Family history moments: A pasture graveyard

In the early 1960s, my grandmother, Lucy Lemons Spencer, told me that seven of Grandpa Spencer's brothers and sisters died when they were babies and were buried in the middle of a pasture somewhere in Jack County, Texas.

Some 27 years later, my wife and I were searching cemeteries in the area where my grandfather, Lewis Edward Spencer, was born. On impulse we decided to return to Perrin, a tiny Texas town in Jack County, and get some refreshments before going to another cemetery.While in the store we asked the owner if he knew where the Sanders Cemetery was located. To another man sitting two booths away, he said, "Hey Joe, is the Sanders Cemetery on your property?" It was.

We introduced ourselves and told him we were looking for Spencer ancestors. He said there were some Spencers in the cemetery on his property and he would take us there as soon as he finished eating.

His name was Joe Rankin. We followed his pickup truck to the cemetery. There were about 60 graves, but only about seven or eight had readable headstones.

When we got out of the car, Mr. Rankin said, "I think these are yours." The plot that contained the graves of the Spencer children, all from the late 1800s, was enclosed with a chain-link fence with no gate. I had to climb over the fence to reach the graves.

A cousin had told us about his father building the fence around the seven stones in about 1964. The fence was the only thing that had protected the stones from the cattle, which had free run of the field. The names of the children and their parents' names, as well as their birth and death dates were all on the stones. To our knowledge, these are the only records of these children.

While we were looking at the stones, the owner who had brought us to the place told us that he lived near Fort Worth and came to Perrin only occasionally. The cafe where he usually eats was closed, so he had gone to the little store where we had met him. "It was just an accident that you caught me," he said.

That morning before leaving our motel room, we had knelt and prayed that we would have assistance in finding our kindred dead. We not only felt our prayer was answered but that we had witnessed a miracle. The graves of the Spencer children had been protected for more than 100 years so that they might be located and, through temple work, united once again as a family.

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