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1840 Houston City Cemetery
& Jefferson Davis Hospital


1840 City Cemetery

1880
The Old Houston City Cemetery was established in 1840 between the banks of the Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou. The cemetery consisted of 5.0 acres of land out of the Austin Survey and was purchased by the City of Houston from the Allen Brothers on July 20, 1840. The cemetery was divided in to 4 sections. Paupers, Negroes, Families and those that committed suicide or died in a duel. There were also sections for Masons and Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF). During the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1867 victims were buried in mass graves using a long trench. The city stopped using the cemetery around 1879 because it was full but there were a few family burials until about 1900. It is estimated that there were between 5,000 and 10,000 persons buried there.  In 1893 the City of Houston wanted to remove all the graves and relocate them elsewhere so they could build a school on the property, but the Padgitt family filed an injunction against the city preventing the city from removing the graves and building on the land.  A marker for 32 unknown confederate soldiers was placed there in 1897 by the UCV.  In 1905 the City of Houston tried to sell the land and put in streets for development but that was blocked. Instead it was used as a public park. The cemetery was allowed to become neglected and run down and was pretty much abandoned by the city of Houston.

This cemetery was declared a Historic Texas Cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission in 2008. A Texas Historical Marker was approved in 2009 and installed in 2010.  This cemetery has also been declared a State Archealogical Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.

Jefferson Davis Hospital

1101 Elder Street in Houston, Texas

 
In 1924 the City of Houston built a city/county charity hospital on the southeast quadrant of the cemetery at a cost of $200,000.00 and called it the Jefferson Davis Hospital at the request of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy (SCV & UDC). A residence building for the nurses was built on the northeast quadrant of the cemetery.  Behind the hospital was a clinic and a power house. 

The ground floor held the pharmacy, the clinic and the "negro ward" as it was then known. The second floor housed the men's ward, the laboratory, the kitchen and living quarters for hospital housekeepers. The third floor held the women's ward, the obstetrical department and the psychiatric ward complete with padded rooms. The fourth held the operating rooms and the children's ward, which opened onto a rooftop garden and playground. The hospital was built above ground to avoid disturbing the graves in the cemetery but most all of the tombstones disappeared. The only graves that remained untouched were the Super family graves. The owner stood guard over the graves with a shotgun to keep construction workers from destroying the graves.  The hospital was in operation until 1937 when the city built a new hospital on Allen Parkway and the old hospital closed down. 

The old building was used for a clinic, food stamp distribution center and a drug treatment facility and later medical records storage. The building sat vacant for nearly 20 years. It was renovated in 2005 by Artspace Projects Inc. and now serves as loft apartments for artists and their families. 

In 1927 a bronze tablet was placed on the front of the hospital to honor the confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery. The whereabouts of this tablet is unknown at this time.

Houston Fire Department

In 1968 the City of Houston built a maintenance facility for the Houston Fire Deparment on the remaining western half of the city cemetery.  Many graves were destroyed during this construction.  In 1986 the city dug a utility trench at the facility and accidently unearthed about 30 graves.  The backhoe cut the graves in half exposing the coffins and skeletal remains of several graves.  The bones were gathered by Dr. Ken Brown of the University of Houston for additional study.  The original confederate section extended north well beyond the building and is now currently underneath the buildings. While digging the lift pits for the maintenance facility underneath this building they found the skeletal remains and tombstone of Thomas Wilcox who died in 1867 of Yellow Fever. Before archeologists could do any further investigations the entire area was covered up with concrete and sealed. The tombstone is now at the University of Houston Archeology Department. 

The bones were recently reburied in 2006 in a small grassy area inside the Houston Fire Deparment's parking lot where 32 unknown confederate soldiers are buried.  A grave marker for these 32 unknown confederate soldiers was placed there in 1899 and is still visible.  When the city reburied these bones they moved the confederate marker to cover the spot where the bones were buried.  in 2008 the UDC asked the city and the fire department to return the marker to it's original location and replace the fence that was removed that protected this area.  The fire department did return the marker to it's original location and the city installed a new chain link fence.

Jefferson Davis Hospital - Then

Note: You can see the bronze tablet just to the left of the front door between the first two columns.
The whereabouts of this bronze tablet are currently unknown.

Jefferson Davis Hospital - Now

Click to enlarge

Note: The square cement border is where the Super family graves are located.

Now called the Elder Street Artists Lofts
 



Confederate Marker

 

Confederate Marker moved to
where bones were reburied in 2006.

Bones Reburied in August 2006 
at the Houston Fire Deparment 


 
 

Current (Original) Location of Confederate Marker

Texas Historical Marker (2010)


For more information click on the links below.

 Removal of Bodies - Houston Post January 1893
An Injunction Stops All Work of Removing the Dead - Houston Post February 3, 1893
 Flowers for Remembrance - April 26, 1900
Burial Site Sale for Building Fund - Houston Chronicle March 19, 1903
 The Old City Cemetery - November 15, 1910
City Hospital will Replace This God's Acre - Houston Press July 18, 1923
 (View Newspaper article here)
 Memorial to Veterans Unveiled at Hospital - June 12, 1927
Daughters of Confederacy Praised for Rehabilitating Old Cemetery - Houston Press April 26, 1950
http://www.civilwaralbum.com/misc3/jeffdavishosp1.htm
Buffalo Bayou: An Echo of Houston's Wilderness Beginnings by Louis F. Aulbach
Avenue CDC