Postcard from the Texas State Cemetery

A cemetery is a history of people - a perpetual record of yesterday and sanctuary of peace and quiet today. A cemetery exists because every life is worth living and remembering. - William Gladstone

Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you have. - Benjamin Franklin

Entrance to the cemetery and Visitor Center
If you want to take a walk among the figures who shaped Texas, take a stroll through the Texas State Cemetery, located in Austin about one mile east of the State Capital between 7th and 11th Streets. It is there where many of the shakers and movers and honored Texans lie peacefully at rest.

In 1851, General Edward Burleson, a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto and former vice president of the Republic of Texas, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 53 after contracting pneumonia.  At the time of his death, he was serving as senator for the 21st district. The Texas Legislature convened to plan a state funeral for him. Senator Andrew Jackson Hamilton donated the land and General Burleson became the first person buried in what became the State Cemetery.

Unfortunately, very little money was allocated for upkeep. In 1874, a newspaper reporter  wrote that the cemetery was poorly maintained and was a "bleak and rocky hillside bordered by a dilapidated picket fence with no tree or bush in sight." A rather feeble effort was made to upgrade the grounds, but little was actually accomplished. 120 years later in the early 1990's, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock attended a funeral at the cemetery, found it to be disgraceful and immediately spearheaded a drive for funds for major improvements.

The State Government and citizens of Texas rallied to the cause and a 3-year, $4.7 million restoration and renovation project was begun. New grass was planted and carefully tendered to replace the sparse grasses and weeds, Texas roses and other flowering greenery were planted to beautify the landscape, a new water pond and fountain were built, new sidewalks were added, funereal statuary was cleaned and repaired, including over 2,150 marble headstones of Confederate veterans. Also built was a new limestone visitor center which was designed to resemble the long barracks at the Alamo. The center included a Texas history gallery and an administration building. New walls were erected around the grounds, including columbarium walls made of granite along the northern border.

Today, the grounds are immaculate, the walkways clear, the headstones well maintained, and the staff friendly, helpful, and respectful. Every grave here tells a story - from Civil War heroes to Texas-born Medal of Honor winners in WWII, Vietnam and later conflicts; from Sam Houston, the father of Texas, to historical old-west period Texas Rangers to Darrell Royal, the hallowed coach of the University of Texas Longhorns to one of the most recent burials, U.S. Navy Seal Kris Kyle whose headstone reads, "It is our duty to serve those who serve us." A walk through these grounds provides a true history lesson of the people who made Texas "Texas."

Albert Sidney Johnston - general in the Texas Army and later
served as a general in the Confederate Army. Killed  while
 leading his forces during the battle of Shiloh in 1862.

Over 2,000 graves contain the remains of men who served
in the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Served in the Texas Army and fought in the Battle of
San Jacinto, the battle which enabled Texas to become
a nation. He carried the only Texas flag during the
battle and was the first to see the fleeing Mexican
General Santa Anna and helped capture him.

Grave of Stephen F. Austin, the
father of Texas
Grave of "Bigfoot" Wallace, famous
soldier, Texas Ranger, survivor of many
battles with Mexicans, Indians, and out-
laws and teller of tall tales. Popular folk
hero who died in 1899, it was said of him,
"Without directing many of the events which
shaped Texas history, he was there when they
happened and did not hesitate to tell the tales."
Monument Hill and the graves of Medal of Honor winners,
most of whom gave their lives in the service of America.

Native Texan who was the author of numerous highly
acclaimed books. Most famous as the author of
 "Old Yeller."
Vietnam Memorial dedicated to
Texans who served in that conflict.
Moving and solemn 9/11 memorial with two steel beams
from the World Trade Center towers. 
Looking toward the Texas State Capital from Monument Hill
within the cemetery.