WHAT LIES BENEATH
PIONEER CEMETERIES AND GRAVEYARDS
Excerpt from the sidebar of
What Lies Beneath, Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards
By Cynthia Leal Massey
Consort and Relict
From the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, the terms “consort” and “relict” were used on tombstones. The term “consort” means that the woman was married and passed away prior to her husband, while a tombstone that says “wife” means the woman died after her husband. “Relict” is an archaic word that means “widow” and is rarely seen. An interesting family tombstone collection in the Old Waverly Cemetery that depicts this is that of Mary Elizabeth Thompson (1811–1860), “consort” of Andrew J. Thompson (1816–1887). Her marble pillar tombstone upon which stands an urn is substantial, especially when compared to the modest tombstone of Mary Anna Thompson (1844–1908), “wife” of A. J. Thompson. Mary Elizabeth was married to Andrew at the time of her death, while Andrew’s second wife Mary Anna lived several years after his death. Interestingly, Mary Anna was not referred to as “relict,” but rather as “wife,” although she was a widow. The fact that his first wife’s tombstone is so much more elaborate than that of his second may simply be because he was not there to select and pay for the memorial for her.
Award-winning author Cynthia Leal Masseyis a former corporate editor, college instructor, and magazine editor. She has published hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles and eight books. A full-time writer who publishes history columns for community publications, Cynthia was raised on the south side of San Antonio. She has resided in Helotes since 1994, and has served on the Helotes City Council since 2008, serving twice as Mayor Pro Tem. She is also president of the Historical Society of Helotes.
Cynthia, a former president of Women Writing the West, is a recipient of the Will Rogers Silver Medallion Award for her nonfiction book, Death of a Texas Ranger, A True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier, which also won the San Antonio Conservation Society Publication Award. She is the recipient of several literary awards, including the WILLA Literary Finalist Award for Best Original Softcover Fiction for her novel, The Caballeros of Ruby, Texas, called by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry, “a vivid picture of the Rio Grande Valley as it was fifty years ago and a very good read.”
What Lies Beneath, Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards.
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