Longoria Cemetery – La Feria, TX
To be completely honest I find cemeteries to be very sad places and I’m sure I’m hardly alone in that feeling. But there’s something important about visiting them and remembering the people who are no longer with us. In my family we’re more about cremation so I can talk to my Poppa while sitting in my grandmother’s living room or give a quick “love you” to my grandparents on my dad’s side while I pass through his office. For us, there’s something more comforting in being able to bring our family with us than placing our loved ones in the ground. As such I really have very little experience with cemeteries, which might be why I find them so interesting.
While we lean toward cremation, and have for some time, that hasn’t been the case nationally. Burial has long been the more popular method of sending on loved ones for a very long time here in the U.S. It is estimated that around 48% of all deaths will result in cremation which is a huge jump from the less than 4% of cremations that occurred in 1960. (source)
Rob and I were driving up Military Highway to visit Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and spotted a historical marker sign among bright pops of color. We were a bit antsy and it seemed a good idea to get out and walk around a bit. I brought my trusty camera and we took in this historical place and walked around for about 10 minutes.
The historical marker at this place reads:
The Longoria family were among the initial Spanish settlers to arrive in this region in the mid-1700s. Juan Rosas Longoria and Maria Salome Cano were among the men and women who founded permanent communities such as the Villa de Reynosa, establishing the Longoria family in the area. They and other pioneers introduced ranching into the area with techniques brought from southern Spain, many of which remained in use centuries later. In 1831 Irineo Longoria increased the family landholdings north of the Rio Grande by purchasing portions of the LLano Grande, La Feria and Ojo de Agua land grants. He added these tracts to the land of his second wife, Maria Inez Cavazos. They established residence in the community of Santa Maria. The Longoria ranch stretched from what became Sebastian to the Rio Grande. The family also farmed the land and participated in the early development of irrigation systems in the Rio Grande valley. Juan Miguel Longoria (1815-1875) became the owner of the Longoria ranch in the mid-1800s. Married three times, he was the father of 17 children. His first wife was Soledad Cavazos. His second wife, Silveria Ruiz, became one of the first persons interred here upon her death before 1853. After his death, Juan Miguel’s third wife, Teresa Guerra, became the family matriarch and managed the ranch from 1875 to 1909. Juan Miguel’s grave is marked by an above-ground brick tomb. By the late 1990s, the cemetery was in a state of disrepair. Longoria descendants organized to restore the site and its estimated 371 graves to ensure the endurance of the Longoria Cemetery as a chronicle of the diverse history and heritage of Texas.
This cemetery is for the family of the decedents of the Longoria settlers who came to the Rio Grande Valley in the mid-1700’s from Spain. Juan Miguel Longoria’s body rests in an above ground tomb made from bricks. We tried to find the resting place of his second wife who was among the first people buried here in 1853 but not all headstones had information and some were just no longer readable.
Some graves were marked by simple wood or pipe crosses that must have been made by the family.
Though the cemetery fell into disrepair you can see the love that has recently been put into the site by ancestors of the Longoria family. Toys are left on the graves of children passed and many have colorful decorations and flowers.
Though any cemetery is a sad place to visit, if you’re travelling along Military Highway in South Texas this historic place is quiet, serene and interesting. It’s a good place to stretch your legs for 10-15 minutes when you reach the La Feria region on Military Highway.