A grave in the middle of the street? What in the world, was my first thought when coming across this. Y’all know I love odd, unique, and old sites. This one fits all three. The grave of Hollie Tatnell remains in what is now the middle of Wheelock Street in Hearne, Texas.
Hollie Tatnell was born in 1859 as a slave, Hollie Tatnell died in 1911 as a free woman.
The place she is laid to rest was once a cemetery for slaves eventually becoming the African American Cemetery once slavery was abolished and closed for good in 1912.
In 1947, real estate developers purchased the land that the cemetery was on and the bodies in the cemetery had to be exhumed and reinterred elsewhere to allow for development of the area.
One family, however, refused to budge. Hollie Tatnell’s children Andrew and Georgia refused to move their mother as they wanted her to remain at rest where she was, close to where she grew up.
The developer’s eventually agreed to leave her at rest and build the road around her by encasing her grave in a median in the middle of the street.
In 2007, the Texas Historical Commission declared the lone grave a Historic Texas Cemetery and placed a marker next to it. It reads: “This cemetery, now represented by a single grave, was a burial site for African American residents in the area. According to folklore, it originated as a farm or slave cemetery. The earliest known burial here dated 1879, and residents used the graveyard until 1912. In 1947, developers purchased this property; descendants of the interred were forced to move and rebury relatives. However, the children of Hollie Tatnell (d. 1911), a former slave, refused to reinter their mother, forcing developers to build around her grave. Today, this single grave serves as a reminder of the area’s early African American community and of the sanctity of burial grounds.”
GETTING TO HOLLIE TATNELL’s GRAVE & TIPS
Address: Near 529 Wheelock Street, Hearne, Texas (middle of the street)
There is NO parking other than along the side of the street past the grave. This is a residential street and plenty of traffic. So keep that in mind!