Banner photograph of St. Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery, Bath, North Carolina - Taken by Judith Richards Shubert October 2008

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
- Thornton Wilder

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The West Family at Mount Pleasant Cemetery

While wandering through the country cemetery of Mount Pleasant, located west of Granbury in Hood County off of Hwy. 377 near Tolar, I was struck by the fact that several family names seemed prominent among the gravestones. There were many with the names Swaim, Snider, West, Aston, and Tidwell. I wondered who owned the land and who was buried in the cemetery first.

I have not gone to the courthouse and researched land deeds but while reading the very well done and informative Hood County Texas Genealogical Society website I found answers to several of my questions.

A family named West came to Texas from Kentucky in the year 1854. A friend of Kentucky’s Davy Crockett, Robert Saunders West, settled with his young wife, Maura Pugh West, in the area called Squaw Creek. Robert’s father, Thomas West, followed his son in 1856. Thomas was born in Buckingham County, Virginia, in 1797.

The land where Mount Pleasant resides was given to the people of the community by Thomas West, the father who followed his son to Texas. Robert and Maura remained on the land they originally settled for the rest of their lives. It stayed in the West family for 90 to 100 years.

During those early years there was a lot of trouble with Comanche Indian raids. In fact, one of Robert’s sons, Owen Collin West, was captured by a raiding party when he was only 8 years old. I imagine an urgent call went out among the settlers around Squaw Creek for volunteers to find young Owen. In any event, he was rescued within a few hours. During his lifetime, Owen was known throughout the territory as an expert on Comanche lore and for his Indian stories.

In Owen’s obituary found in an October 13, 1938 Dallas, Texas, newspaper his father was identified as “Robert West, old-time Indian fighter, early Hood County settler and friend of Davy Crockett.”

When Shubert and I walked the cemetery for the second time in as many weeks we noticed some gravestones toward the back of the property that we had not seen the first time. As we got closer I was surprised to see a group of coffin-shaped false crypts. I personally had never seen anything like that in a Texas cemetery before; however, I know that they are scattered about in Texas cemeteries, but I wonder how common the coffin shape is and how many times they appear in such number for one family.

You can imagine my excitement when I discovered the family name West on the false crypts. I don’t know the reason the West family chose this form of burial, but it could have been to protect them from animals, vandals, or the elements or it could have been a tradition that they brought with them from Virginia and Kentucky.

I also wonder if the names and dates were inscribed at a later date because several of them – at least 6 – had “Child or Grandchild of Benjamin West” on the top of the crypt. Benjamin was another son of Thomas and Robert’s brother. I did not photograph gravestones for or remember if Benjamin and Owen were buried nearby. If I discover them at a later date I will update this posting.

I think you’ll find the photos as intriguing as I found the false crypts.

In the above three pictures are false crypts that may belong to other families. They were close to but not with the group of West family members, and I could not find any inscription on them.

Thomas N. West

1797 – 1870

Robert Sanders West

1818 – 1878

Maura Rebecca Pugh West

1836 – 1881

Emoline L.

Dau. of / R & M R West

Born / ? ? 1858 / Died / Mar. 1. 1864

This stone appears to rest in an area cut out for its placement (notice the niche at the bottom where it rests. Emoline’s father’s probably was made the same way, although I did not get a picture of the bottom of the small stone on his crypt.

This is top of Emoline’s (Emmaline) crypt. I believe the two spellings of the first name may indicate they were done at different times. Which came first? And which way did she spell her name?

You can see Robert A. West’s crypt on upper row in photo, second from the left.

I wonder where the smaller stone laying on top of the crypt was originally.

All of the crypts in the lower row on right in the photograph are smaller and except for the last one which is Emoline’s carry the inscription found in the next photo.

Child or Grandchild

Of Benjamin T West

I will continue to watch for these unusual crypts in the small country cemeteries I find myself in.

Photographs taken by Judith Richards Shubert, Copyright December 2008

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Tolar, Hood County, Texas


Hood County Texas Genealogical Society

Dallas, Texas Newspaper October 13, 1938

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Tolar, Hood County, Texas


  1. Judy, now you have my curiousity up! I can't remember seeing coffin shaped crypts, either, so I will pay more attention next time I go to the cemetery here. What a great article, and very nice photos!

  2. Judy, this is a wonderfully researched and well-written article that I enjoyed so much. Not only was it informative, but your photographs, as usual, were just great.

  3. Thanks to both of you, Cheryle and Janice. I'm really glad you liked this. Your comments always give me encouragement to do more.


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