What Lies Beneath Texas – LSBBT


Cynthia Leal Massey
Genre: Regional History/ 19th Century/ Landmarks & Monuments/ Travel Pictorial
Publisher: TwoDot
Date of Publication: August 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 400 pages w/77 B&W photos
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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.


My soon-to-be daughter-in-law taught us a car game.  You get various points for sights you see on a drive but if you see and call out a cemetery, you keep your points and make everyone else go back to zero.  I have to admit that when this book first crossed my desk, the competitive side of me thought, “Yes, Now I can WIN!” But soon the other side of me, the one that loves history and historical trivia, was in control and enthralled with this book.

I grew up with parents who made regular visits to our relatives in the cemetery.  We left flowers, wreaths and had conversations as we wandered the headstones reading aloud and wondering or reminiscing about the lives of the people there.  Side note – there is a headstone with my exact name – first, middle and last – that did freak me out a little as a child!

This author brought back all my wonder, curiosity, and love of obscure with this book. Taking the reader on a tour arranged geographically, I went to places near (surprisingly near!) and far from my Texas home.  The research into the lives and traditions was excellent.  Questions I didn’t even realize I had were answered.  Like, Who really was Sam Bass?  I’ve been on that road a lot and assumed it was someone’s name – now I know!

There are numerous photographs that enrich the reading experience as well as blocks of historical information on items such as Yellow Fever and Consort and Relict (I have always wondered about those terms).  Both the famous and infamous are included in this book as well ordinary people who were important each in their own way. The workmanship on some of the grave markers is elaborate and intricate. For example, one is a cross of tree limbs with shields and emblems created for a saloon owner and gunfight victim.

This is one of those books that I think of as a perfect gift for someone who has everything.  Everyone can find something in here to enjoy.  It’s one of those wonderful pick up again and again books that you can enjoy in pieces or as a whole.  This book will be living on my shelf to be revisited as I travel different areas of Texas (and I might just win that game the next time the future daughter-in-law is in the car!).

Read it – Who knows, you might even learn about the thought behind where the term “Stinking Rich” came from!

Click To Purchase!

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 RangerA 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.”


Three autographed copies of
What Lies Beneath, Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 10/15/21).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

or visit the blogs directly:
10/5/21 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
10/5/21 BONUS Sneak Peek Hall Ways Blog
10/6/21 Guest Post The Clueless Gent
10/6/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
10/7/21 Review Jennie Reads
10/8/21 Review That’s What She’s Reading
10/9/21 Scrapbook Page Chapter Break Book Blog
10/10/21 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
10/11/21 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
10/12/21 BONUS Review Book Fidelity
10/12/21 Excerpt Sybrina’s Book Blog
10/13/21 Review Forgotten Winds
10/14/21 Review The Book’s Delight
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