Ground-penetrating radar being used at once-hidden cemetery

Texas A&M team explores Hockley Cemetery on Northeast side

SAN ANTONIO – Technology has now been used twice to explore the once-hidden Hockley Cemetery, bordered by the Northern Hills subdivision on San Antonio’s Northeast Side. Last month, lasers were used to scan its surface, and now, another team from Texas A&M University in College Station is using ground-penetrating radar.

The cemetery's headstones are no longer there, but the 1.2-acre property is being explored to find the gravesites.

“The science behind ground-penetrating radar will help connect the dots with whatever we can see on the physical surface,” said Everett Fly, a nationally recognized landscape architect based in San Antonio.

Fly said the ground-penetrating radar “will simply add more detail, more accuracy for interpreting these depressions in the ground.”

Mark Everett, a Texas A&M professor of geology and geophysics, said those using the GPR are undergraduate students in his geophysical methods class.

“They’ve spent the entire semester learning these techniques that they can put into action on a real-life project,” Everett said.

The results of what they found are expected by sometime next month.

At the site Friday was Mike Wright, a neighbor whose curiosity last year triggered his research into what he’d heard was a cemetery in his neighborhood.

“I’m glad that everybody came together to make this happen, so that’s really neat,” Wright said.

“We have a part of San Antonio history,” said Mike Gallagher, the president of the Northern Hills Neighborhood Association and a former San Antonio City Council member.

Jane Warren, whose descendants are buried in the cemetery, was a former slave who was granted 50 acres of land, part of it where the Northern Hills subdivision came to be. Warren also was the first African American woman in Texas to have a cattle brand.

Fly said he’s been keeping Joyce Harvey, the Hockley family representative, updated on the progress being made.

“She said she never thought she’d get to see her family burial ground restored,” Fly said.

Fly said the family’s goal is to have a permanent fence and gate for the cemetery, as well as a memorial or marker with the names of those buried in the Hockley Cemetery.

He said the African American community should be excited knowing “this is not an anecdote anymore. This is not a myth. This is real San Antonio history and shows what an integral part we played in the development of San Antonio and Bexar County.”

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.