The Hutto City Council approved a motion Nov. 2 to submit an application to the Texas Historical Commission for the recognition of the Shiloh Black Cemetery as an untold historical marker.

The big picture

The cemetery, once used as a dumping site, has been restored to its original, grassy resting grounds by the efforts of the Black Families of Hutto. The group has performed several cleanups over recent years.

“As we started cleaning up here, we were seeing paint cans and household appliances and wire. It was obvious that someone was dumping construction waste in the back of a cemetery,” said Rabiat Ngwba, a member of Black Families of Hutto.

Receiving designation and signage from the Texas Historical Commission would help preserve the site from future vandalism, according to the group.

The backstory

The Texas Historical Commission is currently accepting applications for their untold historical marker program. The program places an emphasis on addressing historical gaps and documenting underrepresented subjects or topics that are significant to a community’s history, according to city documents.

A letter from the Hutto Historic Commission outlined reasons city officials believe the cemetery should be considered for the untold marker.

“Preserving the memory and heritage of Shiloh Black Cemetery is not just a matter of historical importance, it is a matter of civic responsibility,” the letter reads. “This recognition is especially important as we strive to address historical injustices and work toward a more inclusive and equitable future.”

Criteria for the untold historical marker program includes the value of the site as an un- or undertold story of Texas history, whether the marker will contribute to the preservation of the historic area, and whether the marker designation promotes diversity.

Shiloh Black Cemetery was opened in the 1800s during the times of segregation and holds the remains of an estimated 130 individuals.

Looking ahead

The application is due to the Texas Historical Commission by Nov. 15, and the city will be notified of the outcome by Feb. 3.

A genealogist, Dwight Baker, will continue to partner with Black Families of Hutto working to identify all those laid to rest in the cemetery.

“When we look at history, we look at kings and queens and presidents—the rich people. But the people that make all of that possible are the working people. Many of the people that are buried in that cemetery were laborers, farmers, teachers or homemakers. They were the people that made the growth and development of Hutto, Texas, and the United States possible.” Ngwba said.