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Freezeout Cemetery Cleanup

12th,13th & 14th April 2002

Freezeout 2003 cleanup

Outside Rockdale, Milam County, TX

First the story: About three years ago I began a campaign to locate the last resting place of my Great, Great Grandfather John Yoakum/Yocum. At that time I had gathered a lot of information and one piece indicated that he was buried in a "Freezeout Cemetery", near the small town of Rockdale in Milam County Texas. Being born and raised in California and never having had the pleasure of visiting Texas, I began my search in a "Foreign Land".

My first two trips to Rockdale were non productive as no one that I talked to had ever heard of "Freezeout Cemetery". I located many Yoakums and their kinfolk, went through all the normal search procedures of County and State records, checked with the Mortuaries and Monument manufactures in the area and just asked a lot of questions; no luck. I had despaired ever finding it when I placed some notices on several E bulletin boards, and did not expect much in the way of results and went on with other research.

You can imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from a remote cousin telling me that she had been to the cemetery as a child but was not sure where it was, other than near Rockdale where she grew up. She did however have an idea about how to get some information from her cousin Nolan Bland, self appointed historian of Rockdale. Shortly after that I received a hand drawn map to "Freezeout Cemetery", located about twelve miles from Rockdale on land now owned by the Alcoa Aluminum Company. As soon as I could make the arraignments I went back to Rockdale to find this elusive ancestor.

I followed the map to where the cemetery was supposed to be and could not see it from the road. The area was totally grown over with brambles, trees and all other sorts of vegetation so, I left the road and began circling the area where it was supposed to be on foot. As I came abreast the back side of the entanglement I saw a chain link fence and approaching it, I could see a couple of headstones inside. I climbed over the fence and began pressing my way through the growth discovering more headstones and soon, I located headstones for my ancestor, his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Further investigating & fighting my way through thickets I found the front fence where low and behold, there was a gate. It was so grown over that it wouldn't open.

Not prepared for this type of work, I only cleared enough of the brush to be able to open the gate and make a path to the roadway about fifty yards away, got into my van and left vowing to return and do something about the situation.

I felt that someone, somewhere had to know and care about the last resting place of their ancestor as there was at least one fairly new headstone, not a recent burial but a newer headstone, and someone had built a fairly expensive fence around the entire cemetery, an area 200 x 200 feet or, about an acre in size, not an inexpensive undertaking. My work had just begun!

For the next two years I contacted and met with other descendants of John Yoakum, some of whom still live in Rockdale and almost with out exception had no idea where the cemetery or their ancestor was located. Many expressed some interest in doing some thing about the deplorable condition of the cemetery after I mentioned it so I started a crusade to "Do The Right Thing"!

I began hearing from other interested parties and started contacting people in January of this year to set a date for the clean up. By mutual agreement plans were made to get together two weeks after Easter and on the 12th of April, those few who were able to do so came together for three days of effort and the results are on the hyperlinked pages below. I think you will be surprised, I was!

Cast of Characters

Before photos

During photos

After photos

List of headstones

Yoakum time line & migration speculation



©2002 by Asa Castleman, Webmaster