By Mike Cox, Texas Tales
When the family and friends of George W. Moore stood at his graveside that day in 1886, they doubtless pondered the fundamental question that always comes to mind when a young person dies: Why did it have to happen?
Moore was only 28 when death came. But he had packed a lot of living in that short life, serving as a private in Company D of the Frontier Battalion under one of the most illustrious of the Texas Ranger captains, Dan W. Roberts.
Not much is known about Moore. When he enlisted on March 1, 1877, records show he was 5 feet, 8 inches tall and had black hair. But under Roberts, his Ranger service would not have been boring. Death brought him one lasting distinction: He became the first of 37 one-time Texas Rangers to be buried in Kerr County’s Center Point Cemetery.
Actually, there are probably 40 Ranger graves in the small cemetery, but Bobbie J. Powell, whose great-grandfather Robert J. Lange is one of the former Texas lawmen buried there, could only document 32 of the burials as the graves of former Rangers when she started doing research back in the 1980s.
“I think there are at least three more who were Rangers, I just haven’t been able to prove it,” she said. (Also, one Ranger is known to be buried in the cemetery, but he does not have a marker and he exact location is unknown.)
Even if the grave count remains at 37, that number is unequaled anywhere else in Texas. No other cemetery in the state, not even the sprawling State Cemetery in Austin, is the final resting place of more former Rangers.
“There’s no reason for it that we know of other than the men buried there were all from this area,” she said. “When I started my research, I knew the families of most of the Rangers.”
Kinfolks of Ranger Moore certainly did their part to give the cemetery its unusual distinction. He would be the first of nine Moores with Ranger service buried in the cemetery.
The first settlers around what is now Center Point were Elizabeth Denton, her children and slaves. They took up homesteading in 1852, joined six years later by the family of Dr. Charles Ganahl. A native of Austria, he named the community Zanzenburg after his hometown. By 1872, enough people lived in and around Zanzenburg to justify calling it a town, though someone decided its bottom-of-the-alphabet name was not particularly fitting. What they came up with was a lot easier to pronounce, if much less exotic: Center Point.
Soon, in consideration of $10, one acre was deeded to the Methodist Church for use as a cemetery and church site. In 1875, 80-year-old Lydia Burney was the first person buried there. Six years later, two more acres were added to the cemetery. The church was eventually moved off the property and additional land acquisitions in 1901 and 2001 brought the cemetery to its present 7-acre size.
By the summer of 1987, when the Kerr County Historical Commission and the Center Point Sesquicentennial Committee dedicated a historical marker at the site, 1,452 graves had been located in the cemetery. Numerous pioneers and community leaders are buried there, including the 36 Rangers.
The second former Ranger buried in the cemetery also was a Moore, M. F. Moore. Born in Weakley, Tenn., he enlisted in the Rangers for the first time on June 25, 1875, and served until May 31, 1877. Since he and George Moore were only four years different in age, they probably were brothers. Why both of them died the same year is not known. The number of Ranger graves increased to three with the burial of James Hampton Lane in 1887. The fourth burial came in 1893, followed five years later, in 1898, with the final burial of the 19th century.
During the first decade of the 20th century, six new graves were added, bringing the number of ex-rangers to 11. In the teens, another five burials occurred. With two deaths in 1920, the tombstone count for ex-Rangers in the cemetery had grown to 18. From 1921 to 1929, another eight Rangers were interred there-the largest number of burials in any decade. The count had risen to 26. Only three burials occurred in the 1930s, followed by three more in the 1940s. Since 2003, four former Rangers of the modern era have been laid to rest in the Hill Country cemetery.
When Kerr County historians began planning for the historical marker dedication, then Senior Ranger Captain H.R. (Lefty) Block was asked to speak at the ceremonies.
August 22, 1987, was a typical summer day, but those who attended the event saw something not many had seen before-almost an entire company of modern Texas Rangers on horseback. Nearly a hundred Rangers or retired Rangers attended the dedication. At the beginning of the ceremony, the present-day Rangers rode through the cemetery in an equestrian salute to their predecessors.
“The 32 one-time Texas Rangers who lie here don’t have much in common,” Block said in his speech. “They didn’t look alike, they went on to do different things after they left the Rangers, and they had different joys and different sorrows in life. But they were Texas Rangers and that did give them something in common, then and now.”