Heritage, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 1996 Page: 7
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E ugene Viollet-le-Duc, noted French architect
and historic preservation theorist from the 19th
century, stated, "Of all monuments, tombs are those
that present perhaps the broadest subject for the study of
the archaeologist, historian, artist, even philosopher.
Civilizations, at every step of the ladder, have manifested
the nature of their beliefs in another life by the
way in which they have treated the dead." The Texas
State Cemetery in Austin is a good example of how we
present the final resting place for many of Texas' greatest
military leaders, pioneers, governmental officials,
educators, and literary figures who have contributed
significantly to the growth and history of Texas.
In 1994, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock visited
the cemetery and saw the site as a unique and invaluable
tool for teaching Texas history. The cemetery had
suffered from minimum state funding for many years,
however, so he asked that a master plan be developed to
restore and enhance the cemetery as a museum of Texas
history. With the completion of this document, through
a cooperative effort that included several agencies, state
funding was secured along with an federal Intermodal
Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) grant,
and restoration of the cemetery began early this year.
The State Cemetery is located four blocks east of
Interstate Highway 35, accessible from either East Seventh
or East Eleventh streets. It is prominently situated
on 18 gently rolling acres covered with large oaks and
pecans. Most Texans have heard of the State Cemetery
but many are not sure where it is located or they confuse
it with the more visible Oakwood Cemetery ("City
burying grounds") located north of the State Cemetery.
The Texas State Cemetery was established on December
26,1851, following the death of General Edward
Burleson, the celebrated hero of 30 military battles. A
committee of ten senators was appointed to make the
arrangements for the burial. The initial location for the
burial was Oakwood Cemetery but apparently an unrecorded
motion by Senator Thomas Hinds Duggan of
Guadalupe County directed the committee to select a
"State burying grounds". General Burleson was buried
in what is now called the Texas State Cemetery on
December 28, 1851. The State Legislature then passed
a joint resolution to move the remains of the late
Stephen F. Austin for interment in the State Cemetery
in the City of Austin. The state was unsuccessful in
obtaining permission from Austin's family, however,
and the idea was dropped until 1910 when his remains
were at last moved to his namesake city from Peach
Point Plantation in Brazoria County. A dramatic and
heroic monument and statue marked the new burial site,
and the original headstone remained in the family
The land where General Burleson was buried was not
officially acquired by the state until 1854 and only seven
more individuals were interred in the cemetery by May
of 1864. At this time, newspapers and individuals
reported that the State Cemetery was in deplorable
Above: This site plan indicates the major new elements at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin,
including restoration and new construction projects. Sketch provided by the Texas Historical
Commission. Page six: In this circa 1902 photograph of the state cemetery, sculptor Elisabet
Ney stands near the General Albert Sidney Johnston monument. (Photo courtesy of the
Elisabet Ney Museum, Austin.)
HERITAGE * SPRING 1996 7
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 1996, periodical, Spring 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45406/m1/7/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.