Going Greenleaf

Fans of Robert E. Howard have long been in the practice of visiting his grave at the Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood, Texas; unfortunately, that is usually the end of the visit. Located just south of town on Highway 377, Greenleaf has plenty more Howard history to offer.

A short walk down the cemetery road will lead visitors to the Smith family plot. One of Howard’s best friends, Tevis Clyde Smith, Jr., rests there, with his father and son, both named Tevis Clyde. And not far from the Smiths, Truett Vinson’s family lies buried, though not Truett himself; I’ve heard that he’s in Austin, or maybe San Antonio. Besides his two Brownwood friends, Lindsey Tyson, one of Howard’s closest Cross Plains chums, is also buried at Greenleaf.

The “old man who had sought to teach [Howard] shorthand,”* J.E. Basham, is also buried at Greenleaf. He died on May 10, 1928, the year after Howard received his bookkeeping diploma from the Howard Payne business school.
(*from Post Oaks and Sand Roughs)

Nelda June Powell is also buried at Greenleaf. Born on November 8, 1925, Nelda June died less than two years later on March 1, 1927. In Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, Howard writes that “Steve and Spike [aka Howard and Tyson] roomed with a family named Powers.” As with many things in the semi-autobiographical novel, the name of the family has been thinly veiled. The real name of the family Howard and Tyson roomed with was Powell. Later in Post Oaks, we learn that “The measles hit Redwood [Brownwood], and Steve [Howard] was struck down, taking the disease from the Powers’s [Powell’s] baby, who died.” This baby was most likely Nelda June.

Besides the above, and others not mentioned, Greenleaf has plenty of non-Howard history, too. To do a little “internet archeology” at Greenleaf, have a look at the Pecan Valley Genealogical Society’s cemetery listing. The Greenleaf pages have clickable photos and documents (death certificates, mostly) for many of the cemetery’s residents. Also, if the cemetery is visited during business hours, a pamphlet grave guide is available.