Preece Cemetery

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Vaught-Ranch Road

A wide shot of the cemetery.  Older stones are to the right and center.
A wide shot of the cemetery. Older stones are to the right and center.
The names Farm to Market Road 2222 and Ranch Road 620 indicate that they area of west Austin between Bull Creek and what is now Lake Travis was not always populated by large houses on hilltops. Even as late as the 1980's this area seemed remote and distant from Austin. In the 19th Century the sense of isolation was all the more potent. The rough and rugged land was mostly useful for ranching. Steiner Ranch at over 4,000 acres was in the area.

A large number of graves had crude markers, but names and no certain indication that there ever was one indicated.
A large number of graves had crude markers, but names and no certain indication that there ever was one indicated.
While a rapidly growing FM 2222 breezes nearby it now, the Preece Cemetery was originally situated in what must have been about as tranquil and peaceful a place imaginable at the time. The earliest legible gravestone indicates a burial in 1885. The property is tucked away on Vaught Ranch Road just south of FM 2222, between Loop 360 and RR 620.

The cemetery takes it name from the Preece family, whose graves make up the earliest to be found. Both Richard and Edward Preece served in the First Texas Cavalry. Edward served in the Spanish American War. The cemetery continues to be used up to this day. Later burials show a greater variety of surnames than the older stones. The last Preece marker indicates 1939.

My visit happened to occur on mother's day. While I saw no one else at the cemetery there were obvious signs of recent visitations. But the amount of attention paid to some of the markers went farther back that just that one day. Surprisingly, most graves seemed to have something to go along with it. Whether it be some flowers in a pot, mementos or sculptures few graves stood bare. Based on the weathering of the plastic plants left behind it was obvious the attention was not a one-a-year occurance. Sadly, the Preece family markers seemed to have fewest adornments overall, leading one to wonder how many close Preece relatives still live in the area.

Some other family names in abundance at the cemetery include Cowan, Hickman and Ringstaff.

Angel Crossing
A loved one left this wonderful sign. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
The Preeces are the earliest graves in the cemetery. Both Richard and Edward appear to have served in the 1st Texas Cavalry, but at different times. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
An Preece infant passed away without a name and no indication of the time of his passing. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Broken Glass
This interesting marker is one of several with pieces of glass embedded in some kind of mortar. Strangely none of them had a legible marker in the blank space to identify the occupant. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
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Where more poignantly than in a small country graveyard can a traveler fathom the flow of history and tradition? During the past twenty years, Terry G. Jordan has traveled the back roads and hidden trails of rural Texas in search of such cemeteries. With camera in hand, he has visited more than one thousand cemeteries created and maintained by the Anglo-American, black, Indian, Mexican, and German settlers of Texas. His discoveries of sculptured stones and mounds, hex signs and epitaphs, intricate landscapes and unusual decorations represent a previously unstudied and unappreciated wealth of Texas folk art and tradition. Texas Graveyards not only marks the distinct ethnic and racial traditions in burial practices but also preserves a Texas legacy endangered by changing customs, rural depopulation, vandalism, and the erosion of time.