Morton Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in the Greater Houston area, and its collection of monuments mark the final resting places of some of Texas' earliest settlers.
Located at 401 N. Second St. in Richmond, the cemetery was founded in 1825 by William Morton when he buried a visitor who died while staying at his home. Morton was one of five men, members of Stephen F. Austin’s original 300 Texas colonists, who settled in present-day Richmond in 1821, said Claire Rogers, executive director of the Fort Bend County Museum Association.
Morton ensured his visitor's grave included a monument with Masonic Society symbols engraved to indicate the man's membership to the group. The cemetery now holds more than 2,800 graves and still has about 1,100 spaces available for purchase.
“We often take school kids out to the cemetery as [a field trip] because so many school children are never exposed to cemeteries, so they don’t know anything about the information you can glean from them,” Rogers said.
Morton Cemetery is unique in that it allows for individuals to place monuments on gravesites instead of uniform plaques or tombstones, she said.
On these monuments, visitors can read accounts of the deceased, from what wars they fought to stories about their lives. Most of the historical sites can be found to the left of the cemetery’s main road while recent burial sites are located on the right side.
Rogers said after Morton buried his visitor, he donated additional land to ensure the space would continue as a cemetery. It was the only cemetery in the area until at least 1831, and it now spans about 15 acres.
Many notable Texans are buried there. They include Jane Long, known as the “Mother of Texas” and Mirabeau B. Lamar, who was the first vice president and second president of the Republic of Texas. Walter Burton, a freed slave and former Texas senator, is also buried there.
Ownership of the cemetery has changed over the years, and it is currently operated by the Morton Cemetery Association. Volunteer opportunities are available in landscaping and giving guided tours.