A cemetery full of history
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of US 29 and Wolf Ranch, Citizens Memorial Garden is a small, peaceful cemetery. It was predominantly an African-American cemetery in the early 1900s, and some of the earliest graves are believed to belong to former slaves.
“This cemetery was important to the city in the early 1900s,” says Kimberly Garrett, Georgetown Parks and Recreation director. “We do not have a lot of information [about it] because it was not documented.” Because of the lack of documentation, many of those interred in Citizens Memorial Garden have names and stories we may never know.
Headstones sparsely dot the 6.8 acres. The perimeters of a few family plots are framed with fences or rocks, but many descendants of those buried in the Citizens Memorial Garden do not know the location of their loved ones’ graves. The cemetery has 306 marked graves, but this past year, the City of Georgetown hired surveyors from Horizon Environmental Services in Austin. The surveyors discovered an additional 511 unmarked graves.
A $7,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission, matched with funds from the City of Georgetown, paid for the survey and for an interpretive sign erected at the cemetery. The sign provides historical information about Citizens Memorial Garden and a map of the cemetery, denoting numbered plots and the names of those buried in identified graves. The unmarked graves are also listed.
“Cemeteries have a lot of history in general, and anytime you can preserve a part of history, you should,” Kimberly says. “The least we could do is to identify the people buried there in hopes that family members might one day be able to find their ancestors.”
Hunting Down Historic Cemeteries
Williamson County is dotted with dozens of historic cemeteries—plots associated with long-vanished communities, abandoned family burial grounds, the lone graves of people whose names time has erased. You can find a map of such sites and an ongoing database listing names, location descriptions, and GPS coordinates at the Williamson County Historical Commission website. The Williamson County Digital History Project at the site includes an index of names, statistics, a timeline, and links to some photographs of gravestones. The site also contains several interesting articles about finding and restoring cemeteries and about tombstone history.
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