Clay County
Cemetery Photographs

Sanzenbacher Ranch Burial Sites
Henrietta, Texas
From US 287 in Henrietta, turn South of SR 148 go 8.7 miles. Turn left onto Sanzenbacher Rd. go 2.9 miles. At dead end turn right and drive through private property to ranch house. The Ranch manager will have to take you out into the property as these stones are located in four different locations through the 7000 acre ranch.

The original land owner is not known but the story the ranch manager tells is that a man by the name of Sanzenbacher came to Clay Co. around 1880. There is a headstone in the Hamilton portion of the cemetery, also know as McAdams and Hamilton Cemetery and Secret Springs Cemetery for a John Sanzenbacher born 1797 and died in 1880. It is said that he did not have family or a direct heir and a nephew came to Clay Co. with him to help him.

I find a Chontus? Sanzenbacher (Sawzenburger) in the 1880 census born in 1849 with a wife Lucy born in 1846 and a daughter Carrie born in 1876. Maybe Lucy and Carrie both died, it is unknown. In the 1900 Clay Co. census, there is a Lee Sanzenbacher born October 1856 who could have been the nephew of the original land owner. In the 1900 Clay County census, it shows that Lee did not have a wife at the time, but it does say he was married. He did however have a son Henry born in June 1881 and daughters Lizzie born in January 1886, Annie born in February 1889, Ida born in December 1891, and Pearley born in January 1895. He also had a brother, possibly a half brother living with him. His name was Henry Colley born in January 1865. It is his only son, Henry, who was said to have taken over the ranch and handed it down through the family.

The various headstones can only be accessed throughout the property with a four wheeler and the ranch manager drove us to all of the burial locations. He took us to the Sanzenbacher’s original dugout. Not a home, just a dug out portion of the land where they lived for many years before they built the stone home which is pictured. Two of the Sanzenbacher children are buried at the front of this dugout with an iron fence around it.

John Sanzenbacher is buried in the McAdams – Hamilton – Secret Springs Cemetery and these are the only Sanzenbacher’s found buried on this property.

There is a Mrs. Lyles who is buried in another section of the ranch and she is said to be one of Henry’s daughters' mother-in-law.

Barney Davis, James A. Hamilton and Marshall Walton Hamilton are the only other headstones in the McAdams – Hamilton Cemetery although there are several other field stones.

In the pasture near the Little Wichita River there is a headstone simply marked “Unknown Cowboy – Drowned in East Fork about 1881”. The story told is that the river would really overflow during heavy rainstorms. Apparently this unknown cowboy tried to escape the rushing waters by climbing in a tree. The family found him several days later, dead in the tree. They wanted to give him a proper burial so they buried him next to a pretty tank far away from the river.

The Sanzenbacher’s traveled a long way from Germany to make a home in the United States. Now their ranch, which has been in the same family for 100 years, is one of the largest ranches in Clay County.

Contact Gina Heffernan for help with this page.

Copyright © 1997-present   USGenWeb Project Archives