Native Texan Traces His Roots for His Son
Our Man About Texas
One of a Series
By Russell Graves
Field Correspondent, sportsandoutdoors.guru
Heavy spring rains did their number on the red clay backroads in Milam County. Driving the pickup down the rough road, we’ve straddled deep erosion gullies when we could but now we are as far as we can go. The road is impassable.
For the final half-mile of the trek, my brother, Bubba, and 11-year-old son, Ryan, join me for the final walk through the oak overstory and yaupon brush that flanks the road until we reach the Sand Point Cemetery. The cemetery is remote but, considering the amount of rain that fell over Texas in the spring, is fairly tidy. We are here to connect with the past in order to understand from whence we came and, hopefully, gain some insight as to where we’re headed. I open the gate and we wade through the rough grass and search for the gravesite of my great grandparents and my son’s great, great grandparents.
This trip is the culmination of detective work set forth by my brother back in the spring. With the help of ancestry.com, he’s been researching our paternal lineage. We both, of course, knew our grandfather before he died in 1993 but after that, we hadn’t much of a clue. Therefore, Bubba sought answers.
Standing behind a makeshift chain link fence, we find the graves of John and Mary Graves — my grandfather’s parents. We stand for a minute while I explain to my son that he is here because they (pointing at the graves) were here.
I can tell by the look on his face that Ryan vaguely understands. but the gravity of the moment escapes him. One day, he’ll understand why this trip is important. Being the last male of our line of Graves, he is the lone bearer of a name whose family’s been a part of Texas since 1830.
While we stand there, Bubba tells me that John was born in 1866 and lived until 1935. His wife, Mary however, died a week shy of a year after our grandfather was born. Our cell signals are scant so we can’t call our father or any of our aunts or our lone uncle to find out how their grandmother died. Unless they were learned in family lore, they probably don’t know either as she died long before any of them were born.
Before John, there was his father James. and his father James who came to Texas before there was a Texas — back around 1830. Thanks to Bubba, we found our lineage passing through Kentucky from Virginia – the point from which our ancestors first came to the continent during the pre-revolutionary times. From his research, we know we have direct descendants who fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and perhaps, the battle for Texas Independence. Or so we think. We haven’t been able to definitely prove that.
Before our people came to North America, the lived on the British Isle and our name started as De la Grevis but eventually morphed to Graves. In all, he traced our paternal lineage to the 1400’s England.
It’s humbling to think that one hitch in that entire, unbroken chain of human history, we don’t exist. Bubba and I talk about it for a bit but don’t burden Ryan with the complexity of the thought. He’s just happy exploring the woods around the cemetery and being the next of a long line of Graves boys.