In the nineteenth century, people were often buried where they died and many of these graves are unmarked and forgotten. There were also mass burials of victims of various pandemics, their places of burial now long gone. But if a family put down roots in a rural area, land was set aside for a bonafide cemetery, usually on a hill or in an open field, often with a few large trees shading the gravesites. Many early cemeteries were bounded by fences of stacked rock. Later, chain link fences became common. Entries ranged from a simple chain link gate to expansive ironwork gates, complete with the cemetery name. While many families could not afford more than a wooden cross as a remembrance marker, many pioneer cemeteries have rock, concrete and granite tombstones, some elaborate, some plain, all with some kind of story.
As communities have grown and roads enlarged, many family cemeteries were removed—the bodies disinterred and reburied elsewhere. That occurred in the Helotes Settlement when Bandera Road was enlarged and Loop 1604 was constructed. Several Helotes family burial sites were removed—Hernandez, Rivas and Woller to name a few—with the remains reburied at other cemeteries in San Antonio.
Nevertheless, there are several family cemeteries in our area, and this article features nine of them. These historic cemeteries tell the story of Helotes’s early pioneers, and quite a story it is.
See the link below, pages 12-17, for the full article in the Fall 2019 issue of the Helotes Magazine.