Olivewood Cemetery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Headstones at Olivewood

Olivewood Cemetery, in Houston, Texas, lies near a bend in White Oak Bayou, along the rail line to Chaney Junction, where the First and Sixth wards meet just northwest of downtown. The 6-acre (24,000 m2) cemetery is an historic resting place for many freed slaves and some of Houston’s earliest black residents.

History[edit]

In 1875, the land, which had previously been used for slave burials, was purchased by Richard Brock, Houston's first black alderman. It opened as a cemetery for black Methodists in 1877.[1] When Olivewood was platted, it was the first African-Americans burial ground within the Houston city limits.[2]

Many 19th century influential African-Americans were buried in the cemetery, including Reverend Elias Dibble, first minister of Trinity United Methodist Church; Reverend Wade H. Logan, also a minister of the church; and James Kyle, a blacksmith; as well as Richard Brock.[3]

The cemetery includes more than 700 family plots around a graceful, elliptical drive that originated at an ornate entry gate. It contains graves of both the well-to-do and those who died in poverty; therefore, the grave markers run the gamut from elaborate Victorian monuments to simple, handmade headstones. Burials at Olivewood Cemetery continued through the 1960s.[4]

Olivewood Cemetery sign

In 2003, after decades of neglect and abandonment, the "Descendants of Olivewood," a nonprofit organization, was established to take guardianship of the cemetery, "to provide care and to protect its historical significance."[2]

Olivewood was designated an Historic Texas Cemetery. By 2010 water and vandals threatened to damage graves in a portion of the cemetery.[5]

By 2013, a digital database for the cemetery has been created (many memorials created through using the death certificates found at www.familysearch.org) consisting mostly of the years 1910-1940 and can be found at www.findagrave.com (link listed below). This database has about 3,800 memorials and can be searched by using first and or last names.

Hauntings[edit]

Over the years, there have been numerous reports of mysterious after-dark sightings and strange movements within the graveyard.[2]

Cathi Bunn, a paranormal investigator, began exploring Olivewood in 1999. One moonlit midnight, Bunn said she videotaped the ghost of Mary White, who was buried in 1888, hovering above her headstone.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aulbach, L.F. "Ghosts of Houston's Past Haunt the Cemeteries on Buffalo Bayou". Buffalo Bayou - An Echo of Houston's Wilderness Beginnings (2001). Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  2. ^ a b c Perry, J. "Grave undertaking: efforts to preserve earliest black cemetery". Houston Heritage, City Savvy (Online Ed. 2005). Archived from the original on 2007-04-15. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  3. ^ "Black Cemetery Preservation/Tombstone Transcription". Projects, Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. (AAHGS - H-Town, 2003-2004). Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  4. ^ "Preservation Update". Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. Archived from the original on 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  5. ^ Gonzalez, J.R. "Help needed to rescue threatened graves near downtown." Houston Chronicle. May 17, 2010. Retrieved on May 17, 2010.
  6. ^ "Historic and Haunted Olivewood Cemetery". Cemeteries, The Ghastly Ghost Hunter. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°46′26″N 95°23′31″W / 29.774°N 95.392°W / 29.774; -95.392