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There are no words to describe the barbarous levels of inhumanity corporations will sink to, in order to make a dollar.

In the early days of Jefferson County Texas, there were several communities, which have now either been swallowed by the annexation of Beaumont or Port Arthur; or paved over so local businesses could expand.

In 1824, what would become Beaumont, TX was originally just a small community called Tevis Bluff, founded by Noah Tevis. By 1838, Beaumont was Chartered and the had been designated the county seat of Jefferson County.

There was a cemetery where the streets of Gladys and Oakland meet. This was the Jirou Cemetery. The cemetery held almost 50 graves, one of which belonged to founder, Noah Tevis. Jirou Cemetery was also the resting place of Jean Baptiste (Jonas) Chaison, an American Revolutionary War veteran who was also involved in early Texas history. In 1944 the DAR placed a marker on his grave.

In 1969, the cemetery was "obliterated to make way for the building of the Plymouth United Church of Christ", which still sits today at 1460 Gladys St.

The graves were not moved, just plowed over. In fact, Chaison's DAR marker was thrown into the street and fortunately, it was saved by DAR members.

Another example of the lack of respect for cemeteries is the lost communities of Grigsby's Bluff and Smith's Bluff, two German communities between Port Neches and Beaumont.

Two cemeteries used by Smith's Bluff now sit underneath the concrete of Unocal (Union Oil of California) and Sun Oil.

There were 2 cemeteries for the original Port Neches community, used by the German immigrants. One cemetery, deeded in perpetuity to the State of Texas, sat on the corner of Rachford and Dearing Sts. and today sits under a Shell Oil refinery. There were witnesses to the 1946 malicious bulldozing of that particular cemetery, however fortunately for Shell Oil, these witnesses are now deceased.

Perhaps one of the most infamous examples of cemetery desecration for profit is the building of Houston's Jefferson Davis Hospital in 1924. The hospital is built on a Confederate cemetery, although many other locals were buried in this cemetery as well.

In later years, the City of Houston built an impound lot over the cemetery, a Houston Fire Department maintenance building and parking lot are also over what was once the old cemetery.

If one never bothered to research, one would never know there are graves under all of it!

Since corporate America does not respect our cemeteries, is it any wonder the youth of today have no respect for the dead?

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Comment by Sherry Hightower on July 18, 2009 at 12:53pm
Clovis, that sounds heavenly! I would rather spend my time in a cemetery than in a mall. (I hate shopping.)
Comment by Clovis Marie Byars Herring on July 18, 2009 at 10:48am
I would imagine that every one shares Sherry's outrage at the carnage of cemeteries. I was born and raised in Houston, Harris Co. Texas. I no longer go to Houston, so I gave my part of it back to the Idians a long time ago. Out in the country where I live, Leon Co. Texas.they have Cemetery Memorials once a year. That's when everyone that can, brings a lunch on a certain Sunday. They have some preaching, and a businnes meeting. Then the fun begins. Grab a plate and circle the tables. You'll soon find out who makes the best dumplings and bananna pudding in the County. They visit and the stories of the past "good old" days flow like water. My favorite one is where my Pate ancestors and my son are buried is Parker Cemetery.
Comment by Steve Johnson on July 8, 2009 at 3:30pm
It's a shame that cemeteries get razed over for something else, and it's too bad every cemetery can't go on living forever.

Having published for 12 years now, I've met a lot of people in the funerary business and taphophile community, and the catchphrase I keep hearing is that "cemeteries are for the living". That is, we created cemeteries so that living people can have a place to remember the dead. Otherwise, the dead don't care what happens to them.

Having said that, the reason why cemeteries get razed over, is because the living people stopped caring. That's something that only genealogy and family history can fix. As the older generation die off, they fail to teach the family history to their descendants. Just taking your grandchildren to the cemetery, and showing them where the ancestors are buried, and then reciting their stories, is what injects the sense of respect to these children. It helps to explain to them why they have the names they have, how they got to the towns they live in, and why all those old heirlooms get handed down.

Once that connection is made, those children will go on to care for these cemeteries.


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