A Night in Throckmorton Cemetery | A Short Story

By Lucy Russell, 2016

I want to tell you a story or two regarding Throckmorton and my families dealings with it. This story deals with my Great-grandfather Jerry Paul Atkins. Well, the Atkins family came to texas about 1919 and moved to Anna about 192, residing near Throckmorton Cemetery. Having been raised in the country all his life, Jerry Paul was quite handy at whittling with a pocket knife. Jerry Paul was possum hunting and saw it was getting dark, but had trailed the possum thus far and decided to continue hunting it. All of a sudden Mr. Opossum darted into a hole in the ground at the foot of a grave. Making quick work with a stick, Jerry Paul whittled it somehow to make it two-pronged on the end. Jabbing the stick in the hole he twisted it. Supposedly the prongs of the stick grabbed the possum by the tail and Jerry Paul pulled him out. Well, something came out on the stick but as it was getting too dark to see he laid the stick aside with the yet unknown item on the end.

McKinney, 1945 - Jerry Paul Atkins (1907 - 1988). The baby is my grandfather, James.

McKinney, 1945 – Jerry Paul Atkins (1907 – 1988). The baby is my grandfather, James.


He knew well it was getting dark and where he was. He was gonna wait for the possum to emerge so he bedded down right there to camp in Throckmorton Cemetery. (As a kid, I asked my Great-grandfather about cemeteries being scary, he said cemeteries were not considered scary because ideologies were different back then, as cemeteries were sacred and safe places. Thus wasn’t afraid to sleep there then.) He awoke in the morning to find with a start the unknown object upon the end of his stick he had pulled from the grave by accident the night before.  Upon the end of his stick was a partial black and white stripped pants leg remnant; very old yet you could see what it was. In hunting last night he had literally twisted a piece of clothing onto his pronged stick! Ripped a  peace of some dead man’s clothing off while going after the possum in the hole! Upon further inspection he realized the grave as none other than Governor Throckmorton’s dad, Dr. William Throckmorton! It was Throckmorton senior’s aged pants leg ripped clean off of the buried corpse, and a good-sized hunk too.

This story has enthralled me since I was a kid, as to its credibility I don’t know. It’s funny and odd. If I ever go to visit Dr. Throckmorton I owe him a pair of stripped trousers in homage.

By the way, supposedly on a good cloudless, moonless night the stone of Throckmorton senior seems to glow sometimes, illuminating itself from within.

Throckmorton Cemetery, 2015 - Here lies a man with no pants.

Throckmorton Cemetery, 2015 – Here lies a man with no pants.

*Last year, while exploring Throckmorton Cemetery we here at the Van Alstyne History Commission directly observed a handful of animal dens that were borrowed several feet directly into the graves. Some of the holes were deep and wide enough to stick one’s entire leg into, up to the hip at least.

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