Pitman Cemetery in Muldoon

The Lone Star State has more than its share of towns and places with interesting names — Muldoon among them. Were it not for the city limit sign, you would never know you had entered and passed through Muldoon. Less than a hundred people call this tiny spot on the map home. Only a few buildings remain as ragged reminders of Muldoon’s past.

Muldoon is named after an Irish priest named Michael Muldoon. The town is located on a grant of land originally made to Father Muldoon, the curate for Stephen F. Austin’s first Texas colony. Father Muldoon was associated with the Diocese of Monterrey, Mexico. He served in Texas from 1831 to 1832 and was the only priest appointed to serve non-Hispanic Texas settlers.

The Pitman Cemetery is located just a few miles outside of town in an absolutely idyllic setting. An old chapel serves as the gathering place for memorial services — complete with old wooden-slatted pews covered with layers of faded butterscotch paint and ample windows to let in the breeze. It really is a perfect place for a memorial service with burial sites within walking distance.

I enjoy walking through old cemeteries, looking at dates and epitaphs on weathered tombstones. This hallowed ground has soaked up the tears of many grieving family members and friends over its long history. Every headstone has felt the touch of the hands of those who have stood there, perhaps weeping in silent remembrance.

In places as old as the Pitman Cemetery, the weather has erased names and dates on many of the tombstones, a solemn reminder of the words of Psalm 103:15-16:

As for man, his days are like grass;

As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,

And its place acknowledges it no longer.

As I meandered through the cemetery I was especially touched by the tombstone of a mother who had died in childbirth. And the plastic flowers on the grave-site of another child that passed away on the same day he was born served as an indication that someone still remembered this child, even after so many years.

As much as I don’t like thinking about death, strolling through old cemeteries reminds me that I must acknowledge its reality. The day will come when my remains will be placed into the ground and a headstone will mark my resting place.

When I am finally placed in the ground, the dash between the dates will tell nothing about me or what happened in the span of my years. A well-written line or Bible verse may be the only thing to tell future cemetery-strollers a little something about my faith or beliefs about what lies beyond the grave. And, the passage of time may eventually erase any words on my tombstone. Like a flower of the field that has withered away, even my resting place will one day no longer acknowledge me.

The Church Near Muldoon

There is something about old and abandoned buildings that stirs my imagination and ignites my curiosity. Whenever I venture down Texas backroads, I always look for old houses and buildings — the ones that have been long abandoned and are slowly being reclaimed by the elements. One structure in particular beckoned me to pull off the road just outside of Muldoon, a tiny community with a population of a little more than a hundred residents. It was an old church building with only the vertical section of a cross remaining on the steeple.
Old Church Building - Muldoon Tx
IMG_1907As I made my way through the dry overgrowth, I noticed that the front door of the building was open. I grew up in a small town in the days when church buildings remained open all day and, in some cases, all night. In fact, I never recall the door to my childhood home ever being locked when I was growing up. In all of the years I lived at home I never had a house key. At any rate, I was glad to find an open door when I approached the old church building.
Muldoon Church InteriorOnce inside the building, I noticed the few remaining pews on either side of the red-carpeted aisle. Everything in the building was covered with the dandruff of decay. I paused for a moment and tried to imagine what things must have looked like when the building was new and wondered how many brides had walked down the short distance to the altar. I had to remind myself that this old building was not the church, only the building where the church had once met for a season.
Muldoon Church QuarterliesThe signs that this had once been a place where people studied the Scriptures were evident. Old Sunday School quarterlies littered the floor, some with the fading names of the members written on the covers. Once again, I could not help but wonder about those who had studied those lessons and perhaps made some life-changing decisions in this old country church building. In a way it did not matter so much that these old lesson books were strewn on the floor because what really matters is what the folks who studied here carried away in their hearts.
Muldoon Church Pulpit ViewStanding in the pulpit and looking toward the pews, I wondered about those who had stood in that same spot over the years. How many sermons and weddings and funerals had taken place there? What about special seasonal observances or musical presentations? The history of what happened in that building is lost to all but those who worshiped there. But, without question, so much must have happened in this humble little building throughout the years.
Muldoon Church ExitAfter lingering for a while I made my way slowly down the aisle toward the exit. Once again the open door beckoned me out toward the world at large, the place where we are to live out our faith. And again I wondered about how many people might have left this place a little different than when they walked in, perhaps more determined to love God and love people. That’s really the way we should always leave our places of worship — changed for the better, a little more in love with God, and ready and willing to serve others.