Delhi, Smithville and Praha
markers and chapels
quietly reveal where America gets its soldiers.
DELL HIGH), is situated in one of the more thinly populated parts of Caldwell
County. Eighteen miles east of Lockhart,
if you can find where FM 713 intersects with Highway 304, head south on 304 and
you'll soon pass a cemetery, church and a simple building identified as the Delhi
Community Center. |
The well-tended cemetery is on the left side of the
road. Enclosed by a tidy, but far-from-quaint cyclone fence, the cemetery's identity
is confirmed by the overhead arch saying DEHLI - 1881. Tiny Confederate and American
flags, their number disproportionately large to the number of graves in general,
snap in the near-constant breeze.
A granite marker stands just outside
the cemetery gate seemingly too elaborate for a community that no longer appears
on state maps. The explanation is in the number of inscribed names.
to the Handbook of Texas, the population of tiny (never-had-a-railroad) Delhi
never exceeded 200 persons. Nevertheless, from the Civil War to Vietnam, the town
supplied 32 soldiers to various wars, "police actions" and conflicts.
first thing that catches the visitor's eye is the duplication of surnames.
Like most Delhi men, Alford J. Fogle served in the Confederacy during the Civil
War. The Fogle family didn't participate in WWI,
but they made up for it in WWII
when Julius, Marvin, and Willey Fogle served.
The Cox family had John G.
in the Civil War, Jessie G. in WWI
and Joe H. in WWII.
S. Reid was in the Civil War and a descendent also named Bartlett S. served in
Glenn B. Reid
served in WWII and years
later Carroll A. Reid was Delhi's solitary Vietnam casualty.
Spanish-American troop trains to Florida passed as nearby as Luling, Delhi didn't
have a participant in the all volunteer Spanish-American War.
the time the U. S. became involved in WWI
- Delhi was again ready.
Two Neeleys, Penn E. and Clarence J. served in The Great War and then
Lloyd C. Neeley served in WWII.
Tyre Pendleton was in WWI while descendent
George M. Pendleton died in the Korean War.
Horace and Vernon were either
brothers or a father and son that served in WWII.
By comparison, in neighboring Bastrop County, Smithville
was a railroad town with a
much greater population than Delhi. A marker on Smithville's
city hall lawn shows a count of 18 Smithvillains in the Civil War with fully half
of that number coming from only the Sawyer, Burleson and Hill families. There
were 11 Smithville servicemen in WWI
with one of them being another Burleson.
had 16 participants and Korea and Vietnam had three each. This gives totals of
Smithville 51 to Delhi's
small town that contributed casualties totally disproportionate to its population
was the Czech community of Praha
in Southern Fayette County.
When the town lost three men in WWII,
a small stone memorial chapel was built on the church grounds. Before long, other
deaths required another chapel being built. Then a third. In total, Praha,
Texas lost nine sons, husbands and brothers - reportedly the greatest number
of casualties for a town its size in the entire United States.
the memorial chapels in Praha,
a marker was erected in the Texas
As the number of war dead increases from Iraq, the casualties reflect the demographics
of our times. Today more are from the larger cities, but tiny towns like Comfort
and Sunray continue to contribute
a disproportionate share of their population.
shoe horses, don't they?" May 7, 2004 column