The Old Gussettville Cemetery, also know as the Guy James Cemetery, is situated on land first owned by Patrick McGloin, an Irish colonist who participated in the John McMullen-James McGloin colonization agreement of 1828 with the government of Mexico.
On December 15, 1831, McGloin received a grant of one league (4,428 acres) and one labor (177 acres) of land from the State of Coahuila and Texas. His death occurred in Victoria in 1846. Under the terms of his will, the cemetery tract was a part bequeathed in his will to his sister Mary McGloin Fox (1775-1854).
After several years of litigation, and subsequent to the death of Mary, the land on which the cemetery exists was deeded from the Estate of Patrick McGloin in 1850 to her husband Michael “Mickey” Fox (1775-1853).
As early as 1846, Fox Nation served as a stagecoach stop on the road between Corpus Christi and San Antonio. In time some measure of stability had returned to the area, and a gradual flow of Irish immigrants moved from their previous haven in San Patricio to permanently settle on lands in the area.
This area was first known as Fox Nation, so called due to numerous members of Fox family early Irish immigrants who first inhabited lands within this land grant beginning in 1848. It was later named Gussettville after Norwick Gussett's land purchase from the Estate of Patrick McGloin in 1856. Gussett built a general store and operated a remount station, which at the time was situated on the east side of FM 799 East, and about one mile north of the existing Gussettville Church and cemetery which it predated.
The Guy James (Old Gussettville) Cemetery is situated on a tract of land first bequeathed to children of McGloin's sister, Mary McGloin Fox (1775-1854). Land surrounding the cemetery was subsequently purchased by Bridget O'Brien McGloin ( 1839-1930) and passed to her grandson Guy James. After her death, it then went to his son James F. James and is now owned by his sons, Jimmy and Willie James.
Selection of this cemetery site was made necessary by the death of John Fox, 95 years of age (1756-1851), patriarch of the Fox family, who was born in County Leitrim, Ireland. His was the first recorded burial on February 4, 1851. It is easily imagined that the ancient Live Oak tree still standing within the cemetery after so many years could have been the deciding factor in the selection of a site for its shaded and peaceful environment in a land sometimes harsh and unforgiving.
Last of Fox Nation
Only two other burials are documented in the decade of the 1850's; one is that of Clara Matilda Gussett (1852-1854), a daughter of Norwick Gussett. The other, a result of the untimely death of Darby Francis Fox (1809-1854) - a son of Michael and Mary Fox, who was murdered by an unknown assailant in April of 1854.
During the decade of the 1860's six documented burials occurred; three did not carry the Fox surname. They are Harriet Elizabeth Gussett (1834-1863), wife of Norwick Gussett, laid to rest in March of 1863. Shortly thereafter, Gussett relocated to Corpus Christi and eventually became a very prominent businessman in the area.
The Gussettville store and property was sold to Simeon Wise Lewis, Gussett's friend and compatriot who had also come to this area after having served in the Mexican War under the command of General Zachary Taylor.
The second was William J. (Billy ) McMurray (1796-1869), survived by his wife, Bridget (Biddy) Fox (1813-1894) and five children. Biddy Fox McMurray is buried in the new Gussettville Cemetery, and many of her descendants still reside in Live Oak County.
The third burial was young Edward Pugh (1862-1864), son of Patrick Pugh and Lucretia Powell Pugh, who were also interred in the new Gussettville Cemetery.
The three documented Fox family burials are: Mary J. Fox (1856-1860) and Patrick Howard Fox, Jr. (1859-1860), young daughter and infant son of Patrick Howard Fox, Sr., (1819-1869) and Ann Gallagher Fox (1825-1904). Then Patrick Howard Fox, Sr. was reportedly stabbed to death by his nephew after an argument over the price of a steer.
Irish Ancestry Moves to St. Joseph's Cemetery
The final documented burial of those of Irish immigrant ancestry occurred in July of 1871 when Elizabeth "Eliza" Timon O'Hara Odem Goodwin (1825-1871), a niece of Empresario James McGloin, was laid to rest.
Unfortunately, her three husbands each died at an early age leaving her to raise five children: Edward O'Hara and Cecilia Ellen O'Hara Dolan (1850-1925) from her marriage to Michael O'Harra (1820-1847); David Charles Odem, Jr. (1857-?) from her marriage to David Charles Odem, Sr. (1815-1860); and James Francis Goodwin (1862-1918) from her marriage to Matthew Goodwin (1831-1864). After 1871, all known burials of the Irish and their descendants have taken place at the new Gussettville cemetery called St. Joseph Cemetery.
Mexican and Irish Integration
Although the first to be buried in Guy James Cemetery were Irish immigrants, a little known or long forgotten fact is that there were more than likely as many American burials of Mexican heritage. The writer as a young child visited this cemetery many times, and I can remember the location of many graves not then nor now marked by permanent headstones, and those graves are no longer visible.
As a young child I watched as funeral processions made their way by my grandfather's home and through his field to the burial site, as no access to the cemetery existed from the public road.
It is possible that some were interred prior to 1928, but the first recorded burial is that of Avran Ybarra, born in Mexico on March 6, 1846 and died April 18, 1928. Federal census records indicate that he came to Texas in 1870, became a naturalized citizen in 1894, and was married to Leocadia Reyna Ybarra. They had a family of six children, and he was a farmer in the Gussettville area. His widow died in 1948 and was buried in Beeville. Records do not indicate that any of Avran and Leocadia's children remained in Live Oak County after his death.
Two other marked graves are for Refugia Juarez Cuevas, no birth or death date, and Mariano Bernal (shown as Vernal on the headstone), also a farmer (1884-1938).
Surnames of many current Live Oak County residents appear in early census reports from the Gussettville and Mikeska area. Family names of Bernal, Briseno, Chavarria, Cuevas, Gutierrez, Juarez, Morin, Reyes, Perez, Zuniga, and others exist in the early census records. It is quite possible that some of their ancestors rest in unmarked graves in this cemetery.
There is no question that a bond of friendship created early on between the first Irish settlers and those of Mexican heritage existed. Each group, no doubt, schooled the other on their culture, way of life, and means of survival in a sometimes harsh environment. Almost all people of both cultures left their native countries because of social, economic, or religious persecution. Their faith sustained them in harsh times. If they were able to speak to us today, they would certainly ask that this cemetery be maintained in suitable condition and their legacy remembered.
The Honorable Jim Huff, County Judge for Live Oak County, welcomes you to the Live Oak County Historical Commission (LOCHC) Website. The Live Oak County Historical Commission is an arm of the Live Oak County Commissioners' Court; appointees are selected at the beginning of odd numbered years and serve two year terms. Judge Huff and the Live Oak County Commissioners support and approve actions of the LOCHC in coordination with the Texas Historical Commission (THC).
Live Oak County Commissioners:
Precinct 1: Richard Lee
Precinct 2: Donna Kopplin Mills
Precinct 3: Willie James
Precinct 4: Emilio Garza
The Commissioner's Court is committed to the preservation of our county's history. Judge Huff and your local commissioner welcome suggestions.