Tombstone Tuesday: Evergreen Negro Cemetery

Historic Evergreen Negro Cemetery
Photo Credit: WhisperToMe

One of the most difficult cemetery visits I’ve had to make has been to the historic Evergreen Negro Cemetery that’s located south of Interstate-10 at Lockwood Drive and Market Street in Houston, TX. My difficulty is not so much due to its neglect, or the vandalism that has taken place there for years. Make no mistake about it, the condition of this cemetery is heartbreaking too. No my difficulty comes from learning that many of my ancestors who were buried there from 1890 – 1930 are probably no longer there!

According to Rice University’s news article, “Unearthing the past: Rice group plots historical Houston graveyard,” published 30 November 2006 – [1]

In Houston’s earliest days, a cotton plantation stood where modern-day Lockwood Drive and Market Street intersect. In the late 1800s, acreage from this plantation was converted into one of the city’s first Negro cemeteries. Named Evergreen Negro Cemetery, this land served as a final resting place for former slaves, Buffalo Soldiers and World War I veterans until the 1940s.

So what exactly happened to this resting place for former slaves, Buffalo Soldiers and World War I veterans? According to Lisa Gray, reporter for the Houston Press, [2]

490 graves were removed by the City of Houston for the development and expansion of Lockwood Drive in 1960!

Below is a plat map I accessed from cemetery researcher George E. Wolf, Jr.’s website, Cemeteries of Harris Co., Texas, that shows how Lockwood Drive, a major thoroughfare of the Fifth Ward community, splits this cemetery down the middle creating the eastern and western halves that exist today! [3]

Evergreen Negro Cemetery Plat Map

Where did they move all the graves?! The Rice news article goes on to say,

When the city decided to expand Lockwood Drive in 1960, hundreds of graves at Evergreen were moved to three other Houston cemeteries, but no records exist for the graves that were not moved.”

It was at, where I learned that Johnson Funeral Home which was located on Lyons Avenue at that time, was awarded the contract for the removal and re-burial of the bodies. They were to be interred at Eternity Park Cemetery, Oak Park Cemetery, and Paradise Cemetery. BUT what is so unsettling about where the bodies were supposed to be interred —

[t]here are no records . . . regarding the remains and relocation as there were no cemetery lot/plot records and many of the graves were unmarked and/or unknown individuals. At the time of the removal, very few family members were located who could connect names with burial location.” [4]

That last line above — “… very few family members were located who could connect names with burial location” — leaves me absolutely speechless!


Source Citation:

1.   Wiederhoeft, H. M. (2006, November 30). Rice group plots historical Houston graveyard.Rice University News & Media. Retrieved May 27, 2013, from

2.   Gray, L. (2000, September 28). Grave Importance: Old cemeteries rarely die. They just get buried under weeds, development and indifference. Houston Press. Retrieved May 25, 2013, from

3.   Wolf, G. E., Jr. (2008). Cemeteries of Harris Co.,Tx. Retrieved May 27, 2013, from

4.   Evergreen Negro Cemetery. (n.d.). Find A Grave: Millions of Cemetery Records. Retrieved May 27, 2013, from


29 thoughts on “Tombstone Tuesday: Evergreen Negro Cemetery

  1. since 1995 Woodrow Jones (Project Respect) has been caring for this cemetery. For most of the time it has been well manicured and volunteers have helped. Nobody comes out when the grass is cut to ask how this happens. This is done with Woody’s own funds and little else. Nobody bothered to ask what has happened this year even tho his phone number is posted out there on the property. He has had cancer and other health issues. The tractor is broken and parts hard to find. This is the first year since 95 that the cemetery has looked like this. It doesn’t help to drive by… have to DO something….not leave it up to a 73 year old man.


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  3. … Before JT got involved with adding names to Evergreen Negro Cemetery, I conducted research and reviewed EVERY death certificate in Harris County, Texas from 1903 to 1920s and posted the 2,000+ original names to Find-a-Grave.
    Yes, I am the individual who prepared and submitted the Historic Texas Cemetery Designation application to the Texas Historical Commission for the Evergreen Negro Cemetery.
    I spent hundreds of hours researching and documenting the early history of this cemetery and its burials.
    Yes, I have done numerous African-American Cemetery projects including my current project, Powell Point Cemetery in Fort Bend County, Texas. Where again, I have gone out and photographed all of the gravemarkers, researched and added hundreds of names of burials in Powell Point Cemetery that are unmarked and only known to be buried there by researching Texas death certificates.
    When I went to the publically funded Museum in Kendleton to do research, they were no help as the staff member did not want a “white woman messing in ‘our’ business.” She refused to allow me to even copy burial lists.
    No cooperation at all and yet, I am the individual who prepared and submitted the Historic Texas Cemetery Designation application to the Texas Historical Commission for the Powell Point Cemetery.
    If you want to make a difference in preserving African American cemeteries, learn about the Historic Texas Cemetery Designation project of the Texas Historical Commission and get to work on cleaning up these neglected burial grounds.


    • Houston Gal, THANK YOU so much for your comment! Based on your anonymity, tone and repetitive use of the personal pronoun “I” throughout the comment you left above, I sense setting the record straight on who’s really responsible for all the research done on every burial listed for Evergreen Negro Cemetery at and for the recognition of this cemetery via the Texas Historical Commission is very important to you. I agree . . . its important that everyone knows who you are and what you’ve done on this project, and had I known about your contribution, I would have given credit where credit is due. Again, thanks!


    • the state and city have no interest in cleaning up these cemeteries. they are classified as abandoned and neglected and have no ownership. Project RESPECT put thru a house bill that allows any group to take possession of abandoned cemeteries thru the courts. This was done in 1995. It takes a personal commitment to preserve this history…..government agencies don’t own these properties and aren’t going to take responsibility for them


    • Hi, here we are in 2020 and the Minority Grounds Burial Preservation Network is assisting Project R.E.S.P.E.C.T. with maintaining the Evergreen Negro Cemetery. There is a vast difference in how the cemetery looks today and we plan on continuing to assist with the maintenance for as long as we can.
      I am hoping someone can help us identify some of the graves we have uncovered at the cemetery. If anyone has any information, please visit our website at and go the Contact Us field to provide your information. We hope to identify some of the unknown/unmarked graves out there and appreciate your support.



  4. What is going on over there now? I see piles of dirt all over the cemetery. Are folks being disinterred/ dug up, or are they graverobbing/ doing archeological strata digs? WTF?!

    I see the project respect sign, but it looks like dug up graves every where. kinda creepy- any explanations for what’s happening at Lockwood Evergreen?

    yep Jim Crow was alive and doing his evil back then. Cut up the community w a freeway and the cemetery is but a part of that mindset. Proper burial and reinterment likely was at the bottom of any lists of concerns for driving the freeway thru there … dead folks dont put up a fuss and live folks had more pressing concerns dealing with Jim Crow on a practical day to day level.


    • Hi Ann and THANK YOU so much for posting and letting me know what you’ve noticed lately that is going on at this cemetery. I don’t live close by, but trust and believe I am definitely going to be driving over there this weekend and will take photos of my findings

      In the meantime, I think that I will send a message to James, aka JT, who has done research on this cemetery and posted comments here at my blog as well. I will let you know what I find out; again, THANK YOU!


    • dirt is being brought in to help with the flooding issue. It is a pond in the spring. Nothing has been dug up. Project Respect and mostly Dr. Jones has kept this cemetery maintained for 20 years, but due to health issues it has been slowed this year. One man does most of this work and finances it with little help from the community. The tractor needs a hard to find part and equipment is wearing out. There are some cleanups scheduled for next month.


    • Evergreen NC isn’t the only cemetery encroached by the city. The large drainage ditch that runs along I-10 next to Olivewood was done much more recently than the Lockwood expansion. This ditch caused much erosion in that cemetery….also Grocer’s supply built right on top of part of Olivewood. Older people in the 5th ward community have told us that when Lockwood was expanded thru Evergreen that there were bones and caskets all over, and that the only bodies that were moved were those that had headstones…..more often than not in a very old AA cemetery, families couldn’t afford headstones.


  5. I’ve done much research for the cemetery (focusing primarily on the death records found at for the years 1910-1940). I’m happy to say that I’ve added about 2,300 burial records to the 2,200 that were already there bringing the total to 4,550 (as of now). These records can be found at (under the Evergreen Negro Cemetery listing). You can search by first and or last name. You can even search by the first name “infant” and it brings up of four hundred entries. The good news is that with each burial record found the percentage that someone was buried there increases. Right now there is about a ninety percent chance someone listed was buried there. Yes, it’s tragic what happened in 1960 (just years before Civil Rights legislation), but hopefully with 21st century work, we can honor those that are buried there.


    • JT, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for all you’ve done and continue to do to assist with identifying all of our ancestors who were buried in this cemetery.

      OMG! . . . I’m truly humbled by all the time you’ve given to help us today honor those who are buried there. I know no amount of money can repay you for what you’ve done and continue to do, but I would love to give a donation, if not to you, maybe to an organization you are affiliated with. Please let me know and again, THANK YOU!


      • Liv, thank you for your response. Of the three primary cemeteries I have worked on in Houston (Olivewood, College Memorial Park, and the Evergreen Negro Cemetery), Olivewood is currently the only one set up for a viable donation. If you wish to make a donation you can find that option at this link: Margot Williams and Charles Cook do a great job over there. I have added about 2,000 records to Olivewood bringing the total to about 3,800. I have also added about 4,000 to the College Memorial Park Cemetery bringing the total to about 4,300. Randy Riepe heads up the on the ground efforts at the later cemetery. Of course many of the individuals are interconnected and there is an option to link them if they are family members at findagrave. Of course the creation of the online cemeteries would not have been possible with out the volunteers who indexed the Texas death certificates. I am currently doing some quality control on the Evergreen Negro Cemetery and it should be done later this week. Perhaps one day a DNA database could be created to assist in identifying loved ones at the each cemetery,



      • I WILL! I will make a donation this weekend and again thank you sharing the link here on my blog just in case there are others who happen to see this thread and want to donate as well.

        James, thank you for everything!


      • Liv, You’re a good woman for making the donation. The Olivewood Cemetery has come a long way. A good example of this is the before and after picture of George Norton: The first being taken in 2005, and the later taken in 2013. Other tombstones for individuals have been found such as Connie Mae Joe’s in the College Memorial Park Cemetery. She was discovered the Mr. Reipe’s renovation efforts. Over course these death certificates tell an interesting story. There is a Jim Roberts who is buried in the Evergreen Negro Cemetery along with his great grandson Earl Collins. All four generations are linked at findagrave. There is also a John Whitecloud buried in the same cemetery whose race is listed as Indian on the 1930 census. Upon further research I think he may actually be descended from the slaves held within the Creek nation. Interesting to think that the five civilized tribes in Oklahoma permitted slavery, but they did. Slaves there were allowed to remain as families and were permitted to read and write. Slavery in the Creek Nation was not abolished until 1866. It looks like earlier in the year I was able to transfer Richard Smith’s memorial to you (who I believe is connected to your family). Again thank you for your donation., James


      • It is truly my pleasure to send a donation to the Descendants of Olivewood Project for I have recently discovered that I also have ancestors buried there as well! One ancestor I have been able to find quite a bit of detail about is Amanda Perry Chappel (1848-1922). But her father, my 3X great-grandfather, Major Perry, born in Richmond, VA abt 1829 came to Texas by way of the slave ship Phoenix that arrived in New Orleans on the 17th of Nov 1847. I believe Major Perry may be buried in Olivewood as well, I just have not been able to locate his death record to prove that!


  6. Liv,
    Relocations and loss of gravestones is such a sad but common story fro African-Americans. Our history was so disrespected. That happened to a large AA cemetery in Washington, D.C. as well. At least there are still some headstones visible. Idea: perhaps someone could get a state historical marker at the site to at least describe the history. That has been a useful effort in other locations.
    Ironically, I have ancestors at an Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, FL.


    • Robyn, you hit the nail on the head when you said, “Our history was so disrespected.” The destruction of our cemeteries was proof of that!

      I’m glad that you mentioned about getting a historical marker to site the history of this cemetery. I don’t think there is one there, but I do know that this historic cemetery is mentioned on the historical marker that is viewed by visitors to College Park Cemetery. In fact the 3 oldest AA cemeteries in Houston are all listed on that marker (College Park, Evergreen, and Olivewood). A non-profit organization called Project Respect is currently involved in truly saving what’s left of this cemetery.


      • The cemetery is currently flooded so we at Project Respect will do a clean up when we can get in there….as we do every year. We are not funded and we have been doing this since 2005 mostly out of our own pockets. Dr. Jones has been quite ill, but is still up there today cutting the perimeter as best he can with the water….the dirt will be spread carefully to try to stop the lake conditions in the spring. Anyone who lives in this area knows this property is maintained all thru the summer and fall. We have many events and volunteers and service learning projects. This is not the only property we maintain. We need a carburetor for our 1972 Ford tractor….almost impossible to find so we may need to buy a new one. Project RESPECT is a registered 401C3 and donations may be sent to 1164 Calles St, Houston 77020… number is 713 494-9306.


  7. Maybe I’m repeating my comment, but I think this planning was done in a hurry, and they must not have tried very hard to find family members or people who could keep the records straight for the remains of graves that they moved.

    Couldn’t local genealogical societies help city planners help to move graves, if they must, by researching records and families? It seems there ought to be a protocol here, and people should be given time to identify where their relatives remains are. The genealogical community should be allowed to weigh in!

    Maybe I’m rushing to judgment here, but this seems wrong and careless. What happened to sacred burial ground?


    • No Mariann, you are not rushing to judgment at all. I really hate I have no way of knowing if they tried at all to find the families of those who were buried there or not. What I do know is that my grandparents lived at 1707 Lockwood Drive for many years. Their home was not far from this cemetery (it was actually in walking distance). My grandmother’s parents were buried in that cemetery. Even three of her babies who died at birth were buried in that cemetery. I would like to think that my grandparents were told about this expansion and move of the graves. But I can’t help but wonder if they knew at all since my mother who grew up in that home didn’t know all these details about this cemetery until I shared them with her.

      But we also must consider the times in which this all took place too — prior to the Civil Rights Movement! So when I consider what those in power here wanted most – the expansion of Lockwood Drive — the resting place of former slaves wasn’t worth the worry because the expansion happened. Was it wrong and careless? Oh yes indeed! But that was what life was like here then and in other African American communities throughout the South.


      • You are right. I well remember 1960, and that is how the power structure would have been. It was a long way from the 1963 of MLK or the 1964 of the Civil Rights Act. And even then . . . I wonder if people would be more decent today. I imagine that surely there would. There would be a public outcry . . . ? Wouldn’t there?


      • I would like to think that something like this wouldn’t happen today. But when progress and expansion is what society demands and wants, I just don’t know if a public outcry with regards to burial grounds like this one would be loud enough to stop it completely.


    • It truly has been a heartbreaking realization for me Andrea. A part of me truly wonders if the bodies were really moved as they say they were. I cannot help the sense of sadness I feel when I visit that cemetery or just drive along Lockwood Drive throughout that community.


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