Sunday, October 10, 2021

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway - What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards by Cynthia Leal Massey

Welcome to my stop on the book blog tour for What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards by Cynthia Leal Massey. This blog tour was organized by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. On my stop, I have info on the book as well as a fascinating author interview. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win an autographed copy of the book. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards
Author: Cynthia Leal Massey
Publisher: TwoDot
Publication Date: August 1st 2021
Print Length: 400 pages
Genre: Texas History
Texas, the second largest state, both in land mass and population, has more than 50,000 burial grounds. As the final resting places of those whose earthly journey has ended, they are also repositories of valuable cultural history. Pioneer cemeteries provide a wealth of information on the people who settled Texas during its years as a Republic (1836-1845), and after it became the 28th state in 1845.
In What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards, Cynthia Leal Massey exhumes the stories of these pioneers, revealing the fascinating truth behind the earliest graveyards in the Lone Star State, including some of its most ancient. This guide also provides descriptions of headstone features and symbols and demystifies the burial traditions of early Texas pioneers and settlers.

Award-winning author Cynthia Leal Massey is 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.”

- If you’re a Texan: how has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Although my father was in the US Air Force and my family was stationed in other locales when I was a child, I am a native-born Texan having been born in San Antonio. All my schooling was in Texas, from first grade to graduate school. The history of this state is legendary and is inculcated from childhood. So yes, being a Texan has definitely influenced my writing because there is no shortage of interesting people, events, and/or places to write about.

- What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Deciding what to include and what to leave out because of page length requirements. Texas had more than 50,000 cemeteries and graveyards and I could only include a little over a hundred, so they had to be representative of those in the entire state. My book is 400 pages and I was limited to only 77 photos. I focused on the stories of individuals who were instrumental in contributing to the founding of Texas (whether the person was ordinary or famous). Some of the stories are illustrated with a photo of the person or their gravesite. I would have loved to include more.

- What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I enjoyed learning new things about historic figures and towns. For example, I learned that because Sam Houston did not support the Confederacy and was removed from his position as Texas governor, few mourners other than his family and close friends attended his 1863 funeral. Today, there is a magnificent monument sculpted by renowned artist Pompeo Coppini dedicated to Houston at the entrance of Huntsville’s Oakwood Cemetery where he is buried. I learned that after iron was found in Llano County in the late 19th century, leaders fully expected Llano to be the new “Pittsburgh of the West.” Unfortunately, iron reserves were not large enough, and instead, granite, which was available in abundance, became a profitable industry. Many granite tombstones were fashioned from Llano granite. I also enjoyed writing the sidebars, which illuminate 19th century diseases and burial traditions.

- In researching this book, did you learn any unexpected, unusual, or fascinating information?
Yes! The entire book is full of such stories. As a huge fan of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, in my estimation the best novel ever written about the American West, I knew that several of the characters in his novel were based on actual people. I found where a few were buried and their stories are included in the book. The demise of his character Blue Duck, for example, was inspired by the death of Kiowa Indian Chief Satanta, who was buried in the Huntsville prison cemetery for eighty-five years. In 1878, four years into his second imprisonment, he died after jumping out of the second story of the prison hospital. A memorial to Satanta remains on top of a hill in the center of the prison cemetery.

- What did you learn traveling around Texas for this project?
As I traveled the expanse of land the early pioneers had to traverse, I came away with a deeper understanding of how difficult life was for those in 19th century Texas. From one town to the next, especially in West Texas and the Panhandle, the drive was long and far, and I was driving a car! The pioneers traveled in wagons pulled by horses or oxen over rugged terrain. These were hardy people, even those who died along the way (and there were many). I also came away with a deeper appreciation for the Texas Historical Commission that has helped preserve our state’s history through its Texas Heritage Trails program, which helped me structure the book.

- What projects are you working on at the present?
I have just completed a novel, inspired by a true story. Set in the early 20th century, primarily in the 1950s, Fowl Water is a historical mystery about the murder of a Texas turkey breeder, the hunt for her killer, and the question of tainted bloodlines. This is my third novel. My publication portfolio also includes five books of nonfiction–including San Antonio, A Photographic Journey, for which I wrote the text–and one children’s mystery.
Win an autographed copy of What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards by Cynthia Leal Massey - three winners!
(US only.)

(All the Ups and Downs in not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. Lone Star Book Blog Tours assumes all responsibility with this giveaway.)
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1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to get a copy of this book, and ooh! Fowl Water sounds good! Looking forward to its publication. Thanks for the post