What the Heck Is This Eggplant Altar?

Have I missed a trend? Am I incredibly out of it? Can someone kindly tell me what is going on here?

Answer Below!

Look closely at this hollow stump.

Y’all, there’s a parade of eggplants around this stump, which, by the way, is in the middle of Walker’s Creek cemetery. What‽

Okay. I know an eggplant emoji is used to symbolize male appendages. Is this a pee-pee parade?

I could not find any articles on occult eggplant 🍆 rituals. I sure know nothing about such things, and I’ve studied symbols and such.

Well, maybe someone feeds the squirrels at that stump and left them there, but the squirrels didn’t like them?

I guess I could think of weird sorority or fraternity rituals, or maybe a farm kid prank. Instead, I’ll ask YOU.

What is going on at my local cemetery? I will share any fun guesses here!

Answers I Received

I’ve learned this much, but I would still love to know who arranged the altar and why, in this specific case.

  • Maxwellthedog pointed out in comments: Not just any eggplant. A Japanese eggplant. A nasubi.
  • Chris Lindsey shared this link to the goddess Oya, pointing out that she often received offerings of eggplant.
  • And Kathleen knew all about it. She shares: The guardian of the cemetery Oya. Sometimes if you look closely there are slits cut in the eggplants with notes placed inside.
Oya! From The Orishas: Oya, link above.

Further reading makes me realize it’s part of the Santeria religion. Well, THAT adds a lot to the current history of Walker’s Creek. How cool!

She watches over cemeteries, guarding the dead with one foot in the world of the living and one in the world of the deceased. Oya is deeply connected to those who have passed over and she is said to guide those who have died through the cemetery gates to their eternal resting place. While she is known for her passion and strength, she exudes unwavering compassion for all of our ancestors.

The Orishas: Oya

Even More

It’s amazing what I can learn when I know what to look for (eggplant and ritual were not enough). I found out that Oya’s feast day is February 2. That’s a familiar date. Why, it’s right at Imbolc, the feast day of St. Brighid! Lo and behold:

Ọya (Yoruba: Ọya, also known as Oyá or Oiá; Yansá or Yansã; and Iansá or Iansã in Latin America) is an orisha of winds, lightning, and violent storms, death and rebirth. She is similar to the Haitian god Maman Brigitte, who is syncretised with the Catholic Saint Brigit.

Wikipedia: Oya

Well, welcome to my pantheon, Oya! I will have to learn more about the Yoruba and Santeria aspects of her.

Headstones and History

While I’ve written about Walker’s Creek cemetery before, I was compelled to write again, because our Master Naturalist event champion, Linda Jo, asked us to go out and observe at a Milam County cemetery this week. This place is so beautiful, I’m always happy to visit.

This is maybe a mile from the ranch.

I decided to do two things, survey what’s living and growing in the area for iNaturalist and see what I can learn about the area’s history from the tombstones. I’ll post the nature stuff on the Master Naturalist blog when it’s done.

Our area in a nutshell. I do have photos of the school, etc., somewhere on this blog.

As I looked around, I saw the graves of those founders and their descendants. The Jinks family put in new stones and is all fancy.

Very fancy, Jinks family.
Older Jinks graves. Marzillah, on the right, died in 1909 and has Heaven and other art on her stone. Her husband was a Mason. He died in 1886, making him probably one of the first ones here.

The Cages and Walkers had some cool old stones. I love how many stones throughout the cemetery have kind words on them.

Mothers often have poems.
Another beloved mother. “Rest, mother, rest in quiet sleep, While friends in sorrow over thee weep.”

Another thing I notice on the older headstones is that there are hands in them, like the one at our house, which has a hand pointing up. Here are a couple with a handshake and hands reading a book (Bible, I assume).

My favorite stone with an inscription was this much more recent one. Way to go, Sonny.

Yes. What a guy.

I do enjoy humor from the families. This is so cute cute

A cow, and a population sign. Fun Lucko family.

Lots of the gravestones looked like trees. They are Woodmen of the World stones, bought with burial insurance. When I was a kid, I thought it was an organization for guys like my grandfather, who was a woodsman (forest surveyor).

1919 grave of Luther Allen

As I looked around, I noticed a few things. One is that the people buried here aren’t German or Czech, like we see in the surrounding area. The names are mostly English, Scots, etc.

A Walker who lived a long life. Originally a Todd. There are Todds down the road.

Even the people I know who are buried here have English names. The late sheriff Green, his son, and eventually his wife, the Greenes, are here.

Newer graves lovingly cared for.

This is a great example of what I saw all over the cemetery, where people do sweet things like stack rocks or arrange rocks in patterns. I thought it was so sweet.

Notice the stacked rocks. Also, such a beautiful tree for the family to enjoy during visits.

The rocks hold up better than fake flowers, for sure. But, some of the graves are well tended. My former neighbor, Elaine, gets visited often. It helps that her son now lives across the street in her old house.

Notice the rocks, her favorite bird, and fresh flowers.

Another thing I noticed was that any tomb cover on a grave was all cracked up. I’m not surprised, seeing how much the soil moves around here. The Jinks grave above shows this. Here’s another example.

It’s all cracked.

This cemetery is in a beautiful spot, surrounded by woods and little ponds. I enjoyed my time here so much.

There were doves and cardinals around this pond.

Remember the sign at the beginning that talked about a church? Most cemeteries have a church associated with them. There’s not one here now, but there was one across the road, here.

This is where the church was.

I’d noticed the sign before, since we drive by here often.

Church site.

Only today did I see the sign, which appears to be on the old entry. Aha.

Very descriptive.

I saw so much of historical interest here, right down the street! I look forward to writing up all the plants and animals I encountered.

The History of Our Cemetery

You may know we have a grave on our property, with (as far as we can tell) just one person buried there, Heinrich Rentsch (1826-1888). I have tried to learn more about him, but my skills aren’t too great. I do know that we want to repair his headstone, which cattle knocked over in 2012.

My oldest photo of this. I know I wrote a lot about this once…but I sure can’t find it.
Look, I found a crawfish while waiting on Holly.

I was contacted by Holly Jentsch (names are sure similar around here), who is doing official research on cemeteries in the area. She’s working with the Milam County Historical Commission to GPS all graves/cemeteries in Milam County for the Texas Historical Commission Atlas as well as document the sites. She wanted to check out the site on our property. Of course, I said yes, but it took a while to get together, what with all the snow, family stuff, etc.

Yesterday was really windy, so it was a perfect day to stay outside and interact and not breathe on each other. Holly and I got a good look at the part of the headstone we are keeping by the RV, then hiked (along with Vlassic) to the fenced-in area where the rest of the stone is.

We had a great time talking as we walked around our pasture. Holly likes to walk, too, and it turned out we have a ridiculous amount of things in common, plus she lives next door to my friend, Donna. So, now I know who “the neighbor with all the dogs” is. Small counties are really small. Anyway, it sure was fun to talk to someone. It’s such a rare treat (especially since I haven’t even left the ranch since last week).

Here’s Holly getting a photo of the base of the headstone.

When we finally got to the old fence, Holly got excited, seeing depressions near the grave of Mr. Rentsch, because that could have meant she found his son, Otto, for whom there are no records. But no, those are the final resting spots of Rosie, Stella, and Brody. Sniff.

I hope to go out and look at other sites in the with Holly, when she gets permission. I find the history of settlers around here so interesting, and it’s well worth preserving!

History of Our Ranch’s Former Resident

When she got home, Holly was able to send me her findings. She is great at genealogical research, DNA, and all that fun stuff. It was sure fun to talk to a professional. Here’s what she sent:

Thank you so much for letting me come to visit you and Mr. Rentsch today. This is what I have found out so far about Mr. Rentsch. He was born in Dresden, Germany on 20 Jan 1826 and died in Milam County on 17 July 1888. In the 1870 and 1880 census he lived in Precinct 2, Comal County, Texas with his wife Johanna, son Otto and daughter Helena. His occupation was farmer and he owned property.

Johanna Rentsch was born in April 1830 possibly in Sachsen/Saxony and died 9 Nov 1908 in Galveston, Galveston County, Texas. After her husband’s death she was found in Dallas, Texas in 1889 and 1890, address r.322 Hord between Griffin, Magnolia. Her daughter Helena was living with her and working at Eureka Steam Laundry. In the 1900 Census she is living (renting) in Galveston on Avenue 0 1/2, a widow with only 1 of 2 children living. In the 1906 & 1908 Galveston city directory, Johanna was living in the Letitia Rosenberg home. She was buried in the Lakeview Cemetery, Galveston TX.

I have found nothing on the son Otto past him living with the family in the 1880 census but the fact that Mrs. Rentsch states in 1900 that she only has one living child, suggests he died between 1880 and 1900.

The daughter Helena married a Charles Molsburger, a dairy farmer in Galveston about 1896. It was his second marriage. Helena was born in Texas in Dec 1869. Mr. Molsburger had 3 children and may have been divorced. It would appear from the ages of the children in the 1900 Census that only 1 was born to Helena and Charles, Robert Mosburger in 1897. the Molsburger family lives in the part of Galveston that was wiped out by the 1900 Great Hurricane. It appears the whole family was wiped out on 8 Sept 1900 plus many of the extended Molsburger/Malzberger family.

Many thanks to Holly for all this information. Now that I have it blogged, maybe I won’t lose the facts!

Enjoying Better Weather

Fall wardrobe + scowl.

It’s been very pleasant here in the center of Texas for the past few days, with pleasantly cool mornings and nice warm days (contrasting with the usual blazing heat). I’ve enjoyed being able to wear a couple of new light jackets and wraps on my daily walks around the neighborhood.

Oak Lawn Cemetery

Yesterday I had a lot of thinking to do, so I walked over to the cemetery. It’s a good thinking spot, and usually quiet, other than maintenance workers. Since it’s a pretty old cemetery, there are lots of big trees to look at.

Nice place to sit.

Of course, I had to go visit the Popes, in whose house I sit and work every day when I’m in Cameron. I do hope they like what we have done with the place.

Maybe I’ll clean this up and leave them some flowers.

It’s nice to have a little furniture and the mirror installed in the front room. It seems so complete.

And in honor of the crisper weather (relatively), I turned on the fireplace to heat! Just a little, but it’s nice.

I was happy to find out the electrical outlet still works after all that rain dripped on it.

Be gentle with yourselves, friends, because you deserve kindness and acceptance.

Old Catholic Cemeteries

Yesterday was certainly the most active Christmas I’d spent in a long time. That’s great, because going on walks with my kids is among the greatest pleasures in my life. I love listening to them talk about their lives, about local history, and about the plants and animals we see along the way.

Another beautiful old stone, right next to what appears to be an old windmill, which was converted to a bathroom, Not a nice one, according to my kids.

The house we are staying in has views of the local Catholic cemetery, past the radio station. So, while our turkey was cooking, we took a walk over to see it. There were many, many headstones in the local granite, so the colors were nice. There obviously weren’t too many Catholic families, since certain names repeated often, such as Klein. There were many, many Klein graves.

Many of the beautiful grave markers in this cemetery are in German.

There was a very large section of children’s graves, which made me sort of sad. You could tell when that flu epidemic occurred in the early 1900s. Declan and Rylie took a lot of artistic photos of each other, which is a charming thing they like to do. Kynan had gone running, which is also a thing he likes to do, but he joined us at the end.

Continue reading “Old Catholic Cemeteries”