Sunday, August 21, 2016

Texas State Cemetery

On Monday, June 6, I was due to arrive at mid-afternoon at the offices of the Texas State Historical Association to "livestream" a "webinar" about the Alamo and San Jacinto. I drove into Austin early so that I could tour the Texas State Cemetery. I had not visited this historic burial ground in a great many years, and I realized that I was long overdue for an update. 

The 9-11 Monument features a twisted piece of the tower

The Texas State Cemetery experienced its origin in 1851, when Gen. Edward Burleson - veteran of San Jacinto and Vice President of the Texas Republic - died and was buried in an isolated plot just east of Austin. Three years later the Texas Legislature marked Burleson's grave with a handsome monument and began to purchase surrounding land for a cemetery. During the Civil War Confederate officers were buried near General Burleson. Indeed, nine Confederate generals are interred in the Texas State Cemetery: General Albert Sidney Johnston and Major General John Wharton have the most striking monuments. Because the Texas Confederate Men's Home and the Confederate Women's Home were located in Austin, more than 2,000 Confederate veterans and widows are buried at the Cemetery.

During the Texas Centennial in 1936, numerous Texas patriots were reinterred in the Cemetery. Today the Texas State Cemetery encompasses 22 hilly acres. The short paved roads though the Cemetery are designated State Highway 165 (the shortest State Highway in Texas). But when I first saw the facility it was unkempt and overgrown. In the 1990s Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock was appalled at the condition of the Cemetery, and he commenced a renovation beginning in 1994, climaxed by a formal rededication and reopening in 1997.
Close to 900 notable Texans rest on the scenic hill that comprises the southwest corner of the Cemetery. The monument for Stephen F. Austin appropriately towers above everything. Other Texas patriots include Big Foot Wallace and 15 signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. 

I was born and raised in Corsicana, where a large statue of Texas patriot Jose Antonio Navarro is in front of the Navarro County Courthouse. So I was compelled to stand beside his monument at the Texas State Cemetery!


 Gifted chroniclers of Texas are present, including J. Frank Dobie, Walter P. Webb, T. R. Fehrenbach, Tom Lea, Larry L. King, and Fred Gipson of Old Yeller fame. 

There are 13 Texas governors, along with 16 Texas Rangers and Navy Seal Chris Kyle.


The striking monument to Gen. A. S. Johnston 

Championship football coaches Tom Landry and Darrell Royal rest beneath eye-catching monuments.

The Texas State Cemetery is a 22-acre Who's Who of the Lone Star past, and it is not to be missed.  For more information see

1 comment:

  1. One of my Confederate Ancestors is buried there (Joseph T. Bell). He died in the Confederate Veterans home. I did go visit his grave many years ago.