Texas State Cemetery
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Texas State Cemetery
Texas State Cemetery entrance
|Location||901 Navasota Street
Austin, Texas, U.S.
|MPS||East Austin MRA|
|NRHP Reference #||86001085|
|Added to NRHP||May 12, 1986|
The Texas State Cemetery (TSC) is a cemetery located on about 22 acres (8.9 ha) just east of Downtown Austin, the capital of the U.S. state of Texas. Originally the burial place of Edward Burleson, Texas Revolutionary general and Vice-President of the Republic of Texas, it was expanded into a Confederate cemetery during the Civil War. Later it was expanded again to include the graves and cenotaphs of prominent Texans and their spouses.
The cemetery is divided into two sections. The smaller one contains around 900 graves of prominent Texans, while the larger has over 2,000 marked graves of Confederate veterans and widows. There is room for 7,500 interments; the cemetery is about half full, after including plots chosen by people who are eligible for burial.
The guidelines on who may be buried within the Texas State Cemetery were first established in 1953, and are currently set by Texas state law. Currently, all persons to be buried in the cemetery must be one of the following:
- A former member of the legislature or a member who dies in office.
- A former elected state official or an official who dies in office.
- State official appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature who served at least 10 years in the office. After September 1, 2015, this criterion may be used only upon approval of the State Cemetery Committee if it finds the official made a significant contribution to Texas history.
- Individual designated by governor’s proclamation, concurrent resolution of the Legislature, or order of the State Cemetery Committee; but only after approval of the committee if it finds the individual made a significant contribution to Texas history. The statute as written permits the committee to deny burial under this criterion even if requested by the governor or Legislature.
- The spouse of anyone meeting the above criteria.
- The child of an eligible member, but only if he or she was dependent on another due to a long-standing physical or mental condition during the lifetime of one of the child's parents.
After the death of Edward Burleson in 1851, the Texas Legislature arranged for his burial on land formerly belonging to Andrew Jackson Hamilton. In 1854, the Legislature established a monument at Burleson's grave-site for $1,000 and purchased the surrounding land. The burial ground was virtually ignored until the Civil War, when Texas Confederate officers killed in battle were buried there. In 1864 and 1866 more land was purchased for veterans' burials. An area of 1-acre (4,000 m2) was also set aside for graves of Union veterans (all but one later removed, to Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio). The remaining Union soldier is Antonio Briones, who was left at the request of his family. He is interred alone in the far northwest corner of the cemetery.
Because the Texas Confederate Men's Home and the Confederate Women's Home were located in Austin, more than two thousand Confederate veterans and widows are interred at the State Cemetery. Most were buried after 1889. The last Confederate veterans in the Cemetery were reinterred in 1944; the last widow, in 1963.
In 1932, the State Cemetery was little known and had no roads. There was a dirt road running through the grounds of the Cemetery linked to what was then called Onion Creek Highway. The road kept its highway status when Texas historian Louis Kemp brought it to the attention of the Texas Highway Department that the road running through the Cemetery should be paved. The roads, which are officially designated as State Highway 165, are dedicated to Kemp, and were for a time known as "Lou Kemp Highway". Kemp was also the driving force behind the reinterment of many early Texas figures in time for the Texas Centennial in 1936.
The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, but by the early 1990s, the State Cemetery had fallen into disrepair—suffering from vandalism and decay—and was unsafe to visit. In 1994, after noting the condition of the Cemetery, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock initiated a three-year project that added a visitor center and renovated the cemetery. In 1997, there was a re-dedication and a reopening of the State Cemetery.
A three-person Texas State Cemetery committee oversees operations at the cemetery. Benjamin M. Hanson (appointed by Governor Greg Abbott) is chairman. James L. Bayless (Speaker's appointment) and Carloyn Hodges (appointee of the lieutenant governor) also serve. The cemetery superintendent is Harry Bradley. The senior historian is Will Erwin and the head of the research department is Jason Walker.
As of 2006,[dated info] buried in the Texas State Cemetery are:
- 1 Navy SEAL
- 13 Governors of Texas
- 5 Lieutenant Governors of Texas
- 5 Speakers of the Texas House of Representatives
- 15 Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence
- 3 U.S. Senators
- 6 U.S. Representatives
- 4 First Ladies of Texas
- 5 authors
- 16 Texas Rangers
- 11 Republic of Texas veterans
- 9 Confederate Generals
- 3 Medal of Honor recipients
- 2 American Revolutionary War veterans
- 1 17th-century French sailor (remains discovered in the wreck of La Salle's ship La Belle in 1996)
- First Texas solicitor general
- 1 member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
- In one episode of King of the Hill, Cotton Hill is awarded a plot in the Texas State Cemetery for his heroism during World War II. However, Cotton is never buried in this plot when he passes away in another episode.
Tomb of Albert Sidney Johnston.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Texas State Cemetery.|
- Texas State Cemetery Official site.
- Texas State Cemetery searchable database. One can search by name or by location in the cemetery.
- State Cemetery from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Political Graveyard list of politicians buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
- Where They R.I.P. Site dedicated to finding the burial locations of Texas's elected officials from the Republic Era to Statehood. Includes lists of African-American Legislators, Governors and other elected officials.
- Texas State Cemetery at Find a Grave