Washington Cemetery

[Posted by isuredid on HAIF]

Washington Cemetery is located adjacent to Glenwood Cemetery, between Washington Ave. and Memorial Dr. It originally encompassed 27 acres, but now conists of 21.3 acres. A large aparment complex was recently built along its western perimeter. The land was purchased in 1887, by the Deutsche Gesellschaft von Houston, a group of local German businessmen. The cemetery was known as the “German Cemetery” (per a 1913 map) or “German Society Cemetery”, as its purpose was to serve as a cemetery for Houston’s German population. It was renamed “Washingon Cemetery” in 1918, due to increasing anti-German sentiment at the time of World War I.

There are nearly 7000 graves in the cemetery, including those of more than 100 Confederate soldiers, and a few Union soldiers (e.g., Emma Seelye). Two graves marked with dates earlier than 1887 appear to be mistakes. The cemetery was financially abandoned in the mid-20th century, but the widow of the caretaker attempted to keep it up. After she died, the graveyard was severely neglected. In 1977, after the murder of a (possibly former) caretaker who lived on the property, a group of Houstonians collected money and were able to significantly aid the cemetery (they hauled away trash, cleared brush, repaved roads, ran waterlines to the property, stabilized headstones, added front gates and security lights, researched the lives of the people buried there and published a history of them, microfilmed burial records, and located and marked previously unmarked graves of about 600 people). The Concerned Citizens for Washington Cemetery Care have since continued to make considerable contributions to the upkeep of the cemetery.

The caretaker murdered in July 1977 was named Leona Tonn. She appears to have been born in Round Top, Texas, on October 15, 1905. She lived in a house located on cemetery property, and was found dead by her brother, Gus. Tonn had suffocated, and a pillowcase was found tied over her head. The murder is unsolved.

The cemetery supposedly appears in a scene in the movie “Student Bodies”.

More information:
Willie Lee Noland (former superintendant of Washington Cemetery) geneology page

7 responses to “Washington Cemetery

  1. Please do more write-ups on historic Houston cemeteries. I love reading them.

  2. Great place to visit and soak up history…you can spend a whole afternoon walking around the monuments. I went by there a few weeks ago and a road has been cut through to the Glenwood Cemetary where some of Houston’s old rich are buried including Howard Hughes. Both cemetaries are unknown ‘jewels’ for Houston’s past.

  3. WOW , I didn’t know Washington Cemetery was that old my great grandmother her son rest here I would love to help clean up here or anything that needs to be done that I can help with not many of our older family members are still alive so I wouldnt know where to find there resting spots. Maybe I will find them when I go walking around in there. I feel sad thinking bout it because I was named after my great grandmother.

  4. Sherlene Hacker Mats

    Elizabeth Ryan Eisemann Froelich, my 2nd great grandmother (Birth 25 Apr 1838 in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Death Nov 20, 1899 in Houston, Harris Co., Texas) is buried there, also. I’ve been looking for her mother and father who came from Gremany to Texas around or before 1850. I’ve been wanting to visit the cemetery for sometime now.

  5. Some of my relatives are buried there, Agnes Leo Edna Logan Eugene Miller Henry Koch Amanda Koch and some unmarked baby graves
    My name is Agnes M Peterson grand daughter of Agnes Leo

  6. Pingback: Washington Cemetery | Houston Histories

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