BOERNE, Texas – The Friends of the Boerne Library are raising funds through the Festival of Trees fundraiser to support the library’s passion project to document the city’s genealogy and history records properly.
The Festival of Trees, organized by the Friends of the Boerne Library, brings a lot of joy and color to the season, but the fundraiser is taking on more meaning for the library staff this year.
Sandy Johnston, the general services coordinator for the library, says about 15 trees and eight wreaths have been donated by local businesses and families to help bring in funds.
The staff has taken on a passion project which started in April, and the funds will be headings toward the archives department.
“That’s helping digitize all of our records and things like that that people will be able to access,” Johnston said. “Once we get through the digitizing we put together, we’re going to work with different organizations on the cemetery and do headstones and replace headstones. It’s a big project.”
The staff has discovered many unmarked graves and missing obituaries or errors in the archived information through the process.
Natalie Morgan, the assistant director at the library, says the project will help families from anywhere in the world trace back their ancestors buried in the Boerne Cemetery.
“We went from this very simple project to now this very involved project that’s bringing families together. It’s bringing life to a story that may not have ever been seen before,” Morgan said.
Morgan says many graves are only marked by a number, and some of those headstones are buried under dirt and grass.
One of those graves belongs to 18-year-old Arthur Benson, who died in 1910 of tuberculosis. The staff has been able to find information that says he came from the Midwest to be treated in Boerne, known for its sanitariums.
Benson died before his mother and sister could arrive by train. His grave is marked by the number 96 written over a cement slab.
“Arthur, 18-years old, does not have a headstone, and he’s so far away from home. He’s just lonely in the cemetery, and no one even knows he’s there,” Morgan said.
The staff estimates there are more than 100 unmarked graves in the cemetery. They’ve been able to trace about five of those to a name and story. They hope to do more.
“There’s so many people out there that we’re never going to know about because they died without anybody hearing about what their story was,” Morgan said.
The Festival of Trees and Silent Auction is happening from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The bidding can be done over the phone as well.
Those interested can email Johnston at email@example.com or call 830-249-3053.
Trees can be viewed at 451 North Main Street in Boerne.