Heritage, Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 1993 Page: 17
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According to Teter, one of the most
time-consuming tasks during his research
was obtaining a census of the burials in a
cemetery, particularly the larger ones. In
some instances, Teter completed the census
by walking a particular site and recording
the gravestone data. Listings by genealogical
and historical societies showing all
county cemeteries have aided Teter in his
At current count, Teter has visited 73
cemeteries in 46 cities throughout the
state. Following, in his own words, are a
few of Teter's important "re-discoveries."
* The Jewish Cemetery in Gonzales
There is a Jewish cemetery in Gonzales,
located in town, close to several other
cemeteries. When making an inquiry about
it for the project, a former resident of
Gonzales who still takes responsibility for
the cemetery's upkeep, mentioned "the
other Jewish cemetery in Gonzales." He
gave me a general description of its location
and the name of a Gonzales resident
who might be helpful. It turned out that
this was the man whose family owned the
ranch on which the cemetery was located.
The rancher said that the cemetery had
been there, but that he was unsure if anything
remained today. He drew a map and
directed me to the site, indicating that it
was near an oil well. I hiked in that direction,
and to my delight and surprise,
there among the weeds, cattle, and oil
well, I "discovered" the Old Gonzales
There are 15 burials there, dating from
1861 to 1901. The black wrought-iron
fence with the words "Jewish Cemetery"
on the gate had been trampled in some
places, presumably by the cattle feeding
on the grass. The weeds were high, but
most of the markers were standing and still
As a result of this "discovery" and a
story in the TJHS newsletter, a group of
sixth-grade students of a Jewish day school
in Dallas spent four hours renovating the
cemetery. The school plans to make this
an annual educational project. A man
who lived all his life in a city 30 miles away
also visited the cemetery for the first time
and found his great-grandmother's grave.
The marker was broken, and he planned
to have it restored.
I was aware of a few Jewish burials in the
large city cemetery, but in talking with a
After numerous inquiries and a several-mile hike, Don Teter discovered among the weeds and cattle, the Old
Gonzales Jewish Cemetery, with burials dating back to 1861, pictured above. Students of a Jewish day school
in Dallas are making the renovation of this site an annual educational project. Photograph by Don Teter.
"The rancher said that the cemetery had been there, but that he
was unsure if anything remained today. H-e drew a map and
directed me to the site...I hiked in that direction, and to my
delight andsurprise, there among the weeds, cattle, and oif
well, I 'discovered the Old qonzales Jewish Cemetery."
descendent of one of the families interred
there, mention was made of the "old Jewish
cemetery down by the river." She was
unsure whether it still existed. The
LaGrange Hebrew Benevolent Society in
1868 had purchased a four-acre tract for
$115. Between that time and 1933, there
were 21 burials in the smaller area designated
as the cemetery.
In 1957, the land was deeded to a man
with the proviso that he maintain the
cemetery in a decent manner and allow
access to it for friends and relatives of the
departed. He failed to do much upkeep, but
when he divided the tract for residential
purposes, the access provision was included.
The present owner has performed a modest
amount of upkeep; recently, through the
efforts of the one Jewish family residing in
LaGrange, youth groups from temples in
Houston and Austin met there one Sunday
and spent several hours renovating
the grounds and markers.
In a visit to the non-Jewish Fairview
Cemetery, I found about nine scattered
Jewish burials. The maintenance supervisor
informed me that there were Jewish
graves in the city's Oakwood Cemetery,
which he said was originally a Jewish
cemetery. We found about 18 identifiable
markers there dating back to 1878, and
there were a few that had fallen and could
not be read. No one had mentioned this
cemetery, and a local Jewish resident I
HERITAGE * SUMMER 1993 17
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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/m1/17/: accessed February 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.