Heritage, Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 1993 Page: 16
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~ r aveyards hold valuable information regarding our
past, and as such, are a fascinating and bountiful resource for
genealogists and historians. With the intention of learning more
about the people who were part of the Jewish settlement in this state,
the Texas Jewish Historical Society undertook a project in 1985
designed to locate and document all of the state's old
Six years later, when Don Teter, a retired engineer
from Baytown and a member of the society, took over
as chairman of the Cemetery Committee, about 70
locations had been listed where Jewish burials might
have taken place. Under his leadership, the scope of
the project was expanded to include documentation
of all Jewish burial places in Texas.
Teter began the project by preparing a map of
Texas highlighting the places where there were known
Jewish burials. (A Star of David, Menorah, Hebrew
writing, or other Jewish identification at the grave
site, in addition to information supplied by an acquaintance
of the deceased, were the primary methods
for documenting the Jewish burials.) There were approximately
70 cities and towns to be documented,
and these were placed into 32 groups of one or more
places where TJHS had a member or personal contact
within 75 miles. Forms, explaining the project and
requesting more complete burial information, were
sent to these individuals. The results of the survey
Teter explained, "At this point, I decided that the
project would never proceed to completion unless I
personally visited the sites that we were unable to get
information on." Along with his wife, Teter began to
make "cemetery excursions." Their travels took them
mostly to the eastern part of Texas, where the majority
of Jewish burials are located, though the couple has
gone as far as Lubbock conducting research.
As a result of these trips, it became clear to Teter
that there were three different situations regarding
Jewish burials in Texas. First, he discovered, there are
properties, purchased or donated and dedicated as
Jewish cemeteries, usually by associations for that
purpose, or by a particular synagogue. Most of these
were originated by burial associations that date back
to the 19th century, and in some places, these burial
organizations were founded prior to the establishment
of a synagogue.
Secondly, there are areas in public or private cemeteries
that have been designated as Jewish cemeteries
some time after the establishment of the original
cemetery. In a few instances, Jewish cemeteries came
first and were then surrounded by larger non-Jewish
cemeteries, so that today they seem to be part of a large nonsectarian
Last, said Teter, there are Jewish people buried in non-Jewish
cemeteries without regard to religious affiliation. These internments
are usually found in smaller towns where there are no Jewish
cemeteries and where the deceased preferred to be buried alongside
those with whom they had lived and worked.
16 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1993
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 1993, periodical, Summer 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45416/m1/16/: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.