Marble Falls City Cemetery receives historic designation

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

Marble Falls City Cemetery, 400 S. Avenue S, is a testament to the history of the community. A walk through uncovers nuggets of the past such as the grave of Ophelia 'Birdie' Crosby Harwood, who was the first woman elected as mayor in the United States. An all-male electorate voted her into office in Marble Falls in 1917. The Texas Historical Commission recently recognized the cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Marble Falls City Cemetery, 400 S. Avenue S, is a testament to the history of the community. A walk through uncovers nuggets of the past such as the grave of Ophelia ‘Birdie’ Crosby Harwood, who was the first woman elected as mayor in the United States. An all-male electorate voted her into office in Marble Falls in 1917. The Texas Historical Commission recently recognized the cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls City Cemetery is a very special place, according to local historians, who’ve shared that assessment over and over again.

The Texas Historical Commission agrees.

The state agency recently sent word to the city of Marble Falls that its cemetery has qualified as a Historic Texas Cemetery.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Robert Moss shared the news with the Parks and Recreation Commission during its regular meeting March 5.

Local historian Jane Knapik filled out an application last fall with the city’s parks and recreation department assisting. The Texas Historical Commission wanted to know when the cemetery was formed, how it was built, its physical characteristics, its oldest sites, surrounding land uses, and when it opened as well as photos and oral histories.

To be considered for the commission’s designation, a cemetery must be at least 50 years old, though that requirement could be waived if a cemetery is deemed significantly worthy. The Marble Falls cemetery dates back prior to 1937, which was the year the city took over maintenance of it.

Moss said the Texas Historical Commission can take up to a year to decide if a site qualifies for the designation. The state agency notified Marble Falls in half that time. The city can now place an historical marker at the cemetery.

A cemetery is more than a place to honor the dead, Moss said; it’s also a place for family stories and memories.

While the Marble Falls City Cemetery is the final resting place for many people, here’s a little secret: It’s also one of the best places in the Highland Lakes to see bluebonnets. The city of Marble Falls parks and recreation staff let the bluebonnets bloom and flourish until the plants go to seed, making the cemetery a wonder of blue and purple through much of the spring. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

While the Marble Falls City Cemetery is the final resting place for many people, here’s a little secret: It’s also one of the best places in the Highland Lakes to see bluebonnets. The city of Marble Falls parks and recreation staff let the bluebonnets bloom and flourish until the plants go to seed, making the cemetery a wonder of blue and purple through much of the spring. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

“It’s what we value most about family members,” he said. “A cemetery is a collection of those memories. You have a whole collection of memories that have historical significance. It’s that place of memories related to that community.”

One prominent resident buried there is Ophelia “Birdie” Crosby Harwood, who was the first woman elected mayor of any city in the country. She was elected Marble Falls mayor in 1917 by an all-male electorate before women even had the right to vote.

Having a Historical Texas Cemetery designation is another way the city can attract visitors, especially those who love history.

“It gives more significance to our cemetery,” he said. “A lot of people go around the state finding historical markers. For many people, that’s what they do.”

The Marble Falls City Cemetery is located at 400 S. Avenue S at the intersection with Johnson Street.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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