|PART OF BLOOMING GROVE
Kildee in White Cemetery
By Thomas Turner
Central Texas Bureau of The News
BLOOMING GROVE, Texas - In the white people's cemetery at Blooming
Grove a fresh flower bedecked mound is a color-splashed splotch on the
It is the grave of a man as black as a moonless night, whose skin
was darker than the blackland. He was part of Blooming Grove in life and
remains so in death. "Kildee's" grave is going to be hard for
Texas-baiters to explain away.
Kildee was 79 when he died last Saturday. It wasn't until then
that most people learned he had another name - John Ingram. He had been
Kildee since he was a kid probably because of his scrawny frame. He
stood well over six feet tall, weighted barley 100 pounds.
For 47 years he was a fixture in this little town of 736 people.
He left a dollar-a-week job at Teague hotel in 1914 to come to Blooming
Grove to pick cotton. A year later he went to work in the bank as
custodian. After a few weeks they gave him a key to the bank, something
he was long proud of. Up to his death he still had free run of the bank.
In 1916 he set up a shoe-shine chair in the barber shop. He worked
it until he died. He used to smile that he was on of Blooming Grove's
oldest business institutions.
He loved this farm community, and it took him to its collective
heart. Kildee was a good Methodist Stewart, a PTA enthusiast, a lodge
Three years ago he ambled into the funeral parlor of Dit
McCormick, a lanky ex-county judge and ex-Navy officer. Kildee wanted to
make arrangements for his funeral, when the time came. Some how it never
occurred to Kildee or his friend Dit there was any race issue involved.
It was just two good friends.
It stayed that way, after Kildee left a doctor's office in
Corsicana entered the car he was riding in, and slumped over dead.
They laid him out in McCormick's parlor. More than half the town,
which is largely white, came by to pay their respects. They held the
funeral in Kildee's square, whitewashed Methodist church.
The funeral things were said by two men, the Rev. Z. V. Jones,
Kildee's pastor, and Mayor Sam Carroll, his friend. The casket was
carried by three Negroes and three whites. Kildee was buried in the
newest part of the white cemetery. Two prominent citizens are arranging
for a curbing around his grave and a monument.
Wasn't there a peep of protest to all of this ?
Says McCormick, "Not a word. The only fear was that Kildee might
not be buried in our cemetery."
Blooming Grove, somewhat surprised at the attention Kildee's
burial brought on, is not saying so but it should be pointed out that
all this occurred without any soldiers, marshals, or lawyers.
Rose Hill Cemetery
Marker Photo by Dana Stubbs
- Dallas Morning News
- The cemetery referred to in this article is the
Rose Hill Cemetery,
Blooming Grove, Navarro Co., TX
- Submitted by
Diane Richards, Rose Hill Cemetery Association
- Note, the article says his name was John Ingram, the marker
has Floyd Kildee Ingram. No one we talked to in Blooming Grove up to
this point knows him as anything but "Kildee".
Blooming Grove's undertaker, Ditt McCormick, at the grave
of his friend, Kildee ... a big reaction to a burial in a small
ONE EYEBROW RAISED
Blooming Grove Hailed After Burial of Kildee
By Thomas Turner, Central Texas, Bureau of the News
BLOOMING GROVE, Texas - To the residents of this
Navarro County town, Kildee's burial just goes to show you can't
The people involved in seeing that Kildee, a Negro,
broke local precedent by being buried in the white folks' cemetery
expected (1) some kind of local reaction, not all happy, but (2) little,
if any, outside interest.
Instead Kildee's final resting place (1) raised only
one eyebrow in Blooming Grove, but (2) created quite a stir among
Kildee was the thin 79-year-old negro who came to
Blooming Grove 47 years ago to pick cotton, but wound up one of the
town's favorite citizens. As a bank custodian (none of his friends ever
though of him as a mere janitor) and the operator of the shine stand in
the barber shop of Buster Warren and Loyd Simpson, he was undisputedly
the towns best known figure.
His funeral was handled by his friend Ditt McCormick,
and all the town joined in. Mayor Sam Carroll aided by the Rev. Z. V.
Jones in the funeral eulogy, and Kildee's casket was carried gently by
three white and three Negroes.
After The Dallas News related the story, the post
office and phones and highways at Blooming Grove became busy, and have
The verdeict has been almost unanimous-Blooming Grove
has demonstrated that brotherhood can be more than an orator's gimmick.
From Dallas the NAACP wrote Mayor Carroll a logical,
restrained, 2-page letter of respect - the kind both sides need more of.
At least 20 former residents of Blooming Grove mailed
copies of the story back home, and most of them said it made them proud
of their old home town.
Almost daily some motorist has stopped off to see
this little town that made some history with out intending it that way.
The letters to undertaker McCormick, a well known
ex-county judge, have been a revelation t him.
From Holt, Ala., amid a racially troubled state, and
old-line white family wrote Dit, "We're glad that Blooming Grove was so
good to Kildee."
Said an Austin writer, "The world just can't go sour
as long as such thoughts are in the minds and hearts of a community."
There have been numerous phone calls too to the white
people mentioned in connection with the event.
The spotlight on Kildee's new grave evoked no protest
from the white people who own cemetery lots in the Rose Hill section
where he was laid. Warren, Simpson and Drew Gillen head up an unofficial
but firm committee which is securing a suitable monument and concrete
coping around Kildee.
Gillen is a longtime Democrat part wheelhorse for his
county, member of a pioneer family whose cemetery lot is 30 feet from
Kildee's burial was no isolated one-shot act in
Blooming Grove. The R. W. George estate, which donated the land for an
addition to the cemetery's Rose Hill section, has come forward with an
offer to give another sizable tract adjoining the first one - to be used
by other Negro citizens.
It would not be factual to say that not a dissenting
voice has been raised during all this.
One white man did stop Bro Jones, Kildee's Methodist
pastor, and inquire if the preacher really believe there will be Negroes
When Bro. Jones said solemnly he did, the man said
that in that case he wouldn't be interested in going there.
Bro. Jones then said equally solemnly, "Well, sir,
there'll be a bunch of Negro people in the other place, too."
- Dallas Morning News - Sunday, June 4, 1961 - Section 1-25