BLUE LIGHT CEMETERY by George E. Wolf Jr./1980-2001
REST IN PEACE Lynn Ashby/August 8,1980 Houston Post
BLUE LIGHT CEMETERY
It is an almost impossible place to find but, unfortunately, not impossible enough. To get here, I have to take an old path which comes off Patterson Road in Addicks Reservoir in the far western part of Houston. But what used to be an easy-to-locate route is now plugged up at the entrance by a huge pile of dirt and trees stumps.
The Army Corps of Engineers pushed the barrier into place to keep out intruders, and today it is patrolled by Park Rangers, but their beat is to big and their number too few to keep a constant lookout on Blue Light Cemetery.
Over the mud and tree stumps on the edge of Patterson Road, I come upon the path. Ruts of car and truck wheels in the mud show that traffic was once much heavier. I walked under the pine trees and over dead, orange pine needles so thick that its looks as though recent rains have caused the ground to rust. Dove and quail are found here, so are deer and any number of poisonous snakes. Being federal property, no hunting is allowed. All around are towering pine trees, live oaks, high grass and underbrush. And, of rich, green and untended St. Augustine grass. It's hard to believe that I am within the city limits of Houston.
Along the path, which winds though the trees and under large limbs, I come across a clearing. Unlike much of this part of the county, the land was not used for rice paddles. Such a clearing probably was man-made for one reason or another. Maybe a house once sat in the midst of this field. Ah, here is a Coors can, overthere a Budweiser can. Civilization is not far away.
This land was purchased for the reservoir in the 1940's and hasn't been touched since. It is a beautiful and green, and almost mysterious. The name for the cemetery, "Blue Light", comes from fox fire, or swamp gas, which is said to cover this thick forest on occasion.
The path passes the clearing and plunges back into the forest. As I walk along I can hear scurrying in the leaves as something-deer, I hope-departs for another part of the forest. Now I come upon something hiding down in the grass. Coils of barbed wire, once part of a fence which surrounds the cemetery.
But someone's truck had the right of way-or at least the last word-and the posts are down along here, the wire wrapped around the weeds. Park Ranger Richard Long leads the way. He has been newly transferred here from Arkansas, and likes this quiet part of Texas, but is chagrined, if not shocked, by what we do with what we have.
"Here it is",he says, gesturing around BLUE LIGHT CEMETERY.
I can see that at one time this was a neat, well maintained place. And well chosen. Several enormous pine trees are on one side, cedars hover over the graves. There were probably 25 or 30 persons buried here. Many apparently were from Germany. But time, or more appropriately, people, have not been kind to Blue Light Cemetery. The tombstones are overturned, smashed. A number of large gray marble slabs with no tops indicate that some stones have been stolen. "This one used to have a big marble ball on top", sighs Long. "Now it's gone."
One stone reads JOHN H. GRISHEE, BORN SEPT. 1,1857-DIED DEC. 1,1899."
Some graves are marked with marble, others are simply concrete, with the names and dates cut into them when they were wet.
SAMUEL QUADE, another reads, HIER RUHET IS GOTT. And another, IN MEMORY OF OUR BELOVED MOTHER-ELIZA JANE KEELY.
Over here is the tomb of LOUIS HILLENDAHI, who lived for only six months in 1877.
A fine, strong marble marks the grave of EMILE TH. RIES, born in Germany, but I can't make out where, because it looks as though someone has taken a sledge hammer and smashed the middle of the marble.
Ranger Long walks over to a large hole. "That's new diggings. It wasn't here when I visited this place last time, a month ago."
He's right. It's hard to believe, but there really are people who come out here to dig up graves. They steal the tombstones, they bring in trucks to drag them off because the stone must weigh 300 pounds. And they dig up the graves. For gold. But gold in teeth is really not pure gold. It's too soft. The grave robbers don't know that. And they look for rings, jewelry, things like that. There are other holes around here, with the covering concrete or marble slabs shoved aside. It's incredible. I get sort of a sick feeling. Here in the Blue Light Cemetery, in a beautiful setting of trees and birds and quiet, people come with trucks and shovels to unearth tombs so they can dig gold out of teeth.
WHAT HAVE WE COME TOO???