Cemeteries are important keys to Texas’ past. They are reminders of settlement patterns and reveal information about historic events, religion, lifestyles, and genealogy. Unfortunately, historic cemeteries are increasingly threatened by development pressures, encroachment, vandalism, and theft. Circumstances can change quickly—a cemetery considered maintained and safe can quickly become neglected and endangered. To address the problem of cemetery destruction and to record as many cemeteries as possible, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) offers the Historic Texas Cemetery (HTC) designation.
The HTC designation was developed in 1998 to help protect historic cemeteries by recording cemetery boundaries in county deed records to alert present and future owners of land adjacent to the cemetery of its existence. Every county in Texas has at least one cemetery designated as a Historic Texas Cemetery through this program. The HTC designation is the first step toward preservation of a historic cemetery.
The HTC designation is an official recognition of family and community graveyards. The designation imposes no restrictions on private owners’ use of the land adjacent to the cemetery or the daily operations of the cemetery. For additional information, see Texas Administrative Code Title 13, Part 2, Chapter 22 Rule §22.6.
A cemetery is eligible for designation if it is at least 50 years old and is deemed worthy of recognition for its historical associations. The very nature of a cemetery being a landmark of a family’s or community’s presence is considered to validate the criteria of historical associations. Any individual, organization, or agency may submit a request for designation.
Benefits of designation:
- Records the cemetery location and boundaries in the county deed records as a historically dedicated cemetery worthy of preservation.
- Helps preserve cemeteries by alerting present and future landowners of the presence of this important historical resource on their property.
- Documents the cemetery's current conditions through photographs and maps, details that may be necessary for emergency management in cases such as vandalism, fire, or other natural disasters.
- Is a prerequisite for applying for an Official Texas Historical Marker for the cemetery.
Apply for HTC Designation
Complete the HTC Request for Designation application (DOC). The application and guidelines/instructions (DOC) have been updated as of August 2014. Please use the current application and guidelines. An updated application will be available in the summer of 2017. Check this page often for updates.
**PLEASE NOTE: Current processing times for incoming HTC applications is approximately 6 months.
The following application tools are available:
- Sample Historic Texas Cemetery Application (DOC)
- Sample Vicinity Map (DOC)
- Sample Site Map (DOC)
- Sample Photo Log (DOC)
- Sample Photo Key (DOC)
- Sample Appraisal Map (DOC)
Cemetery Marker Styles and Pricing (PDF) NOTE: These markers are only available after a cemetery has been designated and are only available through a separate application process. Markers specific to cemeteries can be found on page 2.