Oakwood Cemetery

Fort Worth, Texas


Photos by Rob Yoder - 1999

Oakwood, known for the first few years as "City Cemetery," is the second oldest cemetery in Fort Worth, and is the final resting place of cattle kings and cotton kings, of oil barons and business tycoons, of bankers and statesmen. There are writers, teachers and muscians, brave soldiers and beautiful women, the Notable as well as the notorious, famous gunslingers and pistol duelists. People from all walks of life sleep quietly here.

The first burial in Oakwood is beleived to be Frank L. Fox, step-son of John Peter Smith. Smith donated 20 acres of land for the cemetery in 1879 when Frank died. The cemetery currently covers 100 acres. As the following photographs will show, Oakwood is virtual sea of granite and marble.

Source: Historic Oakwood Cemetery with Calvary Cemetery and Old Trinity Cemetery of Fort Worth, Texas, compiled by Helen McKelvy Markgraf and Rob G. Yoder.  Published 1994 by the Fort Worth Genealogical Society.


The last two photgraphs are from the Carswell Memorial Park at Oakwood. Major Horace Carswell was originally buried at Rosehill Memorial Park and was reinterred here in the mid 1990's.


Oakwood Memorial Chapel

The horse drawn hearse or wagon would back down the ramp (above left) where the coffin was unloaded into the basement and then stored in a vault until time for the funeral. There is a manually operated elevator to raise the coffin to the sancuary level.

Recently, an older ramp was discovered (above right) while escavating around the basement in preparation for waterproofing. No one knows why the older ramp was abandoned. Perhaps it was too difficult to unload the coffin from the side of the hearse or wagon.


Oakwood contains an abundance of historical markers. Only a few are represented here.


General Thomas M. Waul, C.S.A.

A native of South Carolina. Thomas Neville Waul (1813?-1903) practiced law in Mississippi before moving to Texas in 1850. After serving in the Provisional Confederate Congress and signing the 1861 Confederate Constitution, he organized Waul's Texas Legion C.S.A. Waul led the Texans in Mississippi during 1862 and 1863, participating in the defense of Vicksburg. He led a brigade in the Red River Campaign of 1864 at Mansfield, IA, and Jenkins' Ferry, Ark. Waul returned to Texas in 1865 and resumed the practice of law. He died near Greenville and was buried at this site.


John Peter Smith, Founder of Oakwood Cemetery

Pioneer area settler John Peter Smith (1831-1901), who donated twenty acres for the establishment of this cemetery, came to Fort Worth from Kentucky in 1853. He served the community as a teacher, clerk, surveyor, and attorney, and became a noted civic leader.

Although opposed to the secession of Texas during the Civil War, Smith raised a company of Tarrant County men for the Confederacy and joined Sibley's Brigade in 1861. While in the war he served in the unsuccessful invasion of New Mexico, the recapture of Galveston in 1863, and was severely wounded at Donaldsville, Louisiana, later that year.

After the war Smith returned to Fort Worth, where be became involved in the development of the city. He helped organize a bank, gas light company,and street railway. He also gave land for city parks, cemeteries, including this site in 1879, and a hospital, later named in his honor. In 1882 he became Mayor and directed the establishment of many public services, such as the school system and the water department.

In 1901 Smith died in St. Louis, Missouri, while on a promotional trip for Fort Worth. He is buried in a section of Oakwood Cemetery that is part of the original acreage he donated to the city.


Oakwood Cemetery

Founded 1879 by John Peter Smith, one of Fort Worth's first settlers, who became a civic leader, mayor, philanthropist. He gave 20 acres to City; Cemetery since enlarged to 100 acres. The area contains three cemeteries; Oakwood, Calvary and Trinity. Many Fort Worth and Tarrant County men and women of destiny are buried here.

Plots are owned by lodges, unions, Catholic, Protestant, negro and white. Tracts are dedicated to Union and Confederate soldiers.

The chapel was built in 1914. Oakwood, Calvary Associations and city provide care. 


Governor Charles A. Culberson

A native of Alabama, Charles A. Culberson grew up in Jefferson, Texas. He married Sallie Harrison (1861-1926) in 1882 after earning his law degree at the University of Virginia. During two terms as Attorney General of Texas, Culberson enforced the Reform Policies of Gov. James S. Hogg. He succeeded Hogg as governor, 1895-99. Culberson served four terms in the United States Senate, winning the post of Democratic Minority Leader in 1907. Renowned for his knowledge of the law, he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1913 to 1919.


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This page last modified on 6 Oct 1999.