Last Writes: A Marble Valentine

On this day when the air is filled with Cupid’s beaus and eros, a grave at Oakwood Cemetery reminds us that sometimes even the coldest stone can radiate warmth. Inscribed on a marble tombstone shared by Captain John T. Burt and Elizabeth Burt are these lines:

burt 2 verses

A golden link from the sweet chain of love

is loosed from Earth to form the one above


We shall meet again some sweet day

I don’t know much about John and Elizabeth Burt: what they looked like or how they met or by what terms of endearment they called each other. I know only facts such as these: Captain Burt was born in Mississippi in 1843, fought for the Confederacy, was a Mason and a member of the Fraternal Mystic Circle.

Elizabeth was born “Elizabeth Jane Harrison” in Dallas County in 1849. John and Elizabeth were married May 25, 1870.

burt 1870 census

They lived initially in Bryan in Brazos County, where John was a tinner and later operated a hardware store. They moved to Fort Worth in 1877, lived at 200 West Bluff Street, behind today’s Criminal Justice Building.

Captain Burt owned Fort Worth Cornice Company. This city directory ad is from 1885.

Captain Burt also owned J. T. Burt Ice and Ice Machine Company. In May 1894 he placed a tongue-in-cheek “Will Coxey Fight?” ad in the Fort Worth Gazette. Coxey’s Army was a group of unemployed workers who in 1894 marched on Washington, D.C., to demand that the government create jobs. They were led by Ohio businessman Jacob Coxey. The expression “enough food to feed Coxey’s Army” refers to these marchers.

(Coxey also advocated monetary reform. He even named his youngest son “Legal Tender.”)

Burt’s ice company also sold coal mined in Thurber. Ice for the summer, coal for the winter: Captain John T. Burt was a man for all seasons.

burt 10-19-03For John and Elizabeth Burt, their “sweet chain of love” was broken on October 7, 1903 when John died. He was a member of the Robert E. Lee Camp of Confederate Veterans.  Clip is from the October 19 Telegram.

John and Elizabeth Burt were married thirty-three years.

oakwood-cemetery-association-1908Upon her husband’s death and burial at Oakwood, Mrs. Burt was among the founding members of Oakwood Cemetery Association in 1908, established to improve the condition of the cemetery. Mrs. Burt was saddened, the Star-Telegram reported, that her husband “had been placed . . . in a burial grounds full of weeds, shaggy with stones and debris, and overrun by cattle.” She “resolved that she would not rest until the cemetery became a fitting place for her loved one.”

Her association cleaned up and fenced the cemetery and provided burials for the children of indigent parents.

oakwood-chapel-1912In 1912 Mrs. Burt and the other women of the association raised funds for construction of the cemetery chapel.

2012 oakwood In 1973 another group of women—Women in Construction of Fort Worth—restored the chapel.

Also in 1912 near her husband’s grave Mrs. Burt erected a fountain in his memory.

Mrs. Burt had two concrete hitching posts installed near her husband’s grave to use when she visited during the horse-and-buggy days. She continued to visit his grave for thirty-four years.

In 1937, on July 23, Mrs. Burt died, overcome by grief, her relatives said, by the death of a childhood friend. And thus came the “some sweet day” when, for Captain John T. and Elizabeth Burt, the two links of their “chain of love” were rejoined.

burt headstone panel

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8 Responses to Last Writes: A Marble Valentine

  1. Evelyn Muller says:

    This was a very interesting story. People of this era really cared for the cemetery. I still care. Thank you for wonderfully telling the Burt story.

  2. Deborah Carl says:

    I portrayed Elizabeth Burt last year at Oakwood and thank you for this article from which I drew my inspiration! A timely repeat! Thanks Mike.

  3. ramiro says:

    Thanks Mike. I have not been there in such a long time, and it was night. About 2001 I think. Great story.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Ramiro. Take your walking shoes when you go. Worth a trip just for the view of the river and downtown.

  4. Scott Gorman says:

    Another great story! My brother and I recently visited Oakwood marveling at all of the amazing monuments. Especially the ones mentioned above!

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