In my November 10 blog post, I mentioned my desire to find the Duke Cemetery where Daniel Perry, his family and other relatives are buried. I learned about Daniel Perry and the old Duke Community after finding three recently erected Historical Markers on Highway 6 in Missouri City just east of Arcola.
I knew from my previous visit that I would need to go off-road via a grassy path to reach the site. I wasn’t sure what other types of surfaces I would encounter so I returned on my Cannondale Slate which has wide enough tires to handle just about anything.
At the end of the grassy path, there was a clearing and three large beautiful Live Oak trees. I could also see two grave markers at the entrance to the clearing.
These graves were fairly recent: the man died in 1980 and the woman, presumably his wife, died in 2010. Their surname was Broussard and they were born one day apart in October 1932. The road from which I accessed the property is Broussard Road so the family must have been established here for some time. It is a beautiful piece of land—so secluded, quiet and peaceful under the shady oak canopy. It seems like a perfect place for one to rest.
I explored the clearing but did not see any other graves or markers. If this is the Duke Cemetery, there should be graves for the Perry family, the Fenn family, the Fitzgeralds and the Mortons who all died between 1832 and 1904. I was disappointed as this must not be the right location. Perhaps the Broussard family purchased the property and the old graves were moved. I’d have to do a bit more research.
Since I wrote this over two years ago, I have been contacted by the Broussard family about their private cemetery. Please understand that the location of the cemetery is private property and permission of the family is required for access.
Back at home the evening after, I continued my research and discovered that this site is indeed the Duke Cemetery, the last remnant of the Duke community. In 1901, William Paschal Hamblen (Hamblen is also found to be spelled Hamblin), who was a Fort Bend County Judge and son of Jane Hogue Hamblen Perry (wife of Daniel Perry), deeded a part of the old Perry homestead, to be set aside as a cemetery. The document describes the location of the cemetery and the conditions noted below. (Jane Hogue Hamblen Perry was Daniel Perry’s third wife. His two previous wives died at a young age probably of cholera.)
“This dedication is made upon the following conditions:
- First it is a private dedication and shall not enure to the public
- Second that no dead bodies shall ever be buried in said ground described herein by any person or persons including in this prohibition the members of all the families herein before named and their descendents except that J.R. Fenn and his wife Rebecca may be buried there.
- Third that no monuments shall ever be enacted over the dead now buried on said ground
- Fourth a permanent fence may be placed around said ground by any of the said families or their descendents
- Fifth access for said families or their descendents is hereby granted to said ground at reasonable times but no permanent ways shall be made and no case shall such persons visit in vehicles of any character but shall pass through the surrounding land on foot but should I sell the surrounding land the owner may grant whatsoever privileges he deems proper I reserve the right to visit the said ground in any manner I please.”
Mr. Hamblen did not want any markers on the graves and did not want anyone to access the site by “vehicles of any character.” There are no markers except for the Broussard graves. I wonder if he considered bicycles a type of vehicle? I did see that a part of the clearing had once been fenced with barbed wire but much of it is no longer standing. I can’t say why Mr. Hamblen recorded these stipulations for the cemetery but perhaps the family wanted the site to remain quiet and peaceful for as long as possible. Until today, he seems to have succeeded in that regard though my curiosity and this blog entry could have the effect of bringing in additional attention and visitors to the site.
In my research I found a map provided by Fort Bend County that shows every known grave site in the county and it clearly indicated this is the location of the Duke Cemetery. The map shows another gravesite a little further to the west indicated as the McKeever grave site. I would have to return another day to look for that one.
The ride back home was much faster due to a more favorable wind direction. All I had to do now was to avoid the many schools in the area where traffic would be heavy with buses and parents picking up their children. It’s difficult to get to my house from this direction without passing a school but I remembered that I could take the levee located south of the golf course from Commonwealth Drive straight back to my neighborhood. (I’m glad I was on the Slate.) This levee includes some Strava segments I’ve been eyeing since getting the Slate and on this day I got PRs on all three segments and even broke into the top 10 on one. My speed was still about 35 seconds off the pace of the KOM but at least I improved since the last time.
That’s enough for now. I need to pack for the Iceman’s Challenge gravel ride tomorrow in China Spring, Texas. Thanks for reading and stay safe.