Discover the historic cemeteries of Fort Worth
Published on September 09, 2022
Cemeteries are among the most valuable historic resources. They are reminders of various settlement patterns, such as villages, rural communities and urban centers. Cemeteries can reveal information about historic events, religions, lifestyles and genealogy.
Names on grave markers serve as a directory of early residents and reflect the ethnic diversity and unique population of an area. Established in large part for the benefit of the living, cemeteries perpetuate the memories of the deceased, giving a place character and definition, according to the Texas Historical Commission.
In Fort Worth, there are 34 historic cemeteries within city limits, all of which are privately owned. The oldest cemetery in Fort Worth is Pioneers Rest Cemetery, established in 1850, shortly after Fort Worth was founded in 1840. Most of the historic cemeteries in Fort Worth are located within Loop 820.
Protecting historic cemeteries
Historic cemeteries are often threatened by development, particularly in urban areas. Natural forces such as weathering and uncontrolled vegetation, lack of fences to keep people and animals from toppling headstones, and vandalism and theft, including removal of headstones and objects, are all common threats to historic cemeteries. Ongoing maintenance of historic cemeteries on a cyclical basis is vital to their longevity and perpetuation for use by future generations.
Luckily, there are ways to protect historic cemeteries through historic designation. All cemeteries over 50 years old are eligible for local City historic designation. Some cemeteries in Fort Worth have a local historic designation, such as Lake Como Cemetery, which is designated as a Historic and Cultural Landmark. Other cemeteries are listed in the National Register of Historic Places due to their national significance, such as Pioneers Rest Cemetery.
Texas Historical Commission grants are also available to assist with maintenance, rehabilitation and preservation of historic cemeteries. The THC awards matching grant funds from the Texas Preservation Trust Fund for acquisition, survey, restoration, preservation, planning and heritage education activities leading to the preservation of historic properties.
Also, since the City of Fort Worth is a Certified Local Government within the Texas Historical Commission’s CLG program, historic cemeteries are eligible for matching CLG grant funds each year. One recent example of a CLG grant was given to a historic cemetery in 2019 in Neuces County. Nueces County and the Friends of Old Bayview Cemetery Association partnered with a preservation consultant to complete a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Old Bayview Cemetery. Listing in the National Register of Historic Places brings awareness to historic cemeteries, and also makes them eligible for other preservation grant opportunities.
To learn how to protect and maintain a historic cemetery or for information on the City’s Preservation Program, contact Historic Preservation Officer Justin Newhart in the Development Services Department at 817-392-8037.
Photo: A map showing historic cemeteries throughout Fort Worth.
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