Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathleen Maca.
Kathleen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always been interested in historic places and stories about people but wasn’t really into the dry “schoolbook” sort of history that involved memorizing names and dates.
When I was young, y sister and I visited our grandparents every year. At least once during those visits, we would make the round of the country cemeteries visiting family member graves to decorate and tidy them up. My grandfather could walk from stone to stone and tell stories about almost every person…real people, not famous… but just as interesting. The man who ran the livery stable, the woman who made the best biscuits in town, the Indian Scout.
So I learned very early that grave markers were so much more than just names and dates – they had entire stories behind them. That’s how I came to love cemeteries and want to document them and those that rested there. I guess it was just a normal extension to become interested in historic places – the homes they lived in, the buildings where they worked, where they vacationed or places of amusement. Even the unusual finds in antique stores, objects no longer in use and not identifiable by newer generations, are part of these stories.
Even when I look at old photos with crowds of people, I know that every one of those people had a story I would love to know about. Those are the stories I try to share. People that many may have never heard about, with stories that are usually far more interesting (and often a stranger) than fiction.
Has it been a smooth road?
There are two things that usually happen when people ask me what I do:
-First: I tell them I’m a writer and see a glimmer of interest in their eyes.
-Second: they ask what type of things I write about, and I respond with either “non-fiction” or… shudder… “history.”
Then the awkward silence or polite “Oh, how nice” happens. People associate history with those school books and memorization. But if we have a chance to engage further, I can usually tell fairly quickly something about the past that would interest them. The change in their attitude to the topic is what really makes me happy.
Anyone who reads fiction or watches movies or TV could find something in the past that would intrigue them if they are given the opportunity to find it.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Author, Kathleen Maca story. Tell us more about the business.
I try to specialize in finding the often hidden stories of local history and sharing them with others. These might be stories about people and their lives, or something extraordinary that happened to them; or about places we pass every day without knowing what may have happened within their walls 100 years ago.
I also work with cemetery preservation, care and documentation. This has been a great love of mine, and I recently completed a training with the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training specifically geared to this, including working in Houston’s historic Olivewood Cemetery. I’m also what’s known as a “tombstone tourist” – someone who visits cemeteries wherever they travel or makes special trips to visit cemeteries. I enjoy exploring the art and history of these sites and charing them when I can.
My main cemetery focus is Galveston’s Historic Broadway Cemetery District, though. I even give tours there and can gear them toward Civil War buffs, history lovers, art lovers, and more. People can contact me through my website or social media if they want to schedule a cemetery tour or speaking engagement.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I am currently working on a history of the fabulous Hotel Galvez in Galveston. Once that is finished, I have two more historic cemetery books in the working stage. I will be putting a lot of time into a couple of other local interest projects that haven’t been announced yet, as well, but I’m quite excited about beginning.
I’m also focusing on expanding my Galveston Cemeteries tours, and speaking engagements to local groups on a variety of topics, including beginning genealogy, cemetery preservation, gathering family stories, local history topics, and Victorian customs.
- “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries” book from Arcadia Publishing, $22
- “Ghosts of Galveston” book from The History Press, $20
- Tours of Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries, $20
- Website: www.kathleenmaca.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @kathleen_maca
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaca/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorMaca
Rosa Morgan, Carlyn Hammons, Texas Historical Commission