Weeds 12 feet high, tombstones hidden at historic Floresville cemetery

State says 'local interested parties' responsible for maintaining grounds

FLORESVILLE, Texas – Despite carrying a Texas Historic Cemetery designation since 2008, portions of Floresville's Garza-Valadez Cemetery are now unreachable on foot because of overgrown vegetation.

The state, county and city where the graveyard sits are not responsible for maintaining the grounds.

The responsibility of preserving the 134-year-old cemetery, which is the final resting place of veterans of both the Civil War and World War I, instead falls to "local interested parties," according to a spokesperson with the Texas Historical Commission.

"The only way you can clean up a cemetery like that is if you get all the people or the community involved," said Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr.

Gamez said in the past, people on probation in Wilson County would often clean up the grounds of Garza-Valadez and other cemeteries in the area as part of their community service.

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The program was cut from the county budget more than a decade ago, according to Gamez.

"They no longer can hire somebody on Saturdays to take those people out and do community service," said Gamez.

Without an organized group to facilitate cleaning up Garza-Valadez, located off of Texas Loop 181, the back portions of the cemetery have weeds as high as 12 feet tall.

"I don't know how other people feel about this, but it really makes you upset, makes you angry to know that," said Guadalupe Rodriguez, whose older brother, Ricardo, is buried at the cemetery.

Ricardo Rodriguez died New Year's Eve 1936, weeks before his first birthday.

During a visit to the cemetery earlier this year, Guadalupe Rodriguez said he and his family were forced to turn around because of the thick vegetation.

"We didn't even get 25 yards into the cemetery. That's how bad it was. Took about 10 minutes to get the thorns off my grandkids," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and one of his brothers returned with landscaping equipment, and were able to clear a path to Ricardo's gravestone.

"Something's gotta be done about this," said Rodriguez.


About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.