Plans are being made for the Annual Old Saltillo Cemetery Association Business Meeting/Memorial Day to be held at 10:30 a.m., July 18, 2021, in the Old Saltillo United Methodist Church, located at 664 County Road 3357, Saltillo, Texas.
The program will begin with congregational singing led by Steve Conley. After the opening ceremony, a business meeting will follow that includes a formal report of the activities of the Board of Directors, the financial position of the Association, plans for the coming year, and the election of three Board of Director members for the 2021-2024 term.
Keeping with tradition, a Memorial Program eulogizing loved ones buried in the Old Saltillo Cemetery will be conducted. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the 2020 annual meeting was not held. Names to be honored will be all who have been buried in the Old Saltillo Cemetery from July 19, 2019 – July 18, 2021. Family members present are asked to stand during the reading of a short verse and a star will be placed on a painting in remembrance of the loved ones. Kelli McAfee Tarver, Ginnifer Agee Doyle, and their daughters will present the remembrance. A special musical presentation will be offered by Steve Conley.
The Old Saltillo Cemetery has received the very prestigious recognition by the Texas Historical Commission with an Official Texas Historical Marker. A dedication ceremony will be the program for this year’s annual meeting. John Sellers, Chair of the County Historical Commission, will preside at the dedication. This is a very historic Hopkins County Cemetery. It received the Historic Designation in 2018 and the subject marker completes its story.
The Old Saltillo Cemetery originated as the burial place of a child who died near Saltillo in 1870s, while traveling the Jefferson Road with his family. His name and the burial plot are unknown. There were two marked burials in 1873, one in 1875, one in 1876, and two each in l878 and l879.
Beginning in the early 1930s, annual memorial services were held at the Old Saltillo Methodist Church. Early each morning on the day of the Memorial service two or three men took their shotguns to the woods to hunt for squirrels. After they shot the squirrels, the men cleaned them, North of the church building they built a fire under a large pot already containing water. Into the pot they put the squirrel carcasses, stewed tomatoes, canned corn, potatoes, saltand pepper. By noon time the stew was ready to be eaten.
The women of the community provided numerous dessert such as chess pie, chocolate pie, pineapple cake, German chocolate cake, butterscotch pie, banana pudding, and blackberry cobbler.
Until the early ‘60s the program was scheduled for the third Thursday in July. By that time, the cotton crops had been” laid by.”
In order to raise money for the upkeep of the cemetery at Old Saltillo, men of the community sold concessions during the noon hour and all afternoon. They sold soft drinks, cooled in tubs of ice; candy bars; and even ice cream from canisters stacked in wash tubs filled with ice. In the afternoon children stood near the concession stand, located under the oak trees north of the church building, hoping that a generous adult would supply them with sodas and ice cream. After all, the money went for a good cause.
In the l940s and the 1950s the annual observance were an all-day event, but in more recent years the celebration ends with the noon meal. Since 1960, the services are held on the third Sunday in July.
Following the Unveiling of The Marker, lunch will be served in the air-conditioned Kirby Memorial Center. You are asked to bring some of your favorite dishes – enough to feed all in your party and share some with others. Lunch will be served immediately after the program in a buffet manner with all eating utensils, plates, iced drinks, and coffee provided. Seating in the serving area is limited; however, space is plentiful under the huge oak trees around the church. Feel free to bring lawn chairs, card tables, etc. to enjoy your lunch and fellowship with others in attendance.
At 1:30 p.m., an unveiling ceremony will be held approximately one-half of a mile north of the church/cemetery on County Road 3357 to dedicate an Official Texas Historical Marker for the Old Jefferson Road.
Old Saltillo was just a camping ground with no name, in the 1840s, located where two old by-roads crossed at the edge of the prairie in the Eastern part of Hopkins County, about one-half mile from the Franklin County Line.
About 1842, the Jefferson Road, with right of way sixty feet wide, was cut and passed through the camping ground. The Jefferson Road ran from Fort Worth, Dallas and surrounding points to Jefferson, Texas’ principal river port at that time. The local branch of the Jefferson Road began at Mount Pleasant and went west to Old Tarrant, which at that time was the county seat of Hopkins County.
The Jefferson Road was everyone’s road. An occasional stagecoach would use the road as an alternate, and at times a troop of Calvary would follow the road a piece. Cattle were driven over the road to the market in Jefferson. Oxen trains could be seen plodding the road. Horse and mule drawn wagons were there too.
From one to three spans of mules were used, or from oneto three yoke of oxen. The trip took about eight or ten days with mules pulling the wagons from Old Saltillo to Jefferson.
One favorite place to camp for the travelers was Twin Groceries. It was an excellent camping ground, and people going east would camp early in order to let their teams graze on the prairie. Those going west would travel late in order to do likewise.
Today there are vestiges of the Old Jefferson Wagon Road. Its roadbed is still visible in places. When it was in use, they let trees grow at its edges to prevent erosion. For the most part its path is now on private property. Aerial photos and satellite images show the roadbed here and there. One can still find traces and fragments of the old stores’ foundations and chimney at Twin Groceries (Old Saltillo).
Information in this message concerning the history of the Old Saltillo Cemetery and the Old Jefferson Road was taken from the application to the Texas Historical Commission. Sponsor Name: Montie G. Monzingo, dated 8/21/18.