Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tarleton Thursdays: Did You Know?

John Tarleton 's Grave Moved!

Memorial services for our benefactor John Tarleton were held during the April 30, 1928 Parent's Day program. According to the April 20, 1928 J-TAC, John Tarleton's body "is being moved to his new resting place this week." The granite monument had already been moved. "This new and final resting place of his body is the triangular park across the highway from the southwest corner of the campus".

John Tarleton was originally buried in the Mt. Pisgah Cemetery at Patillo, near his ranch in northern Erath County. It is interesting that he gave land to the Patillo Methodist Church for a cemetery, the Tarleton Cemetery, which is still there today, but he was buried nearby at Mt. Pisgah. The first removal of his body, from Mt. Pisgah to the Tarleton campus near the area of the current Hunewell Bandstand in Heritage Park, ca. 1898. The southwest corner of the old auditorium is about where the grave was. Joe Lockhart, who ran the dray service seen above, was hired to remove the body from Mt. Pisgah to campus. The first Founder's Day celebration was held at that site in the fall of 1902.

In April 1928 as preparations began for the removal, so many people crowded around that the men couldn't work. Mr. Doyle, the man in charge, told his workers to come back that night so that they could move it without an audience! The coffin looked intact, but as soon as they touched it, it started to fall apart. They made a false bottom to put under it. It was rumored that his body really wasn't there, but Mr. Doyle said it was.

John Tarleton's grave remains in the triangular park across from campus. The site received a Texas State Historical Marker in October 1987.

Tarleton State University, Dick Smith Library, Cross Timbers Historic Images Project (Stephenville Museum photo).

J-TAC, April 20, 1928.

J-TAC, March 9, 1948.

King, Golden Days of Purple & White, p.17-19.

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