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Rebirth in the Old City Cemetery - The Galveston County Daily News: Outdoors

October 25, 2016
Gold fields

Rebirth in the Old City Cemetery

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  • Jake Buckner posted at 11:51 am on Tue, May 6, 2014.

    Jake Buckner Posts: 2240

    Each time I drive past the cemetery brings back memories. As a child growing up in Houston I enjoyed hundreds of trips to Galveston, usually to fish. Many of these included a drive down Broadway, past the iconic cemetery.

    I always looked for one grave in particular, the one marked with a rusty old machine gun. My dad and I decided the person interred therein had to be a war vet, one of the many Americans whose military service defined them. The gun is long since gone, a victim of time, storms, thieves, or perhaps political correctness. I never found out whose tomb it marked, but I still see that machine gun, clear as day, whenever I drive past the old cemetery.

  • carlosrponce posted at 7:25 pm on Tue, May 6, 2014.

    carlosrponce Posts: 6341

    From the GDN June 29, 1976 page 3A:
    " Why was the machine gun removed from the Oleander Cemetery?" From J. Z. of Texas City
    "The machine gun disappeared about 18 months ago. After investigation, the police department located the gun at the Old City Cemetery and it has been recovered."
    This doesn't fully answer your question of why it was there in the first place and what happened to it since but it is a clue.

  • carlosrponce posted at 7:44 pm on Tue, May 6, 2014.

    carlosrponce Posts: 6341

    I found a picture of the machine gun in the July 2, 1965 Page B1 Galveston News. Under the picture is the caption: " Machine Gun Guards Grave That Isn't There: City records show that the grave of Oscar H. Mercier is in Calvary Cemetery. The grave under the machine gun shown in the picture is located in Oleander Cemetery. There is no record of the burial of Mercier in Oleander Cemetery. Yet, the grave is there with the machine gun imbedded in the concrete on top of it."

  • carlosrponce posted at 8:02 pm on Tue, May 6, 2014.

    carlosrponce Posts: 6341

    Oscar Henry Mercier was a Hospital Steward in the Hospital Corps in World War I. He was a motorcycle police office for the City of Galveston Police then a purchasing agent for the Linde Dredge No. 5 on the Sabine when he died of a heart attack on December 22, 1930 at the age of 42. He was buried at 4pm on December 23, 1930 by Malloy and Son Funeral Home at Calvary Cemetery. The machine gun was a French Hotchkiss sitting in a concrete slab at the Oleander Cemetery..
    from GN Friday July 2, 1965 page 1B.

  • Jake Buckner posted at 9:13 pm on Tue, May 6, 2014.

    Jake Buckner Posts: 2240

    Well, Carlos, you have outdone yourself for sure! I sincerely appreciate your going to the trouble to find all this information. Interesting history of a former Galvestonian. And still a bit of a mystery remaining...

    I have to ask: Is all this available using only the online search capabilities here on the GDN site? If so, I had no idea...

  • carlosrponce posted at 9:34 pm on Tue, May 6, 2014.

    carlosrponce Posts: 6341

    I used my Rosenberg Library card. I went to http://www.rosenberg-library.org/
    Under e-Library, I hit ALL ONLINE DATABASES, Under Articles and News I hit Galveston Daily News at Newspaper Archives, entered my library card number and began my search. The http://www.galvestondailynews.com is limited and only goes back a few years while the newspaper archives covers Galveston to 1846 and other newspapers as well.

  • Jake Buckner posted at 10:00 pm on Tue, May 6, 2014.

    Jake Buckner Posts: 2240

    Thanks. I'll get a card.

  • carlosrponce posted at 10:24 pm on Fri, May 9, 2014.

    carlosrponce Posts: 6341

    To Jake Buckner; I think I solved the the Mercier mystery. There was an Oscar H. Mercier from Galveston who served in the Spanish American War according to the April 29, 1898 Galveston Daily News. Apparently there were two of them . Could be father and son and both were Galveston police officers. This Oscar H. Mercier served with the Little Rock, Ark. Volunteers along with 15 other Texans. This could explain the November 11, 1899 date on the tombstone, something that baffled the GDN of 1965 considering Oscar H. Mercier the younger was born in 1888.

  • Jake Buckner posted at 10:50 pm on Fri, May 9, 2014.

    Jake Buckner Posts: 2240

    So one in Oleander and one in Calvary? I might visit the graves...

    I guess it's still unclear where the gun is.

  • carlosrponce posted at 7:50 am on Sat, May 10, 2014.

    carlosrponce Posts: 6341

    I've got a Galveston Police Historian working on that one. I'd hate to think the machine gun was scrapped after being recovered by the police but given its age and rusted condition, it's a possibility. Maybe it's sitting in a Galveston PD evidence locker.

  • carlosrponce posted at 8:01 am on Sat, May 10, 2014.

    carlosrponce Posts: 6341

    They were father and son, the older was born in Berlin, Germany, Here's a picture of the younger's grave at Calvary:
    The older's tombstone is near 40th and Broadway at Oleander Cemetery.

  • carlosrponce posted at 5:03 pm on Sat, May 10, 2014.

    carlosrponce Posts: 6341

    Here's a picture of Oscar Sr's grave stone minus the machine gun;