Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said Thursday his office is aggressively on the lookout for the vandals who did more than $120,000 of damage to headstones in the historic Goshen Cemetery near Eustace.
“Our team is actively investigating and interviewing people and I will be asking Crime Stoppers to offer a reward for the arrest of these suspects,” Hillhouse said.
At around 8 p.m. Wednesday, Deputy Jimmy Spurger met with two cemetery board members who alerted Hillhouse’s office to the damage.
A total of 35 headstones with $122,500 in destruction were photographed.
Hillhouse said the perpetrators face felony criminal mischief charges for the crime.
“I don’t intend to let this stand,” Hillhouse said. “For the sake of the families with kinfolk buried there, I want these criminals caught and prosecuted,” he said.
The historic site remains the last physical evidence of the once-thriving town of Goshen.
This community was established after the Civil War.
Named for the biblical "Land of Milk and Honey," the town of Goshen served the rural farms and communities as a marketing center, and it was a rest stop for trail drivers herding cattle on the Chisholm Trail from East Texas.
Goshen existed through the latter part of the 19th century. But merchants moved their businesses to nearby Eustace when the railroad made a stop there.
Local legend is the cemetery was founded when a nomadic cowboy became sick and died while working on a nearby ranch. A large grave and stone fence mark the burial place of the cowboy.
Many of the 450 graves are unmarked. The first documented burial is that of Benjamin G. Hooker in 1869. Among the marked graves are burials for several infants and children, pioneer settlers and their descendants, and veterans of America's various wars.