By Dana Goolsby
East Texas- A few years ago, when my love for East Texas history, ghost stories, and photography began to merge, I started spending a lot of time in old historic final resting places around the Pineywoods. Since I began my journey with MYETX I have visited cemeteries, burial grounds, grave sites, and monuments from Jefferson, Texas to Galveston, Texas.
As I stroll the marble orchards reading each tombstone and taking pictures I think about the people who are lying six feet below. I wonder about their lives, their deaths, and how their lives affected others. I always try to look at every grave in the cemetery whenever possible. Just because a grave doesn’t have a historical marker or a plaque doesn’t mean the person below did not lead an interesting life. Everyone has a story.
A tombstone tourist, otherwise known as a taphophile, cemetery enthusiast, or grave hunter describes someone who has a passion for cemeteries. Tombstone tourists enjoy epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, history, and famous deaths. Taphophiles are attracted to walking around cemeteries, reading the headstones and musing upon the family history contained therein.
For centuries, people have made pilgrimages to the burial sites of religious icons and leaders. Today, the appreciation of cemeteries has evolved along with science and technology. The Internet allows enthusiasts to visit cemeteries (and in some cases the gravesites of their own ancestors) on websites such as Find A Grave.
But a true tombstone tourist relishes the walk among the stones, surrounded by nature and the elements. There’s something about following a cemetery road or graveyard path, wherever it may wander, and being surprised, and delighted, by the great discoveries you make just around the bend.
East Texas is riddled with unique and historic cemeteries. Each one tells the tales of those who once thrived in the region, and each one is a genealogical map of those who settled the area and paved the way for generations to come.
Interested in tombstone tourism but not sure where to start grave hunting? It’s easy! Just start HERE. Find a cemetery near you by using Find A Grave’s cemetery lookup. Simply input your state and county to get started.
Some of my favorite East Texas cemeteries include:
Weches Cemetery in Weches, Texas
Oakwood Cemetery in Nacogdoches, Texas
Old City Cemetery in Galveston, Texas
Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas
City Cemetery in Palestine, Texas
Do you know of a forgotten cemetery or burial ground in East Texas? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.