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Oakwood Cemetery – Jefferson, TX


Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer Day

This is an update on the grave of Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer that I cleaned the other day.

The Creole Heritage Center at NSU has announced that October 8, 2011 “has been proclaimed as Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer Day in recognition of his service in the American Revolutionary War.”  The grave will be marked by the local chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

You can see the CHC’s story on the ceremony here.

Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer

Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer was a French merchant and planter who had ten children with Marie Therese Coin-Coin, a woman born a slave who eventually gained freedom for herself and her children.  Their relationship began a community of ‘creoles of color’ along the Cane River area of Natchitoches parish.  This community has spread out from Natchitoches, both around Louisiana and across the country.  He is buried in the American Cemetery in Natchitoches, Louisiana, a popular burial site for early Catholic settlers in the area.

The Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution will be marking Mr. Metoyer’s grave in an October ceremony.  A DAR member asked if I could clean the marker in advance of the ceremony.  I met with her on Thursday, September 15 at around ten in the morning.  The physical state of the marker appears to be quite sound apart from a portion in the bottom right corner that has been chipped off.  The marker was a dark gray color and did not appear to have been cleaned in quite some time, if ever.  It sits in an area of the cemetery that puts it under the branches of several trees.  The combination of debris falling from above and the shady location of the grave may have contributed to establishing a foundation for dampness and biological growth to set in to the stone.

The DAR representative told me it was around 200 years old.  The death date on the inscription was not readable at the time.

I returned to the cemetery the next morning and began cleaning around 10:15am.  The weather was very pleasant, about 63 degrees and some light clouds in a mostly blue sky.  I took photographs from different angles before starting.

CTP Metoyer Before 1
CTP Metoyer Before 2
CTP Metoyer Before 3
CTP Metoyer Before 4

I performed three cleaning cycles using the D/2 biological solution and a soft-bristle brush.  I wet down the stone before each treatment and thoroughly washed it off after each as well.  Each treatment cycle and rinse resulted in the removal of some material, most of which was likely dirt, grime, grit, etc., the type of material that would build up on top of an untended grave over the course of time.  After the first cycle the inscription became legible.   During the third cleaning cycle I used a toothbrush to clean the inscription and get into some narrower and tighter spots.  The inscription reads:


Décédé le 30 7bre 1815

agé de 72 ans

I returned to the site at 4pm to take a few additional photos, and I will return again about seven days after cleaning to take more.  It rained earlier today (9/18/11), so some of the biological growth that died off since cleaning may have been washed off.

CTP Metoyer 4 hrs later
CTP Metoyer 4 hrs later 2
CTP Metoyer 4 hrs later 3
CTP Metoyer 4 hrs later 4

This was a very satisfying project for me.  Mr. Metoyer is very notable in this area due to his position as the father of a community that gives us a distinct element for our local culture.  I know several of his descendants, and ‘several’ is probably short-changing things.  The story of Marie Therese Coin-Coin is a remarkable one.  The cleaning job was very straightforward, and I was able to see some immediate results.  There will hopefully be a gradual improvement in the appearance of the marker between now and the SAR/DAR ceremony in October.

Below is a video of me talking about the different phases of the project.

Grave Cleaning — Evergreen Baptist Cemetery

On February 15 I headed east from Natchitoches and drove out to Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church near St. Maurice in Winn Parish.  The cemetery is beyond the church and sits on uneven and sometimes even hilly ground.  I was there to clean the grave of Mrs. Josephine Small, a flat concrete tablet with a vertical headstone.  The front face of the headstone has an angel’s head and wings carved in relief at the top and an inscription below that reads:


AGE 70

Atop the headstone is a carving of a lamb.  Around the neck of the lamb is a sort of casing or brace of a different material that I believe is there to protect this area, possibly due to previous damage.

Both the flat tablet and headstone were covered with a large amount of dirt and grime.  Some biological growth was at the headstone end of the tablet, and much more was on the front, back and carving of the headstone.

I wet down the stone and realized that two environmental factors were working in my favor.  The first was that despite the uneven terrain of the cemetery, this particular grave was remarkably level.  Water poured on the stone did not run off the side.  The second was that the weather that day was mostly cloudy, though it did not rain.  Almost no direct sunlight struck the grave during my time at the cemetery.  These two factors meant that the stone would not dry out took quickly while I was working, a big advantage for work that requires the stone be kept wet during the cleaning process.

During cleaning and immediately after, it was apparent that most of the staining on the tablet was dirt and grime that had built up to such a degree as to turn the stone almost black in some places.  This came off in large amounts after two cleaning cycles.  The grime on the headstone also came off to a large degree, along with some of the biological growth.

I returned a week later on February 22 to take some “after photos” and was very pleased with the overall results.  The headstone showed less biological growth despite the fact that I do not think that it rained at the site during the interval, which would have washed off some of the dying growth.  The bracing material looked significantly cleaner as well.  The weather report says that it will rain quite a bit at the site tonight, so the grave may look even cleaner over the next few days.

NOTE:  As always, I should mention that I do not clean to make things look pretty, but as a preservation procedure that extends the life of the resource.  An improved appearance is an added bonus.

Here are some before and after photographs of the grave:











See more photos of this cemetery on my flickr page.

Weaver Cemetery


Weaver Cemetery is located on Hwy. 120, west of the turnoff to I-49.  It is fairly standard in terms of the type of markers and orientation.  It is fairly large with a hill on one side and a large amount of space with no visible graves.  The oldest grave I saw dates to the mid-1950s.

This is a rather sweet image:


While not a dominant practice, many graves in the area have benches for loved ones to sit on when they come visit.



The deceased receive many titles from those they leave behind: mother/father, son/daughter, friend, etc.  Here they are referred to as the guardian angels of what I presume are their descendants.



NOTE:  In my experience, nobody out-decorates the Bynogs pound-for-pound.

More support for my theory that there are Dowdens pretty much everywhere:



I’m not a fan myself, but I was very intrigued by this grave, which has a scene from a NASCAR race on the back.



Using Mrs. Lafitte’s 2001 year of death as a base date, here are the drivers who had most commonly driven each number car around that time:

3: Dale Earnhardt (Note: Any racing fan can easily tell you whose number this was. Earnhardt passed away in 2001, a few weeks after Mrs. Lafitte. No one has driven the 3 car since)

5: Terry Labonte

83: Not driven by anyone from 1994-2001, the most frequent driver prior to 2001 was Lake Speed. (a great name for a race car driver)

In another setting, this grave would not stand out so much.  In Weaver, it is unique.  It is a vault-type grave more commonly seen in African-American cemeteries.  It may be a bit hard to see, but it has four bolts, two on each side, where others of the same type would normally have handles.


I have seen this emblem on three or four other graves at various sites, but I still don’t know what it means.  One of the symbols looks like a communion wafer and chalice, and another looks like a crown.  I don’t know what the other three could be.  Let me know if you have any ideas.



This headstone appears to have had a fleur de lis of some sort attached to it at some point.



Many headstones have quotes from the Bible or the deceased.  Every now and then something literary shows up, like this quote on the back of the headstone of Melba Page Palmer.  It is an excerpt from The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam:


The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.


It’s a solemn, serious and thought-provoking piece of work.  Not far away is something a little more lighthearted:



You’re a good man, Charlie Brown


The comic character theme continues just a little further on:



See more photos of this cemetery on my flickr page.

Friendship Cemetery


Friendship Cemetery is located on Friendship Road off of Stewart Loop, between Robeline and Many.  It is across the street from Friendship Nazarene Church.  The gate puts the founding date at 1948, so it is not too old and most of the graves are in very good condition.  It is not very big compared to some other sites, but there are several graves that stood out as different from things I have seen anywhere else.

One feature not common to other cemeteries is a central walkway.  This path runs the entire length of the site and ends at the rear gate.


There are at least two headstones with the following medallion set on the front, which shows the close relationship between the cemetery and the church across the street.  It reads “Minister:  Church of the Nazarene.”


I’ve seen Thibodeaux, but I’ve never seen Quibodeaux.


This grave has a metal plaque set in granite set behind the headstone.  I do not know exactly what the hole in the middle is designed to hold, but in other places I have seen an urn with flowers or a candle.


I really liked this brick masonry work with an inset for decorations and metal plaque with the inscription.


In this case there is a metal gate set behind two headstones, with a cross set atop the gate.  The gate does not surround the plots, so this is not a case of sectioning the graves off from their surroundings.  The gate is likely just for decoration and perhaps represents the gates of heaven.


This is an example of a rather rare occurrence, that of adult siblings being buried side by side and sharing a headstone.  This is seen much more often with married couples.  In this case the sister is still alive.  I really like the quote “Twins by birth/Friends by choice.”  The back of the grave reads “Matthews Twins.”


This footstone at the Hutto grave is inscribed with a quote from Act V, Scene V from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.


His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’


The site dates to 1948, but the oldest marker I saw on my visit was this one from 1952:


See more photos of this cemetery on my flickr page.

Fenders Cemetery


Fenders Cemetery is located across the street from the Sabine Parish Tourist & Recreation Commission, which is at 1601 Texas Highway in Many, LA.  I went into the Commission building to ask if they could tell me anything about the cemetery, but I didn’t have much luck.

Fenders is hard for me to figure out.  It has stones marking burials at least as far back as the 1870s.  Some of the names appear to reflect first-generation immigrants.  There are several different styles and levels of commemoration.  There are even what appear to be ruins of brick vaults.  If asked to describe it, I’m not sure I could.

On to the photos.

Fenders has something I’d never seen before, which is the trellis-post thingies (technical term).


How can you not love Schatzie?


And then there’s “Charlie Night Hawk.”


I’ve seen “Meet me at the river” and “I’ll see you on the mountain” but I’ve not been told that someone was coming to get me.  (Tell them there’s no hurry)


It has been gratifying to see people of today making the effort to place markers on unmarked graves, though I cannot say for sure that they have not simply replaced an older and more historic marker.


Does it get any more Puritan than Civility?


Or more Biblical than Palistine?  This is one of a group of about four markers made in the same style.


In the middle part of the cemetery are two brick vaults.  One is in relatively complete condition, and the other is completely crumbled.

A large uprooted tree stump is nearby.  This stump gives the answer to the question, “Why is Scotty not that fond of trees in cemeteries?”


That’s why.

Must…refrain…from making…English tea joke…


I really liked this tall monument for a man who died in World War II.


“He gave his life for his country”

Okay, maybe Enoch is more Biblical than Palistine.



See more photos of this cemetery on my flickr page.