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EVERGREEN NEGRO CEMETERY

Evergreen Negro Cemetery.
Evergreen Negro Cemetery in Houston's Fifth Ward was declared a Historic Texas Cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission in 2009. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

EVERGREEN NEGRO CEMETERY. Evergreen Negro Cemetery is located in Houston’s Fifth Ward on the west side of Lockwood Drive at IH 10 on Market Street between Calles Street, Lockwood Drive, and Sakowitz Street. The cemetery, divided by Lockwood Drive into two sections, contains approximately 5.58 acres out of Lot 7 of the Harris & Wilson Survey (A-32) in Harris County and is believed to be the third oldest African American cemetery in Houston. At one time, the site was owned by one of the founders, Fifth Ward resident, businessman, and former slave A. K. Kelley. Kelley established the cemetery with two other persons, Reverend Edward Lee and W. B. Zinkey. After Kelley’s death on November 26, 1928, he was buried in the family plot in Evergreen Negro Cemetery. 

The cemetery burials date from approximately 1887 to 1950. Those interred in the cemetery include former slaves, Buffalo soldiers, World War I veterans, and other residents of the Fifth Ward. In 1914, two of the only few black officers with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office were killed by fellow officers in what has been reported as a case of mistaken identity. Those officers, Deputy Arthur Taylor (who was appointed as a special deputy of the sheriff’s office the day before he was killed) and Detective Isaac “Ike” Parsons, were buried in Evergreen Negro Cemetery. 

In 1960 the city of Houston sought to expand Lockwood Drive from Sonora to Liberty Road. The expansion split the cemetery and caused the bodies of 490 persons to be moved and re-interred in other cemeteries. By the 1970s the cemetery was totally overgrown with dense vegetation. By the 1990s efforts began to reclaim and preserve the historic graveyard. In 1995 a nonprofit organization called Project RESPECT along with area universities and students began work to clean up and restore the cemetery. Fifth Ward community efforts to raise awareness for the cemetery continued into the 2000s. On July 31, 2009, the Texas Historical Commission declared the site a “Historic Texas Cemetery.” Various community events and revitalization activities, such as a Flag Day celebration in 2016, highlighted the cemetery’s historic significance in the community. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

African-American News & Issues, June 22–28, 2005. Jeffrey L. Boney, “Restoring Houston’s Past: Historic Evergreen Cemetery Gets a Fifth Ward Facelift,” Houston Forward Times, June 15, 2016 (http://forwardtimes.com/restoring-houstons-past-historic-evergreen-cemetery-gets-fifth-ward-facelift/), accessed October 18, 2017. Harris County Sheriff’s Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Department: 1837–2005 (Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company, 2005). Alison T. Henning, Ginger Burns, Richard Hoffman, and Brian Jacoby, “Using Science to Uncover History: A Geophysical Investigation of Wyatt Chapel Cemetery,” Journal of History and Culture 1 (Summer 2009). Houston Chronicle, August 18, 1957; August 5, 1969; November 23, 1986; August 19, 1992; July 7, 2005. Vertical Files, Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston Public Library.

Marcia Johnson

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Marcia Johnson, "Evergreen Negro Cemetery," accessed November 18, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lee01.

Uploaded on October 21, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.