COMSTOCK – A white iron archway welcomes the public to visit. Protestants reside on the west and Catholics on the east. Although everyone here is dead, thanks to a group of Comstock students and a long-time caretaker, they have a proud place to call home.
Students from Comstock High School’s Research and Methods class chose the Comstock Cemetery as the focus for their studies. After conducting research for nine months, the group submitted an application to the Texas Historical Commission to receive historical designation for the cemetery, and in late March, the application was approved.
“We were ready to take on this project,” said Comstock senior Chesney Perry. “To give back to community, for them to see how important it is to have all that history intact still.”
Perry, classmates Bianca Garza and Kaitlyn Jones, along with four Comstock graduates took Shumla archaeologists Vicky and Jerod Roberts’ class during the 2016-2017 school year. The class detected burial sites and created an online cemetery inventory using ground penetrating radar and 3D modeling.
“It was cool being able to get the kids excited about doing something for the community,” Vicky said. “I didn’t expect for them to be so excited.”
The students presented the historical designation certificate on Wednesday to cemetery caretaker Alicia Roberts, who has maintained the cemetery since she was 16 years old. Robertson, 62, said ghosts would often move rakes and rock-filled wheelbarrows while she and her father were cleaning the cemetery.
“I’d tell the ghosts, ‘Y’all need to stop it! We’re trying to work!’” Robertson said.
The cemetery’s oldest headstone dates back to 1880, but Vicky and Jerod say the cemetery’s older section contain several undated headstones. According to a property deed obtained by Vicky, A.G. Edwards sold the cemetery to the Trustees of the Comstock Cemetery in 1910 for $1. Since then, a small volunteer board of Comstock residents have operated the cemetery.
One headstone belongs to Fate Bell, a longtime Comstock landowner for whom a famed Seminole Canyon rock shelter is named. Another Comstock Cemetery curiosity lies on the property’s eastern edge where one defaced grave points east while the other graves face traditionally north, indicating the grave’s occupant disgraced the church during his or her life, said Vicky.
The group will now work to purchase a historical marker for the cemetery to encourage travelers to stop and visit the cemetery. If the drive to Comstock is too daunting, Jerod said 3D models of several tombstones can be found on Shumla’s website.