking at a long-dead relative's grave: 'Don't step on any graves, now. It's bad luck.' She really believed that. Sometimes we say someone is superstitious, even if he only has a personality quirk. My mother was truly superstitious; she believed that if you stepped on someone's grave, something bad would happen to you.
I have never intentionally stepped on a grave. Early on, that was because of my mother's caution; later because it seemed such a rude thing to do. I have seen people walk right up on the wrong side of grave markers, though, stepping all over graves.
Used to, people called cemeteries 'grave yards.' I remember doing that until a junior high teacher said 'cemetery' was more proper. Grave markers were called 'tombstones,' but that, too, for some reason became less than proper.
Last week I went up to Garrett's Bluff and walked around one of the cemeteries. It was strange when I got out of my pickup, because I heard what I thought was a music box, playing the same four notes three times. I told myself there likely was not a music box in the cemetery, but you never know.
I heard a quail calling 'Bob-white,' too, or maybe a talented mocking bird, and a dove.
In an old cemetery, the number of children's graves always catches my attention. Such was the case in the Garrett's Bluff cemetery. Last century and much of this century, living past infancy or childhood was a challenge.
In that cemetery, some of the dates on grave markers were: 'January - August, 1900;' 'February 19, 1908 - February 19, 1908;' 'December 14, 1917 to March 26, 1918.'
One marker, a new one, contained the names of eight children, born between 1881 and 1903. None of the children reached school age.
A few years ago, when an aunt of my wife died, we went to the funeral in DeQueen, Ark. Graveside services were at the city cemetery, a few miles outside town and on a hill. At some point in the service, I happened to glance at the gravesite of the aunt's parents, my wife's grandparents. Stretching a good distance from the two large graves were eight small markers, two or three with names, the others blank. I looked at other family sites and saw the same thing dozens and dozens of markers indicating the burial place of small children.
After the services, I mentioned the small markers to my mother-in-law, a retired nurse who grew up in the DeQueen area. 'You have to remember where you are,' she said. 'Back then, there were so many diseases, and medical knowledge was limited. Even when people got a doctor to come out, there wasn't much he could do.'
She was right. There were so many deadly things then, 60 and more years ago. Diphtheria and whooping cough were known killers of children, those diseases just as deadly as smallpox.
There were exceptions, though. On my father's, Kentucky side of the family, a great-great-many-times-over grandmother and grandfather in the 1840s and 1850s had 13 children who lived at least to adulthood. There probably were similar numbers in my mother's, Alabama family, too, but no one has them written down anywhere.
I thought all those things at Garrett's Bluff while looking at grave markers and writing some dates in a notebook. Then I left the gravesites and walked back to my truck.
It was the strangest thing when I opened the pickup door. I heard what I thought was that music box again. This time, though, the notes were different, with no logical progression. The music, I decided, must have come from wind chimes, perhaps hanging near a house I could not see.
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