Marker at Cemetery Records Black History

Feb 12, 2015

entry sign 1-1000Across the highway from the largest shopping center in Georgetown and tucked behind two new restaurants is a cemetery that is older than the Williamson County Courthouse. Established in 1906, the Citizen’s Memorial Garden Cemetery on Memorial Drive is the final resting place for generations of African American residents of Georgetown. (Click on photos for larger versions.)

Early burials at the cemetery were likely those of former slaves. In addition to African American residents, a section on the western edge of the cemetery contains plots for residents who were Hispanic.

The seven-acre cemetery seems to be mostly empty with 306 headstones or markers scattered throughout a fenced field. However, a 2013 study revealed the locations of at least 511 unmarked graves at the cemetery.

cemetery marker sign 1000Surveyors with Horizon Environmental Services from Austin identified the unmarked graves as depressions in the ground surface or as small earthen mounds. Many more unmarked graves are likely at the cemetery, according to the study.

Graves that are unmarked may once have had metal plaques provided by funeral homes which have since deteriorated or were removed. Other unmarked graves could have once been indicated with stones or concrete markers that were not inscribed, or on which lettering has weathered away.

The survey of the Citizen’s Memorial Garden Cemetery and an interpretive sign were funded by a $7,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission and a $7,000 match from the City of Georgetown. The interpretive sign provides historical information about the cemetery and also shows the numbered plots of all marked graves with a listing of names of those identified graves. In addition, white squares on map of the cemetery show the locations of unmarked graves.

marker group 1b-1000

Pictured in the photo (left to right) are Kimberly Garrett, Laurie Brewer, Dorris Ross, Mary Faulkner, Paulette Taylor, Matt Synatschk, Beatrice Miller, Gertrude Saterfield, and Birdie Shanklin. Ross, Faulkner, Taylor, Miller, Saterfield, and Shanklin each have relatives buried at the cemetery. Garrett is director of parks and recreation for the City, Brewer is assistant city manager, and Synatschk is historic planner for the City.

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