Humphreys Cemetery,[1] located near Martindale, in Caldwell County, Texas, had its beginnings in 1854 with the burial of Randolph Reed Jennings who was laid to rest on a hill northeast of Morrison Creek, a tributary of the San Marcos River.  The location may have been chosen because the surface was unsuitable for farming, but the stable, gravelly soil provided an ideal location for family burials.

tombstone _rrjThe tombstone of Randolph Reed Jennings records his death on November 28, 1854.[2]  It has been said that he actually died of yellow fever at the port of Indianola while moving his wife and family from Pontotoc County, Mississippi, to join members of the Jennings and Humphreys families who had settled near Martindale in 1851.  His body was then brought to Martindale for burial and his death was recorded in Caldwell County.[3]  Two years later his young son James Alsup Jennings became the second person buried at Humphreys Cemetery.

The first seven burials at Humphreys Cemetery were members of the Jennings and Humphreys family who settled the 2,000 acres adjoining the cemetery.[4]  Randolph Reed Jennings and son James Alsup Jennings were followed in death by a young niece, Rachel Kansis Jennings (1857).  Next were Joseph Humphreys (1864) and his daughter-in-law Kate Word Humphreys (1869).  Anna M. Jennings (wife of John D. Crunk) was laid to rest in 1869, a few days before her mother Agnes Alsup Jennings.

tombstone_asj (1)The stone marking the resting place of Agnes Jennings reads “Agnes Jennings, Consort of Jesse Jennings, Born Nov. 28 1783, Died Aug. 31, 1869.”[5]  agnesalsupBy the birth date on this tombstone, Agnes earns the distinction of being the oldest person buried at Humphreys Cemetery.  Agnes is said to have moved from Mississippi with a group of settlers arriving in the Martindale area in 1851 and is thought to have assisted several days before their arrival in the birth of her grandson Robert Henry Jennings as the wagon caravan camped on Plum Creek that Christmas Eve.Another account of Agnes describes her arrival in Caldwell County with her daughter Ann and Ann’s husband John Dennis Crunk who journeyed to Texas in 1852 with the Appling-Mooney wagon train.[6]

Six of the first eleven burials at Humphreys Cemetery occurred between July and November, 1869.  Two young children were among the dead and some of the deaths may have been related to a cholera epidemic that swept nearby San Antonio in 1869.[7]  It has been said that Agnes Jennings “died of old age.”[8]

With the burials of Joseph Humphreys in 1864 and Kate Word Humphreys five years later began the impressive Humphreys family plot, located near the center of the cemetery and marked by two obelisks, probably placed there by Joseph’s son Jesse Humphreys.  Joseph’s wife Sarah Jones was buried beside him in 1889 and son Jesse was laid to rest near his parents in 1900.

tphOther first-generation Texans buried at the Humphreys Cemetery include the family of Geo. N. Martindale (1842-1892), son of Martindale pioneers George and Nancy Martindale.  Their final resting place near the Humphrey’s plot is marked by a tall white obelisk marker.

The Humphreys Cemetery is situated on land which was part of a 1,490 acre tract purchased by Joseph Humphreys.  Having arrived in the Martindale area in 1851 with the first group of settlers from Mississippi, the Humphreys family possibly worked the land as tenant farmers for several years or entered into a contract to purchase the land which was then conveyed in 1855 from William A. Matthews and John A. McKean.[9]  Joseph Humphreys held the land surrounding the cemetery until his death.  By his will, son Jesse L. Humphreys as executor “advertised for sale at public outcry before the courthouse door”[10] a 403 acre parcel out of the original 1,490 acres “except 3 & 2/10 acres reserved as grave yard.”[10]  A subsequent conveyance of the same 403 acres includes a plat showing the cemetery’s location northeast of Morrison Creek.[11]  In 1946 the size of the cemetery increased with the purchase of an acre of land from B. F. Harper and wife.[12]

Many early settlers of Caldwell County who were later buried at Humphreys Cemetery distinguished themselves as pioneers in the early Texas livestock and farming industries.  The real-life accounts of pioneer stockmen in J. Marvin Hunter’s The Trail Drivers of Texas[13] include stories of Joseph Pulliam Jennings (1818-1882) and his wife Susan E. Crunk Jennings (1821-1897), along with half a dozen second-generation Texans who were laid to rest in Humphreys Cemetery.

Military veterans buried at Humphreys Cemetery include men who served in the Confederate States Army and various branches of military service in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.  A number of graves are marked with American Legion designations.

Some thirty yards southeast of a wrought iron enclosure marking the graves of William H. and Melvina Jennings is an area said to be the final resting place of slaves.  During the first several years after relocating from Mississippi, slave ownership was common among the farmers and ranchers of Caldwell County[14] and by verbal tradition it has been said that some of these individuals received an honorable burial near the graves of their masters.  To this day, descendants of early pioneer families are admonished not to disturb the resting places of the individuals who served their ancestors.

Although Humphreys Cemetery still has the look and feel of a quiet small-town cemetery, it has grown steadily and continues to be active.  By 1900 nearly seventy people had been buried there.  In 1918 little Alvin Sears became the first person buried in the new section of the cemetery near present-day County Road 66, and in 1950 the total number of graves had grown to around 160.  A 1989 cemetery inventory recorded 290 marked graves.[15] At this writing, the Humphreys Cemetery approaches its 150th year of continuous existence as an active cemetery.

Responsibility for general upkeep of the cemetery has been assumed by families and descendants of people buried there and organized in 2003 as the Humphreys Cemetery Association, Inc., a Texas non-profit corporation created to preserve relevant local history and maintain cemetery property.  The cemetery association meets annually or as needed to elect officers and discuss funding and other financial matters.  Cemetery care is paid from private donations.

Humphreys Cemetery is located two miles southeast of Martindale, a short distance west of Highway 80 on County Road 66.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aden, Sarah J., Inventory of burials at Humphreys Cemetery, 1989; published by author [Sarah J. Hawkins], P.O. Box 220, Burton, Texas 77835; also available on cemetery website.

Deed Records of Caldwell County, Office of the County Clerk, Lockhart, Texas

Hunter, J. Marvin, The Trail Drivers of Texas; Interesting Sketches of Early Cowboys…, 1985 (Reissue edition); University of Texas Press

Mark Withers Trail Drive Museum, Historical Caldwell County; Where Roots Intertwine, 1984

Probate Records of Caldwell County, Office of the County Clerk, Lockhart, Texas

  1. J. Crunk, et al v. S. J. Southern, No. 2057, District Court Records of Caldwell County, Office of District Clerk, Lockhart, Texas

Spragins, Joan Dailey, James Alsup and Family; Pioneering from Virginia to Tennessee and Westward, 1989; unpublished manuscript in the collection of Sarah J. Hawkins, P.O. Box 220, Burton, Texas 77835; also in the collection of Caldwell County Genealogical and Historical Society, Luling, Texas

Tax Rolls of Caldwell County, Office of the County Clerk, Lockhart, Texas

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 – April, 1937, periodical, 1937; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101099/: accessed March 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

 

[1] This historical narrative uses the spelling “Humphreys,” as written on tombstones in the Humphreys section of the cemetery and as used by Joseph Humphreys in his will dated 1861 (Probate Records of Caldwell County, Book A, Page 162).  Earlier documents, including several used in the research of this narrative, used the spelling “Humphries.”

[2] Burial dates in this document are taken from a cemetery inventory done in 1989 by Sarah J. Aden.  An updated copy of this inventory may be found at the Humphreys Cemetery website.

[3] Joan Dailey Spragins, James Alsup and Family; Pioneering from Virginia to Tennessee and Westward (Private publication, Martindale, Texas, June, 1989), page 56.  Much of what is written about early settlers in Caldwell County can be traced to the work done by Joan Spragins and her father Henry Dailey, who interviewed many old-timers before his death in 1956.  Index to Probate Records of Caldwell County, Book A, Page 62.

[4] 740 acres, Matthews and McKean to William H. Jennings, 10 Feb 1855, Deed Records of Caldwell County, Volume D, Page 648; 1,490 acres, Matthews and McKean to Joseph Humphries, 10 Feb 1855; Deeds Records of Caldwell County, Volume D, Page 789.

[5] Spragins, page 32.

[6] Mark Withers Trail Drive Museum, Historical Caldwell County; Where Roots Intertwine, 1984, page 38.

[7] Information in the The Southwestern Historical Quarterly states that there was a  cholera epidemic in San Antonio in 1869.

[8] Spragins, page 33.

[9] Deed Records of Caldwell County, Book D, Page 789.

[10] Deed Records of Caldwell County, Jesse L. Humphreys, Executor of Joseph Humphreys, dec’d to Asa Southern, January 4, 1870, Deed Book L, Page 337.  Asa Southern et ux sold to R. J. Southern and R. J. Crunk in 1871 (Deed Book M, Page 465).

[11] Deed Records of Caldwell County, March 24, 1884, Book 20, Page 197 (final hearing in R. J. Crunk, et al v. S. J. Southern, No. 2057, District Court Records of Caldwell County).

[12] Deed Records of Caldwell County, Book 220, Page 97.

[13] J. Marvin Hunter, The Trail Drivers of Texas; Interesting Sketches of Early Cowboys…; University of Texas Press; Reissue edition (May 1985)

[14] Tax rolls of Caldwell County, 1852-1856.

[15] From 1989 cemetery inventory.