Comal County, Texas
Email dated Sep 17 2010
My name is Chuck Elbel and I have been working on my family tree for several years now. Surprisingly, I have recently rediscovered the TXGenWeb site to find that much of what you’ve published has been priceless in helping me. But now I’ve hit a dead end – I can’t locate where the Porter-Elbel Cemetery is in Comal County.
It is reported that my paternal great-great-grandfather is buried there – Erdman Elbel (1826-1908) along with his wife Luccia Weinstrom/Bertels (1829-1918). I found a reference to the book “Lest We Forget” on the TXGenWeb site that lists the Porter-Elbel Cemetery but the link is dead (sorry…bad pun).
Do you know, or could point me to, the precise geo-location of this cemetery? Also, if available, the owner of the land it is located on.
My family and I are currently living in San Diego and will be visiting family and friends in San Antonio, Austin, and Mason during the week of 2-9 October. I’d like to try making it to this cemetery during my visit to take some pictures.
Thank you for any assistance you may be able to provide.
Family Tree: http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/7294535
I made a copy of the page from the book "Lest We Forget" published by the Comal Genealogy Society and sent that to him. Wanda
Email dated Oct 13 2010
As you might recall, you helped me locate the Porter-Elbel Cemetery off Rebecca Creek Rd in Comal County a couple of weeks ago. Thank you again. It was exactly where the page you provided said it would be.
I visited the Porter-Elbel Cemetery on 7 Oct. We were lucky and caught the owner of the property driving up a few minutes after we pulled into his driveway. The owner of the property is Douglas Christensen and he seems to be a really nice man. He said that he would be happy to give family decendents a tour. The only way to get into the cemetery is through his yard which has a large Irish Wolfhound that means business.
I can send you some photos that I took of the cemetery and the monuments. It has obviously fallen into a state of disrepair. Mr. Christensen cut down a couple very large cedar trees within the cemetery perimeter that had been dropping some large limbs. He said that he was going to put some of his goats in the fenced in area to clear the brush that's grown to about 3' high. He said that by the end of October the place would be cleaned up.
Of note, the cemetery is much in disarray as you'll see in some pictures I can send you. Several headstones have weathered badly, others have been severely damaged by either man or animal, and some are just missing.
The markers that I found are:
- Christof Weinstrom (original limestone marker in fair condition)
- Erdmann Elbel (original individual limestone marker in poor condition and newer, marble joint headstone with Lozia)
- Lozia (Weinstrom) Elbel (original individual limestone marker in poor condition and newer, marble joint headstone with Erdmann)
- Max Elbel (original headstone with inscription "Kicked in head by a mule" missing and a replacement marble headstone with name and dates)
- Herbert Porter (this headstone had been removed from the gravesite and used to rebuild a part of the original Porter homestead by Mr. Christensen. More on this later)
- Plus some unmarked or damaged stones. Again, some were used to rebuild a part of the original Porter homestead. I'm trying to use some digital enhancement of the digital photos I took in an attempt to get some names off of them.
I'm probably going to have to send several emails with attachments to get all the pertinent photos to you. Let me know which ones and when is a good time, I don't want to fill up your mailbox.
I'd like to get your opinion or guidance on how to deal with the land owner who has taken liberty with the grave markers from the cemetery. It's most likely that you've encountered similar situations and seen them resolved. My understanding that this is a violation of Texas state laws in addition to local ones - especially since the graves are over 100 years old. Again, Mr. Christensen has gone out of his way to help preserve things (e.g. constructed perimeter fence, cut cedar trees, having goats clear weeds, etc); however, there remain several things that concern me:
1) The primary is the removal of some of the headstones to use as part of the construction of his house (the old Porter homestead). If he were related to these ancestors I might be able to understand, but this still causes me considerable concern.
2) What constitutes "reasonable access" according to Texas state law? Visitors basically have to be escorted by Mr. Christensen to the cemetery or his dogs are likely to attack the visitors.
3) Mr. Christensen said that when he moved into the property 20 years ago that Max Elbel's headstone had the inscription of "Max Elbel, Feb 15 1886, Marz 15 1889, Kicked in the head by a mule" at his gravesite. This headstone was removed right after Mr. Christensen moved in and someone had subsequently replaced it with the one that I photographed at the cemetery. I'm going to investigate the removal and status of this further.
4) Of, note I saw a comment from someone that you had forwarded my email to which says that Erdmann Elbel fought on both sides of the Civil War. This news to me and I'd like to know more.
Thank you for your assistance,
Email dated Oct 15 2010
I forgot to attach the land owner's information:
Rebecca Creek Farms
Owner: Douglas Christensen
10321 Rebecca Creek Rd.
Spring Branch, TX 78070-4603
Phone: (830) 885-7302
Also, attached is a overhead view of the property, where the cemetery is located on the property, and the entry/egress route.