When Early resident Les Rush was growing up near Blanket, he didn’t think much about where his great-great-grandparents, Alfred and Lucindy Jane Weams Rush, might be buried.
Alfred died in 1913, Lucindy in 1909, and the location of their graves was pretty much unknown to the modern-day Rush family.
As Les Rush got older, he began thinking about his ancestors, wanting to learn more about his heritage. Family stories held that Alfred had been a Confederate soldier in the Civil War, and there was speculation that he and Lucindy Rush were buried in Lafayette Springs, Miss., where another ancestor, also a Confederate soldier, was buried.
“As you get older, you start getting curious about your heritage, where you came from,” Rush said. “… I think people should be proud of their heritage.”
Rush, 63, works for the Brown County Sheriff’s Office as the maintenance supervisor for the Law Enforcement Center and as the road crew supervisor. He went on to learn that his ancestor had, indeed, served in the Confederacy — the 41st Alabama Infantry — as a private.
He also recently learned that his great-great-grandparents weren’t buried in Mississippi.
All this time, they’d lain in unmarked graves, and they were close — so close — to Les and his immediate family.
In 2005, Les and other Rush family members attended a relative’s funeral in Comanche. After the funeral, family members went to a home to visit with each other.
“We were talking about where everybody came from,” Rush said. The topic of the location of Alfred and Lucindy’s graves came up.
One of family members present, Ada. B. Sanford, is one of Alfred’s and Lucindy’s granddaughters and Les’ great-aunt.
“I know exactly where they are,” the elderly woman said.
“She said ‘Blanket.’ I lit up. I said, ‘Tell me more,’” Rush said.
The pioneering couple were in Blanket Cemetery in unmarked graves, and Ada B. Sanford described their location. She said there were actually four Rushes buried side by side — Alfred and Lucindy Rush; Marsha Rush Howard, who died in 1941; and a Rush whose exact identity is unknown. That person died in 1909.
“I was born and raised there, and lived there nearly all my life,” Rush said. “I was shocked — pleased and shocked.”
Les and a cousin drove to the Blanket Cemetery later that day and found the graves right where Ada B. Sanford said: near the north gate, second row, down on the right.
Metal plates marked “unknown” adorned the burial plots.
“We were excited about finding the graves and somewhat saddened that no one had ever marked them,” Rush said.
He researched courthouse records and found documentation that his relatives had indeed been buried at Blanket Cemetery. There were no records as to the exact locations of the graves. But members of the Blanket Cemetery Association told Rush that the word of a family member was “as good as it was ever going to get.”
At a family reunion in 2006, the family made a pact that they would mark their ancestors’ graves as a family project.
With the cemetery association’s blessing, family members curbed the graves and had a single marker, bearing all four names, made by the Granite Guys.
“I guess it was kind of a family pride thing,” Rush said. “God knew where they were, but if my aunt had died, no one would have ever known.”
Nine days ago — May 26, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend — about 55 members of the Rush family from several Texas cities gathered at Blanket Cemetery during the annual family reunion.
A cemetery dedication that included the laying of two wreaths was conducted for family members. A family member, Bonnie Rush, presented a family history.
Dr. Billy Dippel, a retired dentist and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, wearing a Confederate uniform, dedicated the four newly marked graves.
Rush said Dippel spoke for about 15 minutes and informed the family that about 400 Confederate veterans are buried in Brown County.
There are some things, Rush stressed, that people shouldn’t read into the story. Yes, his great-great-grandfather fought for the Confederacy. But there are no racial elements to Rush’s story. No support for the Klan. No white supremacy.
“Regardless of people’s political feelings, you realized there was honor on both sides of that situation,” Rush said. “This is not any degradation at all against the flag that we (live) under today.
“This family very much honors the United States flag. But in the same token, we salute the ones who fought for what they believed in.
“It’s strictly an honor thing for family members. I’m not going to apologize for my (great-great-grandfather) fighting for the Confederate army. That’s what he believed in. That’s what he did.”
He said he thinks his ancestors in the four graves “would be extremely proud” of what their descendants accomplished.