I recently visited the Haynie Chapel Cemetery in Del Valle, Texas.
The cemetery itself is located off of East Highway 71 approximately halfway
between Bastrop and Austin and is right across the street from Haynie Chapel
Methodist Church. One of the most prominent features of this graveyard
are the large shade trees that surround the outer perimeter of the area
and are also dotted throughout the cemetery grounds.
The oldest graves that I saw here were around one hundred and fifty to
two hundred years of age, so the trees themselves are probably at least
that age if not older. Also, many of the tombstones were of the more
traditional erected stone monument type as opposed to the flat plaque style
that has become more popular in recent years (probably because the flat
kind make cemetery maintenance easier because lawnmowers can just pass
right over the tops of them).
Most of the houses surrounding the cemetery are modest in size and for
the most part have well-kept yards. The backyard of one house on
the right side of the cemetery shared a fence with the graveyard and there
were two large, aggressive-looking dogs that weren’t particularly pleased
with my presence there and barked the whole time that I was photographing
the graves near their fence.
This photograph is of the main gate into the Haynie Chapel cemetery.
Something that I've notice about Texas is that cemeteries, like hospitals
and fire stations, are treated as landmarks and are given their own road
signs pointing out their locations. In the other states that I've
lived in - Colorado, Tennessee and Utah - I don't remember seeing such
signs and someone could go for years without knowing that there was a graveyard
the next block over. On my way home from work and from school every
day, I probably pass at least a dozen cemeteries such as Haynie Chapel
Here is the main road that meanders through the graveyard and the trees
frame the path and formed a tunnel-like canopy of leaves overhead.
The cemetery is located in a rural area and on the day that I visited,
someone had been burning leaves in their yard and the air had a smoky aroma.
The first wildflowers of the year were starting to blossom and there were
little patches of blue and gold blooms beginning to appear everywhere.
This is a view from the front left corner of the cemetery. If you
look closely, you can see a nice stone bench at the base of the tree in
the center of the photograph for the relatives and the loved ones of the
dead to sit, visit, reflect, and perhaps have a picnic. In this picture,
you can also see the intricate patterns of light and shadow cast over the
ground by the sunlight streaming through the gnarled old tree branches.
A narrow dirt trail winds through the hedges to give visitors easier access
to the graves in that area.
This second photograph is a view is of the right side of the cemetery from
just beyond the main gate. The grave with the large American flag
belongs to Mr. Jimmie Sconci (March 12th, 1938-July 7th, 1999). The
texture and the serpentine branches on the large oak tree at the left are
really interesting and they help to frame this whole shot.