By: Krystal Garza
Rows of headstones are hidden by the overgrown vegetation around them. No longer polished and pristine, cracks on the stone faces, forest green moss and dirt fill the crevices. Names of the deceased have faded but their memories are still alive.
The oldest grave dates back to 1853 and belongs to Milam Mitchell, son of Asa Mitchell, former owner of the land which the Texas A&M University-San Antonio (A&M-SA)campus now resides. The university owns about 700 acres of land, and part of it includes the Mitchell-Mauermann cemetery.
Most students have no idea of the cemetery’s existence.
One of the region’s most prominent families rests on the A&M-San Antonio campus. The graveyard rests about 3.4 miles from the Central Academic Building.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Asa Mitchell moved to Texas with his wife Charlotte Woodmancy and son Nathan. Both Asa and his son fought in the battle of San Jacinto, known by historians as the deciding battle of the Texas Revolution.
“Asa Mitchell came to San Antonio from Washington County around 1839-1840, because he acquired land,”said Francis Galan, assistant professor of history at A&M-San Antonio.
After the death of his wife in 1830, the elder Mitchell remarried a women named Emily Brisbin. Between his two marriages he fathered 14 children. Asa and Emily moved to Bexar County after acquiring land on southside of San Antonio.
Using slave labor, the Mitchell family cultivated the land, built a ranch and two-story farmhouse.
“Asa Mitchell actually has more land than just this one plot. He has another piece along the San Antonio River. He initially came to Texas with the Stephen F. Austin settlers, so he’s an original settler,” said Amy Porter, associate professor of history at A&M-San Antonio.
In 1949 the farmhouse was destroyed by a fire.
Since then, the Mitchell home has been abandoned. The insulation hangs from the ceiling and lays scattered throughout the floor. The decaying wooden bones of the house are completely exposed, wires run loose like vines, the paint has chipped off the walls and the doors are open, leaving the home vulnerable to the elements.
The name Mauermann was inherited into the Mitchell family by marriage of Ella Mitchell to Gus A Mauermann. Their son, Gus Bernard Mauermann, became the mayor of San Antonio from 1942-1947 serving two terms during World War II. Gus B Mauermann is also buried on the premises along with the Mitchell family.
In a newspaper article from the San Antonio Evening News published Oct. 20, 1948, Burl Ross talks about his time on the Mitchell Ranch as a former slave with his family. There are still descendants of the Ross family living in Bexar county.
Aside from family members, there are also slaves buried on the property. There are no records on how many slaves the Mitchell’s owned, nor is there information on where the slaves and farm workers are buried.
"There are no grave stones, there no tombstones there's nothing marking where these people were buried. And there's also Hispanic workers Mexican-American, Mexican immigrants who worked on the ranch who are also buried there,” said Philis Barragan, assistant professor of history at A&M-San Antonio.
A&M-SA owns the land surrounding the house and cemetery, but the cemetery is still owned by the Mitchell family, who are responsible for providing the upkeep of the cemetery. As of 2007 the Mitchell-Mauermann cemetery was designated as a historic Texas cemetery.
It's important for us to remember our past and know where we come from. The Mitchell-Mauermann Cemetery holds sorties of war, politics, bondage, agriculture and family.