A few people deserve special acknowledgment for their financial and aesthetic contributions to this memorial. Blewett Thomas, who one author described in 1999 as a “heavyset” thirty-something-year-old attorney and road agent for Williams, contributed over half of the costs of the marker, and Malaco Records also made a contribution. California music journalist Dan Forte, in addition, organized a spectacular benefit concert–featuring a collective of Austin musicians–at Clifford Antone’s nightclub in Austin, Texas.
“We were soon off the hard road. It had been raining much of the day, and the road had turned into a waxy gumbo that stuck to the sides of the car and clogged the wheel wells. My guide’s car fishtailed as he struggled to keep the vehicles ahead of him in sight. Like me, he was an outsider and unused to speeding down these dirt roads in the rain. At one point we lost the lead cars, ended up on a narrow side road that just petered out, and had to drive in reverse for a quarter of a mile to get back out. This was the poorest part of the county. Far from everything, even a paved road, scattered families lived in shacks surrounded by their chickens, hogs, and an occasional cow. Wide-eyed children in tattered clothes watched as we slithered by.”
“It was most certainly a black burial ground. Some of its interments had graves marked just with a single, small, bare stone, while other graves were marked only with a rectangular depression in the earth. In fact, the unmarked grave of Big Joe Williams had been one of them” for almost a dozen years.