The way to Buster's house was down a rutted caliche road with many a bump and puddle. By the time we had driven in and out, Big Red looked like Big Muddy. The house sits on the edge of a large tank and before the drought dried most of it up, there was quite a bit of fishing done there. Buster is still living on his own (with nearby family) and tends his few head of cattle and tells some good stories. He's quite a guy.
After a good visit and some good vittles, we went on to a little cemetery where many of the kinfolk are buried. After two days of rain and temperature in the 40s, the afternoon turned warm and sunny and the nearby hills were blue and beautiful and we enjoyed our drive, even if we did have to make a stop when we got back to Kerrville to hose the mud off the car.
My favorite photo of the day was this portion of an old chimney, the only remaining evidence of the original house that stood on Buster's land.
I love that solitary little sprig of Spanish moss that clings to the rock. The chimney reminded me of the whole process of genealogy. You build your family tree piece by piece, with every piece relying on the pieces beneath it. The little rocks fill in the gaps and give character to the family history. And, just when you least expect it, a little surprise springs out of the records and gives you a whole new perspective on the family story you thought you knew.
Yesterday a surprise sprang out of the family story I thought I knew. We were planning to visit the Hondo cemetery and get photos of the graves of my Aunt Fannie Rucker and her two sons and some of her grandchildren. The cemetery listing I found online listed a Rucker I did not have in my records. In pursuing the connection, I stumbled over a startling piece of family history that I had never known. I ended up putting in a call to my aunt to see if she knew any of the details. She had forgotten about the incident, but was able to explain the troubling records I had found from stories she had heard from my grandmother. That story will be told in detail over on Building Blocks in the not too distant future.
While I had her on the telephone, I asked her about whether it was true Aunt Fannie had broken her back. No, she had no idea where I had gotten that idea. Aunt Fannie had never been incapacitated by anything other than old age. When I added a few more details I had heard, she was able to set me straight that there was an aunt who had had an unsettling experience while turning somersaults, but that nothing was broken. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter that aunt had died from complications of a stroke at a very early age and some speculation had been made at the time that the two incidents might have been related. All my childhood memories of that story had apparently been scrambled with my memory of Aunt Fannie who was confined to her bed in her last years. And this is how family rumors get started, I guess.
When we got to Hondo this morning, we stopped at the library to see if there was any published map of the cemetery and, while the staff was very helpful, they had no records to help us. They suggested that we go across the street to the funeral home where they were sure we would get the information we needed. Indeed we did get a map and an approximate location of the graves from a gentlemen who reminded me of the quintessential funeral director you see in tv shows and movies. I got the distinct impression that helping a family historian was not his idea of a good time, but he nonetheless saved us an enormous amount of time considering how large the cemetery was. We were able to pay our respects and get the photos I wanted.
Having completed our last genealogy task for this trip, we headed east to San Antonio and then on to home.
I was not greeted with open arms from the kids. I have been informed in no uncertain terms that I am in the doghouse but good. Mojo is alternately clinging to me and growling at me. Coco is pretending I don't exist. Boo is jumping in my lap, purring, and then biting me. Scout is walking around with her lips pursed (I kid you not). I'm hoping a good night's sleep tucked in against Mom will help get their world back on its axis.