CHADWICK'S MILL: It's all gone now, but if you passed this way between 1874 and 1915 you'd
probably be camping here for several days while waiting in line to get your cotton ginned
or your flour and lumber milled. While waiting for your turn at the mill you mighta
passed the time trying your luck in the millrace fish trap. Or, as the enterprise
grew, you could have stayed in the hotel and danced with your honey while hanging out with
hundreds of other campers. In 1915 the San Saba River decided to change course
leaving the mill high and dry. Just to the other side of this bridge is San Saba
LOST AND FOUND IN SAN SABA
You can get really lost in this neck of the woods.
But, if you're lucky, you have a woman along to ask directions.
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY
My map was great ten years ago. Since then county roads
in San Saba have been busy populating the landscape so that first or second turn on the
map might be the second or fourth or... well, just pick a number cause your gonna get lost
map is essential for most any road trip but sometimes what you're looking for just ain't
on it. Most likely you won't really know that till you stop in the big middle of a
wore-out dirt road somewhere way out yonder. Then's when you look around, study the
map, look around some more and finally confess, "I reckon we're lost."
When this happens I become more convinced than ever that there really is a parallel
universe and somehow I slipped through the crack.
Here and there on our county road map I saw a little tiny cross with teeny-tiny dotted
lines around it indicating there was a cemetery thereabouts. Now I know new county roads
are being gouged out of the countryside all the time and things change, but I figured a
cemetery over a century old might just stay put right along with the road leading up to
it. What I didn't figure on was that the Linn Cemetery wasn't even on the map.
I shoulda known better.
You see, back in 1870 a feller calling himself
Peru wrote about getting a pony, a map and heading for San Saba. About 4 o'clock on a
Saturday evening he entered by the Brownwood road and found the town "nearly as large
on the map as it was on the ground. It was called a 'town'" he wrote, "as a
matter of courtesy doutbless, and the fact of its being built without military protection
wasn't after all no great thing to brag about."
Anyway, San Saba has grown since then but, then as
now, maps aren't always something to pin your hopes on. Once in San Saba I gave Ms.
Intrepid directions to the County Road for the first likely cemetery and we drove along
kinda slow looking for signs, gates and such. Along the way we passed this old
feller jogging along in the same direction we were headed but on the other side of the
road. He raised up his right hand and waved without looking back and we waved as we passed
without looking back. He was so thin he probably worked up a sweat just making a
We drove and we looked as I consulted the map trying
to figure out why all of the intersections we came up on weren't on the map and the ones
on the map were nowhere to be found. The road was so bad in some places it became an
ordeal even at five miles per hour and we were all wrapped up in a cloud of dust.
About a half hour into the search Ms. Intrepid
suggested turning around, but I was convinced the map would prove itself sooner or later
so I recommended we go on ahead to the intersection that was on the map. Well, the
map and I were obviously in completely different parallel universes and all hope was long
"I reckon we're lost," I confessed.
"What gave you the first clue? Now what?"
"Every time we come up on a fork in the road
turn left. That'll get us back to where we come from." Hey, I had to come up
with something. Besides, being a guy and all, I did what we do best on such occasions --
ignore the map (which I shoulda done all along) and rely on luck and bravado. (Okay, I
prayed just a little and suggested to Great-grandpa that if he was listening in he might
want to bail me out of this mess.)
It worked! We were back on the paved road and
just up ahead was the old feller jogging back in the same direction we were headed. As we
approached him from behind he waved like before, but this time Ms. Intrepid pulled up
alongside and stopped. Naturally she did what womenfolk always do on such occasions. She
He scratched his head and looked up to the sky like
maybe directions to the Linn Cemetery were pasted on the belly of the clouds.
"You got a phone?" he asked.
"Sure," Ms. Intrepid responded.
"Call 372-3923 and ask for Kevin. He's the
undertaker. He'll know."
Now, I know this sounds made up. I mean, what
are the odds. But the gospel truth is we happened upon one of the very few warm bodies
outside of Kevin himself who actually committed to memory the number of the funeral home.
And it stuck! Considering the jogger's age that's heaping on another unlikely
circumstance. But there you have it.
Now that we had instructions from someone who really
knew where all the bodies were buried Ms. Intrepid told me where to put my map as we
headed in the right direction.
Some five miles later we saw the cemetery sign and turned
right onto a private ranch road and then right again onto what is best described as a road
trail. Then there it was -- Linn Cemetery and the very first marker was J.G.
Kelley's. At last I could put to rest a mystery I had labored with for over
Before heading out Ms. Inrepid had the trip all
written down on two yellow notepad pages. Well, having loaded on an extra pound or
two of dust on Nigel the Land Rover, and explored the Land of the Lost for over an hour we
were ready for some paved road and the rest of the adventure. I consulted the notes and the map and discovered our next stop was Democrat.
PAGE 1: HEADIN' OUT / PAGE 2: SAN SABA
PAGE 3: DEMOCRAT & COMANCHE /
PAGE 4: DUBLIN
PAGE 5: CLIFTON / THE
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