LSBBT and Review: What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards by Cynthia Leal Massey




Cynthia Leal Massey
Genre: Regional History/ 19th Century/ Landmarks & Monuments/ Travel Pictorial
Publisher: TwoDot
Date of Publication: August 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 400 pages w/77 B&W photos
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Texas, the second largest state, both in land mass and population, has more than 50,000 burial grounds. As the final resting places of those whose earthly journey has ended, they are also repositories of valuable cultural history. Pioneer cemeteries provide a wealth of information on the people who settled Texas during its years as a Republic (1836-1845), and after it became the 28th state in 1845. In What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards, Cynthia Leal Massey exhumes the stories of these pioneers, revealing the fascinating truth behind the earliest graveyards in the Lone Star State, including some of its most ancient. This guide also provides descriptions of headstone features and symbols and demystifies the burial traditions of early Texas pioneers and settlers.

My Review:

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

At first glance, this book is an in-depth tour of old Texas graveyards, their locations and a brief description of who is buried in each. But it is much, much more.

"The life of Elizabeth Ann Carter Clifton (1825-1882) illustrates the tragedies that often befell women in the Indian territories of Texas."

Doesn't that make you want to dive in and read more!

Dividing Texas into regions, Massey provides the historical context for towns and settlements, how they were founded, and by whom. She gives insight into the settlers and describes the conflicts and obstacles they faced in establishing a new home. Many of the people are fleshed out, not just names and dates, but their occupations, place of origin, how they died. The author points out burial customs and the symbolism used on headstones. You feel you come to know something about these brave Texas Pioneers and a deeper insight into the founding of Texas.

A travelogue of Texas, this would be a great reference to take along on a road trip or just sit and read, picturing the dusty Texas towns, some long gone or past their heyday. It’s a book you can pick up and put down without losing a beat. I found it a fascinating read and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I rate this book: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I think anyone who enjoys Texas history will love this gem of a book. I highly recommend it.


Click To Purchase!

Award-winning author Cynthia Leal Massey is a former corporate editor, college instructor, and magazine editor. She has published hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles and eight books. A full-time writer who publishes history columns for community publications, Cynthia was raised on the south side of San Antonio. She has resided in Helotes since 1994, and has served on the Helotes City Council since 2008, serving twice as Mayor Pro Tem. She is also president of the Historical Society of Helotes.  

Cynthia, a former president of Women Writing the West, is a recipient of the Will Rogers Silver Medallion Award for her nonfiction book, Death of a Texas RangerA True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier, which also won the San Antonio Conservation Society Publication Award. She is the recipient of several literary awards, including the WILLA Literary Finalist Award for Best Original Softcover Fiction for her novel, The Caballeros of Ruby, Texas, called by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry, “a vivid picture of the Rio Grande Valley as it was fifty years ago and a very good read.”


Three autographed copies of
What Lies Beneath, Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 10/15/21).
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  1. I love the idea of road tripping and taking this book along for side excursions (or even the main point of the trip). Thanks for a great review!


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