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This Real Story Of The Grave In The Middle Of The Road In Texas Will Shock You

Located on Wheelock Street in Hearne, Texas, you’ll find a unique and significant historical site known simply as the ‘Grave in the Road’. 

It’s literally a grave with a headstone that’s located right in the middle of a road and it’s over 100 years old.

This grave has an interesting backstory and is a place with deep roots in the African American history of the town.

It’s a story about resilience and never giving up, a true Texan story.

Origins of the Grave

Hearne’s Colored Graveyard was a cemetery established in 1879 as a burial ground for African Americans, many of whom were former slaves. 

During this period, segregation was strictly enforced and African Americans were not allowed to be buried in the same cemeteries as white people. 

This led to the creation of separate cemeteries, like Hearne’s Colored Graveyard, where African American families could lay their loved ones to rest.

Community Significance

For many years, the graveyard served as the final resting place for numerous African American residents of Hearne. 

It became a sacred space, reflecting the community’s respect for their ancestors and the importance of maintaining their cultural heritage. 

Families visited regularly, tending to the graves and ensuring that the memory of their loved ones was preserved.

The Impact of Development

In the mid-20th century, as Hearne began to expand and modernize, the city planners decided to develop new roads and infrastructure. 

Unfortunately, this led to the disruption of many historical sites including Hearne’s Colored Graveyard.

The Displacement

In 1947, real estate developers purchased the land and began to plan new roads.

The graveyard was soon identified as an obstacle that would need to be removed.

Despite protests from the community, families were forced to remove and rebury their loved ones to make way for the new road.

This process was not handled with the care and respect it deserved which led to significant community outrage. 

Many graves were disturbed and headstones were moved or lost which left the descendants of those buried there heartbroken.

The Lone Grave

Amid this turmoil, one grave was left undisturbed after the children of the deceased refused to relocate it.

After a long standoff, the developers backed down and ended up building a median around the grave instead.

Today, this single grave remains in the middle of what is now a paved road, serving as a reminder of the cemetery that once stood there.

The Identity of the Grave

The grave belongs to Hollie Tatnell, a former slave who was born in 1859 and died in 1911 at the age of 52. 

She was one of the last people to be buried in the cemetery as it was closed in 1912.

Her grave, marked by a simple headstone, symbolizes the struggle and resilience of the African American community in Hearne.

Today, the lone grave of Hollie Tatnell sits in the middle of a quiet road beneath a tree, surrounded by modern development. 

The headstone is modest, inscribed with her name and dates of birth and death. 

Despite the changes around it, the grave remains a powerful symbol of the past.

Community Efforts

In recent years, there has been a renewed effort by the community to honor the history of Hearne’s Colored Graveyard. 

Local historians and activists work to educate others about the cemetery’s significance and ensure that the story of Hollie Tatnell and the other individuals buried there is not forgotten.

In 2007, The Texas Historical Commission even decided to officially mark this site as a Historic Texas Cemetery, symbolizing its importance.

Visiting the Site

If you visit Hearne, you can see the lone grave in the middle of the road on Wheelock Street.

It is a stark and moving sight, reminding us of the importance of respecting and preserving our history. 

Visitors often leave flowers or other tokens of respect, paying homage to Hollie Tatnell and the community she represents.

The grave stands as an important historical marker. 

It reminds us of a time when segregation and injustice were rampant but also of the strength and resilience of the African American community in Hearne. 

As we continue to develop and modernize our cities, it is important to remember and honor the past, ensuring that the stories of those who came before us are not lost.

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Tom Jackson

Tom was born in San Antonio but spent most of his childhood in Dallas, he has lived in several cities across Texas and joined the team in 2024 to create travel guides on Texas.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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