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Oakwood Cemetery, Smith County, TX
(recovered web data)


INTRO - Plot 1 - Plot 2 - Plot 3 - Plot 4 - Plot 5 - Plot 6 - Plot 7 - Plot 8 - Jewish Plot
TYLER'S HISTORIC OAKWOOD CEMETERY'S HISTORY

Oakwood Cemetery may be older, even, than the City of Tyler, itself. If John LOLLAR set aside the five acres for a burying ground when he bought his brother Isaac's land grand in 1846, it is older. Anyway, when John sold the land to John Madison PATTERSON in 1849, it was stipulated in the deed that those five acres were reserved for a cemetery. Many, many markers have been lost over the years but the oldest marked grave now is that of four-year-old P.M. SCOTT who died in 1852.
In 1963, James WILKINS and the late Jack T. GREER researched and compiled for the Smith County Historical Society a list of one hundred distinguished citizens and indicated the location of their graves on a map of the cemetery. Those graves contain people from royalty to slave! Emir HAMVASY was a Count in Hungary when he left his homeland for political reasons and found his way to Tyler where he became its first Episcopal rector. Cynthia RABB was a former slave and a house servant of the John A. BROWN family.
Among those buried in Oakwood is a veteran of the War of 1812, the Mexican War of 1846, a Texas governor, Richard B. HUBBARD, and veterans of all the wars since.
In 1873, a plank fence was erected around Oakwood and walks and drives were laid out. At the same time Garden Valley Road was rerouted around the cemetery which it had crossed from southeast to northwest until then.
In 1903, additional land was acquired and the cemetery was renamed Oakwood because it had been known as "Lollar's Cemetery" until that time. If a person was really popular, his grave was dug free. Otherwise, it cost two dollars. The City, in 1905, hired William A. WOLDERT to locate old graves, mark plots with iron pins and map the plots. Then in 1907, the ladies of the Mollie Moore Davis Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, erected a large monument on high ground east of Center Drive in memory of the 231 Confederate soldiers of Smith County who gave their lives for their country.
Oakwood is bounded on the west by North Palace Avenue, on the north by West Oakwood Street, on the east by Ellis Street and on the south by the Cottonbelt Railroad. In the southwest section, there is a Jewish burial ground of the Congregation Beth-El. The oldest marker in this section is that of 19-year-old Rachel WOLINSKY who died in 1884.
After the death of Mrs. William J. GOODMAN in 1915, her husband, a prominent pioneer doctor, erected a large Italian sculptured marble angel over the Goodman family plot at a cost of more than $2,600. It was reported that the man who installed the monument used 300-pound cakes of ice to insure that it was placed exactly right.
In the 1930's through the efforts of Mrs. Henry EAGLE (Volunteer Supervisor), WPA labor was used to erect the stone fence around Oakwood and pave the drives. The strip adjacent to North Palace Avenue was filled and leveled.
For many years this section was used as a Negro cemetery. More land was added and gates were installed. The burial ground now contains 19.5 acres with over 2,000 marked graves.
In 1978, the Smith County Historical Society erected a coveted Historical Marker near the Confederate monument.
There's not much activity around the old graveyard nowadays. But, the people there should be allowed to rest in tranquil peace. After all, they gave Tyler its wonderful heritage!

Written by: Howard O. Pollan


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