Katy Community Cemetery:
A Newly Designated Historical Cemetery
By Joan Whetzel
On the south side of Katy, Texas, just north of Interstate 10, lies the small, unassuming Katy Community Cemetery. For 2 years Antioch Baptist Church (owners and maintainers of the site) and the Katy Historical Society worked to get this cemetery designated an historical cemetery. Their hard work came to fruition in July 2011, when the Texas Historical Commission issued an Historical Marker, which now rests proudly near the gated entrance to the cemetery. Katy Community Cemetery contains the graves of Katy's early settlers,many of them MKT Railroad workers, rice farmers and farm hands, and war veterans. Like all cemeteries, Katy Community Cemetery is a valuable historic resource marking the early development of this small town west of Houston. Obtaining an Historic Cemetery designation is not an easy task, nor a quick one.
Factors that Go Into the Historical Cemetery Decision
The two main factors determining whether a cemetery could be considered an Historical Cemetery are:
1) The cemetery, or many of the graves in the cemetery, must be at least 50 years old.
2) Any unmarked graves unmarked graves within the cemetery must believed to be historic (50 or more years old) unless historical research proves that not to be the case.
In the case of Katy Community Cemetery, the Antioch Baptist Church has records for both the marked and unmarked graves.
About Katy Community Cemetery
Katy Community Cemetery is a small cemetery, fenced on three sides and protected on the fourth side by a deep ditch and terrain that's difficult to cross. Members of Antioch Baptist Church have located many of the unmarked graves and matched them up with records of people known to be buried in this cemetery. By comparing ad collected list of names to the remaining gravestones, they've discovered that the names on the graves don’t always match the list and that some of the names on the grave markers aren't on the list. In addition, they haven't located all of the unmarked graves. So some research is still needed.
The Historical Marker explains the history of African Americans in the building of the Katy, Texas Community through farming and work along the MKT Railroad. It also tells how this plot of land came to be sold to the Antioch Baptist Church to be used as a cemetery. It took the combined efforts of the Antioch Baptist Church and the Katy Historical Society 2 years to obtain the Historical Cemetery designation for Katy Community Cemetery.
Taking Care of Historical Cemeteries
Unfortunately, cemeteries frequently fall victim to deterioration or neglect. And many times, as is the case with Katy Community Cemetery, unmarked grave cannot be located. Development can threaten the existence of cemeteries that have not been maintained. Thankfully, Antioch Baptist Church has done a fine job of maintaining this cemetery since it dedicated in 1929 for use as burial ground. The Antioch Baptist Church and the Katy Historical Society still need financial resources to maintain the cemetery and continue the work of matching graves to records as well as providing gravestones for the unmarked graves.
Obtaining an Historical Cemetery Designation
The first step in the process of obtaining the Historical designation for Katy Community Cemetery was to legally establish the name of the cemetery. The property was surveyed and sub-surface mapping obtained. Church members inventoried the gravesites and compared the markers with their records. Photographs were taken. The Katy Historical Society took on the task of filling out ages upon pages of information that were provided to the county and the Texas Historical Commission in order to have this cemetery recognized as historically significant that deserved recognition by the State of Texas.