Three generations of my family are buried in a small western Oklahoma rural cemetery: my older sister who died several years ago, my mother and father who died several decades ago, and my grandmother and grandfather who died before I was born. Homesteaders created the cemetery in 1902 when at least one family lived on every quarter section, or 160 acres, and helped support the stores, churches, and schools in the numerous small towns of the area. The towns have almost all disappeared. The namesake town for the cemetery died about 1913, probably a victim of fickle railroad routing. The cemetery is a typical one for a rural area, on the side of a hill, miles from the nearest town, surrounded by unpopulated vistas, yet easily accessible from the highway. The survivors of a double row of century-old cedars line the original road and provide a welcome shade during hot mid-summer visits. A fond memory of mine is a mid-July impromptu picnic under those cedars with lo5an when he was 12 years old.
On the Sunday before Memorial Day, my wife and I visited the cemetery on our way to a family get-together. The cousin who hosts the yearly get-together lives on a ranch several miles south of the cemetery. In keeping with the Memorial Day traditions, we stopped first to decorate family graves with colorful wreaths of plastic flowers imported from China by Walmart. Along the way to his house, I stopped to take a picture of the road. Outside the truck, I realized the way ahead looked surprisingly similar to the way we'd traveled. The land is rough, sandy soil, with sagebrush covered hillsides dropping into deep canyons filled with cedar, oak, elm, cottonwood, and black walnut trees. Before it was homesteaded, the area was a favorite hunting ground for the Indians. Nearly every family in the area has a collection of arrow and spear heads, found and picked up on their land. Today, it's mostly cattle country with some fields of dryland wheat. Few of the ranchers in the area are full time; most have day jobs. If they own the sub-surface property rights, they probably make more money off oil and natural gas than they do raising cows. As you can tell from the pictures in the set, my cousin raises a variety of other animals, some ride-able, some not.
I had great fun, visiting with my cousins and taking pictures.