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Olivewood Cemetery

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Title: Olivewood Cemetery  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: White Oak Bayou, J. Vance Lewis
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Olivewood Cemetery

Olivewood Cemetery, in Houston, Texas, lies near a bend in White Oak Bayou, along the rail line to Chaney Junction, where the First and Sixth wards meet just northwest of downtown. The 6-acre (24,000 m2) cemetery is an historic resting place for many freed slaves and some of Houston’s earliest black residents.


In 1875, the land, which had previously been used for slave burials, was purchased by Richard Brock, Houston's first black alderman. It opened as a cemetery for black Methodists in 1877.[1] When Olivewood was platted, it was the first African-Americans burial ground within the Houston city limits.[2]

Many 19th century influential African-Americans were buried in the cemetery, including Reverend Elias Dibble, first minister of Trinity United Methodist Church; Reverend Wade H. Logan, also a minister of the church; and James Kyle, a blacksmith; as well as Richard Brock.[3]

The cemetery includes more than 700 family plots around a graceful, elliptical drive that originated at an ornate entry gate. It contains graves of both the well-to-do and those who died in poverty; therefore, the grave markers run the gamut from elaborate Victorian monuments to simple, handmade headstones. Burials at Olivewood Cemetery continued through the 1960s.[4]

In 2003, after decades of neglect and abandonment, the "Descendants of Olivewood," a nonprofit organization, was established to take guardianship of the cemetery, "to provide care and to protect its historical significance."[2]

Olivewood was designated an Historic Texas Cemetery. By 2010 water and vandals threatened to damage graves in a portion of the cemetery.[5]

By 2013, a digital database for the cemetery has been created (many memorials created through using the death certificates found at consisting mostly of the years 1910-1940 and can be found at (link listed below). This database has about 3,800 memorials and can be searched by using first and or last names.


Over the years, there have been numerous reports of mysterious after-dark sightings and strange movements within the graveyard.[2]

Cathi Bunn, a paranormal investigator, began exploring Olivewood in 1999. One moonlit midnight, Bunn said she videotaped the ghost of Mary White, who was buried in 1888, hovering above her headstone.[6]


External links

  • Descendants of Olivewood
Houston portal
African American portal

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