Elida dowser locates unmarked gravesites

By Liliana Castillo, Freedom New Mexico

Marcia Leavell and longtime friend Margie Crooks attended Crooks’ father-in-law’s funeral at the Texico cemetery in 2002. They were astonished by the tall weeds that towered over the tombstones and the general condition of the more than 100-year-old cemetery.

So they did something about it.

“My husband came out with his own weed-eater and cleared a path so the people at the funeral could walk to the grave,” Crooks said. “And instead of complaining, we asked, ‘What can we do to help?’”

They learned the Texico Cemetery Association, which for years managed the city-owned cemetery, had long been long deactivated due to a lack of funding. Crooks and Leavell volunteered to revive the association.

The volunteer group took over coordinating the maintenance of the cemetery, which is paid for with annual plot dues.

Crooks and Leavell also worked to compile a master list of the nearly 1,000 graves in the cemetery because city and cemetery association records were spotty. The women completed their initial list by visiting the cemetery to record information from headstones. They also located 33 unmarked graves by using metal rods to probe the ground.