April A to Z Challenge 2020: It’s that time of year! Every April, bloggers around the world make posts for each letter of the alphabet. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to make friends online. Here’s my post for today:
[The following is an adapted excerpt from my travel guide to haunted places, a book called Paranormal Texas. I hope you enjoy it! Also, full disclosure: that’s an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy stuff after clicking it, I make a few pennies at no additional cost to you.]
The Story Behind the Name on the Grave
We don’t always know the story behind the names we see in historic cemeteries, but the tale of Sallie Bowman gives us a taste of what life was like in the real Wild West. Her grave can be found in Deep Creek Cemetery.
TLDR? Here’s a 5-minute video about Sallie’s Tragic Tale:
To see a 5-minute info-video I made to accompany this story (with even more photos) watch the video below:
Pretty Country Drive to a Historic Texas Cemetery
Deep Creek Cemetery is a short drive up the road from Boyd, Texas. Getting there takes you on a pretty country drive through tree-lined lanes. If the weather is good, take a picnic!
Interesting Historic Tidbits
Once you reach the cemetery, you will see another gate, with a Texas State Historical Marker nearby. I sometimes glaze over while reading those markers, but this one is quite interesting and inspired me to follow up with more research afterwards so I could fill in a few of the more intriguing blanks.
The town of Deep Creek took its name from the steep banks of a nearby waterway where early settlers, Tom McCarroll and Sam Woody, arrived from east Texas with their family and friends in 1854. Thanks to that deep creek, the newcomers were able to raise cattle, corn, and the ever-important crop, cotton.
A Taste of the Real Wild West
Life in Deep Creek was far from easy, but things went pretty well until 1868, when 16-year-old Sallie Bowman found herself surrounded by Comanches while tending her family’s prize herd of fine horses. As the teen sped home on her trusty steed, three Native Americans followed in hot pursuit.
She nearly escaped
Sallie actually came quite close to escaping, but as she approached a neighbor’s farm, the homeowners watched in horror as two gunshots sent her tumbling to the ground. Both bullets struck her in the back, and were fired at such close range that they set her dress on fire! Sadly, although her father was a doctor, the young girl quickly succumbed to her wounds.
When you visit, keep your eye out for Miss Sally’s pretty, weather-worn monument, which (if you consider the cemetery gate to be the front) is located towards the back edge of the cemetery.
6 Degrees of Separation Leads to Mickey Mouse (not Kevin Bacon, for once!)
Further research into items mentioned on Deep Creek Cemetery’s Texas State Historical Marker sent me on a trail leading straight to Mickey Mouse!
You see, in 1860 a settler named Andrew Mann donated land to create Deep Creek Cemetery. Years later, his great-granddaughter, Burch Mann, founded the internationally renowned American Folk Ballet. While Mann is best known for providing the choreography for Walt Disney’s original Mouseketeers, she also created a ballet called “Winter at Deep Creek” based on the early Texas settlers from which she descended.
Winter At Deep Creek – An American Folk Ballet
I hunted around for videos of this ballet, but have not found anything…yet! The American Folk Ballet does has a Facebook page, so maybe they will be able to point me in the right direction. If you know anything about this particular ballet, please let me know.
Incidentally, when asked why she created the American Folk Ballet, Burch Mann explained that, “I wanted to create something that men would enjoy as much as women did. Men in Texas just weren’t ready for classical ballet.” To learn more about this interesting woman, check out a fascinating bio of Burch Mann, as well as this wonderful interview with Burch Mann where she says “My creativity seems to increase as I get older”.
What an inspiring person! I am glad to have been introduced to her via the Texas State Historical Marker at Deep Creek Cemetery.
Vandals & Ground Penetrating Radar
My husband and I found a few wire markers with little flags and signs saying “GPRS” scattered throughout Deep Creek Cemetery. I later learned via pals on Instagram and Facebook, that “GPRS” stands for “Ground Penetrating Radar Service.” This caused me to do a little more research and learn that vandals knocked over a bunch of headstones a couple years ago. The radar service is then required to properly realign tipped over stones. This vandalisam is also the reason why the gate from the main road is now locked, requiring visitors to approach the graveyard on foot.
Learn more at my Historic Cemetery Podcast & YouTube Channel:
Do you have questions about headstone symbols? Drop by my YouTube channel and let me take you one some virtual cemetery tours! You can also tune in to my 30-minute historic cemetery podcast on the first Tuesday of each month: Tombstone Tuesday with Tui Snider.
READ MY BOOK: If you enjoy historic cemeteries and want to learn more, check out my book: Understanding Cemetery Symbols. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and ebook form.