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Bringing a cemetery back to life
by Matt Naber
Dec 04, 2013 | 142 views | 0 0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo courtesy of Roberta Dobie
The Dobie McWhorter Cemetery was well maintained up through 2003, but has since fallen into disrepair.
Photo courtesy of Roberta Dobie The Dobie McWhorter Cemetery was well maintained up through 2003, but has since fallen into disrepair.
slideshow
Photo courtesy of Roberta Dobie
The Dobie McWhorter Cemetery has fallen into disrepair. Many of the grave-sites are buried in vegetation, damaged by vandalism and completely hidden. Dobie wants to repair the cemetery and get it designated with the Texas Historical Commission, but getting contact with the property owner has been difficult.
Photo courtesy of Roberta Dobie The Dobie McWhorter Cemetery has fallen into disrepair. Many of the grave-sites are buried in vegetation, damaged by vandalism and completely hidden. Dobie wants to repair the cemetery and get it designated with the Texas Historical Commission, but getting contact with the property owner has been difficult.
slideshow
Photo courtesy of Roberta Dobie
This is what the Dobie McWhorter Cemetery looked like in the 1930s, it was well maintained up through 2003 but has since fallen into disrepair.
Photo courtesy of Roberta Dobie This is what the Dobie McWhorter Cemetery looked like in the 1930s, it was well maintained up through 2003 but has since fallen into disrepair.
slideshow
Photo courtesy of Roberta Dobie
This is what the Dobie McWhorter Cemetery looked like in the 1930s, it was well maintained up through 2003 but has since fallen into disrepair.
Photo courtesy of Roberta Dobie This is what the Dobie McWhorter Cemetery looked like in the 1930s, it was well maintained up through 2003 but has since fallen into disrepair.
slideshow
A cemetery with historically significant graves from when Live Oak County was formed is hidden, buried underneath vegetation from years of neglect on private property. Roberta Dobie is taking steps to breathe new life into the Dobie McWhorter Cemetery with the ultimate goal of getting a historical marker from the Texas Historical Commission.

But, there are some obstacles to get over first.

Dobie said Live Oak County was formed in 1856, but there were people here before that so the cemetery was part of San Patricio, Jim Wells, Nueces and Live Oak counties.

According to Dobie, it is currently owned by Rebecca Arlene Byler Franklin Pugh of Corpus Christi. Dobie said there is no accessible road to the cemetery at this time, and she called Pugh three times with no response.

“She might have inherited something she doesn’t know what to do with it,” Dobie said. “For the longest time her relatives were good stewards of it, but something happened in the last 10 years, and it’s not being cared for now.”

Attorney Charles Kimbrough of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP discussed cemetery access with the Live Oak County Commissioners on Nov. 15, before Dobie’s presentation on Nov. 26. Kimbrough said the county does not have to play a role in facilitating public access to cemeteries on private properties.

However, that does not mean the public does not have the ability to gain access to cemeteries on private property.

Kimbrough said visitors need to provide written notice 14 days before visiting if the property owner has not already established available times for public access to the cemetery on their property that also suit the visitor’s needs.

“The current property owner is difficult to get a hold of,” Dobie said. “I know by law you can get access if you give notice within 14 days, but you can’t give notice if you can’t get a hold of someone.”

Dobie said the last time she was able to get access to the cemetery was in 2003. At that time it was maintained relatively well.

“You can barely see it now because it’s so overgrown,” Dobie said.

Although the cemetery is the final resting place for Union and Confederate soldiers and horse and cattle thieves, it is also home to historically significant people such as the relatives of famous South Texas author J. Frank Dobie.

Notable gravesites include:

• Mary Morris Dobie, the first person buried at the cemetery in October 1863.

• Alexander Steuart, a federal conscript officer who was murdered near Penita Creek in 1865 and the second person buried there.

• Amanda Marie Hill Dobie White, J. Frank Dobie’s grandmother.

• Ella Jayne Bylar Dobie, J. Frank Dobie’s mother.

• Captain Cornelius Clay “C.C.” Cox, a Live Oak County judge from 1887-1900, Civil War veteran and member of the Texas Navy and Texas Cavalry.

“If we can get this documented with these names of people buried there, people doing genealogy will come and see where this man (Cox) was buried,” Dobie said. “They have no clue where he is buried.”

Dobie said when she talks to locals about the cemetery, they get it confused with the Lagarto Cemetery, but they are separate. She said her first goal is to the get the public aware that the cemetery exists and then to establish road access.

After that, she wants to clean up all of the graves and then map out the location of each. She said the next step would be to restore the current gravestones and get markers for the unmarked graves too. From there, it’s just a matter of getting the site documented with the Texas Historical Database before a historical marker can be designated.

Finally, she would like to establish a permanent maintenance endowment.

“If you Google Live Oak cemeteries, it doesn’t show up anywhere,” Dobie said. “It’s in books in the library, but most people are going to Google it now.”
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