Old San Antonio City Cemeteries Historic District
Bordered by N. New Braunfels, E. Crockett, Nevada & Pine Streets
Established 1853 to 1904
103 acres (31 Contiguous Burial Grounds)
Burials: Unknown (Minimum Estimate: 25,000)
Texas Historical Markers
“Rest sweetly, tender heart, in peace.” Lord Alfred Tennyson
Over a 51 year period beginning in 1853, thirty-one cemeteries were established side by side on a hill approximately 1.5 miles east of downtown San Antonio. Of these 6 were constructed under the auspices of the City, 9 by churches and synagogues, 12 by religious and fraternal organizations, 2 by local families, 1 by the U. S. Government and 1 by the United Confederate Veterans. These burial grounds vary in size from .06 to 10.6 acres. Two, Temple Beth El and Agudas Achim, are considered very formal burial gardens and are extremely well cared for. Those remaining vary in appearance from average maintenance to virtual abandonment.
There are many excellent pieces of funereal sculpture, statues, mausoleums, arches, gateposts and tombstones. Visitors will discover obelisks, Woodmen of the World tree trunk markers, vertical monuments (both on the ground and on bases), stones with scrolls, flowers and other funeral symbolism and many more styles.
However, the majority of the monuments range from modest to simple handmade markers. Materials used include marble, limestone, granite, metal (iron or zinc), cement and wood. Most of the 31 cemeteries are laid out with rows of graves running north to south with the tombstones facing east. Burials do still occur but they are rare. It is estimated that over 70% of the interments occurred prior to 1949.
Early Spanish settlers constructed a powder mill on the hill to produce gunpowder for protection from raiding Indians and hunting. The mill was still operating during the War Between the States (1861-5) near the early burial grounds. When the first cemetery was opened in 1853 the area was countryside. As San Antonio expanded east the streets were extended and reached the burying grounds by the early 1900s. Neighborhoods were developed and soon the cemeteries were surrounded by modest homes.
Detailed information on the 31 cemeteries is spotty. We have done the best we can to provide what were able to discover.
Alamo Masonic Cemetery (Estimated Burials: 1,100) – Members of the Ancient Free & Accepted Masons purchased this land in 1854 (some sources say 1853) to bury members of this fraternal organization and others. It is the second oldest of the 31 burial grounds here.
Driscoll, Clara (1881-1945) – Savior of the Alamo – This native Texan was the daughter of wealthy businessman Robert Lee Driscoll. She was educated in the finest schools in America and Europe. Driscoll returned to the San Antonio to find the Alamo about to be destroyed and replaced by a hotel. From 1903-5 she led the fight to save Texas most historic building, putting up her own money to acquire the site. Driscoll was an author, founder of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, founded the Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin and was active in politics. Dying unexpectedly, her body lay in state in the Alamo Chapel. Driscoll donated her fortune to the Driscoll Foundation Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi.
Hummel, Fredericca (1829-1854) – German Immigrant 1847 – Hers is the oldest existing tombstone in the cemetery.
Kampmann, John Herman (1819-1888) – Architect & Builder – Born in Prussia, he learned to be a stonemason and architect’s assistant in Cologne and in towns along the Rhine River. Kampmann immigrated to San Antonio in 1847. Following the War Between the States he opened a furniture factory. Kampmann became one of the city’s leading builders. In 1884 he funded construction of the Lone Star Brewing Company. In retirement Kampmann began raising exotic cattle. Upon his death his fortune was donated to erect a new courthouse for Bexar County.
Sinclair, John Lang (1879-1947) – Song Writer – This Texas native was a member of the Band and Glee Club while attending the University of Texas. In 1903 he, Thomas C. Hall and Lewis Johnson wrote “The Eyes of Texas” in their dorm room (301) in Breckenridge Hall.
Taplin, Charles (? – 1855) – Native of Missouri – He was the first Mason buried in the cemetery.
Teich, Frank (1856-1939) – Sculptor – Born in Germany, he earned a degree from the University of Nuremburg and apprenticed on numerous projects around that country. Teich arrived in America in 1878 and worked on the Cook County Courthouse in Chicago. By 1883 he was living in Texas. Teich was superintendent of granite cutters for the construction of the State Capitol in Austin. He opened his own firm, Teich Monumental Works, in 1901 in Llano. Among his other works in Texas were Confederate statues, Sam Houston Monument (Houston), LaSalle Monument (Navasota) and Shanghai Pierce statue (Blessing). He is remembered as the “father of the Texas granite industry.”
West, Sandra Ilene (1939-1977) – Socialite – She earned cemetery fame for the way she was buried. West, widow of a wealth Texas oilman, made a deal with her brother that if he would bury her in her 1964 powder blue Ferrari 330 America she would leave him $2 million. If he did not he would only receive $10,000. He tried to welch on the deal but lost the court case. So Sandra, dressed in a sexy lace nightgown and the Ferrari are interred in an oversized vault, encased in wood, steel and concrete, nine feet below her modest gravestone.
Witte, Alfred G. (1862-1925) – Businessman – In 1925 a San Antonio schoolteacher, Ellen Schulz, raised $5,000 to purchase a collection of natural history specimens for the city. She convinced the city to invest in a new museum and asked Witte to donate $65,000 more. He agreed if the museum would be located in Breckenridge Park and name the Witte Memorial Museum in honor of his parents. Today it houses this collection plus an anthropology wing as well as Texas and regional historical items.
Beacon Light Masonic Lodge 50 Cemetery (Estimated Burials: Unknown) – Very little information exists on this small cemetery contained within City Cemetery 3. These lodge petitioned the City of San Antonio for cemetery land in 1890. They eventually purchased the land in1902.
Buffalo Soldiers Memorial Park – This Park is located in the Historic Cemetery District. It honors the Black Cavalry and Infantry units that served on the Texas frontier following the War Between the States. These soldiers were given their name by the Plains Indians. After the Indian Wars the Buffalo Soldiers fought in the Spanish American War, Philippine Insurrection and World War II. By 1951 they had been deactivated.
The Park contains a sculpture, Ready and Forward, depicting stacked rifles and sabers by San Antonio sculptors, James Hendricks and Bernice Williams, as well as a white buffalo statue. To the best of our knowledge no soldiers were ever interred here.
City Cemetery #1 (Estimated Burials: 3,800) – Established in 1853, this is the oldest burial ground in San Antonio. Originally it was approximately 20 acres but was later reduced to about 10. A wide variety of markers can be seen here including Woodman of the World tree types, obelisks, scrolls, dais and many others. Cemetery #1 and its neighbor, Alamo Masonic, are the final resting place of many of the City’s earliest and most famous citizens. If you are planning a visit to the Cemetery District and time is an issue, we recommend you spend your time in these two graveyards.
Bosshard, J. H. (1827-1882) – Honest Man – He was born in Zurich, Switzerland. Bosshard’s epitaph reads “An honest man in life, may he rest in peace forever.”
Friedrich, Albert (1864-1928) – Buckhorn Saloon Founder – In 1881 he opened a saloon in downtown San Antonio. Friedrich began offering clients a free drink in exchange for antlers, thus the beginning of the now world famous collection. His father, Wenzel, was a craftsman and began making furniture for the saloon made of horns. Wenzel created a chandelier consisting of more than 4,000 horns for the saloon’s main room. Over the years the bar had a number of famous patrons including Will Rogers, President Teddy Roosevelt and O. Henry. In 1956 the Lone Star Brewery acquired the collection, furniture and famous mirrored bar. Management continued to expand the collection adding the Hall of Horns, Hall of Fins and Hall of Feathers. Over the next few years the collection changed hands many times. In 1997 Albert’s granddaughter, Mary Friedrich Rogers, purchased it and reopened back in downtown. We think granddad would be proud.Frost, Thomas Claiborne (1833-1903) – Lawyer, Merchant & Banker – Born in Alabama, he arrived in Texas in 1854. Frost passed the bar two years later. He joined the Texas Rangers in 1858, was a captain in the Confederate cavalry and owned a general store in San Antonio. Frost went into banking and opened the Frost National Bank in 1899. He served as president until his death.
Gentilz, Theodore (1819-1906) – Artist – He was born in Paris. As a young man Gentilz studied painting, draftsmanship and engineering. In 1844 he came to Texas as a surveyor for Henri Castro, founder of Castroville. He surveyed much of West Texas around El Paso. Gentilz settled in San Antonio in 1852. His attention turned to painting. He focused on Indians, Mexicans, missions, ranchers, villages and street scenes. Many of his works are on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art.Giles, Alfred (1853-1920) – Architect – This Englishman was trained as an architect and came to Texas in 1873. For three years he worked for John H. Kampmann, a well-known San Antonio architect and builder (See Alamo Masonic Cemetery.) Giles opened his own firm in 1876. Over the years he designed residences, mansions, commercial structures and courthouses (Gillespie, Bandera, Wilson and Webb Counties.) In San Antonio’s King William District Giles designed homes for Edward Steves (See Steves) and Friedrich Groos (See Groos). Later in life he became active in ranching.
Groos, Friedrich Wilhelm Carl (1827-1912) – Banker – He was born in the Dukedom of Hesse-Nassau and arrived in Texas in 1848. Groos learned merchandising and opened his own firm in 1854. Twenty years later the business has morphed into bank, Gross National Bank of San Antonio that operated until 1912. He was an alderman for three terms and served as president of the German-English School and the Casino Club.
Guenther, Carl Hilmar (1826-1902) – Miller – Born in Germany, he was the first of eight children to immigrate to America. Guenther arrived in New York in 1848. Later visiting Wisconsin, Mississippi, New Orleans and Indianola, Texas. Finding his way north Guenther opened a gristmill near Fredericksburg and the first flour mill in San Antonio in 1859. He eventually named his company Pioneer Flour Mills and opened an ice plant. Guenther was a founder of the German-American School and the Casino Club, the city’s first social club.
Harris, D. A. “Jack” (1834-1882) – Police Officer – Born in Connecticut, he ran away to sea at age twelve. By 22 he was fighting with the Nicaragua Expedition. Harris luck turned bad and he was standing before an enemy firing squad before being rescued by his commander, William Walker. He escaped to Texas and joined the San Antonio Police Department in 1860. He opened Jack Harris Bar and Billiard Room in 1872, changing the name to Jack Harris Vaudeville Theater and Saloon in 1875, thus coining the word meaning variety theater. On July 11, 1882 Harris met his Maker when a City of Austin Marshall, Ben Thompson, killed Harris in a gun fight in the Saloon over a gambling debt. The next day 47 carriages wound their way out to Cemetery #1 for his burial. Harris epitaph reads “A single man.”
Maverick, Samuel Augustus (1803-1870) – Land Baron – He was born in South Carolina, educated at Yale University and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. In the early 1830s Maverick lived in Georgia and Alabama before moving to Texas in 1835. He arrived in San Antonio during the Siege of Bexar and was placed under arrest by the Mexican Government. Freed, Maverick went to Washington-on-the-Brazos where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. He was forced to return to Alabama following the Convention to handle some family business. In 1838 Maverick came back to San Antonio where he was elected mayor in 1839. Later he served in the Congress of the Republic of Texas. Maverick began buying large tracts of land in West Texas where he eventually controlled over 300,000 acres. In 1847 he purchased a herd of cattle on Matagorda Island. They were not branded and allowed to wonder the island prompting the term “maverick” to mean an unbranded calf.
Menger, William (1827 – 1871) – Hotelier – This German immigrant arrived in San Antonio in the early 1840s and started a brewery. In 1857 Menger and his wife decided to open a hotel. They hired architect and builder John Kampmann (See Alamo Masonic Cemetery – Kampmann.) to oversee construction. The Menger Hotel opened in 1859. He died in his hotel in 1871. His family continued to manage the property. The Menger Hotel was famous for its bar that was a replica of the taproom in the House of Lords Club in London. The hotel and its famous watering hole were visited by numerous famous people including General Phillip Sheridan, O. Henry, Sidney Lanier and U. S. Grant. Theodore Roosevelt recruited volunteers for his Rough Riders in the bar in 1898.
Paschal, Franklin Lafayette (1810 – 1884) – Texas Hero – He was born in Georgia and came to Texas to fight in the Texas Revolution. Paschal joined the Texas Rangers and was wounded on a scouting mission near San Antonio. He returned to Georgia for treatment but came back to San Antonio in 1839 where he bought 6,700 acres of land. In 1841 Paschal was elected Bexar County Coroner, Sheriff (1843), Texas State Representative (1843-4), City Councilman, Tax Collector and a Crier in U. S. District Courts. Paschal’s tombstone is marked with a Texas Revolutionary War Veteran 1836 marker.
Steves, Edward (1829-1890) – Lumberman – Born in Germany he arrived in Galveston aboard the Neptune in 1849. Steves made his way to Indianola and New Braunfels where he lived for several years. In 1866 he moved to San Antonio and opened the Edward Steves & Sons Lumber Company. The firm was well-known for its Louisiana cypress and Florida pine. In addition Steves was an alderman, real estate investor, volunteer fire chief and owned a horse race track.
Tobin, William Gerard (1833-1884) – Lawman – Originally from South Carolina, at age 20 he came to San Antonio. Tobin soon joined the Texas Rangers (1855) and was named Marshall of the city in 1856. He was a captain in the Confederate Army. Tobin loved Mexican food and in 1881 negotiated a contract with the U. S. Government to sell canned chili to the army and navy.
Wulff, Anton (1822-1894) – Politician – Born in Germany, he immigrated to Texas in 1848. In the mid-1850s Wulff opened his first dry goods store in Fredericksburg. He soon expanded to towns along the Texas-Mexico Border. Wulff was active in civic affairs, served as an alderman and designed Alamo Plaza. He was the first San Antonio City Park Commissioner.
City Cemetery #2 (Estimated Burials: 400+) – This burial ground was established in 1884. It was the first expansion of what we today call the Old San Antonio City Cemeteries Historic District south of Commerce Street. Visitors will find a large variety of markers in City Cemetery #2 including vertical monuments, pillars with urns, obelisks, tree trunks, excellent floral embellishments, anchors and fraternal symbolism, a beautiful angel and plots surrounded by interesting iron fences. We did not find historical interments here.
Good & Unusual Epitaphs – Two epitaphs caught our attention: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O’ Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them” and “Lily browed. Lily souled.”
City Cemetery #3 (Estimated Burials: 1,700) – Prior to 1867 the City set aside some land for burying “Colored People” west of the San Antonio National Cemetery, a military burial ground. That property was deeded to the U. S. Government when the military cemetery was expanded. City Cemetery #3 was established in 1889. Dates of the first Black interments are unknown but this cemetery was the first containing graves of Blacks, Whites and Hispanics. Over time more and more of City #3 was turned over to Black fraternal orders including Odd Fellows, Charity Temple and various lodges.
Pollard, Vera Lee Azealea “Black” (1916-1949) – 1st Miss Yellow Rose of Texas – This pioneering Black woman was a San Antonio florist. Her tombstone identifies her as the First Miss Yellow Rose of Texas. Unfortunately, we found no additional information on this subject but guess it might have once have been a beauty pageant.
City Cemetery #4 (Estimated Burials: 1,800) – Not a lot is known about this burial ground. It was founded in 1892 and contains the final resting places of private organizations including the San Antonio Fire Department, Order of Railroad Conductors, St. Mark’s Church and the Typographical Union.
Interesting Tombstones – There are several other interesting sites in Cemetery #4 including an impressive pedestal and urn (Ufer), beautiful angel (Arzola) and a lovely old rusted Victorian fence (Jackson.)
Kiel, Henry Christian “Chris” (1850-1902) – Train Wreck Victim – On March 6, 1902 a Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio passenger train left the tracks on a sharp curve near Maxon, Texas in Brewster County. The train flipped over and the wooden cars caught fire. Reports say 40 to 50 passengers perished in the wreck. Kiel’s tombstone reads”…died in the Maxon Wreck.”
City Cemetery #5 (Estimated Burials: 92) & Harmonia Lodge #1 Cemetery (Estimated Burials: 82) – City Cemetery # 5 was established in 1895. Although it is one of the smallest of the 31 burial grounds it is packed with beautiful statuary. Harmonia #1 was established in 1877 and is also one of the smaller graveyards in the Historic District. We have no information on the lodge members interred here. These two share a location.
Lewis, Nathaniel C. “Nat” (1806-1872) – Entrepreneur – Born in Massachusetts he arrived in San Antonio in 1830. Among other things Lewis was a successful merchant, established the city’s first grist mill, started the area’s first large ranching operation, owned a freight business and was an alderman.
Lewis, Henry (?-?) – Newspaper Editor – He along with his brother Nat (See Lewis, Nathaniel.) started San Antonio’s first newspaper, The West Texan. Both brothers are interred in the Lewis mausoleum.
Ryan, Henry M. (1891-1918) – War Hero – He was a member of the 359th Infantry, 90th Division of the American Exploratory Force. Ryan was kill in action on Halloween 1918 at Cunel, a village north of Verdun, during the St. Mihiel-Meuse-Argonne Offensive
City Cemetery #6 (Estimated Burials: 1,000) – Established in 1903 Cemetery #6 is the last of the early graveyards established by the City of San Antonio. Like other of the 31 burial grounds it contains the remains of members of fraternal organizations. Here a visitor will see the Benevolent & Protective Order of the Elks #216, Locomotive Firemen, Sam Houston Camp #55 and Woodmen of the World plots.
Gunter, Jot (1845-1907) – Lawyer & Businessman – This North Carolinian arrived in Texas in the mid-1840s. During the War Between the States (1861-5) he served under Texas Hero of the Battle of Sabine Pass, Richard W. “Dick” Dowling. Gunter earned a law degree, owned a cattle ranch and invested in real estate around Texas. The town of Gunter is named in his honor. His real estate investments in San Antonio include the Gunter Hotel and Gunter Office Building.
Hugman, Robert H. H. (1902-1980) – Architect of San Antonio River Walk – Born in San Antonio he earned an architecture degree from the University of Texas. Hugman’s first job was working for the Vieux Carre Commission in New Orleans to save that City’s historic buildings. In 1927 he returned to San Antonio with a vision to preserve the city’s historical character. In 1929 he proposed construction of the River Walk. The Great Depression put the project on hold until 1938 when the Works Progress Administration came up with the funds. Hugman designed the 31 unique staircases, bridges, water features, outdoor theater and many others. In 1938 he had a disagreement with the Mayor who promptly fired him. Hugman continued designing buildings in San Antonio and was instrumental in the City’s involvement in HemisFair ’68. He is remembered today as the “Father of the River Walk.”
The Winn Angel – The beautiful angel atop of the large Winn tombstone was done by the famous San Antonio sculptor, Pompeo Coppini. His most well-known work in San Antonio is the Spirit of Sacrifice, a cenotaph in Alamo Plaza honoring those who died at the Battle of the Alamo.
Confederate Cemetery (Estimated Burials: 900) – This historic graveyard was established in 1885. The land was purchased by the Albert Sidney Johnston Camp #1, United Confederate Veterans. (Records indicate some Confederate soldiers were interred prior to that date.) It was expanded through 1904. It is wholly contained within City Cemetery #4. Lines of demarcation are shell lanes named for famous Confederates such as Robert E. Lee Walk, etc. While the majority of the tombstones are military there are also a mausoleum, Woodmen of the World tree markers, obelisks, columns, Texas state historical markers and stones with scrolls and angels.
Baylor, George Wythe (1832-1916) – Military Officer & Texas Ranger – He was born at Fort Gibson in the Cherokee Nation. In 1845 Baylor moved to Texas. He caught “gold fever” and moved to California in 1854 to seek his fortune in the Gold Rush. Baylor apparently failed to live his dream and returned to Texas in 1859. During the War Between the States he served as senior aide-de-camp to Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnson. Baylor saw action in the Red River Campaign, Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill. Following the War he joined the Texas Rangers, serving in the El Paso area. In 1885 Baylor was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. In addition he served as an El Paso Circuit Judge and District Clerk.
Bee, Carlos P. (1917-1974) – Politician – Born in California he served in the California State Assembly, often as Speaker Pro Tempore. He was named for his uncle, Carlos Y. Bee (See Below.) Bee was also mayor of Hayward City, California. He died in San Antonio while on vacation from injuries received in an accident.
Bee, Hamilton Prioleau (1822-1897) – Politician & Soldier – He served as the first Secretary of the Texas Senate and was Speaker of the House (1854-6.) Bee served as a general in the War Between the States, commanding the Western District of Texas. Following the War he went into exile in Mexico from 1865 until 1876.
Ford, John Salmon “Rip” (1815-1897) – Politician & Soldier – He was Born in South Carolina, arriving in Texas prior to the War Between the States. In the conflict Ford served as Commander of the Rio Grande District of Texas. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives and Senate. In addition Ford served as mayor of Brownsville.
Haynes, Violet A. (1873-1953) – Historian – She organized the Daughters of Texas Trail Drivers. This was an organization that preserved stories about trail drivers’ experiences on the range and on cattle drives.
Mayfield, J. E. (1843-1924) – Doctor – During the War Between the States he served as a private in Company G, 8th Texas Infantry. Following the conflict Mayfield returned to San Antonio where he had a successful medical practice.
Samuel, William Giles Martin (1825-1902) – Lawman & Folk Artist – Born in Missouri, he came to Texas to fight in the Mexican War (1846-8). Samuel was referred to “by common consent the bravest of his day.” He was fearless and an excellent marksman. Samuel tried his hand at farming in 1850 but gave it up to serve as City Marshall of San Antonio in 1852. In addition, he was a Justice of the Peace, Bexar County Commissioner and Deputy Sheriff (1882-1900.) He also owned a flour warehouse in the city. Samuel took up painting in the mid-1850s. This untrained artist produced portraits of Sam Houston, Bigfoot Wallace, Stephen F. Austin and Erastus “Deaf” Smith to mention a few. Samuel also is known for his cityscapes of San Antonio. His works can be view at the Witte Museum there.
Young, Hugh Franklin (1808-1889) – Confederate General – He was born in Virginia and moved to Texas in 1841. Young was a brigadier general in the Texas State Troops, Confederate States of America Army. He was the father of another CSA general, William H. Young (See below.)
Young, William Hugh (1838-1901) – Confederate General – He was born in Missouri but moved to Texas in 1840 with his parents. While attending law school at the University of Virginia the War Between the States broke out. Young returned to Texas and joined the Confederate Army as a captain (eventually rising to the rank of general.). He fought and miraculously survived in a huge number of key battles including: Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Vicksburg, Jackson, Chickamauga, Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain and the Tennessee Campaign. Young was wounded four times and lost his left foot at the Battle of Altoona where he was captured by Union troops. He spent the rest of the War as a prisoner in Ohio. Released in 1865, Young returned to San Antonio where he was a lawyer, real estate investor, owned a transportation company, a ranch and farm, owned an irrigation company and the San Antonio Express newspaper. His tombstone bears the “Stars and Bars” flag of the Confederacy.
Congregation Agudas Achim Cemetery (Estimated Burials: 1,200) – Despite being one of the most beautiful and well-maintained cemetery in the Old San Antonio City Cemeteries Historic District, we were unable to gather much information on this burying ground or the historic burials that took place here. Agudas Achim was established in 1885 by Rabbi Samuel D. Phillips and expanded by one acre in 1890. Several important rabbis are interred here as well as well-known Jewish community members.
Hebrew Dates in Cemeteries – The Jewish calendar is very different from the Julian or civil calendar. There is a very complicated formula for turning Hebrew numerals into civil. On the gate of Agudas Achim the founding date in Hebrew is 5643. This translates into 1885.
Congregation Beth El Memorial Park (Estimated Burials: 300) – While the majority of Jews immigrating to America came through Ellis Island in New York City, Galveston was the second most important point of entry. Many of these individuals moved to South Texas and settled in San Antonio. They became important members of the community. A number became bankers, merchants and ranchers.
In 1855 the Jewish community founded the Hebrew Benevolent Society Burial Ground. Later the land was divided between two synagogues, Beth El and Agudas Achim. Temple Beth El was formed in 1874. It is the oldest synagogue in South Texas. Most of their rabbis have served the congregation for many years including David Jacobson (1938-76), Samuel Stahl (1976-2002) and Barry Block (1992-2013).
Joske, Alexander (? – 1925) – Merchant – In 1869 Julius Joske arrived in San Antonio and opened a dry goods store. The business did well and in 1903 his son bought him out. Alexander was a good merchant and soon the business was reaching new levels. However, increased competition began to hurt Joske Brothers. By the mid-1920s Joske was reporting losses from his business. This and a nervous breakdown resulted in his suicide in 1925. The Mayor ordered all flags in the city to be flown at half-mast for two days. Today he is remembered as transforming the dry goods business into the modern department store.
Levyson, Sidney Maurice (1899-1967) – Social Reformer – Also known as Stanley Stein, he was a blind Jewish leper who was incarcerated in a Leprosy facility in Carville, Louisiana as a young person. Later in life he founded and was editor of Star 66, a newspaper for persons with Hansen’s disease. This publication offered hope to the thousands of people who suffered from this horrible illness. Stein’s crusading was instrumental in the discovery of a cure for Leprosy at Carville. Unfortunately for him it was too late to save his life.
Dignowity City Cemetery (Estimated Burials: Unknown) – In 1872 Amanda Dignowity purchased two acres as a family cemetery. Over the years portions of the tract were sold off. Then the city of San Antonio took over this burial ground in 1947. The Dignowity family plot is located in the southeast corner.
Dignowity, Amanda (1820-1907) – Pioneer Woman – She was the wife of Dr. Anthony M. Dignowity. They were married in 1843. Amanda bore eight children, one of whom founded Del Rio, Texas. She and her husband owned a ranch near Brackettville. In the 1880s the Texas and New Orleans Railroad opened a supply point on the line near the Dignowity property, naming it Amanda. Never having a population of more than 25, Amanda, Texas disappeared from the map in 1909.
Dignowity, Anthony Michael (1810-1875) – Doctor – Born in Bohemia, this Czech arrived in New York in 1832. He eventually came to in Texas as a volunteer in the Mexican War (1846-8). Following the conflict, Dignowity moved to San Antonio where he practiced medicine and was a successful businessman. In 1854 he constructed a home, Harmony House, on a hill overlooking the city. It became known as Dignowity Hill. His strong Abolitionist and Unionist views made him very controversial and unpopular. In 1859 Dignowity tried to explain his positions in an autobiography, Bohemia under Austrian Despotism. However, the effort failed. He was lucky to escape a public lynching in the San Antonio Plaza in 1861. Fleeing to Washington D. C., he sat out the War Between the States. Falling ill, Dignowity returned to San Antonio where he passed away. Harmony House was razed in 1824 and replaced by Dignowity Park.
Grice, Frank (1847-1907) – Printer & Editor – He was born in Ohio. We found his burial in a Southern cemetery a bit unusual because he was a Union soldier in the War Between the States, serving in General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” Grice was a printer living in Illinois and Missouri before taking a job as a journalist for a Kansas City newspaper. He came to San Antonio in 1877 and was an editor for the San Antonio Express. When Grice was named chief editor he purchased the newspaper.
Dullnig, George (1846-1908) –Businessman – Born in Austria he arrived in San Antonio in 1853 with his parents. He began selling fruit on the street when he was a boy. Over the years Dullnig operated a shoe store, retail grocery, wholesale grocery and finally a large dry goods establishment. He was an investor in the Fifth National Bank and the San Antonio & Gulf Railroad.
Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery This fraternal cemetery is principally a black burying ground. Founded in 1889 it was used by two Odd Fellows Lodges: San Antonio Lodge No. 2 2142 and 2522. We did not find any historic burials or particularly striking grave markers.
Independent Order of Odd Fellows San Antonio Lodge 11 Cemetery (Estimated Burials: 1,400) – This six acre plot was originally owned by Alamo Masonic Lodge. Lodge 11 purchased the land in 1855. The most interesting section of this cemetery is the “Lost Burial Place of the Alamo Defenders.” Following the battle at the Alamo, Genera Santa Anna ordered the bodies of the Texan defenders to be piled up, burned and buried somewhere along what is today Commerce Street in downtown. In the San Antonio Daily Express on July 6, 1906, a city employee, August Beisenbach, recalled that when he was eight years old in 1856 he was playing near the Alamo and witnessed body parts being excavated and moved up to the old cemetery on Powder House Hill (now Odd Fellows.) The remains were reinterred between the graves of Captain Robert A. Gillespe and Captain Samuel H. Walker. Today that area is surrounded by a chain link fence and contains a historical marker.
Gillespie, Robert Addison (1815-1846) – Businessman & Soldier – Born in Tennessee he and his brothers moved to Texas in 1837 and opened a mercantile and land company. During Gillespie’s military career he saw action at the Battle of Salado Creek and Walker Creek, participated in the Somervell Expedition and was a Texas Ranger (1843-5). He fought in the Mexican War (1846-8) in the Battle of Monterrey. Gillespie was killed in the assault on the Bishop’s Palace. His remains were sent to San Antonio for reinterrment in 1856.
Walker, Samuel Hamilton (1817-1847) – Texas Ranger & Soldier – He was born in Maryland. Walker was a scout in the Creek Indian Campaign and joined the Somervell and Mier Expeditions. During the latter he survived the infamous Black Bean Episode, where the Mexican Army executed every 10th Texan that had been captured. During the Mexican War he fought at the Battle of Monterrey, helped Samuel Colt improve the 45- caliber pistol and was killed in the Battle of Huamantia in 1847. In 1856 his bones were returned to San Antonio where he was buried in the same casket as his lifelong friend, Captain Robert Gillespie (See above.)
Zirkel, Johann Friedrich Robert Otto (1856-1924) – Monument Maker – This German immigrated to America in about 1870. Zirkel worked for his uncle in Chicago as a stone cutter. In 1877 he moved to San Antonio and opened Zirkel Monument Works. This company became the principal producer and marketer of tombstones in the city and surrounding area. He died in 1924 but the company is still operating.
Knights of Pythais Cemetery (Estimated Burials: 600) – This is another fraternal interment ground. The Order of the Knights of Pythais was established in Washington, D. C. in 1864. It was named after two Greek figures, Pythais and Damon who were members of the Pythagorean Brotherhood. Its mission is to promote goodwill and friendship among mankind. The Knights bought the property from Elks Lodge 135 and Lotus Lodge 89 in 1889.
Taylor, Henry Ryder (1850-1908) – Journalist – An Englishman, he began his journalistic career in London with the Telegraph. Taylor arrived in San Antonio in 1881 where he was editor of the Sunday Mirror. He moved to Mexico, St. Louis and New York before joining the San Antonio Light where he was on staff for more than 20 years. Later in life he wrote poetry, worked with O. Henry and published two books on San Antonio.
San Antonio Lodge 1 F & M Cemetery (Estimated Burials: 50) – This Black cemetery was established in 1894.
Greene, Walter Lee (1906-1966) – Coast Guardsman – This Texan served in the United States Coast Guard.
Lewis, Frank E. (1892-1960) – Mortician – He opened the Frank E. Lewis Funeral Home in 1909. It is the oldest Black mortuary in the City. Lewis was the sole proprietor until 1932 when he formed a partnership with his son-in-law, Vernon E. Larremore. Together they expanded the operation. Today the Lewis Funeral Home is the largest Black business in San Antonio.
Interesting Tombstones – We came across several interesting burial markers here including a handmade concrete slab (Fred Sneed ? – 1953),excellent gates of heaven and masonic symbols (Dortcha, Ben Lamin 1865-1913)and a stone engraved with five photos (White, Lorain “Lorine” 1919-1955).
San Antonio National Cemetery (Estimated burials: 3,200) – Because of its size, almost four acres, historical significance as the oldest national cemetery in Texas and the need to make a return visit to do additional research we are going to treat it as a stand-alone burial ground. This information will be posted at a future date.
St. Elmo’s Lodge 25 Knights of Pythais Cemetery (Estimated burials: Unknown) – This Black fraternal cemetery was established in 1894.
Austin, Ella (?-?) – Social Worker – In 1897 she founded the Ella Austin Orphans Home to serve homeless children. Austin served San Antonio and Bexar County until 1940. In 1968 the home was converted into a multi-purpose community center.
Carter, O. J. (1873-1927) – Mortician – He operated a Black funeral home in the Beacon Light Lodge Hall until 1913 when he partnered with J. W. Williamson until the latter’s death in 1921. Over the next 90 years the parlor passed through a number of hands. Today it operates as the Carter-Taylor-Williams Mortuary.
St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery (Estimated burials: Unknown) – In 1850 St. John’s Lutheran Church was founded. The congregation established this German Lutheran cemetery in 1874. There are no historical graves.
Interesting Tombstones – There are some interesting grave markers here including:
Christian (1831-1910) and Maria (1827-1918) Beller (covered with clam shells), Wilhelm Witte (1847-1905) (draped pedestal) Adolph Otto (1833-1890) (rose) Louise Boltz (1879-1900) (floral arrangement) Bertha Kruger (18?-1933) (handmade) and Christine Simmang (1819-1902) (zinc marker).
St. Joseph’s Catholic Society Cemetery (Estimated burials: Unknown) – St. Joseph’s Catholic Church organized this burial ground in 1889. Quite of few prominent citizens of the city are interred here. There are a number of interesting grave markers in this cemetery including iron crosses, iron crosses with hearts, wooden crosses, baby angels and German tombstones.
Menger, L. William (1852-1919) – Newspaper Editor – The Southern Messenger began in 1890 as a small parish bulletin published by St. Mary’s Church. By 1891 it had become a weekly newspaper. For years it was the only English-language Catholic newspaper in Texas. In 1892 it was taken over by Menger who edited and published it until his death in 1919. He was the son of William Menger, founder of the Menger Hotel in 1858. (See City Cemetery #1 – Menger above.).
Wahrenberger, James (1855-1929) – Architect – A native Texan; he went to Switzerland and Germany in 1872 to study architecture. Wahrenberger earned his degree in 1876. He returned to Texas as the first citizen to have a professional architecture degree. In 1883 he moved to San Antonio where he practiced for the rest of his life. Among his famous structures were: Edward Steves home (1884) (See City Cemetery #1 – Steves.), Joske Building (1887) (See Congregation Beth El – Joske.), the Lone Star Brewery (1895-1904) and the G. W. Littlefield residence in Austin (1893.) Wahrenberger drew up San Antonio’s first building code.
St. Mary’s Cemetery (Estimated burials: 4,000) – This burial ground was established in 1884 by St. Mary’s Catholic Church. It is one of the largest in the Historic District.
Along with some historical burials there are also a number of interesting tombstones and sculptures
De Zavala, Adina Emilia (1861-1955) – Preservationist – Born in Harris County, raised in Galveston, she moved to San Antonio in 1873. She was the granddaughter of Lorenzo De Zavala, the first Vice President of the Republic of Texas (See De Zavala Cemetery – De Zavala, Lorenzo.) This remarkable woman was a founder of “De Zavala’s Daughters,” one of the state’s first preservationist groups. Working with philanthropist Clara Driscoll (See Alamo Masonic Cemetery – Driscoll above) De Zavala saved the Alamo Long Barracks from demolition. She once went so far as barricading herself inside the structure. De Zavala was involved in saving other Texas historic sites including the Bexar County Spanish Governors’ Palace and Mission San Francisco de los Tejas.
Miles, Edward (1816-1889) – Texas Hero – Born in Mississippi, he came to Texas in 1829. Colonel Miles fought in the Battles of Anahuac, San Jacinto as well as the Indian, Mexican and War Between the States.
Vargas, Juan (1795-1910) – Soldier – He was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and fought in the Mexican War of Independence (1810). Vargas moved to San Antonio and was “shanghaied” by General Santa Anna to fight at the Alamo against the Texans. However, since Vargas was an indigeno or native the General did not trust him to have a gun. So he was issued a broom. He killed no one and did live to be 115 years old.
St. Michael’s Polish Catholic Cemetery (Estimated burials: Unknown) – This parish was established in 1866 and was the third Polish Catholic church in Texas and the third Catholic church in San Antonio. The graveyard was founded in 1878 when the City deeded the church land in the Cemetery District. Most of the persons interred here were parishioners. Interesting graves include an excellent plot with an iron fence, carved tools, St. Michael and obelisks.
Wahaschaffl, Carl (1845-1907) – Lawman – He was a Texas Ranger.
St. Peter Claver Catholic Cemetery (Estimated burials: Unknown) – St. Peter Claver Catholic Church was founded in 1888 to serve the Black community. The cemetery was deeded to the church by St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in 1899. The Claver School was the first school in Texas for Black children. There are no historical interments here.
Sons of Hermann Cemetery (Estimated burials: 1,600) – The Order of the Sons of Hermann were formed in New York City in 1840. It was a mutual protection society for German immigrants in response to anti-German prejudice that prevailed at that time. In addition the Order provided low-cost insurance to members and promoted Germanic culture and language. The name was derived from a German folk hero named Hermann the Cherusker who defeated the Roman army at the Battle of Teuton Forest in 9 AD. In 1861 the first Sons of Herman lodge, Harmonia Lodge 1, was established in San Antonio. The cemetery opened in 1895 and served three area lodges. Many persons interred here were involved in the local German brewing industry.
St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery and Emmanuel German Cemetery – (Estimated combined burials: 2,400) There are no markers indicating where these cemeteries begin and end. They are grouped in a block bordered by Dakota (south), New Braunfels (east), Wyoming (north) and St. Anthony (west) – These two burial grounds were established in 1894. In 1926 they were consolidated and total eight acres. Many fraternal organizations have members buried here including Woodman of the World, Masons, Eastern Star and Odd Fellows.
Among the more interesting tombstones are Cahen (1868-1913) unique Woodman of the World, Wallace (1858-1912) covered in shells and Pfeiffer (1807-1912) doves and the Gates of Heaven.
United Brothers of Friendship Cemetery (Estimated burials: Unknown) – This burial ground resulted from six Black fraternal organizations jointly purchasing the land from City Cemetery 3 in 1895. They were: Alamo Lodge 84, Alpha Lodge 92, Charity Temple 10, Garrison Lodge 8, Golden rule 31 and Sunset Lodge 27.