The San Felipe Cemetery Graves Registration Project has picked up steam amongst members of the community, but it is still in need of more willing hands to help out record the location of old gravesites in Del Rio’s historic San Felipe neighborhood.
Activist and book writer Mario Vazquez, 91, who has been working in this project by himself for months, received some help from members of the community after an article by the News-Herald was published on Nov. 8.
“It’s sad that some people have forgotten their ancestors. Yet some are looking for their final resting place. While no records exist of their exact location, something is being done,” Vazquez said Wednesday in a letter to the editor.
“A one man project to identify and locate burials is called the San Felipe Cemetery Graves Registration Project. It started two years ago with little interest. While over 2,000 graves are now recorded, an article by Karen Gleason last Friday was supposed to excite people to help finish this project,” Vazquez said.
On Saturday, he said, two ladies showed up to help. The Hildreth family read the article and drove down from Comstock, canceling their planned trip to a canyon, Vazquez said.
“Another surprising volunteer was our City Manager Matt Wojnowski who recorded one section by himself,” he said.
On Saturday, weather permitting, the effort to record graves will continue, he said, and invited more organizations, veterans groups, social clubs and individuals to join in.
“All graves that can be identified are being registered and recorded. Final records of graves that can be identified are being registered. Records will be placed in two volumes and alphabetically listed,” Vazquez said.
The documentation project will show the gridded sections and coordinates, in order to lead a person to exact burial location, he said.
Currently there are no records available. Included in this registration, a separate file will show all veterans who served our country and where they did their patriotic duty, he said.
Presently, many graves have been forgotten and are covered with overgrown grass and weeds. It is not possible to reach them for recording, he said.
Vazquez encouraged family members to clear the graves of their ancestors.
“There have been many inquiries for this information. What has been done has been a blessing for those coming from out of town finding loves ones that have departed. The partially completed records can now be found at the Val Verde County Library and at the Whitehead Museum,” he said.
Vazquez said more than 60 percent of the project has been completed, and if enough volunteers join in the registration can be completed this month.
Some of the organizations already listed to participate include the Boy Scout Troop 255, but more volunteers are very welcome, he said.
Plans are to register from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information call Vazquez at (408) 482 5731