Cemetery in an unlikely place being restored in Floresville

WWI veteran buried in landlocked Walker-Edwards Cemetery

FLORESVILLE, Texas – Landlocked by the H-E-B in Floresville and a neighborhood, the Walker-Edwards Cemetery is on land once owned by James Walker, an African American who had been enslaved as a child.

Ray Warren said his great-grandfather may have been born into slavery, but he later prospered, having saved enough money to buy property for his family.

“I mean, rise up from nothing,” Warren said.

Descendants of James Walker (COURTESY: MELINDA CREECH)

Buried next to James Walker is his son, Obie Walker, a young U.S. Army private who never got to fight in World War I because he died at Fort Sam Houston during the Spanish flu pandemic.

Warren said both father and son were famous black cowboys back then.

The pastor of the Haven Oaks Community Bible Church in Sutherland Springs, Warren, said it wasn’t until he began researching his ancestry that he found Obie Walker on the database. But, he said, to see his great uncle and great grandfather buried side by side was “something else.”

Warren said he believes they’re also among more than 30 of his ancestors buried there.

Yet it was the Wilson County Historical Society that found the cemetery. Most recently, Melinda Creech, also the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum curator, has led the efforts to preserve the Walker-Edwards Cemetery.

Creech said it’s believed the first burial was in 1887 when the area was part of the freedom colony formed by those who had been enslaved in Sutherland Springs.

“This is something I’ve never known,” Creech said. “This is a story that needed to be told.”

Creech found a strong ally in Nancy de la Zerda, who said she created the “Friends of the Walker-Edwards Cemetery” Facebook page hoping to garner more support.

“There’s not one day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about it or bellyache to everybody about it,” de la Zerda said.

Over the last few years, their efforts have led to a $20,000 gift from H-E-B for signage and fencing.

However, Creech said the boundary that backs up to the neighborhood is in dispute.

“There are several surveys, and they’re conflicting,” Creech said. “That’s what we have to resolve.”

Until it is resolved, Creech said they can’t move forward on the fencing or the signage or on efforts to get a historical designation for the Walker-Edwards Cemetery.

She also said that the initial ground-penetrating radar by Texas State University has been helpful, but more is needed.

De la Zerda said it would take time, “but, you know, prayers are answered.”

Creech and de la Zerda said the efforts by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in nearby Poth were especially touching.

They acquired and installed a new grave marker befitting a young soldier. De la Zerda said the dedication is set for 1 p.m. on May 25 ahead of Memorial Day on May 27.

Find more History Untold stories here

About the Authors

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.

Recommended Videos